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Monday, May 7, 2012

Blanket Amnesty for Rebel Atrocities

May 7, 2012

If and when there ever comes a time when Libyan rebels face charges for their own crimes against humanity, it will be muted, to some degree, by a protective new law issued by Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). It was issued on May 3rd, alongside new laws punishing officials of the former government and barring anyone from “glorifying” the old order. Jordan Times, among other media outlets, have reported on this:
There is no punishment for acts made necessary by the February 17 revolution,” read the law published on the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) website. The immunity covers “military, security or civilian acts undertaken by revolutionaries with the aim of ensuring the revolution’s success”, the NTC added.
I wanted to link right to the NTC’s posting, but all I could find was their old abandoned site without a single update for a year now. I even tried Arabic translations, site-specific searches, and found nothing, though I’ll trust the Jordan Times and others here and move on.

Amnesty for Whom?
The absolution from wrongdoing could expand to cover rebel commanders and fighters, rebel hangers-on, free-lance anti-Gaddafi terrorist cells who carried out torture and beheading operations, and criminals who robbed and killed African workers only to call them mercenaries. It might help protect actual foreign mercenaries on the rebel side - various Euro-American special forces and private security operatives, operating in Libya since mid-February, and Qataris especially, whose human rights record in battle is pretty well unknown. Of course this law of “necessity” can’t make Libyan prosecution of NATO for the many civilian deaths, injuries, destroyed homes and infrastructure. NATO’s services are a package deal, not complained about, and of course were utterly necessary. The revolution could not have enveloped all Libyans under its new reign of terror without the air support and supporting magic the great white powers brought to the fight.

Who might be forgiven for a year of stunning wrongdoing stops at an uncertain dividing line that’s well short of anybody accused of being a Gaddafi loyalist. Those demonized devils, accused rightly or wrongly of any scale of crime, will of course be punished in full for it. Have no doubt there.

The Rebel Demand: Met?
The main beneficiaries, predicatably, were the people who hatched the idea of this blanket amnesty and lobbied for it aggressively on May 1, a bare two days before the NTC granted the wish, and hours after they felt strangely compelled to verbally agree to it. The preo-rebel Shabbab Libya site explained:
Several hundred armed revolutionaries (thuwar) from the Union of Revolutionary Battalions surrounded the NTC’s offices in Tripoli this morning demanding that they be given a direct voice in governing the country. They also want seats be assigned to them in the new National Congress and be granted an amnesty of for any wrongdoings committed during the revolution.

They were armed, a costume and a reminder that was also (accidentally?) a threat. But they were amazingly restrained. They must really want these concessions, launching a professional operation without any of the weapons reported as fired, even in the air, and no one killed.

The petitioners issued six demands. Most were about assistance and payments to them, and others demanded representation in the NTC (granted), specifying a high number of seats (200?) or the creation of new seats (denied). One point called for anyone who ever worked “for Gaddafi” (the old government, and that is much of the current NTC) to step down. No former government experience would be tolerated, unless it was overseas or pre-revolution. This was rejected by the NTC.

The one of interest was point 3. As given by Shabbab Libya, it insisted on: “an amnesty for thuwar for any actions taken during the revolution.” It appears the NTC acceptance here was somewhere in the wide and murky space between granting and denying. Forgiveness for “any actions” was sought, but only for “acts made necessary” by the insurgency was it granted. That will be the big question now – what was necessary, and what was optional?

One clue is in the explanatory wording that they mean to absolve acts  done "with the aim of ensuring the revolution’s success." Aim speaks to intention, which can rarely be known for sure. If a rebel's word that was his aim is good enough, it won't necessarily matter that they what he had been aiming and hitting people with in mass numbers was bestial cruelty of the lowest order not even Guantanamo Bay would dare host.

A Libya Herald article mentioned this incident, while remaining vague on the interests at issue, confirmed the pressure of armed militants leading to a mild rebuke from NTC:
... armed fighters surrounded the headquarters of the National Transitional Council on Tuesday, he [government spokesman Nasser Al-Mana?] said: “We are open to discussions on all topics and with everyone but it is not the right way to come armed to the protest.” He emphasised that it is the “beauty” of democracy was that everybody had a right to voice his opinion but it should be in a civil manner.
Oh yeah, now it’s time for protests to remain civil... Which brings us right back the the idea of necessary actions in light of the uprising that started all this.

What Really Was Necessary: No Amnesty
The last large-scale sane actions the world witnessed in Libya were those committed by the demonized regime as it struggled for survival. I realize that sounds ridiculous to many people, but there's a reason for that. The rebellion was from the outset surprising, violent, and widespread, while still remaining a minority affair. Armed and well-planned militant strikes, camouflaged behind remote protesters, netted weapons from soldiers who “defected” into piles of executed corpses. They blamed the government for every drop of blood the insurgency had just spilled, all of it from innocent “protesters.” There was little evidence and no proof this picture was accurate, but it somehow resonated with a few powerful outside enemies of Libya.

