September 19, 2011, From Reuters:
GENEVA (Reuters) - Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) pledged on Monday to treat foreigners accused of fighting for ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi well, and denied that anti-Gaddafi fighters had committed systematic abuse of Africans.
Mohammed al-Alagi, identified as the minister of justice and human rights of the NTC, told the U.N. Human Rights Council that Gaddafi had used mercenaries to kill Libyans, but that any who were captured would be treated fairly.
"The Gaddafi regime declared war on the Libyan people, and used foreign mercenaries," al-Alagi said. "But when captured they will still have the right to an appropriate trial before an ordinary judge and according to international law."
He added: "We do not make any distinction among people on grounds of colour. And we do not discriminate against our brothers from African countries."
Al-Alagi said that the NTC would investigate fully any violations of human rights committed by its fighters.
"There have been no war crimes (by anti-Gaddafi forces)," he said. "If anything illegal has happened, it was individual acts by revolutionaries who were not acting under instructions from the NTC. We have called on the revolutionaries to treat prisoners according to Islamic Shariah and international law."
There is something that I have been meaning to point out about the the Qaddafi mercenaries that is important for every one to remember: Most of them are victims too.
I'm not talking here about the black African immigrants that have been mistaken for mercenaries. They are already twice victimized. First as the abused and second as the accused. I'm talking about the one's who really were fighting against the revolution, the one's who took lives and committed atrocities.
While a handful fit the "Soldier of Fortune" image we have been taught to associate with mercenaries, and some fought out of a confused idealogical loyalty to Qaddafi, many became mercenaries pretty much the same way British seamen in a certain period became sailors, in a word, they were Shanghaied.
If you have been following this uprising for the past 8 months you've heard the stories. Africans who were lured by a "free" plane ride to Tripoli, only when they got there they found a gun in their hands and one at their back, marching them off to war. Others were told that they were needed to fight against atrocities committed against innocent people, or to fight al Qaeda and other terrorists. A tale that is also used to lure high school students in the US to their deaths.
Still others, faced with starving children at home and no job prospects, found it impossible to refuse the chance to earn an illusionary $1000/week for doing this good work. The Qaddafi regime has spent more than four decades cultivating it's skills at luring Africans to war. I will post more on that latter.
I hope that all involved will remember this and treat even the genuine mercenaries with compassion and mercy. As criminals they should be tried and punished according to law. As defeated and captured soldiers they should be objects of our pity, not our vengeance.
As one blogger for the African Herald Express wrote about:
how many are conscripted by Gadhafi and forced to defend themselves or die facing Gadhafis opponents and defectors. It is a no win situation for these poor Africans that went to Libya for fortune or were working there when civil war broke out.If the NTC and the Libyan people do this they will stand high among the nations. They will show to an increasingly violent world, that even though a people sometimes must resort to violence to win their freedom, they will not be ruled by it.
This is the next great lesson you need to teach the world.
Mummar Qaddafi has been especially careful to cultivate loyalty among the Tuaregs, a black African tribe spread over southern Libya, Niger and Algeria. Suggested reading for more background on that relationship should probably include this:
GADDAFI AND THE TOUAREG: Love, hate and petro-dollars
Touareg attitudes to Gaddafi vary wildly, depending on country of origin and history (First published by Monocle Magazine - Online only, March 2011)
Here is the story of one of Qaddafi's Tuaregs mercenaries:
Former Qaddafi Mercenaries Describe Fighting in Libyan War
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ethnic Tuaregs left Mali to fight for Muammar Qaddafi. Now, some are returning home to tell their story
TIMBUKTU, Mali Last month at a guesthouse within sight of the rolling dunes of the open Sahara, I sat down to await one of Muammar Qaddafis mercenaries. Through an intermediary he agreed to meet and explain why the Tuareg an ancient Saharan people who inhabit large desert swathes of Libya, Mali, Niger, and Algeria would help the Libyan leader crush the democracy protests including unarmed civilians, women, and children and eventually join in all-out war against the ensuing rebellion
read more here...
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
for more on this question.