Libya: Toubou people charge “ethnic cleansing”

The head of Libya’s Toubou people on March 30 called for international intervention after deadly clashes in the southern oasis town of Sabha. “We demand that the United Nations and European Union intervene to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Toubou,” said Issa Abdel Majid Mansur, a former opposition activist under slain dictator Moammar Qaddafi. He accused Arab tribes in Sabha of bombarding a power station providing electricity to areas of southern Libya with a large Toubou population, including Qatrun and Morzuk. The first clashes erupted five days ago after Arab tribesmen accused the Toubou of killing one of their people. The first three days of fighting claimed more than 70 lives, and Zintan Arab militiamen from the north were sent in. A ceasefire was brokered March 28, although continuing clashes have since been reported. Mansur said his people are ready to revive the organization they had formed to oppose Qaddafi in order to fight for their rights in post-Qaddafi Libya—and raised the possibility of separatism. “We announce the reactivation of the Toubou Front for the Salvation of Libya to protect the Toubou people from ethnic cleansing,” Mansur told AFP. “If necessary, we will demand international intervention and work towards the creation of a state, as in South Sudan.” (AFP, Magharebia, March 30; AFP, March 27)

The Toubou are a Black African people who inhabit the Tibesti Mountains—the Sahara’s highest, rising to 11,000 feet—where Libya, Chad and Niger come together. They are more numerous in Chad, where they are known as the Tedaga. They speak a Nilo-Saharan language, the same family that also includes Nubian, Zaghawa, Fur, Masalit, Dinka, Nuer and Luo. (Discover Magazine, Dec. 31, 2010; Ethnologue)

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