HRW to Libyan Rebels: Stop Mass Arrests of Black People

Rights Group Urges Rebels to Stop Arresting People Over Skin Color

In a statement issued today top humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch urged the NATO-backed Libyan rebel forces to stop arbitrarily arresting black people and to release everyone being held with only skin color as evidence.

“It’s a dangerous time to be dark-skinned in Tripoli,” noted HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson, urging the rebels to stop arresting people unless they have concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

This seems unlikely, however, as the rebels have made it all but official policy to arrest anyone blacker than usual since they took over Tripoli, rounding up African migrants en masse and accusing them of all being “mercenaries” for the Gadhafi regime.

The Gadhafi regime had indeed courted mercenary fighters from neighboring nations, but oil-rich Libya also has a long history of migrant workers from these same nations, and many of them were unable to flee when the civil war began earlier this year. Now they remain in prison under suspicion, with constant talk of mass executions over their heads.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.