The enslavement of Africans didn’t end when the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted in 1865. It continues for hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of sub-Saharan Africans on the northern coast of Libya, the main gateway to Europe. They have been trying to flee non-stop regional war and suffocating poverty by escaping to that nearby continent, which is only about 340 miles away. While doing so, many of them, today in 2017, are being auctioned off into enslavement for as little as $400 and as much as $970 (and higher).
After the U.S. assassinated revolutionary Pan-Africanist Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and overthrew his regime, numerous military and political factions- including terrorists and other extremists- attempted to step up as replacements. But none succeeded, hence constant and ongoing violent anarchy and rampart criminality for six years and counting.
As a result, Africans in and near that region consistently attempt to flee to nearby Italy and other European countries. But those countries, especially Italy, have not only refused to offer any humanitarian assistance but also have sent their naval fleets to block entry, even when Africans are shipwrecked, victimized, injured, starved, and/or close to death.
And when Italy got tired of doing its own dirty work, it began paying various powerful but completely lawless Libyan military and political thugs to do it for them. Although that didn’t begin the slavery, it certainly expanded it. That’s precisely why the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated, “The reason [the slave trade] can happen is because there is really no rule of law across much of Libya.” And that’s precisely why the 700,000 refugees and migrants in Libya, many of whom are held in detention camps, are exploited, abused, beaten, and sold into “debt bondage” or “forced labor,” which simply means slavery.
That’s exactly why serious French President Emmanuel Macron called it a “crime against humanity.” And that’s exactly why cartoonish U.S. President Donald Duck called it “fake news.”
In April, the IOM announced that “Sub-Saharan immigrants were being bought and sold by Libyans... Women, too, were bought by... Libyans... and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves.... Some migrants- mostly Nigerians, Ghanaians, and Gambians- are forced to work for the kidnappers/slave traders... in... ransom houses or in the (slave) market itself.”
On November 29, the internationally reputable Al Jazeera newspaper published an article entitled “African Refugees Bought, Sold, and Murdered in Libya.” The article continued by noting that one human trafficker stated, “Hundreds of Africans are being bought and sold in slave markets across Libya every week, with many of them held for ransom or forced into prostitution... to pay their captors and smugglers... (and) many of them ended up being murdered by their smugglers in the open desert or die from thirst... in the vast Libyan desert.... The refugees who died are never identified and many ended up being buried without names or proper graves.”
A Libyan slave trader, who identified himself as Salman, told Al Jazeera that refugees are first introduced to the traffickers by private labor offices in the cities of Agadez and Zinder in neighboring Niger. He then said that after he receives a wire transfer for the refugees from a “commander” in Niger, he begins scheduling the transportation. And when those refugees arrive in Sabha, they’re taken to another “commander” and then sold to other smugglers in numerous Libyan cities after which they’re forced to live either in open courtyards or in dilapidated housing.
You don’t have to believe what I say about widespread slavery in Libya. You can see it for yourself. But be warned: it’s quite disturbing and upsetting. It’s a secretly recorded six-and-a-half minute cellphone video of an actual Libyan slave auction in August and it’s been independently verified by CNN International. You can view it at https://youtu.be/2S2qtGisT34.
You might wonder how Africans could sell other Africans, since they’re all Black people. Well, not really. Most, if not all, of the the slave auctions involve wealthy lighter-skinned (i.e., pale) Arab Libyans selling poor darker-skinned (i.e., melanoid) Ghanaians, Nigerians, Cameroons, Zambians, Senegalese, Gambians, and Sudanese.
So what can you do about this horrible outrage, this blatant violation of human rights, this modern day slavery? You can do a lot and you can start by sending a donation to the IOM at iom.int or by offering other assistance via email to email@example.com. The IOM is on the frontline of abolishing slavery in Africa.
The spirit often moves me to end my weekly columns, whenever appropriate, with a particular inspirational quote from one of the greatest rappers in Hip Hop history. In his song entitled “1-9-9-9,” Common said and I’m now saying “Check it. It’s like I’m fightin’ for freedom, writin’ for freedom.... My ancestors, when I’m writin’ I see ‘em and talk with ‘em. Hoping in the promised land I can walk with ‘em.”