All this presented a grave crisis to a government that was far more coherent, functional, and widely supported than the rebel propaganda blitzkrieg suggested. Certain specific incidents aside, all the violence the government of Libya truly dished out, and probably more, was “made necessary by the February 17 revolution.” It was just successful enough by sheer surprise that nothing short of civil war could turn back their gains, but that Libya won against the insurgents, re-took cities steadily, with a coherent non-defected military, until NATO made that impossible, enforced a stalemate, and finally forced through the sorry mess we see in Libya today.

But again, there is no amnesty for those who fought to defend the government of their nation from outside-backed insurgents.

On the other hand, feeling safe from trouble might ease up the pressure on certain rebel thugs to blame some prisoner they’ve already tortured into confessing. It might even allow some wrongly accused loyalists to be set free, not that I’m holding my breath.

Arguably Necessary Incidents: We'll See
If not now then soon will be the time for Libyans to start asking - were rebel actions like the following (merely a sampling) "necessary"?
- Suicide-Bombing open the army barracks in Benghazi to slaughter soldiers and steal weapons?
- Executing 22 captive soldiers outside Dernah and blaming the regime
- Killing perhaps 200 Libyans from Sabha, ignoring their explanations and calling them mercenaries from Chad
- Beating, torturing, murdering, beheading and mutilating soldiers and loyalists and African workers all across "Free Libya" from February on
- The murder and brutal mutilation of civilians and police in Az Zawiyah during the three weeks Islamist mobs ruled there
- NATO’s bombing of the Gaddafi family home, while denying it, killing a non-political son of the leader and three infant grandchildren
- Bombing Libyan TV transmitters for daring to successfully rally the nation ("incite violence against civilians"), killing three more civilians and wounding many others
- Bombing Majer, killing 85 civilians, including 32 women and 33 children.
- NATO's serial denial of civilian damage, refusal to investigate, failure to apologize or make reparations (Responsibility to protect, minus responsibility!)
- The July "liberation" (sacking, looting, and purging) of Qawalish, from which the inhabitants all fled
- The wiping off the mapof Tawergha, expellibng its 30,000 inhabitants, then pursuing and raping and killing them where they scattered to
- The massacres in and around Bab-al-Azizyah, including in activist tents and a medical tent, Aug. 22-25, blamed on the regime
-The Abu Salim trauma hospital massacre, as many as 200 mostly black people killed, some beheaded, women and children included, blamed on loyalist negligence
- The Yarmouk base shed massacre, 100-150 victims, blamed on loyalists by dozens of ridiculous "witnesses"
- The medieval siege of Sirte and toal embargo of fuel, food, water, and medicine The destruction of nearly every standing building in Sirte,
- The widespread massacres of loyalists in Sirte
- Especially the Mahari Hotel massacre of 53 loyalists of varying rank (pictured above)
- The indiscriminate slaughter of probably dozens of people in the convoy carrying Col. Gaddafi
-  The lynching of Col. Gaddafi, his son Mutassim, defense minister Jabr shortly after the above
- The criminal fabrication of a long list of completely fake crimes (like shooting children in Misrata, or Tawerghan mass rape in Misrata) to fuel their rage and punish loyalists with great malice

The list could go on for a while, and a whole new list of potentially "necessary" actions in still ready to become reality in Syria and perhaps other nations. Everyone who cares about humanity needs to consider the lessons of this war, and pay attention to the after-effects of their misguided enthusiasm to promote at all costs this new brand of freedom. In the end it's freedom for the most armed and hostile minorities to rule over the rest, indebted greatly to the West, and freedom for the elites of the West to cash in on that debt. It's nothing more, and while these things might sound nice, the cost is high, and God help us if we cannot manage to start keeping account of such things and preventing this kind of operation remaining the "model" one the corporate-owned media and governments have been calling it.


  1. http://libya360.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/libyan-lawyers-condemn-glorification-and-amnesty-laws/

    An influential group of Libyan lawyers has condemned two new laws, criminalising glorification of Qaddafi’s regime and pardoning crimes committed during the revolution, as a backward step on the country’s path to establish a society based on human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

    The condemnation comes hard on the heels of similar vigorous protests by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

    The ire of the Lawyers for Justice in Libya has been roused by Law 37 which makes it an offence punishable by up to life imprisonment where praising the old regime “harms the state”. This legislation also asserts that Libya is still at war. LFJL is equally despairing of Law 38 which has granted a complete amnesty for crimes committed during the revolution.

    The lawyers maintain that both pieces of legislation not only breach Libya’s international commitments, which include the International Convention of Civic and Political Rights, but also the Constitutional Declaration of 3 August 2011, through which the NTC derives its legitimacy.

    They also argues that the laws were framed without consultation with civil society organisations representing the various interests of the public. In acting this way, warns the LFJL, the NTC is “seriously undermining its own legitimacy.”

    1. Excellent. I'm glad people are griping, but many do so from the weak position that they've been moving "forward" together. Here, the laws are "a backward step on the country’s path." No, backwards would be good. This is the path.

