Anti-slavery protests continued across various world capitals this week, especially in countries across Africa, after earlier protests in France got violent when police used tear gas and other riot control tactics on a crowed of more than one thousand outside of the Libyan embassy in Paris. The protests are in response to last week's widespread reports of slave markets operating in various cities across Libya, and look to continue as according to Reuters a major rally is set to take place in London later this week.
Meanwhile France on Wednesday called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the revelations, with President Macron referencing recent footage proving the existence of a slave trade network in Libya as "scandalous" and "unacceptable".
According to a CNN investigation, which included video footage of one slave auction in progress, migrant African workers are being sold for as little as $400 in at least nine different Libyan cities, though it's believed the network of slave auctions extends more broadly, including to locations under the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli.
A migrant looks out of a barred door at a detention centre in Gharyan, Libya, Oct. 12, 2017. Hundreds more like him are being kept in smuggler-owned Libyan warehouses, where they are sometimes beaten, ransomed or sold into slavery. Image source: Reuters via CBC Radio
Other investigations by international rights groups such as the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) have further found that many migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya are routinely "detained, tortured, and even killed." This also no doubt includes large numbers of internal refugees from Libya's recent "summer of mass displacement" due to dozens of militias as well as multiple regional governments vying for territory and power. Libya has recently been described by the European Council On Foreign Relations as "one country, three governments."
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), anger is spreading in Africa, with multiple governments demanding action as protests swell. DW reports:
Politicians in Africa have expressed their outrage at the scandal – especially in West Africa where most African migrants originate. President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou felt particularly revolted by the reports, summoning the Libyan ambassador to Niger and demanding the International Court of Justice investigate Libya for trading slaves.
And the African Union is also likely set to demand concrete action, though the Tripoli government in Libya is nowhere near in control of the entire country (and itself could be complicit), which is largely run by competing militias:
Meanwhile the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, Alpha Barry, told the press that he had also summoned the Libyan ambassador to the capital Ouagadougou for consultations. The issue has since been added to the agenda of next week's African Union meeting in Ivory Coast, to take place on November 29 and 30.
Migrants swept up in the slave trade before reaching the Mediterranean coast are describing Libya as "hell" and express fear of being caught by roving militias, and it appears that even children may be part of the slave trafficking. DW continues:
The issue has made waves in the Ivory Coast itself — 155 Ivorian refugees, including 89 women and underage migrants, were returned from Libya to the Ivory Coast earlier this week as part of a reintegration initiative launched by the European Union. Representatives of the Ivorian government, however, said that the health of those migrants returned from Libya was in a "deplorable state."
Current headlines and stories highlighting the continued outrage of Libya's slave auctions, however, neglect to mention that the country has been a "failed state" since its "liberation" through the US-led NATO campaign to topple Muammar Gaddafi. At the end of last summer, the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP) found that 1.3 million people are in need of emergency aid due to perpetual "conflict, insecurity, political instability and a collapsing economy."
Meanwhile, the fact that Libya has become a key European migration embarkation point for all of Africa coupled with its being a failed state and enduring war zone, ensures that the the humanitarian crisis will only continue to grow. Though global outrage over the latest revelations of slave markets and xenophobia in Libya continues, media coverage remains myopic in its assessment of the true depth of Libya's problems and their causes.
— Phil Mphela (@PhilMphela) November 15, 2017
Though CNN's footage and accompanying report which lately sparked renewed public interest in Libya is shocking, such practices have been quietly documented for years, and clear warnings were issued starting in early 2011 that Libya's black as well as migrant population would be the first to fall victim at the hands of the Islamist Libyan rebels that NATO's war empowered. From the outset critics of Western intervention in Libya loudly sounded the alarm of a genocide against black Libyans in progress committed by the very rebels the US, UK, France, and Gulf allies were arming – a fact so well-known that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was personally briefed and warned on the matter.
Protests and diplomatic action is likely to merely take aim at the Western backed Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, and not at the very authors of the "new" post-Gaddafi Libya who put the Tripoli government into power in the first place (France is among those responsible for creating Libya's current chaos). And while Obama himself has actually voiced some minimal and too little too late "regret" over his decision to go bomb the Gaddafi government out of existence using the pretext of "humanitarian intervention" – calling it his "worst mistake" – Hillary has consistently defended her role as one of the architects of the war as Obama's secretary of state.
But even a 2015 article in The Atlantic placed appropriate blame with the following description:
Using contested intelligence, a powerful adviser urges a president to wage a war of choice against a dictator; makes a bellicose joke when he is killed; declares the operation a success; fails to plan for a power vacuum; and watches Islamists gain power. That describes Dick Cheney and the Iraq War—and Hillary Clinton and the war in Libya.
And yet years later, as such war crimes against both African migrants and black Libyans continue to be exhaustively documented, Hillary still says that she has no regrets. Though her beloved Libyan rebels, legitimized and empowered through broad support from the West, are now among the very militias hosting slave auctions, she's never so much as hinted that regime change in Libya left the country and much of the region in shambles. Instead, she simply chose to conclude her role in the tragic story of Libya with her crazed and gleeful declaration of "we came, we saw, he died."
Concerning Obama, despite his general Libya mea culpa, the Nobel Peace Prize winning "humanitarian" minded architect of the 2011 US-NATO intervention (and ultimate author of Libya's current hell) continues to pen his presidential memoir in the midst of an epic retirement tour of yachts, golf courses, and hidden celebrity islands.
Meanwhile, Libya still burns out of control, and America's first black president, though surely able to command immense influence even from retirement, remains silent on the resurrection of a barbaric slave trade which didn't exist in modern Libya prior to his own intervention there.