Taouergas: Damned Souls of the Libyan Revolution

12 more in collection Taouergas: Damned Souls of the Libyan Revolution

400 families more or less settled in what used to be the military academy in Janzur, Tripoli. Plywood sheets dividing the huge cloakrooms into little « appartments », towels and sheets as boudaries for the girls room, storage racks transformed into kitchen for each building, early new classrooms, dirt on the floor and broken windows. Accused of supporting Gaddafi during the revolution, these offsprings of the last slaves coming from the center of Africa, are held for responsible by the old revolutionnary militias of all the misery and horrors Misrata had to suffer during the revolution. It has become a fight between two cities, two tribes, in which the Taouerga people lost. Forced to run away from their city today burned to the ground and controled by the Misrata militias, illnesses and attacks are the present of these black-skin Libyans.

During what they call « the great exodus », the night of the 8th of August 2011, they left their city on foot, in the desert, knowing that misrati militias were arriving heavily armed aiming to have their revenge. 70 hours long, they lost sons, husbands and old people, trying to reach a safe heaven. They are now divided in camps throughout the country. Janzur is one of them. The biggest. Regularly, misrati militias pay them a little visit, arresting, humiliating and sometimes shooting men in front of wives and children, raping young girls.

For a year now, because of the attacks and the great lack of security, NGOs left the premisses for their own safety. It remains difficult to access these camps garded by some militias obviously taking their orders from the government. Photographers are not welcome and Taouergas hide from the lense by fear of retaliation. However, when we show them pictures of their city, taken covertly by penetrating illegaly in what the Misrati renamed « The New Misrata », Taouerga people open up and show their living conditions wishing to go home soon.

Which it seems is not going to happen any time soon, as the government failed to stop the control of Taouerga by the Misratis, big winners of the revolution, heavily armed and not answering to the new chain of commands. As we heard from colonel Jaha, chief of the militias of Misrata, « If we find a Taouerga who raped or tortured or killed one of ours, we will track him and kill him now, tomorrow or in a thousand years ».

So, Taouerga people are building a little school inside the camp for the 380 children, using the remaining teachers of the city and old books. Men are taken some morning in trucks to go working outside the camp for a few dinars, some get abducted during the trip and never appear again. Left alone by the Libyan government, they try to get by, still loosing their young people, because who gets out never know if they’re going to come back.

A photography project by Mélanie Wenger.

$250.00

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