A few minutes’ drive from the fire station, at least 15 bodies, most of them Gaddafi’s black African supporters, lay rotting in the sun at a traffic junction outside his Bab al-Aziziyah complex. Several of the dead wore green pieces of cloth wrapped around their wrists to signal loyalty to the Gaddafi regime.
The men may have died during Tuesday’s battle for Bab al-Aziziyah, and several were wearing military fatigues. But not all of them looked like ordinary battlefield deaths. Two dead men lay face down on the grass, their hands bound behind their backs with plastic cuffs.
The worst treatment of Gaddafi loyalists appeared to be reserved for anyone with black skin, whether they hailed from southern Libya or from other African countries. Darker-skinned prisoners were not getting the same level of medical care in a hospital in rebel-held Zawiyah as lighter-skinned Arab Libyans, Eltahawy said.
Rebels say Gaddafi employed gunmen from sub-Saharan Africa to shore up his army against his own people, and those fighters have elicited intense enmity from Libyans. But many of the detainees in Zawiyah told Amnesty International they were merely migrant workers “taken at gunpoint from their homes, workplaces and the street on account of their skin color,” Eltahawy said.