The main town of the Tawergha region, Tawergha itself (aka Tawargha, Tawurgha. Arabic: تاورغاء), was a town of an estimated 31,250 people and lies about 30-40 miles south of Misrata/Misurata, along the western coast of the Gulf of Sirte.
Tawergha was famous for its palm trees which at one point were considered the true wealth in the city. The city also produced significant amount of date fruits, including the Bersiel date, which is used as a component in ropes and other commodities.
In pre-colonial times, the work on the plantation was done by tens of thousands of black-skinned slaves, making Tawergha the only town in coastal Libya with a black majority. In the colonial period, these people were nominally emancipated from slavery, but their economic status remained very low.
In the Gaddafi period they were treated a lot better, receiving full education and development.
The town has been emptied of its entire population during the combined NATO forces and Misrata militia attacks : its people having either been killed, inprisoned or fled, amidst reports the remaining population in the area are being picked off as they try to find water and food.
Human Rights Investigations has been following the situation of the Tawergha closely and here we draw the information together and find, based on the reports of witnesses, journalists, human rights workers, and the United Nations the situation of the Tawergha is not just one of ethnic cleansing but, according to the legal definition, genocide.
We can see NATO played an important role in the ethnic cleansing of this town, an ethnic cleansing of which they had been forewarned and in which they decided, nonetheless, to participate.
NATO’s war in Libya was proclaimed as a humanitarian intervention—bombing in the name of “saving lives.” Attempts at diplomacy were stifled. Peace talks were subverted. Libya was barred from representing itself at the UN, where shadowy NGOs and “human rights” groups held full sway in propagating exaggerations, outright falsehoods, and racial fear mongering that served to sanction atrocities and ethnic cleansing in the name of democracy. The rush to war was far speedier than Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
The war on Libya was not about human rights, nor entirely about oil, but about a larger process of militarizing U.S. relations with Africa. The development of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, or AFRICOM, was in fierce competition with Pan-Africanist initiatives such as those spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi.
Far from the success NATO boasts about or the “high watermark” proclaimed by proponents of the “Responsibility to Protect,” this war has left the once prosperous, independent and defiant Libya in ruin, dependency and prolonged civil strife. To this day the Tawergha genocide survivors are locked up in prison camps where they are tortured and mistreated according to this Amnesty International Report (2013).
The people in Tawergha have been ill treated for centuries because of their skin colour and only after Gaddafi came to govern, their lives became a little bit less hard. Twenty five years ago the people of Misrata told us repeatedly that they were very proud of the HVA project but that it was a shame it was possitioned in Tawergha because 'those blacks' were no good and didn't deserve the jobs.
The majority of the population in Tawergha were ordinary farmers, small business owners and goat herders or worked at the HVA project and had nothing to do with the pro Ghaddafi militairy.
NATO has assisted the racist Misrata militias and the facts indicate crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide have taken place. The google map entries below show the total destruction of the HVA compound, the dairy and poultry farm and feedmill caused by NATO bombing and Misrata militia raids. Around 100 000 dairy cows used to be kept in Libya but most animals were killed during the NATO bombardments.
There is no excuse for the ethnic cleansing and genocide on 40.000 civilians and the destruction of a major part of the Libyan dairy and poultry industry and the guilty parties should be brought to justice as soon as possible.