last edits Oct. 13
A recent turn of the news has spurred me to finally finish this long-neglected draft post. At least fifty-three more people have been found killed in the expanding Tripoli massacres, burnt to literally skeletal remains. These were found, still smoldering, on August 26 or 27 (accounts vary) in a warehouse next to the base of the demonized Khamis brigade, long reported to engage in serious crimes against humanity. Thus the crime is blamed saqurely, by location and by several self-described escapees of the massacre, as committed by the Gaddafi regime against those in the uprising.
The incident remains, in this researcher's mind, extremely questonable. I will wait until I've reviewed the evidence closer to to see if it still seems that way then. Most who hear these reports will, however, just presume it's all the truth, and not possibly made up by the rebel forces or the suspiciously numerous but relatively consistent eyewitnesses.
The temptation to just believe is understandable. After all, this heinous cinderization of families, freedom-seekers, and a few soldiers who wanted to defect, matches a previously "known" pattern: Gaddafi troops charring people like this, especially the mutinous military folk, in moments of extreme peril. Just before or maybe just after rebel fighters overwhelm some notorious government positions and kill them or send them running, Gaddafi's thugs allegedly often make a decision to burn the hell out of someone noble who's simply standing up for what's right.
This previous pattern is something I've somehow managed to gloss over almost completely, even at the epic Rebel Atrocity Videos. I've been meaning to fix that and note the alleged burning, alive, of government soldiers, by the government, along with my suspicions that something else was going on there.
As the claims stood back in February, this extreme death was usually ordered for those heroic soldiers who refused to attack protesters as ordered. However, this same motive was claimed for a certain 22 soldiers (among 130 total!), bound and executed by gunshots to the head in or around al Baida. They wouldn't shoot protester, so their officers shot them, before just disappearing themselves.
And in the case of the al-Baida massacre, the rebel claim falls apart on scrutiny. A separate video (posted by rebels, later pulled, and in-between found and shown by Libyan TV) shows at least one of the men killed, among nine men with several possible matches with the heroic dead, still alive and being sentenced to die by their captors - bearded, civilian, "protesters," clearly. Their crime was pronounced as daring to shoot back as the terrorists attacked their position, which they had a right to do, "to defend themselves." (The bodies of these heroic martyrs, by the way, were cursed by rebel viewers the following day as dogs who deserved their fate. Odd considering what they told the outside world.)
So if the victim is charred to a crisp, is the same rebel story of who killed them and why any more credible?
For starters, the rebels/"protesters" were the known fire bugs in these early days, destroying police stations with fire in many cities, as early as February 15. Three internal security stations in Benghazi alone were reportedly burnt on the 16th, in raids that led to some of the first, low-key "protester" deaths there.
Secondly, burning of bodies made mostly of water is not the most efficient way to ensure the death of mutineers. Here is one video of a "protester" attempt, on a man already killed, that failed. It is however a conveniently cruel method, and would help to demonize oneself, if that was one's bag. Perhaps that facts explains why the rebels, so intent on demonizing their enemy, decided to do these barbecue attacks, as well as educating the world on what really happened.
I believe there are multiple videos of different instances of "soldiers burned alive" in the uprising's first couple of days. But for now I'll focus on this widely-seen one, from the Benghazi front, posted February 21 (video is below). A "news" article from the next day referred to this find and gave the following, indirectly useful, information:
Five charred bodies were found Monday in military barracks in Benghazi, the second-largest city in Libya and a stronghold of anti-Gaddafi protesters. According to one of our Observers, the bodies were those of soldiers savagely massacred for refusing orders to fire against Libyan civilians protesting in the African nation.Actually, Benghazi didn't fall in a meaningful way until the 20th, when the sprawling, walled-in barracks in the center of the city, sometimes called the Katiba, finally fell after days of "protester" attacks. It was a major symbol indeed, and much-hated, and indeed the same base where these bodies were found. A UN report (advance unedited version, PDF link) mentioned "incidents of protestors being injured by government forces were reported in Benghazi (in front of Al-Fadhil bin Omar Katiba) [...] on February 18." That's exactly where "protesters" were killed that day and others - right next to the military base, if not exclusively than overwhelmingly.
Government-run Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) reported last week that the Al-Fudhail bin Omar base, home of the barracks where the bodies were found, was an important target of anti-Gaddafi protests.
Benghazi fell to protesters on February 18. Two days later, demonstrators headed to the military compound to demolish the building they regarded as a symbol of Gaddafi’s authoritarian rule. JANA reported that the building had been pillaged by "rioters" but did not mention that the bodies of five burned soldiers had been found.
