Libya Pakistan Afghanistan & other targets of American & Western State Violence Best Articles Sep 2011
Libya Pakistan Afghanistan & other targets of American & Western State Violence Best Articles Sep 2011
Libya's rebels accused of illegal arrests and revenge killings
By Tracey Shelton
Created 1969-12-31 20:00
LIBYA: NTC MUST TAKE CONTROL TO PREVENT SPIRAL OF ABUSES
13 September 2011
AI Index: PRE01/454/2011
The National Transitional Council (NTC) must get a grip on armed anti-Gaddafi groups to stop reprisal attacks and arbitrary arrests, Amnesty International warned as it released a major report into human rights violations during the Libyan conflict.
The 107-page report The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture reveals that while al-Gaddafi forces committed widespread crimes under international law during the conflict, forces loyal to the NTC have also committed abuses that in some cases amounted to war crimes.
“The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.
“The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently, end abuses and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed."
“A top priority must be to assess the state of the justice sector and start its reform, to ensure due process and deliver access to justice and reparation for victims.”
Amnesty International found evidence that during the conflict al-Gaddafi forces committed war crimes and abuses which may amount to crimes against humanity, including indiscriminate attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests. In most cases it was civilians who bore the brunt of these violations.
But the organization also documented a brutal "settling of scores" by some anti-Gaddafi forces when al-Gaddafi forces were ejected from eastern Libya, including lynchings of al-Gaddafi soldiers after capture.
Dozens of people suspected to be former security agents, al-Gaddafi loyalists or mercenaries have been killed after capture since February in Eastern Libya.
When Al-Bayda, Benghazi, Derna, Misratah and other cities first fell under the control of the NTC in February, anti-Gaddafi forces carried out house raids, killings and other violent attacks against suspected mercenaries, either sub-Saharan Africans or black Libyans.
It is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill prisoners.
Amnesty International warned that as fighting continues, with some parts of the country still contested, there is a danger these patterns could be repeated.
Foreigners from African countries continue to be particularly at risk, the organization said. Between a third and a half of all those in detention centres in Tripoli and al-Zawiya are foreign nationals – Amnesty believes that most of these are migrant workers and not fighters.
Amnesty International found that widespread rumours that al-Gaddafi forces used large numbers of sub-Saharan African mercenaries in February had been significantly exaggerated. But NTC officials have done little to correct false assumptions that sub-Saharan Africans were mercenaries.
The organization welcomed the fact that in May, the NTC issued guidelines for its forces to act in accordance with international law and standards and in August the NTC Chair called on anti-Gaddafi forces to refrain from reprisal attacks. The NTC also sent text messages to Libyan mobile users telling them to avoid revenge attacks and treat detainees with dignity.
Presenting a comprehensive “Human Rights Agenda for Change” to the NTC, Amnesty International called on the new authorities to immediately bring all detention centres under the control of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and to ensure that arrests are only conducted by official bodies rather than the “thuwwar” (revolutionaries).
Prison officials in Tripoli and al-Zawiya have told Amnesty International that they report to military and local councils rather than the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
Amnesty International, which has taken testimonies from more than 200 detainees since the fall of al-Zawiya and Tripoli, believes that hundreds of people have been taken from their homes, at work, at check-points, or simply from the streets.
Many have been ill-treated upon arrest, being beaten with sticks, backs of rifles, kicked, punched and insulted, at times while blindfolded and handcuffed. In some cases, detainees reported being shot after being seized.
The organization called on the NTC to prioritise the investigation of those on all sides of the conflict suspected of responsibility for abuses, with a view to prosecution in fair trials that meet international standards and ensuring reparation for victims.
“Those responsible for the dreadful repression of the past under Colonel al-Gaddafi will need to be held accountable.” said Claudio Cordone. “The thuwwar must be judged according to the same standards. Without this, justice would not be done and a vicious cycle of abuses and reprisals risks being perpetuated.”
