Human rights groups: charges against Gaddafi unsupported by evidence

ICC issues arrest warrant for Gaddafi for 'crimes against humanity'

This child, a civilian, was injured by NATO bombing in Misrata.

On June 27, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi and other Libyan state officials for “crimes against humanity.”

Gaddafi is being charged by the ICC with the “pre-meditated murder” of peaceful protesters in Libya.

The charges are in line with the accusations of crimes against humanity that became the pretext for the NATO bombing of Libya—that a “humanitarian intervention” was needed to prevent atrocities that were supposedly taking place.

More and more accusations built as the bombing raged on, bolstered by the mainstream media, and even by progressive circles. The pro-war camp raced to find justifications for the relentless bombing of Libya’s cities, especially as civilian casualties from NATO air strikes began to climb. Gaddafi is accused of ordering the killing of unarmed protesters; using helicopter gunships, anti-aircraft guns and heavy weapons against peaceful demonstrators, of using mercenaries and, most sensationally, of pumping his troops full of Viagra and ordering them to mass rape all women who opposed the government.

But the charges brought by the ICC—as well as crimes decried by the Libyan rebels and their supporters—have been presented and accepted as fact without any actual evidence.

Several human rights organizations—including Amnesty International, which often finds itself toeing the same line as U.S. imperialism—have conducted investigations and found no evidence of any of the alleged crimes. They did find, however, that rebels in Benghazi knowingly made false claims and manufactured evidence.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that Libyan troops were participating in widespread rape in Libya, including so-called “virginity tests.” She said this to explain why people in the U.S. must accept over $9.5 million a day being spent to bomb Libya.

But the senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, Donatella Rovera, said "We have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped."

Human Rights Watch also investigated the charge of mass rape and concluded: "We have not been able to find evidence."

In fact, over the last few weeks, many women in Libya have volunteered for military service to fight the NATO-backed rebels.

No evidence of mercenaries

When the Libyan rebels started lynching Black African immigrants, publicly hanging them in the town square (which continues to this day), they claimed that the victims were mercenaries hired by Gaddafi. Similarly, when ordinary Libyans began fighting the rebels in Benghazi and other centers of rebel activity—rebels said these fighters could not be genuine Gaddafi supporters. Rebels said the fighters must be receiving money from Gaddafi. The claim that Gaddafi is using mercenaries is further ammunition to justify the NATO bombing, the ICC warrant and so-called progressive support for the rebels.

Amnesty International also found no evidence that a single mercenary is present in Libya. "Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents," they said. An unknown number have been hanged in racist public executions by the rebels, and hundreds died in a capsized boat fleeing the NATO bombs, including many children.

The bombing which began on March 19 was supposed to prevent a massacre by Libyan troops who were advancing on eastern Libya, where they had allegedly already killed peaceful protesters in massive numbers.

The human rights groups that have investigated these claims have found no evidence of any mass killings of protesters. In incidents where violence was used by the Libyan state, there is no evidence that this violence was directed against peaceful protesters. The rebel movement was heavily armed from the get-go and was carrying out attacks on Libyan police and military.

Human Rights Watch, which actually championed NATO intervention in Libya, revealed its data from the fighting in Misrata that found that the Libyan military was absolutely not targeting civilians in any way, but instead narrowly targeting the armed fighters and taking measures to avoid collateral damage.

Civilians have been killed in the fighting, on both sides, which is inevitable during a civil war being fought in urban centers. But the fighting was all but over when the NATO bombing started, which has increased civilian deaths and emboldened the rebels to continue their armed insurrection against the government, prolonging and intensifying the conflict. There is no evidence that civilians have been targeted by the military.

The assertion by President Obama that “genocide” was imminent had no factual basis.

The investigations did find, however, video evidence of rebel fighters executing pro-Gaddafi Libyans by shooting them in the head and burning their bodies.

The investigations also concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever that the Libyan state used aircraft or anti-aircraft weapons against protesters.

The ICC accusations are not supported by evidence, yet an international arrest warrant was issued.

If Gaddafi has a warrant for his arrest for unsubstantiated accusations of war crimes, why has the ICC yet to issue an arrest warrant for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld? There is, after all, hard and indisputable evidence that these U.S. officials committed war crimes leading to the slaughter of over 1 million innocent Iraqis.

Why not? It is because the ICC itself is a tool of Western imperialism. Founded in 2002 to address “crimes against humanity,” it not-so-mysteriously has only issued warrants for people in super-oppressed African countries that are in the crosshairs of U.S. and European imperialism.

The ICC’s function is to further isolate leaders who do not follow the dictates of Western powers, and to aid in demonization campaigns aimed at toppling governments not sufficiently subservient to Western domination. The ICC warrant for Gaddafi is for exactly this purpose.

The arrest warrant comes as NATO powers are expressing frustration over the failure of what they thought would be an easy operation. The situation is at a stalemate. Due to popular support, the Libyan government is in no danger of being overthrown. The bombings only serve to keep the rebel fighters safe in their enclaves behind a curtain of Tomahawk missiles.

But the vast majority of people in Libya have made clear their outrage at the NATO bombing. July 1 as many as a million rallied in Tripoli against NATO bombing. This is in a nation of only 6 million people.  Whether or not they have grievances with the government, they are against the NATO bombing of their country and against the rebel uprising. If NATO was banking on the idea that the people were united against Gaddafi, as the people in Egypt were united against Mubarak, they were sorely mistaken. The Libyan government has proven to have the support of large sectors of the population.

NATO is growing increasingly frustrated at the mission's failure thus far. To achieve its goal of regime change, NATO will likely have to escalate its military action, which likely would include ground troops, or move quickly to bring about some sort of political settlement that would remove the current government.

NATO will no doubt try to come out of this military adventure with the prize of dominating the country with largest oil reserves in Africa. Thus revolutionaries and progressives must stand firmly on the side of those under attack by Western imperialism and those standing against the NATO takeover of yet another African nation.

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