French Macron helps Libyan anti-refugee armed gangs


This 30 May 2017 video says about itself:

Humanitarian groups accuse Libyan coast guard of ‘endangering refugee lives’

Search and rescue organisations in the Mediterranean Sea are accusing the Libyan coastguard of reckless behaviour that’s endangering lives.

A series of incidents caught on camera appears to show Libyan ships trying to prevent refugees from being pulled from the water. Refugees also say they’ve been robbed and shot at by Libyan forces. Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from Sicily.

By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier in France:

France illegally arming Libyan coastguards to stop refugees from Africa

1 June 2019

While hundreds of thousands of refugees are attempting to escape Libya to Europe, the Macron government in France is providing the Libyan coastguard with six ships to catch refugees sailing to Europe and return them to Libya, where they are imprisoned in concentration camps. The policy, which has been condemned by multiple human rights organizations because of the prevalence of torture, rape, slavery and murder in the camps, is both barbaric and illegal.

At a February security conference in Munich, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly informed Faïez el-Sarraj, the President of the Government of National Unity based in Tripoli, that France had purchased six boats for Libya. The purpose was to stop the flow of migrants attempting to journey across the Mediterranean. According to the press, the ships, built by the company Sillinger, which equips the French special forces, include dedicated supports for the Libyan regime to mount machine guns.

On May 10, the Paris Administrative Court rejected the request of eight human rights organizations—including Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders, Cimade, and Migreurop—to suspend the boats’ delivery. They had pointed to European and UN embargoes against the sale of arms to Libya, and the “foreseeable consequences of the delivery of the six boats for the human rights of migrants and refugees intercepted and returned to Libyan soil.”

In the French-language press, a deafening silence reigns over the atrocious conditions in which refugees are being held in Libyan camps built with the financial support of the European powers. By 2017, human rights organizations and CNN had reported torture, sexual abuse and murder in the detention centers (See: “Amnesty International report exposes EU role in mass torture of refugees in Libya”).

Last November, La Croix interviewed Vincent Cochetel, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on the conditions for refugees detained in Libya.

When asked whether the practicing of slavery in Libya reported in 2017 was disappearing, Cochetel replied: “On the contrary, these practices have increased in number. As it is more difficult to leave Libyan soil, traffickers need to monetize their investment by exploiting even more detainees who are sold or lent by the day. In addition, detention situations have deteriorated.”

He added, “We don’t know much about detention centers controlled by traffickers and militia. But … since the beginning of the year, 14,595 people have been intercepted at sea by the Libyan coastguard and repatriated to Libyan soil. Some of them were finally able to return home with the help of the International Organization for Migration. But it is clear that a large proportion of them have been sold to traffickers to be used for labour on farms or construction sites, or even, for women, for sexual exploitation.”

Cochetel’s testimony underscores that the denunciations of human trafficking by European countries are entirely cynical, because the concentration camps they have built are an essential component of the financial strategy of these networks. According to Cochetel, Libyan law specifies that any irregular foreigner must “pay a fine or hard labour. This legal framework promotes human trafficking and the detention system is part of its business model.”

Libya is currently experiencing a resurgence of civil war between the militias that NATO powers supported during the imperialist war waged in 2011 to destroy the Gaddafi regime. The growth in military conflict, against the backdrop of a struggle for influence between Paris, Rome and other regional powers in the strategic and oil-rich country, only intensifies the suffering of refugees.

Marshal Khalifa Haftar, in conflict with the puppet government in Tripoli, launched an offensive in early April to conquer the capital. According to UN agencies, at least 278 people were killed, 1,332 injured and 35,000 displaced. The International Committee of the Red Cross stated: “The humanitarian situation in and around Tripoli has deteriorated severely in the past three weeks.”

Michael Neuman of MSF, an NGO that still has staff on the ground in Libya, testified to La Croix: “Libyan coastguards are menacing when they intercept migrants at sea, and systematically send them to detention centres. France is complicit in these practices.”

Nevertheless, despite unequivocal evidence, the Paris Administrative Court approved the transfer of the six French ships to Libya to force the refugees to remain in that country: “The decision to make such a free transfer of equipment intended for the Libyan armed forces is not detachable from the conduct of France’s external relations.” The court therefore declared itself incompetent to issue a judgment preventing the transfer of the vessels to the Libyan coastguard.

