This is happening today.
By Kali Holloway
November 22, 2017
Black Africans are being sold like inanimate objects in slave auctions across Libya. Like so many modern horrors, there is video evidence of this atrocity.
Cellphone footage from August, captured in an unidentified Libyan town, documents an outdoor slave market during a sale in progress. In the video, below, an auctioneer describes two Nigerians as “big strong boys for farm work,” before he begins calling out increasingly larger bids to an audience off-camera. The price that is settled on for both men comes to 1,200 Libyan dinars, or roughly $800 American. Two young men—two human beings—have just been sold at a price of $400 apiece.
For refugees fleeing violence, poverty and oppression in parts of Africa to its east, south and west, Libya has become a temporary landing point; a gateway that ultimately leads to the shores of southern Europe. But Libya has been torn apart by tribal warring and violence since 2011, when U.S.-led forces overthrew Muammar Gaddafi while making little effort to stabilize the region. This leadership vacuum has left Libya in a state of chaos in which “modern forms of slavery prosper,” according to human rights organization Walk Free.
Libya currently ranks among the top six countries on the Global Slavery Index, a result of its rampant “conflict, corruption, displacement, discrimination and inequality.” Longstanding North African racism toward black Africans is a contributing factor to the mistreatment of migrants. Shokri Agmar, a Libyan lawyer and journalist, told the New Internationalist in 2016 that sub-Saharan refugees are disadvantaged at every turn.
“They’re in a state of complete and utter helplessness,” Agmar explained. “Us Libyans rely on our own militias to protect ourselves, but migrants lack a militia of their own so they are defenseless against the constant threats. Whatever happens to them, no one will lift a finger, and they cannot keep a low profile because of the color of their skin.”
Add to these conditions rising racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments in countries like Italy, where hundreds of thousands of African migrants seek refuge. Early this year, Italy, with EU backing, agreed to pay the Libyan coast guard to stop migrant-filled vessels from reaching Europe. Once seized, those boats are redirected back to Libya, where their occupants are placed in detention centers and camps often run by corrupt entities. The migrants are often subject to physical attacks and sexual abuse, while others are sold as human chattel. Those abuses are so common that earlier this year, UNICEF designated the Libyan path to Europe “among the world’s deadliest and most dangerous migrant routes for children and women.”
CNN, which posted the slave auction video in October, verified the footage and launched its own investigation that turned up yet more evidence of how common this scene is in towns across Libya. At a nondescript private home outside the capital city of Tripoli, a team from the network secretly filmed a similar market where CNN reporters watched “a dozen people go ‘under the hammer’ in the space of six or seven minutes.”