And, here is where I part company with some of my ideological kin folk. The Qaddafi regime, indeed, any government has an obligation to devise processes and channels for responding to grievances from its people without resorting to repression and violence. The violent suppression of peaceful protests and demands for change is simply unacceptable. Moreover, these demands cannot be ignored or dismissed because the government professes to be “anti-imperialist” or “revolutionary.” Respect for human rights must be an essential aspect of the character of a revolutionary Pan African government. Despite its “revolutionary” and “Pan Africanist” activities, credible international human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have long documented the repressive nature of the Qaddafi government. So, the winds of change which stunned Brother Leader have been gathering for some time. As is the case with other repressive regimes in North Africa and the Arab World, it was inevitable that those restless for reform in Libya would gain encouragement from what they witnessed throughout the region. Reforms were demanded and reforms should be forthcoming.
The African Union recognized this when it stepped forward to mediate what has become a civil war. According to published reports, at a high level meeting March 26 in Addis Ababa the AU called for a cease fire, dialogue between the parties and a “road map to resolve the crisis, including the formation of a transitional government, the holding of elections and the building of democratic institutions to meet the aspirations of all Libyans. “ Implicit in this roadmap is an awareness of serious problems in Libya and the right of those seeking change to have their voices heard. The AU’s position is noteworthy because they had the courage to propose reforms in Libya despite the fact that Qaddafi is a major financial contributor to the organization and a number of the member governments. The AU chose to do the right thing, and they are to be commended for doing so. Unfortunately, the U.S. led coalition elected to use the blessing of the Arab League to provide cover for the attack on Libya rather than heed the advice and recommendations of the AU.
Those who care about the Libyan people should demand that the U.S. and its allies consult with and take into account the perspectives of the AU regarding the crisis of a sister nation on the continent. Equally important, I hope progressive Pan Africanists will increasingly commit to utilizing moral and ethical principles of governance, as embodied in the concept of Maat, to judge the character and internal weaknesses/contradictions of leaders and governments who would claim the mantle of revolution and Pan Africanism. We cannot ignore the flagrant flaws and transgressions of authoritarian, repressive and despotic regimes in the name of some grander anti-imperialist cause. The goal of our revolution must always be to create communities, societies and nations based on a solid foundation of justice and human rights!
Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website www.ibw21.org and www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.