One of the Libyan civil war's relatively under-reported features has been the rebels' attacks on dark-skinned people — migrants and Libyan nationals — who were lumped together as "mercenaries". Considering Libya had hundreds of thousands of foreign works from sub-Saharan Africa (who already experienced much racism in their everyday life), this meant many innocents got attacked because there were a few hundred foreign soldiers recruited by the Qadhafi regime. It also helped the rebel narrative to claim that those defending the regime were foreigners, downplaying the civil war aspect of the conflict (i.e. that not all Libyans were against Qadhafi.)
Human Rights Watch had this release out today:
Libya: Stop Arbitrary Arrests of Black Africans
Vulnerable Migrant Workers in Tripoli Need Protection
(Tripoli, September 4, 2011) – The de facto authorities in Tripoli, the National Transitional Council (NTC), should stop the arbitrary arrests and abuse of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be mercenaries, Human Rights Watch said today. They should release those detained as mercenaries solely due to their dark skin color, Human Rights Watch said, and provide prompt judicial review to any for whom there is evidence of criminal activity.