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SOMALILAND 18 MAY- THE REALITY ON THE GROUND

 

 

On July 1, 1960, the unification that took place in Mogadishu was between the two peoples of the North and South and not between two governments. The Northern delegation was fairly selected in their representation. They were Haji Ibrahim Nur, Samaroon; Ali Grad Jama, Darod; Mohmed Haji Ibrahim Egal, Isaaq; Ahmed Haji Duale, Isaaq.

The reality on the Ground……

There is no question about the repressive and irresponsible nature of the Siyad regime but that cannot justify the equally reckless, merciless and the mindless behaviour of the SNM’s Somaliland towards its neighbours. Only last night, May 17,2014, the thunder of guns were heard on all corners of Borama, a common phenomenon on every 18th May. Hundreds of soldiers, civilians were mass transported from Hargeisa to suppress the civilians who are not ready for the anniversary of the evil.. This system is attempting, without success, to lie to the world when it lied to its own people for 23 years. They talk of unfounded peace and stability when they oppress, murder school children, fill their filthy prison cells with school children, kill and mutilate bodies of travellers on public roads and axe-murder people on their sleeping beds…..????

Today’s emotional, mindless, celebrations is the same old strategy for the loss of another quarter of a century. The purpose is to cover up the reality on the ground…the corruption, the tribalism and the repression of the stateless people in that part of the country

BACKGROUND

Social conflict and political violence in Northern Somalia “Somaliland” is a complex subject, and it will be useful to note a few trends in its recent history. Many political commentators suggest that underlying ethnic cleavages are the source of historic mistakes based on power share dispute going back to 1960s. At all times, political parties were organized on tribal and ethnic lines and leaders often attempted to rise to power upon ethnic differences.

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Before the arrival of Britain, the people and lands which became Somaliland Protectorate in the late 19th century were traditionally divided into clans and their territories. The four, generally known, ethnic groups are the Samaroon (Gadabursi), the Isaq, the Darod and the Issa. Each clan was separate and independent from the other. Chiefs, Suldans, Grads and Ugases administered the civil and judicial matters inside and outside clans. Some clans, like the Dhulbahante, did not sign any formal treaty with the British

During the British protectorate rule, each clan maintained its internal administration and the United Kingdom recognized each clan area as a separately protected people and territory. That was because, the clan treaties defined land boundaries and people. This means that neither the British nor the clans were interested in the creation of a unitary state of Somalis in the North. At any point in their long history, the northerners never agreed to form a unitary state. The declaration of independence automatically annulled the ” Somaliland British mandate” leaving the clans and their chieftains in their different territorial jurisdictions.

The initial political conflict began when in 1959, the British administration, in their last days of departure, unfairly distributed first legislative council of 33 seats of which 21 were given to one group. The other four clans saw that as domination of one tribe. Borama travelled to the eastern Darood groups asking for alliance and on 17/10/159, founded the United Somali Party ( USP). This party with the majority of Northerners who wanted greater Somalia was the ideological base for the Northern Unification with the South.
On July 1, 1960, the unification that took place in Mogadishu was between the two peoples of the North and South and not between two governments. The Northern delegation was fairly selected in their representation. They were Haji Ibrahim Nur, Samaroon; Ali Grad Jama, Darod; Mohmed Haji Ibrahim Egal, Isaaq; Ahmed Haji Duale, Isaaq.

One year later, the national constitution was completed by an all inclusive Somali committee with the help of United Nations experts. A date was set on June 20, 1961 to put the constitution on a referendum throughout the country. An absolute majority of 90% of the electors voted in favour of the new constitution. That was the first constitutional and internationally recognised Somali Republic state and was recognised by the United Nations on Sept. 20,1961.

Few Northern leaders, particularly from Isaq, did not meet their expectations on how the cabinet and other government positions were divided. Shortly, after unification, in 1961, these groups attempted a coup in the north but was immediately aborted. In the Northern Somalia, the trend of secession revived in 1980 when the public, in general, resented their government and different clans announced the formation of their own movements…USC for Hawiye, SPM for Ogaden, SDA for Samaroon, SNM for Isaq, SSDF for Majeerteen …and many more.

SNM (SOMALI NATIONAL MOVEMENT) TIMELINE HISTORY AND AGENDA

-1977-78 Somali/Ethiopian war displaced more than a million Somalis. Most of them were in refugee camps in Northern Somalia. The refugee camps were run by UNHCR budget and were located in Hargeisa Dam, Adhicadays, Lasdhuure, Agabar, Arabsiyo, Tugwajale, Daraymaane and Darbihorre.

-The influx of large refugees had a significant impact on the people as the newcomers appeared to be having more opportunities than the natives of the region. They smoothly mixed in the ruling system, had equal, sometimes more equal, than others in every field of life as in government jobs, in business and even in land ownership.

