Remains of genocide victims

Mohamed Ubo

1969: The sunrise of Siyad Bare dictatorship, the sunset of the 9 year old Somalia post-colonial democracy and the beginning of terrible atrocities, brutalities, and marginalization of the north ultimately crafted the kicking out of the late oppressor Mohamed Siyad Bare who fled and died in Lagos Nigeria at the age of 74 in 1995, and the demise of the autocratic rule of Somalia in 1991. This is the time Somaliland walked out the union and  found the password for positive peace, genuine democracy and sustainable development, corresponding to the era that Somalia lost its password of peace which still at large for the time being after more than two decades.

The Somaliland republic was made from scratch without external backing from the international community, but very fortunately employed their local inherited traditions, which have in due course erected extremely strong democratic state institutions. And despite of all those admirable and outstanding endeavors from local people, Somaliland still lacks diplomatic recognition for more than two straight decades, which is outrageously wrong and a mockery to both Africa and other international community. And Somaliland believes, that in the immediate future the cost of more than two decades of diplomatic isolation from the international community will be charged in future international courts.

Conversely, except for the autonomous region of Puntland that has a relative peace, the south and central Somalia have been swallowed up by all forms of conflicts and south and central Somalia are still in a deep coma. After that official collapse of the Somali Republic in 1991, the dead nation—Somalia—started walking on the horn of Africa despite many countries imagine that he is breathing and alive but in 22 plus years nothing has changed for the reason that he is the father of ten bad children—anarchy, violence, warlords, famine, rape, civil disorder, brutality, crimes, human right abusers and tribalism. The dead man along with his ten bad children has been walking and fighting in the Horn of Africa, and has killed thousands and turned millions into refugees outside Somalia and IDPs inside the country.

The dead man walking refused to take a proved template of success for peace and development from his peaceful brother Somaliland. This dead man believes that Somaliland is part of his family despite Somaliland leaving the family in 1991 and then Somaliland delivered ten fruitful children who are: unity, peace, free education, economic growth, healthy population, coherent military, genuine democracy, sustainable development, effective judiciary system and booming business. The dead man walking in the Horn of Africa has forgotten that the unification of British Somaliland with Italian Somalia formed the Somali Republic in 1960 and after the official demise of the Somali Republic 1991, Somaliland stopped being part of the union and In 22 straight years the Republic of Somaliland has tried and failed to convince the dead man walking. Furthermore, unfortunately, the international community has never tried to convince this dead man walking in the Horn by telling him that he is the father of another two destructive children called terrorism and piracy which composes his home a hotbed of all bad tensions in the region that brought his home more timid and terrified to survive in.

After the unification, from 1960 to 1969 the republic exercised fresh democracy. And afterward, in 1969 the nine year old Somali democracy came to an end after Siyad Bare’s overthrow of the elected civilian government in a bloodless coup; Barre was named the new president of the country, claiming that the civilian government neglected the Somali republic. In 1979 the Somali constitution was crafted and guaranteed that democratic elections would be held. The first election was in 1986 and Siyad ran in an uncontested election in which he claimed that he won 99.9% of the votes.

 Siyad Bare established an oppressive military dictatorship that reigned brutally for 21 years from 1969 to 1991 and he was ousted in 1991 due to his torture, cruelty, crimes, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, rape and also his military and economic misadventure.  Committed inconceivable crimes and atrocities against many tribes in the north— according to many different sources almost 70,000 people in the north mostly women and children were calculatedly killed and hundreds were missed through unexplained disappearances  —that international human rights organizations fully accounted the worst human rights abuse in the world following Somaliland showed mountains of primary evidences to the international community particularly when A Peruvian Forensic anthropology team came to Somaliland in 2012; revealed details of widespread atrocities that continued from 1970 to 1991. Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) is a non-profit organization that seeks to contribute to the consolidation of peace and democracy where grave human rights violations have taken place by working alongside the families of the disappeared to find their loved ones. They came to Somaliland and revealed details of atrocities including number of mass graves across Somaliland. For instance, they found 200 mass graves in Hargeisa , 12 mass graves in Berbera, 8 mass graves in Buroa, 1 mass grave in Sheikh , 2 mass graves in Eragavo and 1 mass grave in Arabsio, and beyond reasonable doubt, this is an outstanding milestone case for Somaliland`s inquiry of brutalities .

Construction in Hargeysa

The Thriving peace in Somaliland encourages  suitable environment for Development and Investment

 Therefore, Somaliland believes that the Somali republic officially departed in 1991 after Somaliland officially declared it was leaving the union. Somaliland told both the dead man walking and the international community that Somaliland people underwent severe atrocities from the union for 40 years and the Somaliland people were ruled by a constitution they overwhelmingly rejected in the referendum of the constitution in 1961—that means the union had not been legalized at that time. Opportunely as the 1960s governments were democratic; the Somaliland people saw a light at the end of the tunnel but the situation got worse when Siyad Bare went on to take power and crafted domineering military government and later in 1970 formed what he called scientific socialism from the Soviet Union. Siyad Bare was the father of all forms conflicts and great grandfather of all the ten horrific children of Somalia that currently placed were Somalia is in today. The dead man walking along with his ten horrific children did not only commit crimes against the people in the north but in the south they indiscriminately eradicated all innocent residents that hailed from some of the tribes in the north—for instance, the Jazeera Massacre in the outskirt of Mogadishu on the night of July 1989 where 47 innocent civilian mostly students and business men who remained there were lined up and then shot dead within two minutes on account of their clan but very fortunately only Mr. Omar Isse Mire was survived after he pretended to be dead. In January 2012 Mr Mire held a press conference in Hargeisa, and he explained how the government troops took them from their homes to Jazeera beach.  

Despite of all that above realities on the ground, the dead man walking on the horn of Africa refused to accept that Somaliland can withdraw from the union, and refused to accept that people in the north were intentionally tortured, raped, bombed their cities, fled, killed civilian fleeing and executed by the military of the late authoritarian Siyad Bare from the government. This dead man walking refused to accept the mass graves in Somaliland in which thousands of innocent people were buried—many of them were alive during the military was putting them under the ground. Despite the dead man walking rejected the atrocities, luckily, in 2012, one of the perpetrators of that case who was vice president and defense minister from 1980 to 1986, and prime minister from 1987 to 1990 of Somalia was found guilty on 28 august 2012 in USA. Having in mind all that details of atrocities, the dead man walking in the horn of Africa strongly believes that Somaliland left from the union in 1991 has nothing to do with the actual realities on the ground but a naïve behavior from their political elites, the same as their emotional nationalism of 1960. 

In my personal judgment, despite Somaliland achieving remarkable developments in many accounts, its case and seeds of diplomatic recognition has been deposited in the hands of a dead man walking and  still keeps searching its diplomatic recognition from the dead man walking, EU, UN and AU that do not reflect the geopolitical realities of 2013 but can keep searching from the East that are emerging markets like China, Japan and the like that Somaliland could buy its strategic location that can be an economic gate way of Asia to the rest of Africa. Therefore, the paradigm of Somaliland`s search for diplomatic recognition ought to be 360 degree shifted from West to East.

In closing, the dead man walking in the Horn of Africa should stop the mere rhetoric that goes to nowhere and understand in this way, as far as Somaliland people—who voted in 2001 referendum with strong 97.1 percent in favor of the constitution—are concerned, leaving the union is not emotional politics from the political elites but based on principles from the hearts and minds of the grass root ordinary Somaliland citizens.


Mohamed Ubo

Aid Worker and independent researcher