If you are like myself, then you were probably utterly disgusted by the news of Libyans being sold into slavery. Slavery. In 2017. When I heard the news of this slave trade on social media, I needed to know more about it. How did this happen? Why is it happening? And how can we stop this from continuing?
According to reports from news outlets, Migrants and refugees of Libya are being sold against their will into slavery and prostitution. This stems from the death of former prime minister Muammar Gaddafi and the migration of civilians of Nigeria, leaving stranded men and women being held against their will. In the last three years, over a half of million migrants and refugees have crossed from Europe in hopes of a better life. With the help from Italy, Libyan Coast Guards have captured ships smuggling people into Europe, resulting with an estimation between 400,000 and 1 million migrants being sent back to detention centers in Libya. The conditions of the detention centers are said to be horrific. Detainees are suffering from both ill-treatment and a lack of medical care. With no hope to challenge the reason of their imprisonment, the physical and mental health of the migrants are deteriorating, mainly due to the horrendous conditions they are illegally kept in.
In November of 2017, a video surfaced online via CNN. The video showed a slave auction of more than 10 men being described as “big, strong boys for farm work.” This video initiated conversations all over the world, and caught the attention of many world leaders and celebrities, who were all looking for answers. Bad Boy Entertainment boss Diddy, was one of many who spoke out against the violations of human rights taking place. “The slave trade that is going on in Libya has to STOP NOW. Speak up and speak out. We CANNOT be silent!” Rapper Lupe Fiasco, who has spoken out on many world issues on his social media, also spoke out against slavery, asking that the correct information is share.
“COMRADES PLEASE BE AWARE & BEWARE OF POSTING INACCURATE IMAGES/MEMES OF THE LIBYAN SLAVERY CRISIS. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU POST. Inaccurate news and memes make it easier for folks to dismiss the issues all together.”
So you may be wondering what is being done about this? Well according to CNN, the United Nations- backed Libyan government has launched a formal investigation to the matters at hand. Libya has also reached a deal with E.U. (European Union) and African leaders to allow emergency release and return of the refugees and migrants facing abuse at the detention centers. An urgent evacuation plan has also been agreed upon by the African and European leaders that would see upwards 15,000 people flown out of Libya. Along with help from the government, various celebrities have volunteered their wealth and status to help rectify the problem. Celebrities such as actress Tessa Thompson, artists Common and Pharrell Williams, and even civil rights activist Al Sharpton shared informative literature on their social media accounts. A petition started by Constance Mbassi Manga, shared hundreds of thousands of time, has reached over 250,000 signatures with the help of celebrities and influencers. Since the petition surpassed its original goal of 100,000 signatures, the Parliament will debate the contents mentioned in the petition on December 18, 2017.
Website Bustle published an article called, “How To Help Stop Libya’s Slave Trade & Fight Slavery Around The World“, that was met with a lot of praises. The website suggests many different ways to keep the focus on the issue in Libya, such as reaching out to politicians to ensure that their priorities stays on the slave trade issues. The publication also suggests that we continue to support the International Organization For Migration (IOM) has they are currently working to protect Libya’s migrants’ human rights. The organization has successfully closed down seven detention centers in Libya and is hoping in exchange to open centers that respects migrants’ rights. The most important of all is to DONATE. By donating to anti-slavery organizations such as, “Free The Slaves“, “End Slavery Now” and the “Polaris Project“, the proceeds will be used towards further spreading awareness, medical care and more.
The severity of this slavery trade is colossal, and now that the mainstream news outlets have brought it to our attention, what are we going to do? By sharing information, donating money and other resources, we are making it clear to those responsible that this is not okay. As of today, President 45 has yet to speak out directly to the masses of the topic.