Troubling Trend: Libyan Rebels Are Rounding Up Black Africans

The detainees claim innocence, but rebels insist many of them are fighting for Qaddafi

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As Libyan rebels gain on Qaddafi and setup a temporary government, they've begun imposing their rule on Libya's people, including rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, reports the Associated Press. The rebels have accused the detainees of fighting for Qaddafi. The prisoners claim innocence, "But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees--all black--clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun." While officials concede that many of the detainees are probably just migrant workers, prison director Ibrahim al-Rais insists that a "large percentage" are fighting on behalf of Qaddafi. "These people were fighting against our people." There's no hard evidence, but al-Rais pointed to what he claimed were faux Libyan ID cards. "He said Gadhafi gave many mercenaries Libyan IDs so they could fight. He also said many had been carrying dollars or euros--which al-Rais said were mercenary wages."

Justice Minister Mohammed al-Alagi told reporters that the conditions in the prison centers were "up to international standards. We are building a Libya of tolerance and freedom, not of revenge," he said. The handling of these prisoners offer a first glimpse into how the rebels take to governing the liberated country.

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