Pure Energy

I transferred this blog to this site in an effort to salvage what was left of posts from my original blog when I worked and lived in Somaliland from 2003 – 2005. Somaliland is my first taste of overseas work, a place where no one wants to go to back then, so I was told. I travelled, discovered and loved Somaliland and its people. I had to “force” myself to get out or I’d stay there forever, at least that’s how it felt back then. I still believe the same might’ve had happened if I did not leave.

Every time I meet a Somali from the diaspora in Hargeisa where I used to live and the discussion becomes a bit long, one question would always come up. Why did you stay? we’d always ask each other, we all have one answer. It is simply unexplainable. It’s not the big flashy buildings for there was none during that time, not the steady and complicated bridges for there was none as well. It is not shopping malls or middle eastern like souks or market place, for there is nothing of that kind. It is the energy, the drive and the passion of its people that made me stay. That constant willingness and perseverance to better themselves, that resilience to political uncertainty, that determination to prove itself that even without international recognition a nation can stand on its own. How can one capture energy? How can one explain resilience and determination? If only it can be captured in pictures, so fotos can explain.  I hope someday someone will. 

I am not in Somaliland anymore, but I still dream and wish of going back there again someday. Since I left, every time I am in a rut, disillusioned to inhumanity before me, I wish that I am in Somaliland once again, a haven for energy, pure energy. 

Advertisements

Victims of war crimes unearthed by heavy spring rains

Mass grave in Hargeisa

(Article from Somaliland Times)  

Hargeysa, Somaliland, 14 April 2007 (SL Times) – A new site containing hundreds of victims of war crimes perpetuated by Siyad Barre’s regime in 1989 was discovered early this week, when heavy downpours of the spring rains exposed a number of mass graves with human remains in a farm field located in Boqol Jire district of Hargeysa.

This particular site is close to the largest genocide mass graves discovered in Somaliland at Mulki Durduro, and is located on the farmland of Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Musa Duale.

Somaliland Times staff visited the site on Wednesday and witnessed hundreds of human remains including children, men and women of all ages. Many of the victims met their deaths with their hands tied behind their backs and were bound together with strings/ropes. Among the human remains, the victims’ personal clothing and footwear were still intact.

“These mass graves are not the only ones. There are many more scattered in and around our farmland”, said Luul Sh. Ibrahim Sh. Musa Duale, a member of the family who owns this land. She added, “Over the years, we have found many mass graves in our land, often the rains expose these graves, unearthing the human remains out in the open, and we simply rebury them again and inform the authorities. But no one ever comes to do anything about them or to preserve them from the rain.”

Abdirahman Shunuf, the chairman of Somaliland Intellectual Society, who was present at this new mass gravesite, along with other top opposition leaders and former SNM officials, told SL Times: `I was made aware of these mass graves back in 2000, and our

organisation managed to erect concrete barriers to stop the surface erosion of the ground from being carved up by running surface rain water. Unfortunately, this time the rain seeped in-between the concrete barriers we erected and managed to carry away large chunks of the ground earth surrounding the mass graves, into the flooded dry riverbed.’

Also present at the newly discovered mass gravesite was the leader of Kulmiye party, Mr. Ahmed Muhammad Muhammud (Sillanyo), who was the Chairman of the National Somali Movement (SNM) at the time that these genocidal war crimes were being committed by Siyad Barre’s regime in 1989. Silanyo told the SL Times, `this place is the place where the SNM fought some of the fiercest battles against the enemy. And each time the SNM forces inflicted heavy losses on Siyad Barre’s forces, his forces took revenge on defenseless and innocent civilians like these.”

Standing over the exposed mass graves, with human remains protruding out of the earth, Silanyo said, “these graves are from that unfortunate sorrowful time. A national genocide committee was formed to investigate and document these atrocities. The world was informed, experts and investigators in mass-killings and genocide came and carried out thorough research and investigations, much was documented and published worldwide regarding these war crimes.” Silanyo continued, “the national genocide committee has done great a great job over the years in uncovering these crimes. They found similar mass graves in many areas in Somaliland, from Erigavo, Burco and Berbera to Gabiley. The

number of the victims cannot yet be determined, and is not an easy task. Nevertheless, in recent times, this committee has not been as active as it used to be in the past. I believe it should be reinvigorated, and should start working again as it used to in the past, in the 90s, and begin recording these mass graves here right away.”