-In 1980, a team of young elite suspected that the refugees were systematically integrating into the country with the government backing. The group founded a cover up charity organization, U.F.O, with a political agenda. The aim was to raise the public awareness about the threat of the large refugee population and the government’s financial and power facilitation.

- After 1977-78 war, Mogadishu funded four rebel groups against Ethiopian regime. These fighters were formed on tribal basis and were the Horyal for the Samaron, Afraad for the Isaaq and WSLF for Ogaden and for Sh. Belisa of Bali. The government, after misunderstandings, suspended funding the Afraad rebel wing who immediately moved to Ethiopian and surrendered themselves to Mengistu, the Ethiopian leader. They were given a base in Duryo when UFO team in Hargeisa also became partners in principle. Shortly, after that, SNM was founded in London on April 6, 1981.

- From that time and afterwards, a new era escaping to Ethiopia has started. Security officials, politicians and many important personalities from Isaaq tribes left the country to Ethiopia to join the SNM. In 1983, those in Ethiopia, the London group and other delegates met in Adari, Ethiopia and chose their first joint council headed by Sh. Yusuf sh. Ali Madar. in August 1984, Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyo was elected as leader.

-On March 19, 1988, Mengistu of Ethiopia decided to mend relations with Siyad Barre. Mengistu’s plan was to secure the Ethiopian/ Somali front in order to send troops to Eritrea. This was a turning point in the SNM history because they were ordered to stop attacks and move their militias 15km inland away from the Somali border.

- At that point, Siilaanyo, had to make a critical choice and chose wrong road. He asked his team to go inside where confrontation with the government has started. The SNM launched a military campaign in 1988, temporarily capturing Burao on May 27 and part of Hargeysa on May 31. Government forces fought the opposition militia in the streets, forcing the SNM to withdraw and causing more than 300,000 to flee to Ethiopia. The military regime conducted the same reprisals against the Majeerteen rebels- destruction of water wells, grazing grounds and wiping out whole villages.

In this case, the government had a responsibility to fight the invaders who decided to fight inside the public and behind the cover of the civilians. The fighting in the towns was, of course, unwise and one should expect high casualty. In that fight, it was impossible to say who killed who as SNM, itself, in full scale, engaged in killing the military as well as fleeing non-Isaaq people.

Aftermath the war, large number of dead bodies were left in many different parts of towns. An eye witness woman tells me that they were too busy in making ropes from their clothes. Since there was no enough people to do the burying, the few volunteers tied the bodies together and put them in shallow graves, enough to hide them. Whether that type of war can satisfy the genocide legal definition will be discussed in the next section of this paper.

- Siilanyo’s wrong move displaced the Isaag populations who were camped in Ethiopian refugee camps. Again, it is apparent that SNM was responsible for the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Ethiopia. The refugees helped SNM in two ways. First, sheltered SNM when waging their attacks, from there, to inland Somalia and secondly, many young men joined the fight. Later in the years, the Addis/Mogadishu peace agreement did not sustain and SNM was getting a lot of support from Mengistu of Ethiopia.

- In 1989, SNM ranks was in trouble when Siilaanyo targeted Habar Awal leaders of whom many disappeared. He also started a dialogue of negotiations with Siyad Barre regime through a close friend and relative Adan Mohamed Ahmed Qaybe, the last Somalia’s Foreign Minister. In April 1990, the division resulted Siilaanyo’s downfall and the appointment of Abdirahman Ahmed Ali (Abdirahman Tuur) as leader.

- In between 1987 to 1990, SNM was unable to enter the main cities of the North but fought the unarmed civilian Samaron populations in Gabiley, Awdal region and inside Ethiopia. In cooperation from the Djibouti officials, SNM also slaughtered hundreds of Samaron deportees in the borders between Somalia and Djibouti.

- For a decade, 1981-1990, SNM attacks could not remove Siyad Barre’s forces from anywhere. They got their luck when Aideed’s USC, Hawiye tribe rebels, captured Mogadishu on January 19,1991. At that time, SNM, without resistance, rushed the gates of Northern Somalia.

-Having access to large number of abandoned weapons, SNM, backed by Ethiopian troops, attacked the civilian populations of Awdal. They levelled the historic town of Dilla, killing more than 700 of its people. They then passed to the regional capital city of Borama where they killed 746 in less than 24 hours. Warehouses and homes were emptied, and they left death and destruction, without the least moral value, enjoying their convoys of looted property. Ironically, SNM who claim unjustifiable genocide were responsible for genocide in Awdal region.

AFTER THE CIVIL WAR

In 1992, SNM proclaimed ‘Somaliland” a separate state from Somalia, forcing Samaroon and other tribes to join the illegal declaration. In a short time, the different Isaaq tribes started to clash with each other for power struggle. The whole country was again awash with guns, looters, rapists and road blockers. Roads were impassable with road blocks (check-points) by various clan gang members who claimed the road passages as their territory.

