Karen Dabrowska

Tripoli Post Article

Originally published: 26th November 2013

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Beacon 218 - Democratic Party’s Project To Assist Immigrants

During an international conference organised by the European Leadership Conference on Human Rights on November 22 in the House of Lords entitled "Are Democratic Nations Upholding A Better Standard?" Ahmed Shebani, the founder of the Democratic Party in Libya addressed a distinguished audience on the illegal migration from Libya to Europe.

He pointed out that every month thousands of disfranchised Africans attempt to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. Many of them meet a violent death at sea. To many, these deaths are mere statistics, but the sad fact is that behind each death there is a real human tragedy.

According to the World Bank, by 2050 there will be more than 400 million international migrants. This huge problem of illegal migration can only be solved with new thinking on the part of the international community at large.

Mr Shebani said the Libyan revolution has not finished yet. It has just graduated to the next level that he calls “Deep Detoxification”.

“After 42 years of dictatorship we have to endure this process of internal cleansing as a natural evolution. Sadly, at some stage of the February 17 revolution you could get away with murder in Libya. All what you had to do was a person with a black skin point your gun and fire as you shout ‘Allah Akhbar’. Every black person was assumed to be a foreign mercenary hired to kill Libyans.

“Unfortunately, during the February 17 revolution many human rights abuses were perpetrated on both sides. The majority of black people were not foreign mercenaries but refugees waiting to make 1000 US dollars to pay the crime syndicate to reserve their place on the death boats meant to deliver them to the Nirvana of Europe, which we know is an illusion.”

Mr Shebani went on to describe the Democratic Party’s proposed launching of a major project, to be named Beacon 218, aimed at the integration of the African continent into the world economy. It will involve vast direct foreign investment in order to create a wide manufacturing base in Africa.

This will create tens of millions of new jobs for unemployed Africans. Everybody along the supply chain should benefit; all the state actors and stakeholders have to play a role in managing this transnational problem, he said.

“The starting point of this major undertaking will involve integrating Libya, the gateway to Africa, into the world economy. This process will have three components: ideological, political and economic.

The ideological aspect will see Libya adopting liberalism to be based on the separation of mosque and state. Currently, there is a serious ideological vacuum in many countries that have recently gone through the Arab Spring phase that is about a paradigm shift in the status quo. Undoubtedly, foreign investment will not be forthcoming while the country remains under the threat of extremism and an unstable security environment.”

Mr Shebani believes that effective American leadership in the Middle East and North African region is essential in the form of a Marshall plan. If there is no economic empowerment at the grassroots level then the Arab Spring will be meaningless.

Though Libya is neither in Europe and nor has it ever been part of the Commonwealth, Shebani said: “On the political front Libya should aim to join the European Union and the Commonwealth. This will provide a beacon of hope that will guide her politics for the next 25 years.

“Endeavouring to meet the conditions of joining the EU will give Libya and all the countries of the Arab Spring a clear sense of direction as it did to Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Many European governments have policies that broaden the gap between the inner society and the external one which is deliberately kept on the fringe. Although, Portugal currently has the best practices to deal with migrants this is not indicative of a new healthy trend among the EU member states.

“Sadly many able European countries are failing to honour their quota on receiving refugees. Unfortunately, nowadays it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than a North African to obtain a Schengen Visa.

“We need to think of how to move refugees from border line to core members of society. Sadly, many refugees are rendered invisible and they remain on the periphery. In addition, inhuman and degrading treatment with serious violations of human rights is the norm in many reception centres.

“The increase of xenophobic speeches in many European countries makes it even more difficult to address this problem by political parties who are concerned with securing votes.

“Protecting refugees will save lives. Human rights go beyond democracy. Democracy is the dictatorship of the majority. Therefore we also have to include minority rights.

“Economically speaking, Libya will contribute significantly to the economic empowerment of millions of Arab youth, because our curse is not lack of funds but the concentration of wealth that may end up in the wrong hands. This will be indispensable for the success of the Arab Spring,” Mr Shebani concluded.