As Americans argue over whether to tear down the monuments from the slavery era of the Old South, there’s an example of the modern-day slave trade underway right now in Libya that’s as instructive as it is disgusting and disheartening.
CNN reports they’ve uncovered a network of slave auctions being run by smugglers:
Most have sold everything they own to finance the journey through Libya to the coast and the gateway to the Mediterranean.
But a recent clampdown by the Libyan coastguard means fewer boats are making it out to sea, leaving the smugglers with a backlog of would-be passengers on their hands.
So the smugglers become masters, the migrants and refugees become slaves.
CNN reporters Nima Elbagir, Raja Razek, Alex Platt, and Bryony Jones went undercover to capture images of the literal slave block where human beings go "under the hammer” and are sold to locals:
Carrying concealed cameras into a property outside the capital of Tripoli last month, we witness a dozen people go “under the hammer” in the space of six or seven minutes.
“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig,” the salesman, dressed in camouflage gear, says. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”
Buyers raise their hands as the price rises, “500, 550, 600, 650 ...” Within minutes it is all over and the men, utterly resigned to their fate, are being handed over to their new “masters.”
This man told CNN he was sold to a master and beaten:
Eventually, he was returned to his smugglers, according to CNN, and his family had to come up with a ransom for him. He’ll be deported back to his home in Nigeria.
You don’t have to look too far to see that there are plentiful examples of slavery in the world, whether it’s in terms of human sex trafficking or selling another human being for labor. But seeing the actual auction block will chill your blood.
Oh, and that former slave’s name? Victory.
Watch the story below.