“Libyans have had to endure great suffering for decades. They deserve to participate in the building of a new Libya where these kinds of abuses are no longer repeated and tolerated.”
Notes for editors:
The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture is largely based on Amnesty International’s fact-finding visit to Libya between 26 February and 28 May 2011, including to the cities of al-Bayda, Ajdabiya, Brega, Benghazi, Misratah and Ras Lanouf. Amnesty International delegates returned to Libya in late August, days before opposition forces stormed Tripoli.
From Tripoli: Amnesty International Senior Director Claudio Cordone (English, Italian) and Libya specialists Diana Eltahawy (English, Arabic) and Samira Bouslama (French, Arabic) are available for interview.
From London: Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who was in Libya between February and May, is available for interview in English, French, Spanish or Italian.
Contact: For more information, to obtain an embargoed copy of the full report and “Agenda for Change” in advance, and to arrange interviews, please contact the Amnesty International Press Office on +44 (0) 20 7413 5566 or email email@example.com
The Washington Posttoday describes the failure of regimented programs in Afghanistan to reintegrate Taliban teenagers ("Taliban" (alt.: "Terrorist") means "any Afghan who fights against the presence of foreign military forces in their country" and "reintegrate" means "persuading or compelling them to passively acquiesce to those forces"):
The teenage insurgents spend their days learning to make shoes and bookshelves, listening to religious leaders denounce the radical interpretation of Islam they learned as children.
But when they return to their cells at Kabul's juvenile rehabilitation center, the boys with wispy beards and cracking voices talk only of the holy war from which they were plucked and their plans to resume fighting for the Taliban.
As the Taliban presses its efforts to recruit teenage fighters, Afghan officials and their international backers have crafted a program to reintegrate the country's youngest insurgents into mainstream society. But that ambition is coming up against the intransigence of the teens, who say they would rather be on the battlefield.
"We'll fight against America for a thousand years if we have to," said Ali Ahmad, 17, sitting at a desk that has hearts and Koran verses scratched in the wood . . .
"They bring us here to change us," said Nane Asha, in his late teens. "But this is our way. We cannot be changed." . . .
The Taliban visited Asha’s school when he was about 13,preaching the evils of American interlopers and the value of violent jihad. Asha approached the speaker after the sermon ended. "How can I join you?" he asked. . . .
Within a few weeks, Asha was enrolled in a six-month training course, learning how to fire a Kalashnikov and to connect a nest of wires and explosives that could take out a U.S. tank. He studied the material obsessively. . . .
Reintegration is at the heart of U.S. and Afghan government strategies to wind down the war, with schooling and employment being offered to coax fighters away from the insurgency.
To summarize: our invasion and occupation is what enables the Taliban to recruit massive numbers of Afghan teenagers into their cause. And now, we have to stay until we either kill all the people who hate us and want us gone from their country or
propagandize deradicalize them into meekly accepting our presence. Once there are no more Afghans left who want us gone, then we can leave. For those of you who have been cynically claiming that this war has no discernible purpose other than the generalized benefits of Endless War for political officials and the Security State industry, now you know.
(Of course, the goal of ridding Afghanistan of all those who want to fight us will never happen precisely because the American military presence in their country produces an endless supply of American-hating fighters -- just as the Soviet military presence there once did, and just as the general War on Terror [and its various bombings, detentions, occupations, assassinations and the like] ensures that Terrorism never ends by producing an endless supply of American-hating Terrorists -- but that's just a detail. All wars have challenges. At least we can now see the very important purpose of the war in Afghanistan: we stay until there's nobody left who hates us and wants us gone, then we triumphantly depart.)
More: Glenn Greenwald
AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
Medical nurses of U.S Marines carry the injuried Afghan boy to hospital after he fell from a wall at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan
Libya's rebels accused of illegal arrests and revenge killings
Tracey Shelton September 13, 2011 09:14
Tripoli prisons alleged to have cases of abuse and discrimination.
TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya’s National Transitional Council, the country's new governing authority, must bring rebel forces under its control and stop what appears to be arbitrary arrests and revenge killings, Amnesty International said today.
While the war crimes committed by Muammar Gaddafi and his forces are comparatively well known, Amnesty International said in a report that the rebels had also committed widespread abuses since the revolution began in February, including the execution of dozens of pro-Gaddafi prisoners. Hundreds of black migrant workers, assumed to be mercenaries, have also been detained and are being held illegally, the rights group said.
“The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the center of their agenda,” said Claudio Cordone, a senior director at Amnesty International.
More than half the prisoners detained in Tripoli and Zawiya are believed to be foreign nationals. Most are believed to be migrant workers and not fighters. Migrant families have also been the target of harassment and discrimination, forcing many to leave their homes.
The problem is apparent In Tripoli’s Al Jadaida prison, where both Libyan and foreign nationals pleaded their innocence through the bars of overcrowded, sweltering cells on one recent day. More than half of the 760 detainees at Al Jadaida are black migrants.
“I have lived here with my Libyan wife for 23 years,” said Faisal Mohammed from a dark dreary cell that held 29 Sudanese men. “The new government arrested me as I walked in the street with my wife two weeks ago. I have not been allowed any contact with my family since.”
Although conditions under which the Libyan war prisoners were kept appeared similar to those of the foreign nationals, the Libyan prisoners who spoke to GlobalPost had all been allowed contact with their families. The foreigners, meanwhile, had not been permitted any contact with their family, lawyers or their Libyan employers, whose testimony could clear their names.
“The treatment is the same, the environment is the same, but I don’t think the judgment will be the same,” said Victor Baboa, a prisoner from Liberia, who said he has worked in Libya for 5 years as an engineer. “We have no lawyers, no case, no communication. How can we defend ourselves?”
James Foley with the Libyan rebels:
Other prisoners said they believed racism influenced their treatment.
FROM LIBYA: For love of guns, the worrisome proliferation of small arms 
“If you are Libyan, you can get anything when you want it — food, water, cigarettes,” said one detainee as he rolled a half-filled water bottle to thirsty prisoners in the opposite cell. “But for us, they give us the minimum.”
Moments later a guard distributed juice and biscuits to cells containing Libyan inmates, bypassing the cells of sub-Saharan prisoners.
Samira Bouslama, an Amnesty International researcher based in Tripoli, said although racism against black migrants has long been evident in Libya, Gaddafi’s claim that “all African’s will defend me,” as well as exaggerated reports that large numbers of sub-Saharan mercenaries had joined his forces, has fueled hatred and xenophobia.
“We expect these arbitrary arrests of black Africans will continue for some time because there is no system in place and everyone has a gun,” Bouslama said, adding that at this time there is only one official detention center in the capital and that Amnesty International does not have a clear idea of how many unofficial centers are under operation.
Bouslama said black female detainees had reported verbal abuse, molestation while being searched, and unsanitary living conditions.
For the men in detention, Bouslama said, there appears to be no discrimination between the prisoners, but many, both Libyan and foreign, had been beaten and in some cases tortured during their initial arrest.
In the early stages of the revolution, GlobalPost received reports of mistreatment of mercenaries. Many rebel fighters openly admitted that mercenary prisoners were not shown the same mercy as native Libyan captives. One video viewed by GlobalPost, dating from March, showed about 10 black prisoners in a cramped concrete cell with clear signs they had been beaten under interrogation.
In Tripoli’s Central Hospital, several Gaddafi fighters, including both Libyan and foreign nationals, were being treated last week.
Mohammed, a soldier from the notorious Brigade 32, was still being treated after his leg was shattered in battle one month before. He did not want to give his full name, but he claimed to be of black Libyan decent. Hospital staff disputed this claim, saying that his accent and appearance were clearly foreign.
Mohammed was thin and his eyes seemed filled with fear. But he spoke well of the hospital staff.