At broad daylight, wild gunmen overpowered the president, Abdirahman Ahmed and his guards when he walked away from his car. At that point, members from neighbouring Isaaq elders approached Samaroon leaders for help. Samaroon decided to forgive the past and to mend fences with their SNM neighbours. From there, they stepped in and began their long journey of hope to negotiate peace between Isaaq fighting groups.

Two loaded buses of elders, with white flags, left Borama. In a short time, they were successful to accomplish inter-clan peace in Hargeisa, Berbera and Burao. After that, they organised another meeting in Sheikh as a platform for a country wide conference. More than 150 delegates gathered in Sheikh and decided to hold a general peace conference. At that meeting, the conference hosting clan became an issue of serious debate. Each clan was reluctant to be the guest to the other as there was no trust among the Isaaqs. proposals like Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera and Gabiley were all declined by one group or the other. As a last resort, Borama, the Samaroon city, was proposed as the hosting region and all delegates unanimously accepted it with applause. As a result, In 1993, a long five-month conference in Borama succeeded to draft the terms of the first functional administration for today’s Somaliland system .

In addition to the Samaroon people’s good heart, their land was the only perfect place for peace conference. They had a 21 member council of leaders that worked as their legislative body. In all inter-clan matters and in other related issues, the council’s decision was final. Nobody could dare to violate the laws that the council approved. The people had their own policing system with each clan leader responsible for the actions of his people and that eliminated lawlessness. Furthermore, Borama was the only town with electricity power in northern Somalia and there were dozens of international aid agencies. The airport was functional at its full capacity with a fair number of passenger and cargo aircrafts each day.

How Samaroon in Somaliland got the wrong reward for doing the right thing.

In exchange for their good work, Samaroon got the wrong reward when:

- Within few months, their Borama busy airport was closed and all flights and passengers were re-routed to Hargeisa airport.

- All international aid agencies were ordered to move from Borama to Hargeisa.

- Samaroon business people were forced to use the Berbera sea port where they are mugged and sometimes killed. In Nov. 2011, on Berbera-Hargeisa a truck driver was shot dead by road control soldier in bribe dispute.

- Isaaq occupied 95% of the Somaliland administration, the congress, the parliament, the armed forces, the security, the judicial and financial systems.

- A 10 million dollar aid from Kuwait governent was Somalilnad infrastructure investment. That money went to the extension of Hargiesa and Berbera airports. In contrast, Awdal people and Diaspora struggled to finish a four kilometer road between Dila an Borama. Borama Airport is closed and all roads are unfit for travel. One of Awdal’s renouned doctors died very recently on those extreme roads.

- A 30 million Europan Union and UN funded water project is improving the water systems of the ruling clan towns of Hargeysa, Erigavo, Burao and Togwajale

- Khalifa bin Zayed Charity Foundation has completed 20 large water basins/dams west of Hargeisa and 14 water wells in the north of the city. The foundation has also drilled 9 new water wells and a watershed basins in Burao.

- In July 2009, business travellers were stopped in public road. Four of them were taken to the bush, murdered in cold blood and their bodies mercilessly mutilated.

- Students came out in masses in protest against July ugly killings, raised the Somali flag and denounced the separatist authority. SNM militia, angered by the sight of the blue flag, opened fire on demonstrators when a young boy was shot dead. The young martyr died with his right hand still clinging with his national flag.

- Within the last few years, 13 people are killed in the area of Seemaal. Three of them were cut into pieces with an axe while they were sleeping. The killers were identified by the “Somaliland” Interior Minister on the TV news. Killers are still at large in their tribal enclave safe haven.

- Samaroon public and others are denied to claim their Somali identity and none can dare to keep the blue flag. From 18 to 22 May, 2012, more than 50 students are taken prisoners. Always, there are large numbers of political prisoners, simply for denying the separatist policy or for having the Somali national flag.

- On regular basis, news reporters are arrested and tortured. In March 2012, Mohamed Abdirahman Ismail was arrested in Borama, tortured repeatedly in jail and taken to Borama Hospital in coma.

An Appeal to the International Community in Light of these Basic Facts

- Today, after 54 years, The Isaaq clan “ Somaliland” is attempting to play the long dead card which Northern clans buried within 5 days after the British left in June 1960. The northerners, today are back to square one, that of 1960 tribal rivalry. We are, therefore, warning the international community that one clan authority has no mandate to speak for the people in the north

- In Northern Somalia’s all-time claims of destruction and genocide by a southern, is only a disguise when the leaders failed spectacularly to see their own past and present mistakes.

- In their ruling time, they chose personal gains for the collective good of their people when they competed in enriching themselves by renting the country to foreign countries and foreign business partners. Young people die in the seas in their attempts to immigrate for jobs and better life. For how long will they continue to lie to themselves and to their innocent, emotional people????

Osman Elmi elmi1949@hotmail.ca

 


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