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|Unlearned Lessons of History and Human Rights Abuses?|
Dahir A. Jama, London, England
African Right's report on the human rights abuses in Somaliland is a wake up call for all Somalilanders. The arrests of SNM veterans without due process, the siege of the elders in Gabiley, curfews and the everyday and ongoing harassment of opposition members are what we fought against, and what we never expected to see again. Taken together, these are all terrible reminders of past ugly times.
When the African Rights report: Shadows of Past; was first published I was shocked and dismayed. Not because I did not hear of human rights abuses in Somaliland before, but because of its magnitude and timing, at this time. The people that fought for this country and that made it what it is today were being arrested and abused at Minter's order. The women and children what were abused and made homeless by the Faqash, are being harassed and terrorized by our OWN police. The elders and traditional leaders whom we owe the peace and stability we have today are being treated as criminals. This should not have been possible in a nation like Somaliland with such a recent history of abuse and oppression. This should not have been in Somaliland, twelve years after it has reclaimed its sovereign status. Most importantly, this should not have been allowed to happen to the poor people of Somaliland who have already been burned once; thus twice shy about resistance and struggle.
The overwhelming majority of Somalilanders in the Diaspora work very hard to make themselves a better life, and for the betterment and development of their country, Somaliland. For them, a recognized and prosperous Somaliland is their ultimate goal. I am among these Somalilanders in the Diaspora; and for the good parts of past decade, I have spent most of my time campaigning for the Somaliland cause. However, as many here in the Diaspora, I have become disillusioned about the situation in Somaliland of late. I have become sad and angry because the Somaliland I see today is not the Somaliland I envisioned. I am dismayed because the efforts and energy of Somalilanders everywhere, which they have invested in Somaliland for the past 12 years, is close to being wasted. I am lost and unable to find a way forward because the Somaliland I used to call the only hope of Democracy in the horn of Africa is becoming another member of the Dark Continent. I am worried because Somaliland seems to be in the hands of a President who is unable to control his Ministries or take charge of his lieutenants. I am fearful for the future because the actions and deeds of the current government do not give me hope for the future.
My dear country men/women, this situation cannot be allowed to go on for much longer. Somalilanders are very patient people in their nature; but they are also very sensitive to injustice and inhumane treatments. Therefore, in the interests of Somaliland, and in the interests of our good earned reputation in the international arena, I ask the government of Rayale Kahin to bring these barbaric acts of human rights abuses to an abrupt halt. I urge him to hold his Ministers accountable; else the people, the Country and History will hold him accountable for their actions. I plead with him for the sake of this country, not to wreck the good name and reputation this country has acquired over the past decade.
I have envisioned a Somaliland where justice and freedom are taken for guaranteed. A Somaliland where arbitrary arrests, police beatings and/or brutality are things of the past. Was I wrong? I believe there is still hope, but for how long that hope will remain, no one knows.
There is no point in asking African Rights not to publicize these abuses; African Rights has a legal, ethical and moral obligation to publicize them. However, the government has a responsibility to prevent these acts of abuses from taking place, and blackening the good name of Somaliland. I am confident that the government will head the advice of its many citizens, less it wants to be judged by history and by the people.
Finally, although most of these human rights abuses were well publicized in the local Media, at the time, I, nevertheless, would still like to thank and knowledge the bravery and heroic acts of a decent Somalilander, a Somaliland heroin: Ms Rakiya Omaar, who is doing a splendid job for her country and people. We all remember her services to her people and her country in the early 1990s and late 1980s when no one wanted to hear about the plight of Somalilanders; and she was the one telling everyone that would listen about the plight of Somalilanders. In line with most concerned Somalilanders, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude for her services to her nation and people. She is a Somalilander we are all proud of; a heroin, in a society where heroes are made into villains within strikingly very short period of time.