“Thanks to God I am still alive,” he said. “I am not afraid. They treat me very well.”
A clear hostility was shown toward the foreign African patients by members of the hospital's security staff, but medical workers appeared to treat all the patients equally.
In a recent visit to a school building in Misrata that has now been transformed into a prison, a group of young Libyan war prisoners sat and joked with their warden. Although facilities have become overcrowded in the past two weeks, prisoners said they received good food, recreation facilities, medical care, visiting rights and regular contact with family members.
Many at this prison are still teenagers. Others served in Gaddafi’s army for many years. Some said they had fought out of loyalty for a leader they once believed in. Others said they fought out of fear, knowing retreat was punished with death.
“One man in our unit wanted to go back home,” said Abdul Basset Amara, 26. “Our commander made him dress in women’s clothing and told him he was free to go. Humiliated, he returned to the front.”
The inmates spoke of the propaganda they were told that had convinced them to fight. They spoke of stories of Al Qaeda, foreign invasions, and fictitious victories in other parts of the country. With no outside contact, the men said they believed what they were told.
Abdul Gassem, 26, said he volunteered to “liberate the people of Misrata from the foreign invaders.” But when he found himself fighting face to face against fellow Libyans he realized this was no foreign invasion and surrendered.
“At first they [the rebel unit] didn’t treat me so well, but then we started talking and we became friends,” Gassem said. “They still come here to visit me and make sure I’m OK.”
Horror stories of the killing of rebel prisoners were also numerous.
“Our commanders told us the rebels cut the throats of anyone who surrendered, and cut them into pieces and ate their hearts,” Amara said. “We were afraid to be captured, but in here they treat us like brothers.”
Mohammed Abubaker, 16, said he was chosen along with 45 other students when Gaddafi soldiers visited their high school. Their families were told they were needed to man check points within the city but instead they were shipped directly to the front line near Misrata.
While fighting in Dafnia, Abubaker was shot several times. He hid in the sand as rebel forces advanced.
“They called out if anyone was alive to surrender and we would be OK,” he said. “I came out from my hiding place and handed over my weapon. They took me directly to the hospital. Many people looked after me because of my age — like a son.”
Abubaker said that when he was transferred to the prison he was able to call his mother for the first time since he was taken from the school. His family had been told he died and had already held a funeral for him.
“When I called my family, everyone was crying,” he said.
The National Transition Council's Justice Coordinator Jamal Bennor said it was too early to estimate how many prisoners of war were being held throughout Libya as the numbers had risen rapidly over the past few weeks and are continuing to rise.
Bennor said a justice committee had been established to deal with the prisoners and investigations were already underway. Those found guilty will be separated into three categories — criminal prisoners, military prisoners and members of Gaddafi's secret police, known as the 5th columnists.
This last category will remain in custody not only for their crimes but also for the own protection, he said, adding that the risk of revenge killings against men like this is extremely high.
He said the next critical step is to form a new high judicial council made up of trusted and non-corrupt members of the community.
"It will take time," Bennor said. "There are many prisoners and many obstacles. But I think the investigation process will move quickly."
As for rebel fighters accused of committing crimes, Bennor said the matter is highly complex and timing is crucial.
FROM LIBYA: What goes up must come down, friendly fire a menace 
“To be completely transparent, we know there are many crimes committed by the rebels, but it is difficult to try rebel fighters at this time," he said. "It is illogical in some situations — the people will not accept this. They committed crimes but they are still standing with us at the same rank."
Bennor said the solution is all about timing. To place men hailed as heroes before a court would not be accepted. It would incite instability and internal conflict, moving the country in the wrong direction.
"At the same time we are committed to enforcing the law and those accused should face a court in time," he said.
With rebel forces set to advance on Sirte and Bani Walid on Tuesday, hopes are high that the leaders and those most responsible for the crimes committed in Libya, including Gaddafi himself, would be caught shortly and would face trial in Libya.