In other words, French foreign policy is not “detachable” from the torture, rape and murder of thousands of refugees, and a calculated disregard for their basic democratic rights. French policy follows the strategy of Rome, which has also concluded agreements with militia, particularly in Sabratha, to prevent boats from departing for Europe.

This also underlines the fraudulent nature of the official propaganda calling upon workers and youth to vote for pro-EU parties, supposedly to block the rise of neo-fascist organizations. In fact, the imperialist war in Libya has paved the way for the criminalisation of European foreign policy, in line with the xenophobia openly incited by the extreme-right.

This is an unforgettable lesson in the nature of the imperialist war in Libya—as well as the charlatanry of the pro-imperialist petty-bourgeois “left” who applauded NATO’s bombing of Libya as a “humanitarian” operation to liberate the country from Gaddafi.

Postmodernist essayist Bernard Henri-Lévy and the leaders of Olivier Besancenot’s New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) insisted that the country should be bombed, and that rebel Islamist or tribal militias must be armed in order to overthrow the regime. In 2011 Professor Gilbert Achcar of the NPA said that French imperialism should be called upon to protect Libya: “We are in a situation where the population is really in danger and there is no other alternative to protect them.”

These representatives of the wealthy middle classes, whose careers depend on their presence in the official media or on the state funding of their university research, have all adopted the view that imperialism could liberate Libya through a democratic revolution. It was a pack of lies. Now their “democratic revolution” has restored slavery and the most atrocious abuses, partly financed and facilitated by European money and military equipment.

In an address to the National Assembly last night, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced a series of far-reaching austerity measures, particularly targeting pensions and unemployment payments, as well as new attacks against immigrants and Muslims: here.

Advertisements

Libyan bloodbath with imported weapons, UAE soldiers


This 23 May 2019 video says about itself:

Eastern Libya’s renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar has ruled out a ceasefire, saying he wants to get rid of groups from the capital that have “infested” the United Nations-backed government during a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

When the question of a ceasefire was mentioned during the meeting, Haftar asked quote: ‘negotiate with whom for a ceasefire’ end of quote.

Khalifa Haftar rejected suggestions he or forces loyal to him were benefiting from oil sales in the east of the country.

Macron and French officials have for weeks repeated their official support for the Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and have called for an unconditional ceasefire. But some European countries, including France, have also supported Haftar

The battle for Tripoli has killed at least 510 people, forced 75,000 out of their homes, trapped thousands of migrants in detention centers, and flattened some southern suburbs.

It has also forced closures of schools, split families on different sides of the front line, and brought power cuts.

The flare-up in the conflict in Libya – which has been gripped by anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 – began in early April, when Haftar’s Libyan National Army advanced on the capital Tripoli. The LNA is now bogged down in southern suburbs by fighters loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 26 May 2019:

In Tunisia, a United Nations expert has been sued for espionage. Colleague academics suspect that he knows too much about foreign arms support to Libya. Many countries, including western ones, have shown little difficulty in violating the UN arms embargo. The UN envoy for Libya is not really hopeful: “The arms for Libya are coming in from all sides. All parties send weapons.”

The charge of espionage in Tunisia against a UN weapons expert, Moncef Kartas, sheds light on the involvement of other states in the power struggle in Libya. Colleague academics suspect that he had discovered too much about the dubious role of a foreign power that is said to have prompted the Tunisian authorities to take action.

The suspicion goes primarily to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is hardly a secret that the Emirates give Libyan field marshal Khalifa Haftar large-scale arms support, in violation of the UN embargo on Libya. The six-member UN panel of which Kartas is a member mentioned that two years ago in a report.

However, many more players are active. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, … and France are also behind Haftar. Members of the Macron government have opemly expressed their admiration for the ambitious warlord, who has conquered much of Libya.

But also the other camp, the UN-recognized Sarraj government, receives plenty of foreign support, for example from Qatar. “And Turkey has recently been very active in violating the arms embargo,” says researcher Jalal Harchaoui of [the Dutch] Clingendael [institute]. Turkey is also on the side of the government in Tripoli. …

Here, the Volkskrant article should also have mentioned the support for the Tripoli government by the right-wing Salvini government in Italy, the former colonial power in Libya. Like the French Macron government wants Libyan oil for the French Total corporation, the Salvini government wants Libyan oil for the Italian ENI corporation.

