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article imageOp-Ed: Where are the voices calling for civilian protection in Libya?

By Katerina Nikolas     Feb 2, 2012 in World
Where are the voices calling for protection of Libyan civilians from persecution, torture and murder, under the new NATO friendly regime? A growing body of evidence points to abuses demonstrating the hypocrisy of NATO's current silence.
Having successfully ousted the former Libyan regime of Gaddafi and bombarded the country into debt servitude, whilst protecting its key member nations' oil interests in the area, NATO proclaimed a job well done in protecting civilians. In a glowing example of glaring hypocrisy, those voices which pushed for intervention in Libya to protect civilians, are now eerily quiet in the light of evidence of ongoing torture, murder, racial and religious attacks, against civilians.
In March 2011 Time reported U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said “There are many stories, as you know, of massacres, abductions,” without citing any evidence. Barack Obama proclaimed “All attacks against civilians must stop.” Time spoke with a reasoned voice when it cautioned "Americans have not been provided with sufficient evidence of mass atrocities committed by the Gaddafi regime or indications that a Gaddafi victory would destabilize the region to justify a military intervention on humanitarian grounds alone."
However there is now a mass of evidence, not circumstantial, that the NATO backed rebels which have now banded into rival militia units are committing widespread abuses. In addition to actual torture and murder, thousands are held in prisons without charge, with no access to legal representation, simply for supporting or being suspected of supporting Gaddafi. Foreign nationals are thrown into prison with no evidence of any crime committed. The town of Tawergha, once home to 30,000 black Libyans, stands deserted, with its population driven out by Misratan fighters, now living in fear. Many Tawerghans are living in makeshift refugee camps which are regularly subjected to visits from militia, who take the young men away.
Moscow Top News reports: "what NATO has unleashed in Libya is hard to describe, because there are no adjectives strong enough to put into words the horrific human rights abuses carried out by the 'darlings' of the west, namely the Libyan rebels, in fact, gangs of murderers, rapists, arsonists, thieves, looters, torturers and bandits, racist pigs who have carried out ethnic cleansing, who have kidnapped and gang-raped women and girls and who have hacked people to death."
Amnesty International released a report last week documenting cases of torture and murder carried out by the NATO backed victors. Amnesty stated it has made repeated requests to the NTC authorities to investigate, but they have "failed to conduct effective investigations into cases of torture and suspicious deaths in custody." Unable to control the former rebels, the NTC compounds the situation by placing torture, murder and campaigns of intimidation that leave the victims living in fear, at the bottom of their agenda.
In addition to the physical beatings and torture that are widely reported, crimes of religious intolerance are largely swept under the prayer mat. In October Digital Journal reported Salafist Islamists were desecrating Muslim graves which they deemed idolatrous. The situation has deteriorated since then as violent Islamists turn their attention to ousting Libya's Sufi Muslims from positions of religious authority. Sufi Muslims were free from oppression under Gaddai but now the Salafists, with the backing of Qatar, are threatening their freedoms. Reuters reported “Salafis have also begun denouncing traditional imams to the authorities, prompting them to be replaced by hardliners….On Jan. 13, extremists crashed a bulldozer through the walls of the old cemetery in the eastern city of Benghazi, destroyed its tombs and carried off 29 bodies of respected sages and scholars. They also demolished a nearby Sufi school.” They report fear as there is no police intervention when such atrocities take place
Such evidence of human rights abuses put a lie to the claims that NATO intervened in Libya to protect civilians, as it remains silent in the face of ongoing civilian persecution under the new NATO friendly regime. Just where are the voices that so stridently demanded the protection of civilians as an excuse to wage war for their own interests?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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