NATO Helped Destroy Libya -- Now Slave Auctions Thrive

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Horrific news of open auctions of enslaved Africans in anarchic Libya has gone viral recently. Ironically when The Black Star News wrote an editorials critical of the targeted killings of Black people in Libya during the war to depose Mumammar Quathafi, powerful forces had one of those editorials deleted.

Those targeted killings were forewarning of the auctions we see today by the new order in Libya.
The world must repudiate these crimes and there must be consequences.

Some background on the history of enslavement of Africans globally. Black African people have been exploited through threats, violence and enslavement since the 15th Century through to the 21st Century.

The first Europeans to arrive on the coast of Guinea were the Portuguese. They were originally interested in trading in gold and spices, and set up colonies on the islands of Sao Tome, a two-island nation floating on the gulf of Guinea.

However, during the 16th Century, the Portuguese found that these volcanic islands were ideal for sugar growing and so to cultivate the sugar, an undertaking requiring a large labor supply, the Portuguese turned to large numbers of enslaved Africans.

Elmina Castle on the Gold Coast, originally built by African labor for the Portuguese in 1482 to control the gold trade, became an important depot for kidnapped Africans that were to be transported to the Western hemisphere. We can only imagine the savagery visited upon them.

Subsequently other European Kingdoms were able to reach Africa and forcibly transport Africans across the Atlantic which led to the devastation, depopulation and disadvantage of Africa in comparison to other parts of the world. Walter Rodney describes its negative enduring impact on the contemporary African condition.

Most of Europe and the Americas benefited from the Transatlantic Trade in enslaved Africans; they plundered Africa of its natural resources and shared the spoils. They used Africans as labor to develop their countries.

The Spanish were the first to transport Africans to the Americas from Europe but by 1518, Africans captured from the coast of West Africa were being shipped directly to America to be sold at auctions like beasts and then transported to toil on plantations. Men were mercilessly whipped for the slightest transgression, women raped at will and families torn apart to different White "masters."

The Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans --they were not "slaves"-- peaked in the late 18th century, when the largest number of Africans were captured on raiding expeditions into the interior of West Africa.

A comprehensive database compiled in the late 1990s puts the figure at just over 11 million people. Of those, fewer than 9.6 million survived the so-called Middle Passage across the Atlantic, due to the inhuman conditions in which they were transported, and the violent suppression of any on-board resistance. Many people who were enslaved in the African interior also died on the long journey to the coast.

According to Maulana Karenga, a professor of African studies, activist and author, the effects of the Atlantic trade in African captives was "the morally monstrous destruction of human possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world, poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human relations among people of today". He cites that the crimes constituted the destruction of cultures, languages, religions and human possibilities.

Although the enslavement of peoples existed in various forms before the transatlantic route, the difference between this and the others is that the transatlantic one was directed with extraordinary cruelty and ghastliness towards only Black Africans, stripping them of all their rights.

Without a doubt, it permanently weakened the African continent and made it vulnerable to European invasion and colonization and plunder. Its legacy includes the racism and contempt from which Africans still suffer from today; White Supremacy was promoted in order to justify the crime of enslavement of Africans.

Rodney, who in addition to being a brilliant academic was a political activist --assassinated in his prime in Guyana-- stated, "The role of slavery in promoting racist prejudice and ideology has been carefully studied in certain situations, especially in the USA. The simple fact is that no people can enslave another for four centuries without coming out with a notion of superiority, and when the color and other physical traits of those peoples were quite different it was inevitable that the prejudice should take a racist form."

This is still evidenced today in many parts of the world. The horror is not yet at an end. The shackles are merely invisible but the "ebony" as a people, is still treated with hatred, prejudice, suspicion and discrimination. To borrow from Fanon, the "wretched" of the earth.

The CNN footage of a slave auction in Libya has now gone global. For all the crimes Quathafi was accused of carrying out during his long dictatorial regime there were never any auctions of enslaved Africans in Libya. The world must stop it.

In the CNN footage young men were being auctioned from as little as 300 --800 Libyan dollars. The auctioneer referred to them as "big strong boys" for farm work. One would be forgiven for thinking we were back in the 19th Century.

The existence of modern-day markets for enslaved Africans in Libya has been known for months, with testimony from the International Organization for Migration and other humanitarian agencies.

The Libyan government has promised to set up a commission to investigate this allegation. One has to wonder if this is because of the revelation of the video footage?

This however is a delayed promise. An investigation should have commenced as far back as April when BBC news first reported this gruesomeness, and the perpetrators brought to book.

This is a regrettable stain on humanity. A reminder of a dark past that should have no place in modern society.

Most of the migrants being auctioned are of West African origin, reminiscent of the 19th Century. As an African and a human being, I am not only outraged but I am saddened and ashamed. What are the governments of these West African countries doing to help their own citizens stranded in Libya?

What are they doing to address the root causes of why our brothers and sisters are risking crossing deserts and seas, where they endure torture, beatings, rapes from their traffickers, searching for a pot of gold in another country?
Tens of thousands have also drowned in the Mediterranean. Where is their outcry? Where is the evidence of their cooperation with the Libyan government in an effort to assist the stranded migrants?

Where is the outrage from the African Union and the United Nations beyond the useless diplomatic statement that "slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the 21st century"?

Action is needed as a matter of utmost urgency. We need collective outcry from the International community.

Wherever a Libyan Embassy or Mission exists organize a demonstration in protest and also encourage a boycott of Libya.

Google the contact information and send letters, email messages and make phone calls or organize protests outside the offices of: Libyan Embassies in your countries of residence; the African Union (AU); your Parliamentary Representatives or Congress in the case of the U.S; and, the United Nations.

We must all act collectively for, as Dr. King warned: "Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other away."

Here in the U.K. we can organize continuous protests at:
Embassy of Libya, London. Address: 15 Knightsbridge, Belgravia, London SW1X 7LY. Phone: 020 7201 8280
Ambassador: Mahmud Mohammed Nacua

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