African Migrants Targeted by Libyans amid Turmoil

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Feb 27 2011

Several reports coming out of Libya indicate that African migrant workers and asylum-seekers are being targeted and even murdered by anti-Qaddafi forces, suspecting them to be mercenaries hired by Qaddafi to massacre the Libyan protesters.

Since the third day of the Libyan uprising, when Qaddafi's forces began using live ammo against protesters, reports have been coming out of Libya about African and other mercenaries being involved in the brutal repression of the revolutionaries. These reports have been confirmed by foreign media once they entered Libya via the Egyptian border. The public anger toward the mercenaries is now resulting in violence against all sub-Saharans by the revolutionaries.

Tens of thousands of sub-Saharan workers are employed in Libya, mostly in its oil sector. Enraged by the role of some sub-Saharan mercenaries, some anti-Qaddafi revolutionaries are targeting sub-Saharan Africans now, regardless of whether they're armed or not. A worker in Tripoli from Sierra Leone reported to his friend: "All black Africans are becoming targets.... I write to inform you how deteriorating the condition in Tripoli is getting by the hour, especially for us Black Africans who have been threatened by violence accused of siding with the regime."

One Turkish oil worker who managed to escape Libya described to the BBC a brutal lynching of several black Workers. "We left behind our friends from Chad. We left behind their bodies. We had 70 or 80 people from Chad working for our company. They cut them dead with pruning shears and axes, attacking them, saying "you're providing troops for Qaddafi". The Sudanese, the Chadians were massacred. We saw it ourselves."

The massacre of anti-Qaddafi protesters by some sub-Saharan mercenaries, which has left over a thousand Libyans dead, does not justify in any way the indiscriminate targeting of black Africans. Those mercenaries should be arrested and tried. Lynching innocent workers for the color of their skin is a heinous act that does not help to bring any justice to the families of killed Libyan protesters.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East