AFRICANGLOBE – More than two months after The Wall Street Journal wrote about what amounted to ethnic cleansing of Black people in Misurata, The New York Times in today’s edition finally writes another piece about the racist attacks against Black people by the NATO-backed “rebels” from Benghazi, now installed in power. The article appears under the sanitized headline “Libyans Turn Wrath on Dark-Skinned Migrants.”
Yet The New York Times, as is the case with other major media organizations, including CNN and the BBC, have had several correspondents in Libya since the insurrection started in February, including in Benghazi, where Black people were first lynched. Videos of the grizzly killings, which even the K.K.K. in the the Old South would envy, are still available for viewing, as Benghazi posted them on YouTube.
Surely the Times’ reporters in Libya must have been aware of the atrocities. They must also read The Wall Street Journal. Could it be possible that editors shelved the reporters’ stories, or discouraged the reporters from pursuing the stories that would have been damning to the “rebels”?
The Times’ feigns surprise, when it today writes: “Human rights advocates say the rebels’ scapegoating of blacks here follows a similar campaign that ultimately included lynchings after rebels took control of the eastern city of Benghazi more than six months ago.”
The Times, in a clever way, focuses on the plight of migrant workers, when in fact, as The Journal reported on Misurata, many Black Libyans were targeted for extermination.
The Black Star News, without a single correspondent in Libya, has been writing about the ethnic cleansing of Black people in Libya since February, when the lynchings and beheadings started. The information is widely available from online news outlets as well as on YouTube. Up to date, The White House and the State Department have yet to utter a single word of condemnation against this ethnic cleansing or to call for prosecutions.
If the case were reversed and non-Black people had been subjected to similar atrocities, there would be a global outcry and the perpetrators would be sought and punished. NATO, which supposedly was authorized to intervene in Libya, under United Nations Security Council 1973, didn’t do a thing to prevent the massacres and have yet to issue a single statement of condemnation or to hold Benghazi responsible.
No wonder the African Union has yet to recognize the regime installed in Tripoli: some African countries had considered some intervention, on behalf of migrant workers in Libya.
The New York Times compromised itself because its editorial pages shamefully published several commentaries calling on NATO to escalate bombings of Libya. This probably explains why it became difficult for this newspaper to publish major articles about the ethnic cleansing of Black people. The Times was aware of the disastrous public relations consequences the revelations of ethnic cleansing would have on the “rebels” claims that they offered a superior alternative to Maummar al-Quathafi.
So The New York Times found a solution; it pretended the ethnic cleansing was not happening.
What’s more, if the NATO-backed “rebels” true colors had been exposed –that they were engaging in systemic K.K.K.-type racist lynchings, and indeed, in ethnic cleansing in Misurata, as The Wall Street Journal reported, then the Obama Administration might have been compelled to review its support for Benghazi.
So, it’s not a coincidence that it’s only after the NATO-backed “rebels” were installed in power, after the assault on Tripoli that included soldiers from Qatar, that The Times now deems it fit to write about Benghazi’s atrocities, which clearly meets the threshold to be characterized as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
NATO has remained mute. This is because NATO, rather than carrying out the task of saving civilians in Libya, as tasked by the U.N. under Resolution 1973, was promptly hijacked by the mercurial French President, Nicolas Sarkozy; the organization instead became the Air Forces of Benghazi. What’s more, France even dropped weapons into Western Libya, violating U.N. Resolution 1970 against arms shipments to the country.
Rather than saving lives, NATO in fact caused deaths of civilians. It’s unclear how many civilians were killed by NATO bombardments over the six-months period. It’s been reported that in the city of Zlitan alone, possibly 85 Libyan civilians, including children, were killed. No wonder Rep. Dennis Kucinich has written to the ICC asking for an investigation of NATO commanders on possible war crimes.
As for The White House, there’s an unavoidable ugly symbolism–that a Black president of the United States remains silent even when a people are targeted for lynching in Libya simply because of the color of their Black skin. Major organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, both of which profess to protect the rights of Black people, also have a stake in ensuring that their voices are heard denouncing the premeditated lynchings of Black people in Libya but they were quiet.
In The Wall Street Journal’s account of the atrocities in Misurata, we learn that one neighborhood that once had a 4/5ths Black population was depopulated of its Black citizens. They were victims of a “rebel” unit, according to The Wall Street Journal article, called “The Brigade for Purging Slaves, black skin.”
Why hasn’t the International Criminal Court (ICC) under it’s publicity seeking Prosecutor Luis Loreno Ocampo issued a single statement? Why hasn’t the ICC called for sending an investigative team to Misurata to explore if there are mass graves there before evidence is destroyed? Is it because the White House or State Department has not given the ICC approval?
The primary motive for the NATO intervention wasn’t about saving civilian lives. A Wall Street Journal report last week says France, Britain and Italy are already scrambling for favorable oil deals; these countries are salivating over Libya’s 44 billion barrels of proven reserves.
Many lives could have been saved in Libya had President Barack Obama instructed Secretary Hillary Clinton to support the African Union Peace plan. Instead, the U.S. and NATO treated the plan with utter contempt. For the record, al-Quathafi had accepted the proposal after the two visits by South African President Jacob Zuma.
The plan called for: a ceasefire that would be verified by the International community; the creation of a humanitarian corridoor for victims of the war; negotiations to create a constitution, and; democratic elections, in which all Libyans would be eligible to compete, which would also be monitored by the International community.
The AU plan was also dismissed by some editorial pages, supposedly because the African Union was not a “neutral” party; as if NATO, the U.N., France, Britain, and the U.S., which were actually all engaged in the fighting, were “neutral” parties. Without a doubt, there was an element of racist contempt in dismissing the AU plan; it was, after all, “just” an “African” proposal. It could be ignored without any consequences.
We live in a dangerous world today when major media organizations abdicate their responsibility, not only to check the excesses and abuse of power by governments, but also their duty to report the news without prejudice or favor.
There is no better explanation as to why The New York Times did not report the ethnic cleansing of Black people in Libya since it started in February; for this, the newspaper bears some culpability. The Times did not want to discredit the “rebels”; when, in fact, in retrospect, the “rebels” who have significant numbers of Al Qaeda-affiliated commanders, deserved to be discredited.
Newspapers must avoid the business of political favoritism–especially when the lives of many innocent people are at stake. The New York Times should apologize for its shameful conduct in Libya.