Also present at the mass gravesite was Muhammad Hashi Elmi, a former SNM high ranking member and a founding member of the organisation. Mr Elmi said, “it’s most unfortunate that we can be witness to such a sight, whereby the human remains of the countless innocent men and women, young and old, are before us to see, and that they were murdered for simply belonging to a particular community. And, worse still, for 16 years we have known these killing fields and gravesites, and yet, nothing is being done to get to the bottom of this sad saga in our history. These war crimes committed against the people of Somaliland were perpetuated long before those in Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. The difference is that the mass murderers who committed genocide in Rwanda, Bruundi and Bosnia have been prosecuted with the help of the UN and the international community, whereas those who committed genocide against the people of Somaliland are officially invited by the UN and are being groomed as the future leaders of Somalia. Why are these criminals being treated as future leaders of Somalia, when they are known by the world to have been responsible for these war crimes against the people of Somaliland? We should demand that the national genocide committee should be provided with the resources necessary in carrying out its work. This government should make this matter a priority, a thorough study and investigation of these crimes should be undertaken and the perpetrators should be pursued.

Somalia: Protection of civilians must be priority

(Public statement from Amnesty International)

Amnesty International today urgently called on the international community, and particularly the UN Security Council meeting today to discuss Somalia, to make protection of civilians a key objective of their response to the critical situation in the country. The organizations said that there are increasing violations of the human rights of civilians, a dangerous worsening of the security situation, and a severe deterioration in the humanitarian conditions of people displaced by the recent fighting.

The conflict in Mogadishu between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its opponents has led to the deaths of over 1,000 people  since late-February. This includes some 250 killed in the past week, who are mostly civilians killed by TFG and allied Ethiopian troops; the wounding of about four times that number; and the flight of a third of a million people from Mogadishu–a third of its population.

In addition, the conflict has severely exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, which has been compounded by reported obstruction by TFG officials of humanitarian assistance.

Amnesty International called on the TFG to fulfil its responsibility to protect the security of its citizens in line with the Transitional Federal Charter, and for the Ethiopian government, which provides its military support, to commit to protection of international human rights. All parties in the conflict, including armed groups, are accountable for breaches of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Amnesty International also called on the TFG to immediately lift all unreasonable restrictions on humanitarian operations, and facilitate the movement of humanitarian supplies and personnel and ensure their safety.

Amnesty International renewed its call on the Kenyan government to re-open its border to asylum seekers from Somalia, particularly those now fleeing to the border and in need of urgent medical care, and thus fulfil its international refugee protection obligations. Kenya should also allow humanitarian assistance across the border to displaced persons in Somalia on a regular, predictable and safe basis.

Background
The UN Security Council is today discussing the Secretary General’s latest report pursuant to Security Council resolution 1744 (2007) and following a Technical Assessment Mission to the region. The African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM, endorsed by the UN Security Council in February for a six-month operation leading to a possible UN peacekeeping operation, has a mandate to protect the weakly-established TFG and other transitional federal institutions, but no mandate to protect civilians. It is still in the first stage of deployment, with only some 1,200 Ugandan troops out of a multi-national force projected at 8,000, and few resources yet provided for its overall mission to replace thousands of Ethiopian troops called in by TFG President
Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. AMISOM has also come under armed attack from opponents of the TFG.

Amnesty International called on the African Union in a letter of 16 February for AMISOM to protect civilians and include specific human rights components in its operational mandate, in line with international standards for peacekeeping.

The new cycle of violence arose mainly from the resumption of a TFG/Ethiopian security operation after a short truce in early April. They are fiercely opposed by remnants of the Council of Somali Islamic Courts (COSIC) forces and other fighters opposing particularly the presence of Ethiopian troops.

