Heard their Dismal Records Exposed
"SPR underlined the dismal human rights record of
the Somali warlords gathering in Kenya. This was also highlighted
by Dr. Ismail Jumale Human Rights Center (IJHRC) which argued
that what happened in Somalia in the civil war is much worse
than the previous dictatorship.
Amnesty International has also confirmed that what has happened
in Somalia is beyond belief in terms of human rights.
All these institutions have asked the international community
and the Somalis to pay special attention to the records of
certain elements participating in Somalia's national reconciliation
conference now taking place in Kenya."
Somali Peace Rally
November 10, 2002
That appeal has fallen on deaf ears. Instead the bloodthirsty
warlords continued to derail the talks for their own vested
interests from day one. At the same they ignited more bloodshed
at home despite a ceasefire brokered by IGAD.
What happened in Somalia was indeed beyond belief. It was
often compared it to the horror in Rwanda, but despite the
genocide in that tiny African country almost all the infrastructures
in Kigali were intact when the Tutsi-led rebels, The Rwanda
Patriotic Front, liberated the country from the Interhamwe
death machine that claimed almost a million Tutsis and moderate
The sponsors of the Somali talks at Mbagathi, not wanting
to upset the powerful warlords and their protectors, isn't
pressing the button of human rights abuse for the moment on
the excuse that things are bad enough now. "We can't
ill afford to make them worse," they say. It is like
the political version of the American Idol, giving cold shoulder
to the best singers (the weaker leaders of the civil society)
and sweet-talk the worst singers (the war criminals) as if
no evil things had happened in Somalia during the last 12
years or so.
One rebuff to the warlords/faction leaders worth
mentioning here, however, is the number of MPs to be elected
to the interim peoples assembly; 301, instead of the 400 tossed
around by the warlords (see my TALKING
POINT June 20, 2003 )
CHRONICHLING THE SEQUENCE
HOW DID THIS HORROR HAPPEN AND WHO ARE THE CULPRITS?
As the mass exodus continued the ethnocidal war was gathering
momentum in the epicenter of the conflict, the nerve-racking
Mogadishu, while in the Northwest some of the refugees slowly
trickled back into Hargeisa only to end up in a ghost city
with nothing in it. There was no life at all.
In Mogadishu the murderous militia at checkpoints draw the
life fluid from anyone they suspect belonged to the "enemy"
clan. The city was divided into north and south and to try
to cross the invisible Green Line was like dancing with death.
The dozen or so warlords in the country at the time and their
militia gunmen experienced a surge of power like they had
never known before. They fought over the right to kill, rape
and pillage at will.As a result the number of Mafia-like warlords
rose to 25 in less than a month.
Another dismal irony is that Somali doctors who tried to
save lives became victims themselves. Several Somali and expatriate
doctors have been gunned down by these gun-boys for no apparent
Scott Peterson in his book "ME AGAINST MY BROTHER"
described Mogadishu "The City of the Insane". There
were barricades everywhere manned by drug crazed baby-faced
young militia locally known as Mooryaan. The bodies lined
the roads everywhere in putrefying piles. Even mosques and
Quranic schools were defiled. No one was trying to stop the
madness. Religious leaders, Imams, elders, intellectuals and
merchants of death joined their clans in order to save their
own skins. Some of them, those with money to burn, financed
the clan's war chest and even instigated the mass slaughter.
People were killed by their friends and neighbours just because
they happened to belong to the "enemy" clan and
found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. It
has become ritual to watch childhood friends or former schoolmates
taking pot shot at each other. Their days of playing makeshift
soccer ball on the snow-white Lido Beach barefoot was apparently
The Apocalypse was unfolding in earnest in Somalia and the
United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the Arab
League or the Islamic Conference Organization of which Somalia
was a member did not gave damn about "hothead" Somalis
killing "hothead" Somalis.
In short, Mogadishu became the gun capital of the world.
It still is.
Specialists said that had the international community stepped
in as soon as the former military dictator was ousted, the
tragedy could have been averted, because the warlords were
fighting over food rather than power, as they turned their
artillery guns on the few ships that brought in emergency
food aid. One of the Mogadishu warlords did not waste time
to commandeer what little food aid brought in by Oxfam by
air at the height of the famine to feed his own militia gunmen.
Then Air Africa, the only airliner that dared to fly to Somalia,
despite the anarchy, cancelled its flight to Mogadishu when
bullets from unidentified gunmen at the airport hit its fuselage.
Three groups of gunmen occupied the lucrative port and airport
and in turn guard different zones. They often cream off as
much as half of the food and demanded money to escort it to
the feeding centers where at least one baby was dying every
Even with the thugs escorting the food convoys, trucks were
stolen just as they went through the port gate.
Nationwide, the people who suffered most are the minorities,
such as the Bantus, the Rahan-weyn, the Bajunis, the Baravanis,
the Hamaris, the Midganis and the Tunnis. These people lost
everything they had owned, including their farms, their livestock
and even their women. Typically, the big players in the clan
war are former camel herders from the Central Province and
Middle Shabelleh region. "Like locusts, they stripped
the country of everything and massacred the people,"
said an old Rahan-weyn man who lost everything to the gunmen
when they invaded Baidoa.
Hundreds were slaughtered and their homes and farms were
burned, sparking the first Somali Bantu exodus to neighbouring
Kenya where they thought they could easily blend with the
Africans in Kenyans. Originally, Arab slave traders brought
them to Somalia from Central Africa and Tanzania in the 17th
Century. Many ended up in Somalia's fertile region when their
wooden Arab dhows capsized off the Somali Coast. Others drowned
in the turbulent Indian Ocean. No records of these harrowing
human tragedy was kept, as Somalia itself (Benadir Region)
was then under the rule of the Sultan of Zanzibar's administrator,
Saeed bin Barqash, a man who spent most of his time counting
and recounting the fake gold coins he received from Italian
"explorers" as a kickback.
Going back to the talks in Kenya, it beats me why no action
was taken against those elements who committed crimes against
the Somali people? I recall the wordings in an email sent
to me by Khalif Mohamed Diriye of Buffalo, Western New York
during the opening ceremony of the talks in Eldoret. Khalif
said: "Many Somalis at home and abroad believe
that these warlords should have been airlifted to remote penal
colonies, thousands of miles away. Better still, they should
have been airlifted to Arusha War Crimes Tribunals to face
charges against them. Only then Somalis will enjoy peace and
The old adage: "Justice delayed is justice denied"
has now become the norm in the international community.
It is Catch-22 situation.
be continued ...