FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

After Qaddafi

by JOANNE MARINER

Qaddafi’s much-abused body has finally been laid to rest, in an unmarked grave in the desert.  His fate has fallen off the front pages of the U.S. news, eclipsed by the European debt crisis, the elections in Tunisia, and the bid by “Joe the Plumber” for a seat in Congress, even as ever more horrific videos emerge of Qaddafi’s tormented last minutes alive.

Was it reasonable to expect that the rebel troops who captured Qaddafi would handcuff him and bring him to jail?  How much does it matter that he was treated with the most extreme brutality, shoved by the crowd, beaten bloody, and, it now appears, sodomized?  Should we care that Qaddafi’s death makes Saddam Hussein’s last moments on the gallows seem dignified?

Few in Libya seem bothered.  “You have to bear in mind that these young man have seen their friends killed in front of them . . . their cities burned . . . their sisters raped. I am amazed at their self-restraint,” Libya’s interim oil minister reportedly told CBS News, responding to allegations of atrocities.

There was little sign of self-restraint in the fate of Qaddafi, his son Muatassim, the head of the loyalist armed forces, and their bodyguards.  Nor is self-restraint the word that comes to mind in reading about the hundreds of putrid bodies being discovered in Sirte, many with their hands tied behind their backs.  But at least the oil minister gave fragments of a convincing explanation, unlike other top Libyan officials, who initially asserted that Qaddafi died in a “crossfire,” and later said that he may have been killed by loyalists who wanted to silence him.

Qaddafi was brutally killed in a display of revenge, hatred, domination, and fury, and his body was displayed for days as a trophy.  This, at least, is what the available evidence suggests.

Whether Libya’s interim government wanted Qaddafi dead, or whether they were unable to enforce military discipline among the Misrata troops, is not entirely clear.  The latter possibility seems more likely, and is perhaps more worrying.  The existence of armed groups that are beyond the law and out of the government’s control bodes poorly for the country’s future stability.

So what is next for Libya, now that the dictator is gone?  Sadly, in the wake of Qaddafi’s death, the hopeful words of UN human rights official Philippe Kirsch are harder to credit:  “The dawn of a new era provides an opportunity for the NTC and the future interim government in Libya to make a break from [the] past,” he suggested, “by establishing laws and reconstructing state institutions based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

Qaddafi is gone but the country’s human rights problems are not.  While a genuine and impartial investigation of Qaddafi’s killing would send a strong signal that a new era has arrived, this seems unlikely to happen.  One very much hopes that Qaddafi’s grisly demise is not a harbinger of things to come.

Joanne Mariner is the director of Hunter College’s Human Rights Program. She is an expert on human rights, counterterrorism, and international humanitarian law.

This column previously appeared on Justia’s Verdict.

JOANNE MARINER is a human rights lawyer living in New York and Paris.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail