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US support in Libya fueling war crimes

By Kaley LaQuea
On March 25, 2012

The inception of 2012 has ushered in a new wave of scrutiny regarding the mounting list of potential war crimes in Libya that have been unfolding in recent months.

Reports published by the Arab Organization for Human Rights detailing questionable actions by Libyan rebels with regards to civilians and migrant workers have been labeled inconclusive, providing a scapegoat for crimes against humanity that are currently occurring in Libya.

Any support from the United States that Libya is still receiving must be ceased immediately, including resources, otherwise our nation is also held responsible for allowing the detainment and torture of migrant African workers by the Libyan opposition.

The commission by the Arab Organization for Human Rights notes that it was unable to draw conclusions in such instances on the basis of the information provided by NATO and recommends further investigations. The delay in action by the United Nations and human rights organizations is another prime example of the perpetuation of the cycle of violence that plagues the Arab nations presently.

A recent Internet video depicts black African migrants being detained by Libyan rebels in a cage with their hands bound, forced to eat parts of the old Libyan flag. Libyan resistance supporters can be heard yelling, calling the detainees dogs. Amnesty International stated that these African migrants and refugees became targets of stigma, discrimination and violence.

Continued U.S. support for Libya will only fuel these racially driven war crimes and instances of horrible violence. There is no justification whatsoever for the detainment of the more than 5,000 African migrants, and there has been no demand or negotiation for the release of said detainees. The U.S. needs to urge organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for the immediate release of these victims.

Libya stands alone amid the chaotic events that unfolded within the Arab Spring uprising. With more than 30 years of oppressive rule by Muammar Gaddafis regime influencing current resistance efforts, Libya stands at risk. The violence that is surfacing by the resistance, which is aligned with interim authorities, is likely to cause the rise of a new dictatorship.

Other examples such as Syria exhibit this volatile component. In a report by Reuters, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said, It is imperative for armed elements of the Syrian opposition to protect human rights. They need to make it clear that they envision a Syria that turns the page on Assad-era violations and welcomes all regardless of their religious group or background without discrimination.

In this regard, Libyan rebels are no different from any other unorganized resistance that has risen up in the Arab Spring with attention to their lack of cohesion and direction. Continued U.S. support will only propagate this cycle.

Upcoming scheduled elections in Libya represent a pivotal opportunity for the country to distance itself from Gaddafis reign and the violations against humanity that were endured during this period. However, without guidance, Libya will remain in darkness.

Newly elected officials must deal with the resistance accordingly and must use swift action to relieve the wrongfully detained workers. This includes the implementation of serious measures such as the control of military weaponry and accountability for those members of the resistance responsible for detaining and torturing innocent migrant workers. The U.N. needs to recognize Libya as a sovereign member of its union and treat the civilians and African migrants accordingly.

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