I am not a lawyer by profession but I am a physician who worked in Somaliland from 1983 to the first 12 days of June 1988. I witnessed or have firsthand information of so many acts of brutality, victimization, indiscriminate shelling of civilian residencies and mass killing.

 The above question is debated nowadays in all over Somaliland. Have we been the victims of genocide, massacres or just an atrocity?  I think the answer is all of the above. The governments of Somaliland and Somalia recently agreed that atrocities did happen in all over former Somalia and in particular in Somaliland. I think this is a positive development.

It is our responsibility to prove that acts genocide and massacre were carried out against our people. There is a legal definition of both acts. There is a united nations convention against genocide and mass killing.

We do not need Somalia to agree or disagree and I don’t think they will ever agree. We just have to invite United Nations agencies for human rights and hire international lawyers. We have a plenty of evidence because the witnesses and families of people massacred in Jazeera, Burao, Sheikh, Gabiley and many other areas are still alive.

We have videos of the indiscriminate shelling of our cities. We have mass graves. It seems that we are wasting our time blaming or defending our government. The former supporters of Siad Barre are trying to equate our suffering to what happened in Somalia after the collapse of the regime even though they know the difference. Can we put local politics aside and start fighting for the denied rights of our people?

Aden Ismail, MD, FRCP

London, Ontario



  1. Dr. Aden,

    If you have firsthand information, then why have you been so silent for so long? Its people like you who failed us and failed to document the evidence of genocide in Somaliland. Now get off your bottom and write down the evidence that you allegedly have.

    • Perhaps he was too afraid, who knows. Living in North America, coming out of the closet after more than 2 decades sounds cowardly to me. I do not know this man, I googled and found no trace of a single article on Somaliland genocide by this man. How can you keep quiet all this time if you were really an eye witness to what happened to our people?

    • get off your bottom ha? What a good man you are. At least be little courteous to your brother, since you yourself were their only and not in the outer space. This is not a one man show, it's a collective responsibility but we have to thank Khalid for raising it so we can support and follow it up!

    • It is idiotic to expect the honorable Dr. to do everything by himself. If you want to do something contact the doctor and ask him what you can contribute. Otherwise keep your bottom where it belongs and get out of the blame business.

      • @ Abdi

        In all fairness the question was directed to Dr. Aden and we do not see why you should respond to people unless you are his slave.

    • Too rude and uncalled for! Millions of Somalilanders where witness to the genocide, etc. Shouldn't we all (including yourself), get off our bottoms and do something about it?

      At least the good doctor has already done that and wrote this piece.

  2. It was called the former "Somali Republic" and not former "Somalia". Former Somalia is the Somalia-Italiana. Sorry for the correction, but all must use the right country names.

  3. Those military men responsible of the genocide in Somali land are alive and enjoying in the West. We see them indulged in Somalia politics. Some of them, like Maslah Siyadh Barre, had the courage to compete in an election in Somalia or Djibouti. The problem with Somali land is that they don't have an inkling of how to track these criminals in the world let alone seek legal action against them in the International Court. Somali land needs to form a special committee whose responsibility is to compile the relevant information to this matter by getting all eye-witnesses to this genocide,

  4. Those military men responsible of the genocide in Somali land are alive and enjoying in the West. We see them participating in Somalia politics. Some of them, like Maslah Siyadh Barre, had the courage to compete in an election in Somalia or Djibouti. The problem with Somali land is that they don't have an inkling of how to track these criminals in the world let alone seek legal action against them in the International Court. Somali land needs to form a special committee whose responsibility is to compile the relevant information to this matter by getting all eye-witnesses to this genocide,

  5. It was an attempted genocide no doubt but it failed. It failed because we had the strategic depth of Eastern Ethiopia as a place of refugee. We had a small-sized but determined resistance force in the shape of the SNM which stopped the genocidal forces from having a free reign. Our would-be genocidaires were long way from home and often fearful. This is in contratst to the 'sucessful' genocides in Germany and Rwanda where the killers grew up next door to their victims. Conscripted Hawiye and Digil peasants did not have much styomach in eviscerating people in Wagar & Laleys. they were way out of their comfort zones.

    So here is the question: given that the attempted genocide failed, is there any value in pursuing it? What are the pros and cons for Somaliland in following this agenda?

    On balance i would say lets drop it for the time being. We do not have the resources or the influence to bring those responsible to justice. We are no Jews. Our focus should be on survival as a unrecognised nation clinging on to life in a generally hostile world.