All parties to the armed conflict, including armed groups, are bound by international humanitarian law. They must ensure their military operations avoid or minimize incidental loss of civilian life and injury to civilians. In particular, they are prohibited from carrying out direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks. Injured and captured combatants must be treated humanely at all times.

Ethiopian troops have been accused of indiscriminate shelling in civilian population centres, leading to hundreds of civilian deaths and mass displacement in Mogadishu, in violation of international humanitarian law. Armed groups have reportedly carried out indiscriminate attacks. They also reportedly have been launching attacks against Ethiopian troops from civilian concentrations. By carrying out such attacks, they are endangering civilians present. Ethiopian forces, however, are obliged at all times to apply the principles of distinction and proportionality, and take the precautions required by international humanitarian law, when launching attacks against armed groups, to avoid or minimize loss of civilian life and injuries to civilians.

Vulnerable civilian groups have suffered heavily in the conflict, such as women, children, the elderly, human rights defenders and journalists, internally displaced persons, the Somali minorities discriminated by all clans, and particular clan groups who are weakly represented in particular areas.  As the fighting in the capital spreads – including now to Kismayu, many previously nearby safe areas have now become dangerous.  Kenya maintains the closure of its border since January to asylum seekers from Somalia, in breach of its international refugee protection obligations. In addition to looting and rape by criminal gangs, the displaced face increasingly life-threatening lack of food, shelter, sanitation, health care and clean water. Humanitarian agencies have virtually no access to most of the displaced – who are mostly women, children and the elderly..

On 23 April UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the parties to immediately cease all hostilities and to resume political dialogue. The planned National Reconciliation Congress has been postponed to at least mid-May.

Working to protect human rights worldwide

DISCLAIMER
Internet communications are not secure and therefore Amnesty International Ltd does not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose or rely on the information in this e-mail. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Amnesty International Ltd unless specifically stated. Electronic communications including email might be monitored by Amnesty International Ltd. for operational or business reasons.

Join AI’s Appeal for Urgent Action for the Release & Fair Trial for Arrested Journalists & Students

Further Information on UA 26/07 (AFR 52/002/2007, 02 February 2007) – Prisoners of conscience/incommunicado detention/fear of ill-treatment New concern: Legal concern 

SOMALILAND      Yusuf Abdi Gabobe (m), aged in his late 50s            ]                           Ali Abdi Dini (m)                                                       ] Journalists for the Haatuf                            Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim (m)                        ] Media Network 

New name:         Bo’aud (m), former leader of the Somali National Movement                           Four students (names not known)

Journalists Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini were arrested at the office of the Haatuf Media Network in Hargeisa on 2 January. They were transferred to Mandera prison, 70km east of the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, on 3 February. Their trial, which was due to start on the same day, has apparently been postponed. A third man, Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim, who is also employed by the Haatuf Media Network, is still being held incommunicado without charge. His place of detention is now known to be Koodbur police station in Hargeisa. 

Ali Abdi Dini has been charged with “offending the honour or prestige of the Head of State”, “instigating soldiers to disobey the law” by means of the press, and “instigation to disobey the law”. Yusuf Abdi Gabobe has been charged with “resisting a public officer” during his arrest. The Haatuf Media Network had published a number of articles since November 2006, alleging corruption on the part of the President, Dahir Riyaale Kahin, and his family. The trial of the two journalists, reportedly due to be held inside Mandera prison, has not yet started. One of their two defence lawyers was briefly detained, while the other withdrew in protest at the decision to hold the trial within the prison. 

Amnesty International has learnt that four students arrested last month while demonstrating peacefully against the arrests of the three journalists for the Haatuf Media Network are also being held in Mandera prison. They were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at an unfair trial by a secret “emergency court” in Hargeisa, without being granted the right to legal representation or the right to appeal against their sentence. Two other students arrested with them have been released. 

Two other men, writer Ali Dool Ahmed (also known as Ali Qoriolei), and Bo’aud, one of the former leaders of the Somali National Movement, were arrested in early February for distributing leaflets calling for the release of the three journalists. Bo’aud is believed to be still detained without charge in Hargeisa police custody. Ali Dool Ahmed was reportedly beaten by police when he was arrested, but was released on bail around 13 February.   

