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Monday, September 05, 2011

The Toubou and Qaddafi

The Toubou (Old Tebu: "Rock People;"[1] also written Tibu, Tibbu, Tebu, Tubu, Tebou, Umbararo) are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan.

The majority of Toubou live in the north of Chad around the Tibesti mountains (Old Tebu: "Rocky Mountains," whence the Toubou's own name.) Numbering roughly 350,000, they are mostly Muslim. Most Toubou are herders and nomads, though many are now semi-nomadic. Their society is clan-based, with each clan having certain oases, pastures and wells. They are divided in two closely-associated people, the Teda and the Daza.

Many of Chad's leaders have been Toubou, including Presidents Goukouni Oueddei, Hissène Habré and Idriss Déby.

The Toubou minority in Libya suffered persecution under the Gaddafi regime. In a report released by the UNHCR, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) reported "massive discrimination" against the Toubou minority, which resides in the southeastern corner of the country around the oasis town of Kufra.

  • In December 2007, the Gaddafi government stripped Toubou Libyans of their citizenship, claiming that they were not Libyans, but rather Chadians.
  • In addition, local authorities denied Toubou people access to education and healthcare.
  • In response, an armed group called the Front for the Salvation of Toubou Libyans staged an uprising in November 2008 which lasted for five days and claimed 33 lives before being crushed by government security forces.
  • Despite resistance and public condemnation, the Gaddafi regime continued its persecution of the Toubou minority in Libya.
  • Beginning in November 2009, the government began a program of forced eviction and demolition of Toubou homes, rendering many Toubou homeless.
  • Several dozen who protested the destruction were arrested, and families who refused to leave their homes were beaten.[2]
In the 2011 Libyan civil war, Toubou tribespeople in Libya sided with the rebel anti-Gaddafi forces and participated in the Southern Libyan Desert campaign against forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, briefly capturing the town of Al Qatrun[3] and claiming to capture Murzuk for the rebel movement a month later.[4]

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