On July 17th, 1989, presidential military forces, known as red berets, led by a Colonel Ibrahim Ali Barre, Canjeh, cordoned off an area in the Medina district of Mogadishu. The residents of the area where questioned, made to produce identification documents and those who hailed from Somaliland were forced on to army trucks in the middle of the night. Most of those detained were already in bed, asleep. It was 1am.
These civilians who were selected on community basis came, predominantly, from the Isaaq community, however, other northerners from the Samaroon and Dhulbahante communities were are also included, just because of their accents and demeanour.
The order for the detention of these civilians were given by, Maslah Mohamed Siyad Barre, the son of the late dictator, Siyad Barre. Maslah, an incompetent general, was at that time the chief of staff of the Somali army. Out of the hundreds detained, 57 unlucky men were taken to an isolated area of the popular Jazira beach on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Upon their arrival on the beach, the men were forced off the trucks, lined up and summarily gunned down with automatic weapons fire.
Luckily, one of the men, Omar Muse Mire, survived and hid among the corpses until the perpetrators left. Such was the haste of the soldiers to leave the scene of the massacre, they neglected to check for any survivors that may report this heinous crime.
The survivor made his way to the home of Ahmed Saleban Abdalle, “Daffle”, member of the Supreme Council of the Revolutionary regime and the son-in-law of the late dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre. Unable to comprehend that such an action took place, Ahmed Saleban, asked the then Somali Police Commissioner, Ahmed Jama Muse, to investigate the matter.
The Police Commissioner and other senior officials were taken to the scene of the massacre by the sole survivor, Omar Muse Mire, only to discover the hastily covered remains of 56 victims.
The victims were government civil servants, university lecturer, a doctor, university students, businessmen, sportsmen and artists. The oldest victim was 80 years old, the youngest, just 17 years old.
It was later determined that the massacre took place as a retaliation for the death of a Somali military security officer in Mogadishu, after clashes in the Casa Populare district between demonstrators and government forces. The dead officer who hailed from the Marehan community and was a close relative of Colonel Canjeh, the late dictator Siyad Barre and the current head of the federal administration in Mogadishu, Mohamed Abdillahi “Farmaajo”.
In the thirty years since the massacre, none of the perpetrators have been brought to Justice and no official inquiry held or an official explanation given of the massacre.
Just a few months later, the regime of the late dictator, Mohamed Siyad Barre fell and the Somali Republic became defunct.
Events in Somalia since that massacre on Jazira Beech thirty years ago, with the countless deaths of civilians by internal conflicts, invasions by foreign forces, terrorism and other disasters, seem to put matters in perspective.
However, the arbitrary nature of the massacre of civilians in the otherwise then peaceful Somali capital began the slippery road to ruin.
Ali Mohamed Abokor