It is a very dangerous time to be a black African in Libya.
Although tens of thousands were welcome in Gaddafi’s Libya as migrant workers, many also came north from Chad, Niger and elsewhere to fight for Gaddafi as mercenaries, or to give thanks for generous aid in the past. For some who came to fight, Gaddafi was a Pan-African hero.
“We’ve gathered all the prisoners here to protect them from the local people. That’s why we’ve done this. We’ve tried to sort them out, with the ones who fought for Gaddafi transferred for trial, and others who have been freed. We’ve freed quite a lot, in fact,” said the temporary prison’s director Jamel al-Ghazzavi.
Held in a former sports facility, one of the guards claimed the prisoners were fed the same as them.
“The people here aren’t policemen or soldiers, they’re just poor. They’re not soldiers or spies, they’re just ordinary people. They just came here to earn a living, no-one in my family’s in the army,” said the wife of one detainee.
For the end of the Ramadan holy month families were allowed to visit, but for these people the risk of being made scapegoats for Gaddafi’s excesses remains strong until the rule of law is re-established.