    • No man! Justice delayed is justice denied. We need people like Dr. Adan to write this information and share it with the whole world. The more we delay the more criminals will pass away. This will even help Dr. Aden to take it out of his chest. I can feel the man lives in horror. You can not take care of others, when you are a victim.

    • Kabocalaf, this is the most idiotic comment I have read in ages. There is no such thing as an "attempted" genocide. To attempt something is not a crime in itself because the attemptor did not commit the act yet. You must be one of those stingy people who does not contribute to Somaliland causes. If we can build roads we can pursue to document the genocide as well as hire the best lawyers money can buy.

  6. I think we should chase these murderers and take our case to the Hague. Victims and their families deserve justice. I watched Youtube video about (Ali Samater) when he was taken court in the US and he stated that he was merely following orders of his superior, which is not good enough. We know the differences between wrong and right, also we can make choose if you come across situations like that.

  7. Indeed the article is good. However it will not change the political game, but it reminds us of the fact that what Siad Barre regime and his allies did to Somaliland people was genocide (pogrom) that history will not allows us to forget, even if some us try to forget. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be found and punsihed to the fullest extent of the law. It is up to all of us to catch them, regardles of where they are. No other alternative is open for us.

  8. I believe the people of Somaliland should free themselves from the word WALAALAHAYO which we repeatedly say in every political speech we made. We must free our selves economically by stopping or changing the way we deal with the Wanlaweyn people who are in our country. Unless we send them all to their country of origin, we will not be free either politically or economically.

    Its important that since we guest for Statehood, all these Somalis in Somaliland should leave our country immediately, and then pursue our goal. We never new each other before 1960 and we don't want them to know now, after what they did to our people. There will be some of us who will disagree with me, but this is the only way we can be alone in our country, until we separate permanently.

    • I understand where you coming from, but we are dealing with mentally retarded people and you need to talk to them in a language they understand. We are treating them like six year-olds.

      • I don't understand where he is coming from, I understand one thing that he is full of hatred and ignorance and tribalism, sorry if I am hard on you brother Omar, but the notion that Somaliland will kick out all other Somalis can only be possible in one way, and that way is kicking all non Isaaq people, Somalis are all one, same culture religion, language and one can't even tell which one is which, so are you suggesting that SNM militia will go door to door, When that happens those people you kick out will have open door in Buhoodle, and Sool and Sanaag.

        • What bothers me about you wadani ku sheegow, where was the Somalisism you talking about when all these gruesome things where happening in Somaliland? where was the Language, culture and religion at the time of the killing fields. Did you or your kin remember the northern tribes are Muslim and Somali and speak the same language? give me break ! first it was THE MAD MULLAH AND THEN CAME SAYID THE CRAZY COMMUNIST. I wonder who is full of hate!

          • Cimraan and Mohamed hold both of your horses, in other word calm down and be rational, no one is denying that atrocities were committed during the civil war especially in your cities and Alah ha u naxariisto intii geeriyootey. I don't condone the crimes committed by the army of the former regime and I am not a war monger but a peace loving citizen who is advocating for the unity of Somalia, I hail from Somaliland region which the inhabitants overwhelmingly support to remain with Somalia. No one was saint during the civil war, your rebels committed crimes as well. One needs to clean his heart but insulting the great freedom fighter Sayid Mohamed and calling people Faqash is not the way forward.

          • Your can not hide your bias; no matter what you do. Your own statements are exposing your selfish agenda by saying that the inhabitants of Somaliland overwhelmingly support to remain with Somalia. From this it can be deduced that your use of the word atrocitiies is a complete denial of the genocide that took place in Somaliland. It was a project to ethnically cleanse a dominant clan.

        • Full of hatred, ignorance ha? He is a true son of Somaliland and everybody knows him, but we don't know you and we don't want to, really. SNM we're indeed and proud to belong to it.
          When we kick all Faqash out of our country it's not going to be whole Somaliland including Sanaag, Sool and Buhoodle. When you say brother or brothers, let me tell you pal that true brother never kills his brother like you do, so please cut the crabbb.

    • I agree with you Omar 100%. it's something Somalilanders should have done a long time .
      The sooner we start the better.

  9. I would suggest Dr. Aden to get in touch with Mr. Mohamed Yusuf Urdoh. Mr. Urdoh has done a great job with Tuke and many other cases.

  10. Fear drove me out of that land young in 1983. I was incarcerated many times for showing my support to those who sacrificed their lives. It is not time to finger point. Let us bring justice for those killed by any means possible.