On February 20 the armed attacks on the Katiba's walls, ongoing daily since the 17th, took a drastic turn. They were decisively breached, and an uncounted number, probably scores at least, of government soldiers were killed within the compound, with at least one beheaded by the enraged masses. A "heroic" suicide bomber, Mahdi Ziu, had let them in. The armory was freely looted for tanks and other heavy weapon to carry out better attacks in other cities. The remaining Katiba soldiers, hundreds of them, were forced to take refuge in various buildings. Several buildings were torched by the rebels, and left gutted and smoke-stained, as later video shows. Only Interior Minister Abdel Fateh Younis was able to arrange the safe departure of those remaining, as part of his defection deal the night of the 20th.
More Martyrs on Display
Anyway, here is the video filmed in some Benghazi barracks the following day, of these exactly five carbonized soldiers:
And there's another video around of clearer resolution, posted as "people of libya is burning." This one reveals enough detail to see that one of the victims at least is missing his head (see image below).
User Ibnomar, who posted the first one, explained there:
Footage of burned soldiers Gaddafi had killed because they would not commit the brutality commanded to themIn reality, when you see anything like this, consider it more than likely another rebel atrocity. If the above narrative alone doesn't do it for you, here's more food for thought.
By the heaven, holding the big stars (1) And by the Promised Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection); [yadda yadda]
The Real Victims - Martyrs for What?
A reader first tipped me off a while back to see the UN Human Rights Council report on abuses, on both sides, in the early civil war period. [PDF link, accompanying press release] Among their findings was endemic abuse of black Africans, men and women, and especially those from Chad. One of the more shocking which they found credible enough to pass on was this:
4. Violations committed by opposition groups. The Commission received several accounts of attacks on migrant workers carried out by armed opposition groups. […] Another case reported to the Commission related to the extra-judicial killing of five Chadian nationals who had been arrested on the basis of their nationality, and taken to the military barracks in Benghazi. Dozens of armed persons either in military style or civilian clothing were said to have poured kerosene on their bodies and burned them to death on 21 February.Hey, isn't that the same exact day this video was shown? Is this video of "Gaddafi crimes" in reality corroboration of this horrific rebel war crime? (Or is it a "protest" crime? Is there a tribunal for that?) Often the black-skinned dead are proudly shown on video, signs of horrific torture and all, and called African mercenaries (which they were not). But there's a whole different potency in calling the skeletons, race and clothing indeterminate, brave government soldiers, like those in al Baida, killed for their heroic stand "with the people."
Maybe the rabbles at the Katiba were left, by Younes' bargain, with less real soldiers to slaughter and play PR games with than they had hoped for. So they had to go snag five Chadian workers, arresting them as "mercenaries." But once they'd been burned alive, they were good, presumably Arab, soldiers to look up to, and just found that way in the base that had just been held by the wicked government.
Thank God the West intervened to stop this kind of regime brutality. And now the "Freedom Fighters" are discovering dozens of even more charred bodies in Tripoli itself, in areas that had just been held by the wicked government. And again, they have the explanation all ready for us. Again, a horrific blood bath was occurring there just before the FFs pulled in. They saved countless other lives, but a little too late to save at least 400 regime victims reported to date across the holdout neighborhoods of Tripoli.
And in this case, they were just barely too late - the video of the remains show them still smoldering.
Be skeptical here folk, hard as I know that's going to get. The moral stakes are very high, and the greatest powers in the world are intent on seeming to have backed the good guys who really are stopping slaughters, not initiating and fobbing them off.
Update Sept. 6: I've got a video for this now.
Update Sept. 7: And a line from Clive Baldwin from Human Rights Watch, via Sky News, about his look at the scene of August's massacre:
[Baldwin] said the scene was similar to other ones he had witnessed. The warehouse was apparently used to execute people who refused to kill civilians. He said it appeared that pro-Gaddafi forces had shot detainees in the last few days before rebel fighters entered Tripoli. "We have also seen people in military uniforms," he said. "This is similar to March when we had evidence of members of the Libyan army refusing orders and being killed.Yes indeed, it's quite similar, but that shouldn't cloud our vision of the facts on the ground. Just because it was clearly rebels burning innocent black men alive the first time doesn't necessarily mean the same thing happened here. By "March," I presume he's going by memory that he wrote about Gaddafi's crimes against humanity on March 1, holding this news in mind at the time, though it didn't seem he mentioned it there.