  2. speaking of armed rebels surronding the NTC building the BBc reported that:
    At least two security officials have been killed after ex-rebels attacked the office of the Libyan prime minister in the capital, Tripoli.

    A witness said pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns surrounded the building and a gun battle ensued.

    A government official later said the fighting had ceased.

    The attackers are said to be former rebels who fought to topple Col Gaddafi last year, who are demanding pay-outs promised under a reward scheme.

    Most people inside the building fled, including the finance minister and the deputy prime minister.
    Abdurrahim al-Keib whereabouts are unknown.

    1. Well gosh, maybe that was necessary too. No, probably not, if the NTC gets to decide. It's not clear who does. It's not clear whether or not they have money yet. It's not clear who that is blowing up buildings and where the ministers are. This is awesome. Actually it is, so long as rats and dogs are chewing each other up only. The people of Libya have had enough abuse.

      No need to post on something like this. It'll make news enough on its own.

  3. A view from Asharq Alawsat "Middle East" - Libya: In the hands of the militias May 6 2012, Abdul Sattar Hatita.

  4. “The revolution could not have enveloped all Libyans under its new reign of terror without the air support and supporting magic the great white powers brought to the fight.”

    Diction complaint: “revolution” should not be used when discussing the Libyan coup. The Libyan “revolution” is no more a real revolution than shit is “filet mignon.”

    In late March 2011, a New Yorker writer said that the so-called rebels numbered “possibly in the very low hundreds.” At that time, in a country of 6.5 million, we had perhaps 200 men in arms. The low numbers indicate that Libya was NOT having a revolution.

    Libya experienced western-imposed regime change. And the technique used was for the most part standard. Find a faction willing to commit treason and support it in various ways, including militarily. The new twist with Libya was the filet mignon about responsibility to protect.

    Art Bethea

  5. “The destruction of nearly every standing building in Sirte”

    Is this true or hyperbole? I’ve seen this claim repeatedly. I have telephone Internet, however, so I haven’t seen the videos which purport to support the claim.

    I saw many references to Sirte’s population: it was 80,000 to 100,000. Then, after Moammar’s murder, I saw the number 65,000 for the first time. And I was thinking, “Oh, boy. Is this Orwellian propaganda to make it seem like the population had always been 65,000, and does the new population figure mean 15,000 to 35,000 people had been wiped out just in Sirte alone?” I saw a single reference to apocalyptic losses in Sirte: “20,000+ citizens of Sirte were killed by NATO” in just one week.

    Art Bethea

  6. “The condemnation comes hard on the heels of similar vigorous protests by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch”

    HRW and Amnesty are playing for the bad guys. This idea may seem bizarre, but it’s actually very defendable. For instance, in a March 2012 publication entitled “Libya: The Forgotten Victims of NATO Strikes,” Amnesty International “documented a total of 55 named civilians.” Amnesty shed tears for these victims. The righteous indignation was touching.

    Amnesty forgot to mention one thing, however, which was very curious in an article called “The FORGOTTEN Victims of NATO Strikes”: Libyan soldiers. NATO bombs, missiles, and attack helicopters killed thousands or tens of thousands of Libyan soldiers and . . . OOOPS! . . . Amnesty forgot to mention them.

    NATO fought a war of aggression to change Libya’s government. Therefore, every killing by NATO is a murder. Which means NATO murdered thousands or tens of thousands.

    Not only does Amnesty apparently reject this analysis, however, the organization won’t even allow the view to be expressed in its documents.

    Amnesty and HRW support imperialism, which is to say, they support murder.

    Art Bethea

    1. @ Art: Hyperbole, but not massive. Most buildings, not virtually all, were made uninhabitable.No one source handy, but several sources agree on that. There are the famous images of some of this, whole blacks made swiss cheese. Mosques were generally spared, and some districts maybe weren't hit as hard, but I think "majority" is a safe word for the overall percentage.

      20,000 in a week, maybe not. Moussa Ibrahim had about 3,000 in a week IIRC in late September. Nearly all civilians, in civilian buildings. I tended to trust that guy until he disappeared. 20,000 total is quite likely, between bombing, shelling, fighting, and executions.

      No one cares about soldiers. Unless they're "our boys," they are completely legitimate targets. The rules of engagement said so. Civilians, not so muc-we were supposed to brotecting them. There's a reason for the distinction, but I for one lament the total nature of it. I think you agree. Soldiers are humans too, only a bit of training and a gun and uniform -not much different compared to a hellfire missile or whatever they were hit with. And these tens of thousands we turned to soup before the rebels hacked of the leftovers were brave as fuck, and I salute them. And their families.

  7. Killing those soldiers just made people rally with the goverment. not only that the clan system of Libya would suppose that at least 10 people would sympathize with the Gadaffi government with the loss of a loved one. So it is assumed at least 150,000 libyans had family members killed, causing these clans to rally around the Government.

  8. @Art found this on Lizzie Phelan blog a documentary which shows shows what the children in Sirte are going throught also shows the destruction thta NATO and rebels caused there


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