“Holocaust” Denied

June 17, 2012
Planet Earth
(small edits June 18)

Nearly ten months after Tripoli’s fall, Libya struggles with the chaos left by what the media calls "Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal 42-year rule." But it seems to be the awkward last eight months of it that left the most acute problems. Rebel fighters have in June 2012 re-taken Tripoli Airport, and arrested a legal team from the ICC. Earlier the rebels had demanded, and may get, blanket amnesty for any war crimes they committed along the way to this new disorder.


The outside world is ready to comply, showing signs they heard enough about these atrocities last year, when Gaddafi was blamed for all of them. The most famous of these was the Khamis Brigade shed massacre at the Yarmouk base south of Tripoli. It’s said that around 150 prisoners were killed there with guns and grenades, at sundown on August 23. Around 50 charred skeletons were widely shown, and about the same number of uninjured escapees described the massacre and swore Khamis Gaddafi himself ordered it. And so the smoldering shed attracted massive media attention, visits by Ban Ki Moon, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and Susan Rice, and references by Libyans as a “holocaust camp.”


An impressive new report, capping a nine-month study by a team of Internet researchers, casts all that into doubt anyway. The Citizen’s Investigation into War Crimes in Libya (CIWCL) is a small, informal group that on Wednesday (June 13) inaugurated its website (ciwclibya.org) and the 152-page report A Question Mark Over Yarmouk (available in PDF form from the reports page).


Comparing witness accounts, photos and videos, timeline clues, and more, the report is comprehensive and detailed, yet remains readable. The evidence drives at a troubling set of possibilities. The ridiculously inconsistent eyewitness accounts suggest a conspiracy of false testimony - a sloppy one, in fact. And beneath the many versions they relate is a likely rebel massacre, committed as they conquered Yarmouk three days before now acknowledged. The report details how many of the victims were Black men, and how the racist Misrata fighters reported 140-170 mangled bodies by 6 am on the 24th. This early report was never explained until the CIWCL did it.


Today the world tenses over conflicting understandings of the shocking recent massacres, of entire families, in Syria. Early certainty by activists, governments, and media aside, evidence grows that the killings were actually carried out by opposition fighters and blamed on government forces. Considering the parallels of that distressing possibility with the CIWCL’s findings, the world should consider the question mark raised in this report. A look back in time less than a year can show how likely it really is that such behavior is just what the West is rewarding - for a second time in rapid succession.