The UN panel, which monitors compliance with the arms embargo against Libya, has previously noted that, in particular, Field Marshal Haftar benefits from embargo violations. …

In the annual report for 2018 to the Security Council, the UN panel had already carefully pointed out the accumulation of weapons in eastern Libya: armored vehicles, trucks, machine guns, mortars and rocket launchers. The panel also published critical information on Haftar. … Haftar’s son is said to have stolen millions of Libya’s central bank money. …

At the end of April, it was announced that the panel is investigating missile attacks on Tripoli, carried out by the Emirates army as part of Haftar’s offensive. …

UAE soldiers operate from the Al Khadim base in eastern Libya.

From africanews.com, 14 May 2019:

UNHCR warns against deportation to Libya as fighting continues

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has asked that nobody be returned to Libya as fighting continues in the capital Tripoli.

A spokesman for the UNHCR, Charlie Yaxley, said on Tuesday that returning people to the North African nation cannot be considered a rescue.

“In the past week, around 944 people are known to have departed in boats from the Libyan coast. We know that 65 drowned in an incident off Tunisia, but of the survivors, 65 percent were subsequently disembarked in Libya. The UNHCR has repeatedly called that at this time nobody should be returned to Libya, there are no safe ports there and we cannot consider this to be a rescue if people are being returned to dire conditions inside Tripoli detention centres”, Yaxley said.

A group of aid agencies also called for a U.N. resolution to support people caught up in fighting around Tripoli.

The U.N says 66,000 people have been forced out of their homes and at least 454 others killed since April 5.

Warmongering, Trump, Iran, Libya


This video from London, England is called No Military Intervention in Libya – Gigi Ibrahim | Stop the War protest 12 March 2011.

From daily News Line in Britain:

IRAN has suspended its commitments under the 2015 international nuclear deal, a year after it was ripped up by President Trump.

President Hassan Rouhani said he would keep enriched uranium stocks in the country and would resume production of uranium enriched to a higher level in 60 days.

The 2015 accord was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear power in return for sanctions relief. Iran-US tensions have risen since Washington quit.

Trump ripped up the deal and imposed massive new sanctions on Iran in an attempt to destroy its economy to encourage regime change.

Iran informed the remaining parties to the deal – France, Germany, Russia, China and the UK – of its decision on Wednesday morning.

In response, French Defence Minister Florence Parly told French media that the European powers were doing everything they could to keep the deal alive but there would be consequences and possibly sanctions if the deal was not adhered to.

China and Russia both blamed Washington’s withdrawal from the deal for the current situation.

Iran’s announcement comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unscheduled visit to Iraq, and after a US aircraft carrier-led battle group was deployed to the Gulf region.

Rouhani said he was suspending two parts of the deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that Iran was adhering to: the sale of surplus enriched uranium and heavy water.

He then gave the European powers, Russia and China 60 days to meet their financial and oil commitments to the deal. If they did so, Iran would resume the sales.

If, however, those commitments were not met and the European powers chose to follow US sanctions, he said Iran would begin higher enrichment of uranium, which is currently capped, and begin developing its Arak heavy water reactor based on plans made prior to the deal.

The Iranian president said, ‘We do not want to leave the agreement. All the people of the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA; it is a new step within the framework of the JCPOA.’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fresh from anti-Iran talks in Baghdad with the Iraqi leadership, arrived in the UK yesterday and told PM May that if the UK collaborated with the Chinese firm Huawei, the US might be forced to reduce its presence in the UK and cut its intelligence partnership, putting an end to any ‘special relationship’.

Addressing a press conference alongside Foreign Secretary Hunt, both leaders identified Labour leader Corbyn and John McDonnell as the main enemies for supporting Venezuela.

Hunt told the Guardian on Tuesday that he had regrets that his country’s policy on Libya has failed since London and allies in the NATO military alliance launched an invasion in 2011 to oust long-time ruler Muammar Gadaffi.

We have not covered ourselves in glory with our policy on Libya. Let us face it,’ Hunt said.

He added that if London knew that Libya would become a hotbed of militancy in North Africa, it would have had second thoughts on the 2011 invasion.

He said: ‘If we knew in 2011 we would be in the situation we are now, we would be asking ourselves some searching questions.’

