The “charge” seems almost cartoonish. A wild-haired, loony old eccentric with a penchant for buxom female bodyguards — dishing out handfuls of blue pills to his troops with their morning orange juice.
Their task: to pillage, plunder and rape.
The evidence? Well, none so far. That’s if one doesn’t count the three little bottles of Viagra (price tags still neatly affixed) being paraded about on television: supposedly taken off a stiff. (ahem)
The victims? Well, none of those either, really. Yet. But there are some witnesses who’ve seen containers of “Viagra-type drugs” being offloaded on the docks. They were presumably not for general consumption, but to be sent to the barracks “to enhance the possibility to rape”.
“Enhance the possibility to rape?” Say what? Before one goes any further — consider the mechanics of it all: the famous saving grace of erectile dysfunction worldwide needs to be taken at least an hour beforehand to work.
But who wouldn’t believe an august a personality as the International Criminal Court (ICC’s) chief prosecutor? And all in the same week that Nato announced it was stepping up its campaign against not only on Libya’s army, but its head of state as well.
The whiff of war crimes couldn’t have come at a more convenient time.
After all, Muammar Gaddafi’s reputation for bloodthirstiness is well known. There is little public sympathy for a government that has systematically jailed, tortured and killed political opponents for nearly five decades. Then there was all that business with Lockerbie.
But as the conflict between the “rebels” and the Libyan army enters its third month, questions are being asked about motives behind Nato’s involvement and about the true extent of civilian casualties of the bombing campaign. Some have even suggested that the Libyan Contact Group’s activities may be far less altruistic than we’re being led to believe.
But throw in the mass rapes claim — allegedly ordered by Gaddafi himself: and you have a surefire way to drown out voices of objection to the world being dragged into another conflict in the Middle East (or at least nearby)
Predictably, the story gave sub-editors the time of their lives coming up with suitably sensational headlines. “The crime that dare not speak its name” was one headline; with another newspaper calling the claims “a horrific first” in the long list of Gaddaffi’s war crimes. One hopes for their sake they aren’t being had by the mighty war propaganda machine.
After all, everyone knows how hard “they” have it “over there”.
Burqaed, banished, killed for burning the curry … genitals slashed … the list is endless.
When there’s the veiled women’s honour to defend: it would be churlish, surely, to drone on about minutiae like “overstepping one’s mandate …”
And so, yet another illegal war may be started in defence of the Muslim punani.
At least in Afghanistan the ruse was believable — given the Taliban’s non-existent record of treating women as human beings.
But given the nature and timing of these so-called charges — it appears the rape of women during war is being trivialised and used as a brickbat to turn world opinion against a tyrant who, some say, long had it coming to him.
The preliminary investigation has proceeded with astonishing speed. It took the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia nearly a decade to collect evidence and testimonies on the “rape camps” where an estimated 20 000 Muslim women were enslaved and systematically violated during the 1992-1995 war.
And even then, the tribunal finally prosecuted a mere three Bosnian Serb commanders. But Luis Moreno-Ocampo claims as part of his arsenal some 70 000 questionnaires sent out (at the height of the conflict, and through a non-functioning postal system) by a psychologist to respondents.
An estimated 60 000 people responded — extraordinary feedback by anyone’s standards. Close to 300 of the respondents say they were sexually assaulted — forming the backbone of the ICC’s “case” against not a band of Libyan soldiers, but Muammar Gaddafi himself.
And that’s not even to mention the selective morality. After all, it would be nice if a few rockets were aimed at the presidential palace in the DRC to protect the hundreds of thousands raped there every year. Or even Durban, maybe.
Nobody doubts women have been raped during this conflict. Or that the rapists should be brought to justice.
But these women — and nobody doubts they exist, may yet end up being no more than supporting roles in the theatre of war. The star act is the “Libyan rebels” — bolstered and bankrolled by Nato and certain Western and Arab nations.
And the now thinly-disguised plot, camouflaged in the petticoats of women’s rights — is their illegal strategy of regime change.