Libya: Tawergha, city of Blacks, depopulated – Rep. Jesse Jackson calls for investigation of ‘crimes against humanity’
by Milton Allimadi
Rep. Jackson, D-Ill., also tells The Black Star News he will ask that U.S. assistance for reconstruction and transition to democracy in Libya be conditional. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that rebels from Misrata had torched the homes that belonged to the predominantly dark-skinned residents of the city of Tawergha, which is now abandoned.
A Journal reporter witnessed some of the torching and wrote that the words “slaves” and “negroes” were scribbled on the walls of the now emptied homes.
In an earlier news report, The Wall Street Journal reported that rebels from the city of Misrata had declared that Tawergha would be “no more” and that the unit conducting the attacks was named “The Brigade for Purging Slaves, Black Skin.”
Misrata rebels blame residents of Tawergha, which was used by the Libyan army under the government of Muammar al-Qaddafi as a staging ground for the siege on Misrata. The Journal has also reported on long, historical feuds that predate the Libyan civil war between the “white” residents of Misrata and the predominantly Black ones of Tawergha.
The Wall Street Journal Tuesday also reported that Transitional National Council (TNC) “prime minister” Mahmoud Jibril, referring to the reported atrocities in Tawergha by rebels, said, “Regarding Tawergha, my own viewpoint is that nobody has the right to interfere in this matter except the people of Misrata.”
Rep. Jackson took exception to Jibril’s remarks.
“Racism in the form of ethnic cleansing, killing and genocide is wrong anytime, anyplace and against anybody in the world,” Rep. Jackson said Wednesday. “And it appears as though the rebel leader, Mahmoud Jibril, is using the American idea that the South used to protect the institution of slavery – the 10th Amendment in our Constitution – to say, in essence, ‘it’s a states’ right and local control issue.’”
“Well, it’s not a local issue and it’s a moral outrage,” he added. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ As a senior member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I intend to raise this issue with my colleagues and condition any financial support for the reconstruction of Libya and its transition to a democratic society.”
“I think it is absolutely necessary that the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in the Hague investigate what I consider to be crimes against humanity,” Rep. Jackson said.
A spokesperson for Rep. John Lewis told The Black Star News that he opposes wars as a matter of principle and had also objected to the U.S. involvement in Libya: “He does not agree with war because of its ramifications, because it leads to these moral compromises,” said the spokesperson, Brenda Jones. “It puts you in a difficult position, where you have to commit the same crimes that you are intending to stop.”
A spokesman for the United Nations, Eduardo del Buey, declined to comment on Rep. Jackson’s call for an investigation and his characterization of the accounts reported by The Wall Street Journal as amounting to crimes against humanity.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said the U.S. couldn’t comment by The Black Star News’ publication deadline. The U.S. hasn’t yet condemned the reported targeted attacks on Black Libyans.
The Journal reported that the road sign pointing to the city of Tawergha had been defaced and replaced with “New Misrata.” Some Tawerghans who had managed to flee to Tripoli were captured and taken to Misrata, the Journal reports.
The Journal is the only major U.S. media outlet that’s reported on the plight of Tawergha.
United Nations says ‘no comment’ on ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans
The White House has yet to issue a single statement condemning this ethnic cleansing of Black people. Hillary Clinton’s Department of State remains mute. The leaders of organizations that profess to protect the rights of Black people, such as the NAACP’s Ben Jealous and the National Urban League’s Marc Morial, have yet to make statements. Surely, someone must read The Wall Street Journal.
Other major corporate media, such as The New York Times, CNN and BBC, all of which to varying degrees surrendered pretense at “objectivity” and openly supported the NATO bombardments, are now in a bind. They have yet to report major stories on the ethnic cleansing in Misrata and Tawergha. Rather than concede that the side they supported in the civil war is carrying out war crimes, they would rather suppress the story.
Welcome to the 21st century, the Newspeak George Orwell feared.
Had it not been for The Wall Street Journal breaking ranks with other corporate media, this genocide might well have been concealed and attributed to a figment of al-Qaddafi’s imagination.
Even the United Nations was unable to respond today to the ethnic cleansing reports when contacted by The Black Star News and after the Journal’s reports were forwarded. A spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was asked whether the targeted actions qualified as ethnic cleansing, whether they qualified as war crimes and whether the United Nations is demanding an investigation.
The spokesman, Eduardo del Buey, ignored the specific questions and responded with a statement from U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, which states in part, “In situations of transition or unrest, restraint must be observed.”
Small comfort to the now depleted citizenry of Tawergha.
“We are not commenting on media reports. the high commissioner speaks to the issue of human rights, and this is what she has said to date in Libya,” Eduardo del Buey added.
More U.S. elected officials and ordinary Americans of all races should read The Wall Street Journal’s accounts and weigh in on the reported crimes being committed by the rebels. They are, after all, in power due in part to American support.
The Journal articles also quotes a Misratan rebel leader, Mohammed Ben Ras Ali, saying, “Tawergha is no more.”
How many times does the world have to keep saying “never again”?
Editor’s note: Readers are not obliged to stand by and watch the ethnic cleansing of Black people in Libya. Please call The New York Times at (212) 556-1234 and ask foreign editor Joe Kahn why the Times hasn’t done major stories on the Tawergha and Misrata war crimes. Also pose the same question to Times Publisher Sulzberger.
Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor in chief of The Black Star News, New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, can be reached at Milton@blackstarnews.com. Allimadi has also worked for The Journal of Commerce, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The City Sun. This story first appeared at http://blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/7627/2011-09-14.html and http://www.blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/7623/2011-09-13.html.
The Black prisoner pictured above appears at 7:33 minutes into this video.
A story by HumanRightsInvestigations.org headlined “Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata” describes this report by Andrew Simmons for Al Jazeera, saying it “shows at least one of the large residential blocks in Tawergha alight, prisoners packed inside a freight container – who the rebels didn’t want filmed – an injured man in civilian clothes and the rebel fighters evicting one of the last civilians left in the town, an Egyptian woman who has lost her nine children under 12 who ran away during the attack.”