Echoing the US line, he said ‘Britain should take a lesson from its failure in the 2011 invasion of Libya and allow Haftar to have a role in the future Libyan government.’

‘We do not agree with what Haftar is doing. We do not think it is possible for Haftar to achieve a military victory, and as a government he will not be seen as legitimate. So we want a political process,’ he said.

Libya, European Union-subsidized hell for refugees


This video is called EXCLUSIVE: Full incident of 06 November 2017 with the Libyan Coast Guard.

Translated from Maite Vermeulen, 24 April 2019, on Dutch site De Correspondent:

At the end of 2017, a boat with 150 African migrants sank on the Mediterranean Sea. Some drown, some are brought to Italy, some disappear in a hellish Libyan detention center. 17 survivors are now taking legal action. And it may turn the entire European Union migration policy upside down. …

It is becoming increasingly difficult to rescue migrants in distress in the Mediterranean as the Libyan Coast Guard acts more and more aggressively in international waters.

The Libyans don’t do that for fun, but for money. The Libyan Coast Guard is funded, equipped and coordinated by Italy and the EU. That’s how we save migrants from drowning, is the official story. And, oh yes, nicely included: fewer migrants arrive in Europe this way. Because the Libyans take the migrants back to their own coast and put them there in detention centers.

That makes people in this room furious, especially researcher Charles Heller. He believes that the violence that these migrants endure in Libya, while according to international treaties they are entitled to a fair asylum procedure, is the greatest injustice of our time.

Hence the subject of the meeting: strategic litigation. … Start a lawsuit in the hope that this will result in case law that forces countries to review their policies.

… Heller’s work has previously been the basis for such strategic matters. He is at the helm of Forensic Oceanography, a research project at the University of London that reconstructs human rights violations at sea.

According to international and European law you cannot send refugees back to countries like Libya, where their life or freedom are at risk.

The question that now keeps Heller awake is: how can you hold Europe legally responsible for the actions of the Libyan coast guard? Or, as he says in his characteristic tone – thoughtfully but confidently – to the group in Paris: “How do you translate violence into violations?” …

Patrick has not slept for more than 24 hours. But there is no room to sit anywhere, let alone lie. They are packed like animals. They have not received any food, no drinks. With water from the toilet bowl in the corner, he flushed the salt from his mouth. He has scratches and bruises everywhere from the fighting on the sinking boat.

His daughter is dead. He knows for sure. In the wave caused by the Libyan coast guard ship, he saw the man holding her disappear overboard.

When he was pulled onto the deck of the Libyan ship, it was chaos – men and women were separated, the Libyans beat people with ropes.

He has seen his wife there, but he has not been able to talk to her.

Patrick is pushed around the prison, he is not allowed to stand anywhere. Fuck off, get out. A man taps him on the shoulder: asks if he’s from Benin City, too. ‘Yes Yes! I had a clothing store there”, says Patrick. The man gives him a place where he can crawl on his side against a wall. …

“It is possible that this case can prove Europe’s complicity in refoulement and death of migrants at sea, using all the video material and the recordings of radio traffic.” …

In Libya, where Samuel hoped to find work, he was abducted, sold at a slave market and forced to work day in, day out at a tomato farm.

After eight months he managed to escape, in the chaos of fighting between two armed groups. A Libyan who felt sorry for him said he could take him to a safe place in Egypt. Only on the rubber boat did he hear that they were going to Europe.

Samuel kept himself alive for more than two hours before being pulled aboard by one of Sea-Watch’s speedboats. When a boy who could not swim pulled him under water, he thought he would die. But he managed to drag him up and grab a life jacket. That way they both stayed afloat. …

When Charles Heller sees the images for the first time, he thinks: What have we done? It suddenly comes in: European Union policy has made the sea a deadly liquid.

The gigantic inequality in the value of human lives – he had never before seen that so clearly.

And that makes this case absolutely unique. Not before they had such a wealth of information at Forensic Oceanography to help reconstruct an incident. …

When Charles hangs up the phone, he knows: they are another step closer to their smoking gun. After weeks of trying, he finally got the Libyan Coast Guard Sergeant back on the line. He spoke to him earlier, just after the incident. But now Sergeant Masoud Abdel Samad has confirmed that they received the coordinates of the rubber boat from Rome on 6 November. In other words: without the Italians, the Libyans would never have been there.

