Chaos reigns, human rights violations abound
By Derek Ford
November 26, 2011
One month after the official “liberation” of Libya was declared, the authority of the National Transition Council remains tenuous at best and the country remains in a state of chaos. There have been signs of renewed resistance and intense factional struggles within the forces that comprise the NTC.
Resentment against rebel militias continues to build across the country. Libyans are angered over the mob-like rule imposed by NTC militias that regularly loot homes and businesses. At military checkpoints, rebels arrest anyone who cannot produce proper identification.
Conditions in the prisons run by the NTC are inhumane, according to reports from international agencies. The U.N. human rights office has found evidence of torture in the prisons, where NTC fighters take revenge on anyone they suspect of supporting the resistance.
A leaked report by Ban ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, indicates that some 7,000 detainees are currently being held in NTC jails with “no access to due process.” The Independent broke the story on Nov. 24. The report affirms that torture in the facilities is widespread. A large number of the prisoners are dark-skinned sub-Sarahan Africans, and there are cases where these prisoners are singled out because of their skin color. Women and children are also among those held. (The Independent, Nov. 24)
The life of Dr. Abuzaid Omar Dorda, once Libya’s prime minister and permanent representative to the U.N. under Gaddafi, has been in grave danger since his capture on Sept. 11. Prison guards broke both of his legs during an attempt on his life, which also caused internal bleeding. He remains untreated from those injuries.
Meanwhile, there are factional struggles erupting between the multitude of brigades that comprise the NTC military forces. On Nov. 12, quarreling units exchanged gunfire 15 miles outside of Tripoli, sending panic-stricken residents running from their homes. There is also evidence that Al-Qaeda forces are among those who have been fighting alongside NATO, as the Al-Qaeda flag was hoisted earlier this month above the Benghazi courthouse that was used as rebel headquarters throughout the year.
Signs of renewed resistance
Just 90 miles south of Tripoli in Bani Walid, residents remain defiant to the new government. In the town’s main hospital, which is under the control of a former NTC fighter, a portrait of Gaddafi lies at the floor of the entrance. The majority of the hospital’s visitors walk around the portrait, so as not to disrespect the former leader.
One NTC fighter told Reuters that “There are shootouts every day with Gaddafi loyalists.” (Reuters, Oct. 26) There have been reports that Warfalla tribe members were hoisting the green flags that symbolize the resistance and marching on Nov. 16. Anti-Gaddafi graffiti in the town has been covered up and painted over with warnings of resistance, including the slogan “the Warfalla tribe hasn’t used its power yet.” Nearly one-sixth of the Libyan population belongs to the Warfalla.
On Nov. 23 there were armed clashes between NTC troops and the Green Resistance in Bani Walid. Reports indicate that 7 people died, most of whom were NTC fighters.
Throughout the west, from Tripoli to Al-Zawiya, there have been clashes between the resistance and NATO forces. On Nov. 11, the resistance launched an offensive against what is known as Camp 27. During the fighting, resistance forces managed to free 300 prisoners. There has even been fighting in the rebel stronghold of Misrata.
Resistance groups have been formally organizing in the Sahel region in the south and have officially formed the Libyan Liberation Front. The region stretches across the borders of Niger, Chad, Sudan and provides easy access to Mali. There are reports that LLF is gathering weapons and providing training in the region. (Counterpunch, Nov. 4-6)
The LLF will likely find sympathy amongst the countries bordering the Sahel. In a recent soccer game between Tunisia and Algeria, the players and fans took a moment of silence to honor Muammar Gaddafi. During the game, fans held up a large composite photo of Gaddafi.
In addition to organizing militarily, the LLF is organizing formal political opposition to the NTC. They plan on running in the promised elections next summer.
Imperialists capture Saif al Islam Gaddafi
On Nov. 19, NTC forces announced that they had captured Saif al-Islam Gaddafi outside of Sabha and Ubari. The verification of his capture by video and cell phone footage came as a surprise, as the NTC had previously reported that they had captured him numerous times and killed him once.
When the plane transporting Saif al-Islam landed in Zintan, an angry crowd of resistance supporters flooded the tarmac and tried to storm the plane.
The International Criminal Court has wanted to try Saif al-Islam for alleged crimes committed during the February rebel uprising, and has had a warrant out for his arrest since June.
There are several problems with this situation. The first is that the alleged crimes for which he is to be tried have been thoroughly disproven by numerous human rights organizations. There was never any massacring of civilians; what happened in Libya was a civil war. The second problem with the ICC’s intervention is that the agency only has jurisdiction over its member nations’ territories and citizens. Libya was not and, at the time of this writing, is not a member.
The Libyan Liberal Youth, a resistance group, issued the following statement online: “This war has not been about the Gadhaffi family, it’s about the majority of Libyans rejection of foreign invasions, massacres, and intrusion into Libyan affairs.”