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Libya: U.N. panel sanitizes U.S.-NATO war crimes

Published Mar 8, 2012 9:10 PM

On March 2, the so-called U.N. Panel of Experts from the Human Rights Council issued a 200-page report on Libya, saying in essence that war crimes were committed by both the government led by Col. Moammar Gadhafi and the National Transitional Council forces that were put in power by the imperialist states. The report stated that Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 were justified and legitimate and that the Gadhafi administration deserved to be overthrown by the Western states and their allies.

According to the report, “In emergency session, the Human Rights Council on 25 February 2011 established the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya and gave it the mandate ‘to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya, to establish the facts and identify those responsible, to make recommendations, in particular, on accountability measures, all with a view to ensuring that those individuals responsible are held accountable.’”

This same report continues, “International crimes, specifically crimes against humanity and war crimes, were committed by the Gadhafi forces in Libya. Acts of murder, enforced disappearance, and torture were perpetrated within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.”

Yet no mention is made of the long-term plans by the U.S. to overthrow the Gadhafi government extending back at least to the early 1980s. Neither is there any reference to key players within the NTC forces trained by the Central Intelligence Agency and sent back into the country after rebel activities began on Feb. 17, 2011.

In an effort to sanitize the role of the imperialist naval blockade, CIA and MI6 destabilization efforts and the seven months of bombing that resulted in 26,000 sorties and nearly 10,000 air strikes, the U.N. report stated, “The Commission concluded that North Atlantic Treaty Organization conducted a highly precise campaign with a demonstrable determination to avoid civilian casualties. On limited occasions, the Commission confirmed civilian casualties and found targets that showed no evidence of military utility.”

Therefore, the commission goes on to note that it “was unable to draw conclusions in such instances on the basis of the information provided by NATO and recommends further investigations.” Nonetheless, the nation of Libya was a sovereign member of the U.N. and the African Union. Therefore it had a right to defend itself from both internal and external threats to its independence.

Absent any mandate from the people of Libya or the African Union, the NTC rebel regime is granted the cloak of legitimacy by the Human Rights Council. The commission report is audacious enough to assert, “The government [NTC] is gradually restoring the judiciary by reopening courts and recalling judges, and there has been some progress in the transfer of detainees to central government control.”

However, on what legal and political basis is the NTC holding detainees, many of whom are Africans from other countries on the continent? How can the commission report ignore and therefore justify the wholesale theft and destruction of Libyan national assets? These include over $160 billion in foreign reserves and a highly lucrative oil and natural gas industry, which will now be exploited for the benefit of international finance capital and its allies inside Libya and throughout the region.

There is no demand that the detainees, along with former government officials, be immediately released and paid compensation for their suffering. In addition, there is no mention of the right of all people driven into exile as a result of the war to be allowed to return to Libya without fear of persecution or imprisonment.

Cover-up of Gadhafi assassination

Although the commission report admitted that atrocities are still being committed by the NTC regime, they attempt to link this to the legacy of the Gadhafi government. Yet there is no specific evidence of any mass killings or other abuse by the Gadhafi government that would have warranted the blanket bombing of the country or the overthrow of the previous state.

The commission said that it found no evidence of “mercenary forces” employed by the Gadhafi government, a major accusation made by the NTC “rebels” and publicized broadly by the corporate media. At the same time no mention was made of the role of Egyptian and Qatari special forces, CIA and MI6 operatives who worked to overthrow the Libyan government and engaged in war crimes against the population.

Perhaps the most egregious misrepresentation of the developments which took place in Libya during 2011 was the failure of the U.N. Commission to apportion blame on the U.S.-NATO forces or the NTC rebels for the brutal assassination of Gadhafi and other leading Libyan officials. Gadhafi was captured in Sirte, with only minor injuries after a convoy he was riding in was targeted by NATO war planes.

Just two days prior to the assassination of Gadhafi on Oct. 18, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had visited Tripoli and told the international press that the leader of Libya should be captured or killed. Libyan Col. Mansour Daw, now being held in a prison in Misrata, has confirmed that when Gadhafi was taken into custody by the NTC rebels on Oct. 20, he was suffering only minor injuries.

A report published by the Minneapolis Post recounts the last moments of the Libyan leader’s life. The report notes, “Video footage … shows Gadhafi being dragged from the [storm water] drain and brutalized by a mob of rebel fighters.” (minnpost.com, March 5)

This same article points out, “His body arrived later in the city of Misrata along with that of his son Muttassim, but permission to examine the bodies or view the autopsy results was denied to UN representatives and human rights groups. Both bodies were buried by the transitional government in unmarked graves in an unknown location.”

Even with this testimony and video evidence, the U.N. Commission concluded that there was insufficient proof to hold anyone accountable, not the U.S.-NATO military forces nor the NTC rebels, and that there should be further investigation into the assassination of Gadhafi.

In another effort to cover-up the blatant human rights violations against the Libyan people and its leaders, the United Nations Security Council in a Feb. 29 report quoted Ian Martin, chief of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya: “It is clear that the Libyan people are eager to move forward with the transition to democracy, and their most central expectation of the United Nations is that we will support them in doing so.” (www.un.org, Feb. 29)

Despite all these efforts to distort the actual history of Libya over the last year, the people are resisting the onslaught of imperialist rule. It is they who will write the final chapter in this narrative.