  11. The doctor stated that it is our responsibility to prove genocide took place in Somaliland. He further suggested that we could do this using the UN human rights offices. It is oxymoron to suggest or expect someone like the doctor who has a life or perhaps a family to have taken the endeavor of documenting these atrocities and genocide that took place all by himself, however, he can help and provide guidance should we (ourselves) start the effort to fund raise and put inorder a good organization that hunts and documents the genocide and its perpetrators.

  12. In every country there are brave national heroes who make enemies sacrifices all the time and there are cowards who like to be friends with all and make no enemies for themselves.

  13. In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959) sought to describe Nazi policies of systematic murder, including the destruction of the European Jews. He formed the word "genocide" by combining geno-, from the Greek word for race or tribe, with -cide, derived from the Latin word for killing. In proposing this new term, Lemkin had in mind "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves." The next year, the International Military Tribunal held at Nuremberg, Germany, charged top Nazis with "crimes against humanity." The word “genocide” was included in the indictment, but as a descriptive, not legal, term.

  14. We somali forget and forgive easily for wrong done against both humanity and public asset. This is not limited to the Somaliland people. Some people immediately try to benefit from any outcome on the blood spelt. A case in point is the murder of somali pastoralist by the Somali regional police force known as liyu police in Gashamo and Harshin on March 16 and 17 2012 and September 29 2012. Although the liyu police committed genocide or crime against humanity, our people specially the suldan or traditional leaders including some high public figures intervened and prematurely agreed with the regional state president to completely cover up the incident. They also tried to silence those who attempted to campaign in Europeans in Ethiopian about these crime against humanity. People's corpses were hastily buried without any forensic or autopsy. Pictures and videos taken during the incidents have been handed over to the regional state president so that it never reach international community or Ethiopian government. The same happened after the massacres of Somaliland people in 1988. I remember when a flood unraveled many mass grave around hargeisa, we quickly required them. The main reason behind this is that most of Somaliland high government officials have worked and effectively participated in the atrocity against the Somaliland people. I don't think one would cooperate with any incriminating evidence. If Somaliland really want to take seriously the genocide or war crime or crime against humanity in whatever way you define it, it should make sure those who have vested interest must not lead the investigation. Are we ready to excavate the bodies of all those who were killed in Somaliland and place them in museum so that the world see the atrocity. I doubt this will be the case. Many who will be incriminated will be the first to oppose. They will use religion as a means to cover up these from not becoming a threat to them. Although human beings die in specific time, we should not be complacent by simply dismissing genocide as a natural phenomenon. We should have done a lot to disclose these atrocity earlier. You must have preserved evidence. It might be too late to bring any successful case against those who perished in 88 and the subsequent years. Most of those committed the crime against humanity, witnesses or victims might have themselves passed away or suffering from total mental health due to age or trauma. We have lost a big opportunity to successfully prosecute those who were responsible to the court of justice. The prime benefactor, the former president, mohamed said barre had already gone. Anyway I am for the notion that something should be done now at least to leave legacy for the future generation not to descend into similar wrongdoing. Are we ready to establish a museum in Somaliland by excavating all those killed during the war? This notion might scare some part of the establishment. I don't see we will have effective remedy as long as we don't follow the internationally established procedure.

  15. The genocide, crime against humanity, atrocity we are complain against has been surpassed by the injustice we are committing through the use of state machinery. The current president with henchman is currently consolidating his clan power. A lot of somalilanders have lost interest with the cause of Somaliland if things don't dramatically change within the next few months. I am urging the Somaliland people to drive out the current nepotism government out of power by coming in flock in the next election. Mr Siragno, you are elderly statesman and if you are thinking of leaving good legacy and recorded in golden book of Somaliland's history, please hand over power. Somaliland need a charismatic young leader who inspire the young generation fade up of the vicious cycle of tribalism and nepotism. It's time now the right people come forward. Until then the politician and the mercenaries will simply talk issue of genocide as a political gesture and for the consumption of the political end game. I don't see any logic of talking about genocide while your RRU is still killing, arresting, raiding home in midnight just to silence innocent people who have never done anything but asked for their human right. We have to establish a popular government, not a tribal, clan one, before we talk about genocide. Until then we have to forget the past and concentrate on the present. Within a few months, Somaliland people will be going to cast their vote who will be their next president. The incumbent government want to divert the attention of the people so that they will do the same election and vote rigging. As an advice, I am urging all of you to hang the question of genocide we suffered during the last government for at least a year and half. It will be revisited once will decisively dealt with the Kulmiye government.