Maghreb uprisings: Truth is impossible to find

Published on Pambazuka News, by Sokari Ekine, June 9, 2011.

Despite all the news and analysis on Libya, we still don’t know very much about who the rebels are and where their support comes from, writes Sokari Ekine… //


The refugee crisis in Tunisian camps and on the Mediterranean continues as thousands and thousands of migrant workers and Libyans flee the conflict. There are reports of an increasing number of migrants escaping in flimsy boats and drowning at sea. It seems to me that this humanitarian crisis is not only being ignored by NATO countries but they are in fact making the situation worse as their concern does not extend to helping the most vulnerable. At the very least providing safe passage and properly equipped boats to evacuate refugees. Last month the Telegraph reported that 800 refugees had drowned whilst trying to escape. Mayibuye Blog by Priority African Network has a series of reports on the fate of refugees. Pan African Newswire reports on the latest deaths of 150 African migrants found of the Tunisian coast last Tuesday. 

‘“Up to now 150 bodies of refugees have been found off the shores of Kerkennah,” Carole Laleve, an official with the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, told Reuters. She added: “Search operations are continuing.”

‘The boats encountered problems on Tuesday about 12 miles off Kerkennah as they headed for Italy, Tunisia’s state news agency TAP reported.

‘Tunisian coastguards and military rescued 570 people, but many others went into the water when a stampede to get off the small fishing boats – combined with the effect of rough seas – capsized some of the vessels, an official said.’

To put the Libyan rebels’ view in perspective, Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report, makes the important point that everyone was consulted before the Libyan attacks except Africans ‘whose latest peace plan has been rejected’. He also comments on the rebels:

‘These rebels have lost all legitimacy in deciding to become the ground troops for an invasion of neo-colonial North Africa.’ As subordinates, they will only obey orders……The U.S. and Europe consider that Africans have no say in what happens in Africa. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma , made a second trip to Libya this week on behalf of the African Union to negotiate a diplomatic end to NATO’s war against the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Colonel Qaddafi has accepted the peace plan just as he had agreed that a peacekeeping mission last of the African Union in early April. And exactly the same way, the so-called rebels and their U.S. and European bosses have refused to even consider a ceasefire. It is obvious from the beginning of this farce “humanitarian” than white European moguls and “Mascot Wall Street” as the U.S. called on Obama, want a regime change in Libya and nothing else-and the devil Africans and their ideas on the issue!’

Two activists from ‘Global Peace for Civilians in Libya’ send a number of informative video reports from Tripoli. Lizzie Cocker’s report counters much of the West/NATO/Libyan rebel propaganda. There is very little security in Tripoli, business is as usual. There is a shortage of labour as many Black Africans have fled not least because of attacks against them due to the stories of ‘Black mercenaries’. (It would be interesting to try to find out where Black Africans were fleeing from and specific reasons!).

In a second video Cocker interviews the general secretary of the Pan African Democratic Movement on the lynching of Black Libyans and migrants in the East of the country – rebel-held areas. None of this has been reported. To return to the point made by Enough Gaddafi, the interview mentions nothing about Gaddafi’s imprisonment of thousands of black migrants in the south of the country and insists there is no racism in Libya.

Sukant Chandan, who blogs on Sons of Malcolm, interviews a hospital worker in Tripoli on the large numbers of people dying from NATO bombs. In a personal videocast, Sukant is highly critical of the anti-war movement in the West, which has been silent on Libya. He goes on to comment on Human Rights Watch report, which states that the cluster bombs found in Misrata are NATO’s not Gaddafi’s and that there are no black African mercenaries. Unfortunately CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera – which is itself so much part of the North African/Middle East uprisings, but which is becoming more like CNN everyday – simply unquestionably repeat NATO/UN statements.



An Anthology of Contemporary Voices, Edited by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez, Pauline Dongala, Omotayo Jolaosho, Anne Serafin, on Pambazuka News.

African awakenings and new visions of solidarity, by Firoze Manji, Molly Kane and Pius Adesanmi, June 9, 2011.

Comments are closed.