It is one of the many pieces of evidence that Charles Heller and his colleague Lorenzo Pezzani have received.

Another favourite: a photo they found in the Reuters press agency archive, taken on May 15, 2017.

Right in the middle is the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti,

Mr Minniti was minister in the previous Italian ´center left´ government. Not in the present right wing government.

surrounded by a myriad of cameras. Behind him lies a new, light gray boat. The number 648 is clearly legible on the bow.

Charles knows that number. He watched the Sea-Watch videos for hours: it is the same boat that the Libyan coast guard used on November 6, 2017. The same boat that capsized the “balloon” rubber boat of Patrick and Samuel.

In addition, internal EU reports show that eight of the thirteen Libyan crew members on boat 648 have been trained by the EU.

A whole team of legal experts is now involved in the case. It looks like they’re getting the evidence against Italy. …

Contact with the men who are still in Libya was emotionally the hardest – perhaps too heavy. The stories about torture, slave trade, electrocution. The tangible fear on the phone. …

At sea, migrants in need are increasingly left to their own devices. At the beginning of this year, the Sea-Watch 3 was the only European lifeboat to pick up drowning people. She traveled around Europe’s coasts for several weeks before being allowed to drop rescued migrants into a European port.

In February the boat was chained in Sicily by order of the Dutch government.

And in March, the EU also stopped its anti-smuggling operations in the Mediterranean.

‘Europe [the European Union] wanted to demoralise us, to keep us away, to make sure we wouldn’t save any more migrants’. Ben Cowles speaks to FABIAN HEINZ, volunteer activist aboard the migrant rescue boat Europe turned its back on.

Libyan oil war endangers refugees


This 25 February 2019 British TV video says about itself:

European Union immigration: Tortured for trying to enter Europe

New evidence of how Libyan authorities are tackling the “common challenge” of migration. Footage from inside camps in Libya shows migrants living in shocking conditions.

This video was edited on 6th March 2019 following a disputed date/origin.

And there are disturbing signs that some migrants are being tortured … This report contains images that some viewers will find distressing.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV, 24 April 2019:

The United Nations refugee organization has evacuated 325 refugees from a prison camp south of the Libyan capital Tripoli. According to the UNHCR, this was necessary because the safety of the refugees was at stake due to fighting in the neighborhood.

The refugees have been taken from the Qaser Ben Gashir camp to a detention camp near the village of Azzawya, some 50 kilometers west of Tripoli. According to UNHCR, it is safer there.

Yes, maybe less lethal fights nearby. But still, from one torture camp to another torture camp. While these refugees are not ‘guilty’ of any ‘crime’ worse than fleeing wars in Mali, in South Sudan, etc.

The immediate reason for the UNHCR decision was an incident yesterday, in which twelve migrants were injured when they protested against the conditions in the detention center where they were staying. What exactly happened is unclear, but the migrants had to go to the hospital for treatment. Amnesty International wants an investigation into whether there was a war crime.

“It has never been so dangerous for refugees and migrants in Tripoli as it is today,” says Matthew Brook of the UNHCR mission in Libya. “It is vital that refugees who are in danger are released and evacuated.”

Fear

At another detention camp in the Tajoura suburb, on the east side of Tripoli, Libyans have opened the doors so that refugees who are detained can flee. But according to Reuters news agency nobody dared to leave the camp.

“We can’t go anywhere,” a 20-year-old man told a reporter from the news agency. According to Reuters, most people in the camp do not dare to leave for fear of ending up in battles around the capital.

Offensive

At the beginning of this month the Libyan warlord Haftar started an offensive. He wants to overthrow the … government in Tripoli. Since then, there has been frequent fighting in the Libyan capital.

The UNHCR has already relocated 825 refugees and migrants in the last two weeks because of the fighting. The UN organization wants the 3,000 people still trapped in camps to be released.

Italy has asked the European Union to draw up a plan of action for if a flow of refugees might start due to fighting in Libya.

So, the Italian right-wing Salvini government is much more scared of Libyan and other African refugees fleeing to European countries than of those refugees being killed in the French-Italian proxy oil war in Libya. In this, Emmanuel Macron, French right-wing president and supporter of Libyan warlord Haftar, thinks just like Salvini, his enemy in the proxy oil war in Libya.