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Republic of Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but has not so far gained international recognition. It is the only part of the former Somali Republic to have peace, an elected government and a multi-party political system. 

The Haatuf Media Network was established in 2001 and publishes the daily Haatuf (the “Messenger“) – a Somali language newspaper – and two weekly newspapers in English and Arabic. It has frequently been critical of the Somaliland government. 

The Somaliland Press Law, which came into force in 2004, holds that complaints against the press are a matter for civil redress, and not criminal prosecution or the penalty of imprisonment. In this respect the Press Law supersedes the existing Penal Code, which had criminalised such cases. However, the Hargeisa Regional Court ruled on 13 January 2007 that the Haatuf journalists should be prosecuted under the Penal Code, with the result that they now face criminal charges and possible imprisonment. 

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:– expressing concern at the continued detention of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, Ali Abdi Dini and Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim, and the reported intention of the authorities to hold the trial of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini in Mandera prison;
– renewing appeals for Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim to be allowed access to his relatives and to legal representation;
– calling again for the immediate and unconditional release of Yusuf Abdi Gabobe, Ali Abdi Dini and Mohamed Omar Sheikh Ibrahim as prisoners of conscience;– calling for the release of four students held in Mandera prison who were jailed by an apparently illegal emergency court, and for the release of Bo’aud, detained in Hargeisa police custody, as they were all detained on account of their peaceful protests against the journalists’ detentions;calling for all those detained to be given fair trials in accordance with international standards. 

APPEALS TO: There is no postal service to Somaliland and sending fax messages may be difficult. Where possible please send appeals by email.President
His Excellency President Dahir Riyaale Kahin
Fax: +252 213 8324 or +252 252 3848
Email: sl_victory@hotmail.com, sl_victory@yahoo.com 
Salutation: Dear President

Minister of the Interior
Mr Abdillahi Ismail Shabeel
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs or The Presidency
[Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Fax: +252 828 3271 / 252-225-3871, E-mail: slforeign@hotmail.com]Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Justice
Mr Ahmed Hassan Ali Assowe,
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Presidency
Salutation: Dear Minister

Commander of the Somaliland Police
Mr Mohamed Egeh Elmi,
c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Presidency
Salutation: Dear Commander
 

COPIES TO:Copies of letters can be sent to Somaliland’s only diplomatic missions (not recognised) in UK, USA and Italy, asking for them to be forwarded to the authorities in Somaliland.
UK: Mr Osman Ahmed Hassan, Representative of the Somaliland Government, Somaliland Mission, 102 Cavell Street, London E1 2JA, United Kingdom,
Fax: +44 207 247 5336

USA: Mr Saad Sheikh Omar Nur, Representative of the Somaliland Government, Washington DC, USAFax: +1 301 231 5990Email: snoor@sand.com

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 2 April 2007.

Diplomat Pushes Peace Talks in Somalia

By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; 5:27 PM

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali fighters clashed with artillery, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns Wednesday, even as a European diplomat persuaded both the government and a rival Islamic movement to resume peace talks.

The heavy fighting outside the only town the government controls dragged on into the evening and underlined the difficulties of securing peace in this desperately poor country in the Horn of Africa.

Read full story go to –> Washington Post

Warya!

Warya is a word used to casually call Somali men. Its like manong, ‘tol or pare in Filipino. You use warya when you want to call the attention of a person familiar to you. This becomes an insult if used to call a stranger. Be careful. It is better said with a name, like Warya Ahmed, warya Adan, this way it becomes like brother Ahmed, therefore becomes non-offensive

Women are not called warya, but Naaya. For women however, it is strictly used between sisters, cousins and aunties. Again, wrongly used could be taken as an insult.

My friend Ahmed has a way of avoiding trouble. In a restaurant one time, he raised his hand and shouted “Abdulkadir!” he called the waiter and asked him to come to our table. “Do you know him? Is he Abdulkadir?” I asked. He just smiled and said, “No, I don’t know his name, just call them by any name to call their attention. Its rude not to adress anyone by his name and just call him warya.”

