An underreported aspect of the conflict in Libya is that some anti-Gadhafi rebels are indiscriminately killing Black people, according to reports.

The African Union has refused to recognize the Transitional National Council of Libya as the legitimate government of that country because they charge that the rebels have been indiscriminately killing Black Africans, confusing innocent workers with mercenaries that Moammar Gadhafi has recruited from sub-Saharan African countries as his soldiers and bodyguards.

“We need clarification because the TNC seems to confuse Black people with mercenaries…They are killing normal workers,” said Jean Ping, the chairperson of the commission of the African Union. “(They seem to think) all Blacks are mercenaries. If you do that it means (that the) one-third of the population of Libya which is Black is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them.”

Ping added: “Maybe its looters, uncontrolled forces. But then the government should say something, condemn this. We want to see a signal that the African workers that are there, they should be evacuated.”

Some in the West may seek to dismiss the AU’s claim because the organization was slow to condemn Gadhafi and his violent crackdown on his own people. Gadhafi has also helped to bankroll the AU, which he once led.

However the AU is not alone in its claim.

Amnesty International, a respected international human rights organization, is also urging Libya’s rebels to end attacks against Blacks, saying fighters engaging in such abuses should be immediately detained and investigated.

Amnesty said last Wednesday that its delegation in Tripoli has witnessed a number of incidents in which the rebels detained or abused Black hospital patients.

The United States and the United Nations should join the African Union and Amnesty in demanding that rebels or other anti-Gadhafi forces stop indiscriminately killing and abusing Black people.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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