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quarta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2012

LIZZIE PHELAN: Bani Walid under siege

Fonte: http://lizzie-phelan.blogspot.com/2012/10/bani-walid-under-siege-being-bombed-and.html?spref=bl

Reuters have just reported that the Libyan city of Bani Walid, which despite reports that it was the last to surrender to the NATO led counterinsurgency against the former Libyan government, in fact never did surrender, is being shelled by pro-"government" forces (I put government in parenthesis because there is in fact no authority that can be called a government in Libya, but a vast array of militias that control different areas). The news agency reports that the shelling has so far caused three fatalities including the death of a little girl.

I have also been getting reports over the last few days from Libya that Bani Walid, which has been under siege for about a week (see RT story below), is being threatened with an attack by rebels from Misrata, who have been one of the most notorious elements of the NATO-led insurgency that destroyed Libya's former government and destabilised the entire country, with ripple effects across the region.

It was the rebels in Misrata that received some of the most sympathy from the western media and human rights organisations during the 9 month NATO bombing campaign. That sympathy provided cover for them to be heavily armed, arms which they subsequently used to racially cleanse the neighbouring town of Tawergha, which was mainly populated by black Libyans, but now no longer exists.

It was only after the event of Tawergha being destroyed, that the western corporate media and human rights organisations began to give some tentative coverage to the plight of its people. But not only was timely or adequate coverage not given, such organisations served to inflame the inherent racism of the Misrata militias by instead giving coverage to the entirely baseless claim that the former Libyan government was hiring mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa.

And now the militias from Misrata have been set loose across the country since the bombing into dissolution of the former Libyan government, the persecution of Tawerghans, black-skinned Libyans and migrant workers from other African countries, that was previously confined to rebel held areas has left all black people across the country at high risk.

Should any more evidence of the brutality of the Misrata militias be needed, it was of course members of those groups who were responsible for the sickening treatment and murder of late leader Muammar Gaddafi after he was injured in what most credible accounts report was a NATO attack on his convoy.

Now, again with the arms that have come into their hands and the lack of any force that is able to stop them, because of NATO's destabilisation of Libya, they are threatening to attack Bani Walid with the same kind of tactics they have become notorious for.

The Reuters report says that the city is under siege because it still harbours pockets of pro-Gaddafi elements. But as usual this is a distortion and ignores firstly the fact that the tribe of Bani Walid, the Werfalla, which is also Libya's largest tribe, has always been united ideologically as they were and remain throughout this ongoing crisis. Their position has unwaveringly been to resist the NATO-rebel insurgency, and had it not been for the unity of the Werfalla, then the militias would never be able to enter Bani Walid without heavy bombardment.

The people of Bani Walid are calling on the UN to protect them and intervene to end the siege, prevent further persecution and for international media to raise awareness about their plight.

Here is an RT report describing in more detail the suffering the people of that city are currently enduring:

'No food, no drugs': Libyan troops siege ex-Gaddafi stronghold

Bani Walid, em frente ao Congresso Nacional, em Trípoli 07 de outubro de 2012 (Reuters / Ismail Zitouny)

Armed Libyan forces continue to surround the city of Bani Walid, Libya. As tension between government troops and opposition supporters continues to mount, residents have been left without food and other supplies – and are calling on the UN for help.

Human rights group Amnesty International has asked authorities to avoid unnecessary force, and to allow medical and other vital supplies into the city.

It comes after Libya’s General National Congress gave the Ministries of Interior and Defense permission to use force to arrest those suspected of killing Omran Shaaban – the man who is credited for capturing the country’s ex-leader, Muammar Gaddafi, last year.

Over the past week, government troops have surrounded the city.

“Right now, the armed forces are attacking our city at the eastern boundary between us and Misrata city,” Dr. Abdul-hamid Alshandoli, a member of Bani Walid’s social council who is inside the sieged city, told RT.

The government also called on the release of others being detained in Bani Walid, giving those in the city ten days to comply. The deadline came and went on Friday.

The chief of staff for Libya’s army issued a statement on Thursday, calling on residents to hand over the individuals to avoid a military assault.

According to Amnesty International, hundreds of residents in the city have been arrested by armed militias. Many continue to be detained without being charged or put on trial, and have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, the organization said.

But despite calls from the army, a large number of residents have turned out to protest the demands.

“Many armed groups came to main entrance of Bani Walid and they asked the people to get out of the city. We have decided not to go because we want to defend our rights, our homes, and our families,” Alshandoli said.

As the conflict between government forces and opposition followers continues in the former Gaddafi stronghold, the city is reportedly suffering from a lack of necessary supplies.

On October 4th, local doctors said that a group of armed men prevented three vehicles carrying medical supplies, personnel, and oxygen from entering the city. The men had set up a checkpoint about 80 kilometers away from Bani Walid, according to Bikya Masr news.

“The situation is very bad. No fuel, no food, no drugs, no communication. Everything is in a very bad situation,” Alshandoli said.

A petition circulating around the city on Friday night asked the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting and “to immediately intervene to protect the civilians in the town.”

Signatories of the petition claimed that pro-government armed militias were trying to kill large numbers of people in Bani Walid, because of the city’s pro-Gaddafi history.

However, it seems the solution is not as easy as simply asking the UN for help. “It’s difficult to know how to actually provide assistance in this case. It’s a question of what type of international body has the authority to come in, in what way they have the mandate or ability to act, and how they themselves can be protected – given the repeated and numerous strikes against Western targets in Libya over the past year,” editor of the Corbett Report, James Corbett, told RT.

Bani Walid was one of the last cities to fall under the control of anti-Gaddafi forces last year. Libya is still plagued with violence between pro-Gaddafi loyalists and supporters of the country’s new government – calling into question whether the fall of Gaddafi was indeed the beginning of a new Libya.

According to the UN, many pro-Gaddafi loyalists have been detained in grim conditions, abused and tortured, since last year’s uprising. Reports of mistreatment serve as an embarrassment for Libya’s new government, as well as for western powers – which fiercely supported the rebellion.

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