For some Somalis abroad however, warya becomes a diagnostic tool. It distinguishes a Somali from the rest of Africans walking in the street. Mohammed, a Somali who lives in London said “Whenever we see Somali looking men and we’re not quite sure if they are really Somalis, we shout Warya! If they turn their heads, then we have our positive ID!”

Somaliland Celebrates International Youth Day

Somaliland National Youth Organization (SONYO Umbrella) celebrated International Youth Day.

A well-organized ceremony was conducted at the Ambassador Hotel wherein more than 100 youth members from 33 youth groups attended the occasion. The event was graced by the Minister of Youth and Sports, SONYO Chairperson, Ibrahim Suldan, Dr. Martin Orwin, Prof. Gaariye, Dr. Mohamed-rashid, Boobe Yusuf, Safiya Awad of UNICEF, Fatima Saed of UNDP, Mohamed of NOMAD and other respected guests attended the occasion.

This is the first time Somaliland Youth celebrated for the International Youth Day. The theme of this year was ?Tackling Poverty Together?. After the speeches of guests, a drama carrying messages about youth problems and opportunities has been presented. Then the Executive Director of SONYO umbrella headed the launching of a new magazine published by SONYO called CODKA DA?YARTA, (VOICE OF YOUTH) and a website for youth called hellosomalityouth.net.

Certificates of appreciation were handed over to 9 SONYO member organizations for their significant contribution to social mobilization of youth all over the country.

An evening event took place at Maansoor Hotel jointly organized by Youth Movement for Democracy (YMD), SOYDCO and SONYO. It was an open forum participated by 130 youth leaders, parliament members, governmental officials, and UCID partly leader, Mr. Faisal Ali Waraabe.

Article submitted by SONYO.

Belgian Cops Nabbed For ‘Human Trafficking’

Hargeisa – Authorities in Somalia’s breakaway northwestern republic of Somaliland arrested three Belgian police officers on Tuesday, accusing them of human trafficking and violating immigration laws.

The officers were held after arriving in Somaliland’s main city Hargeisa from Ethiopia with a Somali national who they said was being deported from Belgium, said officials in the enclave which is not recognised internationally.

Full Story: IOL

RELATED STORY: Belgian police cleared to leave Somaliland

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Three Belgian policemen detained in Somaliland after accompanying a deported man have been cleared to return home, Belgian police said on Wednesday.

A police spokesman said the three officers were given their passports and plane tickets back on Wednesday afternoon.

“The three members of the Belgian police were freed an hour ago,” the spokesman said, adding that they would fly to Addis Ababa on Thursday and then take a plane back to Belgium.

Conflicting reasons were given for the arrest of the three, who had their passports and plane tickets confiscated and were being held at a hotel.

A Somaliland minister said they lacked entry visas and were being held at Hargeisa’s upmarket Ambassador Hotel in what he called a “humanitarian gesture”.

Belgian police had said they were being held due to an administrative problem.

Somaliland, which is not recognised internationally, broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted by a clan militia.

Source:Reuters

Somaliland Nabs Belgian Officials

The authorities in the breakaway region of Somaliland say they have detained three Belgian immigration officials in the capital, Hargeisa.

The three arrived on a flight from Ethiopia with a man they had deported from Belgium, Somaliland’s Aviation Minister Ali Warran Ade told the BBC.

He said they did not have visas to enter Somaliland or the prior consent necessary to deliver a deportee there.

The minister said they were being held in a hotel pending investigations.

Mr Ade said the deportee had been sent back to Ethiopia on the flight on which he had arrived.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia after the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.

Somaliland’s self-declared government is not recognised by any other state, although it is credited with bringing peace and a degree of development to the territory, amid chaos in the rest of Somalia.

Source: BBC News/Africa

More on Somalia’s ICU

See Council on Foreign Relation’s article on Somalia’s High Stakes Power Struggle.

« Older entries