Warning: The content below is deeply disturbing
1/ Good news and bad news.— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) January 23, 2018
Bad news first: this very disturbing video shows 5 Sudanese men kidnapped & tortured in Libya as they tried to reach Europe.
Good news: Family of men just informed me that Libyan authorities have freed the 5 &arrested the kidnappers.
Desperate families of Sudanese migrants who were being inhumanely tortured for ransom in Libya released extremely disturbing video footage of the terrible crimes.
The video clips are horrific and should not be watched by the weak of heart.
In one video, around five Sudanese men lay on the ground and a slap of a whip could be heard. The men were writhing and whimpering in pain and even in the dim footage, one could see their flayed and raw backs. The men making the video forced each man to show his face to the camera and then made them ask their relatives by name, begging them to transfer money so they can be freed. As they thrashed in agony, the men pleaded with their families to “sell the house” or “transfer the money.”
The second clip showed another Sudanese man, stripped naked, writhing on the ground as someone off-camera dripped scalding oil and fire onto his back. Another masked man was seen pointing a gun at the victim’s back.
These are the victims who were deemed “lucky” by a CNN anchor — because the videos of other Sudanese men being tortured on social media are much, much worse: showing them gagged and bound as assailants hit them with large wooden slabs and stab them repeatedly until the ground is left bloody.
The videos were then sent to the families of the victims, who, in a desperate bid to raise awareness of the torture suffered by their loved one and to raise funds for the ransom, shared the clips on social media. They also tagged CNN and confirmed the videos were an attempt to extort ransom. They requested to remain anonymous for their own safety and for the safety of those in the video.
According to CNN, the family members said the kidnappers demanded as much as $4,500 for each hostage.
However, a younger brother of one of the men told Middle East Eye his family had received a call from the traffickers telling them to pay 250,000 Sudanese pounds (around $8,000).
Within days of the videos being sent, Libya’s Special Deterrence Forces traced the men to the city of Sirte and freed eight migrants. Four of the kidnappers were also arrested.
But according to a relative of one of the victims, their families were still awaiting confirmation about the rescue of their loved ones.
“We heard about their release from the media, but so far we don’t have any confirmation and we can’t reach them on their phones,” he said.
The Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN it “renews its condemnation and in the strongest terms of this criminal act and stresses the continued efforts of the Government of National Reconciliation to achieve security and stability for its citizens and foreign residents on Libyan territory of various nationalities.”
On Monday, African Union Commissioner of Social Affairs Amira Al-Fadil said the horrific videos “are recent and an investigation has been opened,” the official Sudanese news agency SUNA reported.
Thousands of migrants from African countries have traveled to Libya in hopes of journeying to Europe. However, many of them never reached their destination and many of those who have tell tales of suffering and enslavement.
Last year, reports revealed that more than 30,000 African migrants were being held hostage in Libya and many of them were being exploited by smugglers, who were selling them for as little as $400.
An ongoing CNN investigation into money trails leading to criminal gangs in Libya has unearthed proof of a global network. The network found Western Union money transfer receipts that showed ransom had been received in countries like Niger and Bangladesh. Traffickers are able to pick up the money at a certain location and transfer it again and again to hide its tracks. The money is then carried physically into Libya to bypass its sanctions.
Western Union told CNN it was taking comprehensive steps to prevent illegal activities from happening through its systems.
Recently, Amnesty International accused the EU countries of being complicit in the abuse and torture of migrants by aiding the Libyan coast guards in preventing ocean crossings and sending people back to Libyan camps — where they exist in atrocious conditions.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters/Siegfried Modola