A Letter from Somaliland Echoing Reality on the Ground By Koos Jama

By KoosJama
KoosJama@hotmail.com Resident of Hargaisa Currently in Las Anood

The world is deliberating whether to divide my country of Somalia into two, thus, I felt compelled to speak out and state the pain and the agony caused by the Secessionists and their foreign supporters. Let me introduce myself before I go into the substance of my letter. My name is Koos Abdi Jama and I have been in Laas Anood for the past 4 months, however, my permanent residency is Hargaisa, the second capital city of Somalia with my husband and children.

To give you a little background of my dilemma, on October29 ,2004 , a fighting broke out near Las Anood city between militias from “Somaliland” and Puntland, where both sides sustained heavy casualties. As a result, Isaq clan (Somalilanders) were infuriated of the heavy loses they have experienced. Therefore, they started retaliating against the Northern Daroods living in Hargaisa and Burco. As the threat against the Darood men increased, mainly in the two cities dominated by the Isaqs, my husband, an Isaq himself, advised me out of concern for my younger brother (Darood clan), to undertake a heartbreaking yet a necessary journey to safe him since my husband could not guarantee for his safety. The journey was excruciating but successful, and although my younger brother is safe, I am extremely unhappy, as I am unable to return to Hargaisa and rejoin my husband and children. However, I cannot just abandon my brother because; I am the closest living relative he has.

It pains me to realize for the first time that my little brother feels at home in Las Anood (Sool region), where no one is discriminating him because of his clan. I just realized how much pain he endured under the humiliations of the clan based flag of Hargaisa. The jails of Hargaisa and Burco are filled with innocent people, whose only crime is being non Isaq. These actions of the Secessionist government of “Somaliland” presage the fate of non-Isaqs if the Secessionists dream is realized. Hence, anyone regardless of age, gender, and political persuasions can and will be a targeted. A very simple case of fact is that of Zamzam Ahmed Duale, sixteen years old, who was tortured, raped, sentenced and later released for lack of evidence. Zamzam’s only crime was belonging to the Darood clans situated in the North.

My husband is Isaq, but remains underground with his peace advocacy. He is working with great tenacity between his family and his In-laws of the Dhulbahante clan that I belong. He is as perplexed as I am and is trying to do what is best for the future. His Isaq sub-clan has endured the same ethnic cleansing the Daroods are experiencing in the hands of the Secessionists. He is from Habaryonis subclan of Isaaq, so, he empathizes with us. My husband and I surveyed unofficially, the reasons behind why the Isaqs are advocating for secession. We found that our neighbors and friends of Hargaisa have difficult time clearly pinpointing to a core value. The closest they come to clearly explaining is that the former Somali government has committed crimes against them.

I found that claim absurd, as those who committed crimes against the Isaqs and others are among the Secessionist government in Hargaisa. As one examines the make up of the Secessionist government in Hargaise, one will immediate recognize that the same characters that committed crimes in the old regime of Siad Bare are legitimate representatives of the Secessionists’ government. Case in point is “Somaliland’s” president, Kahin Riyale who was a security officer in the old regime. Indeed, it is hypocritical to cry foul on one hand and on the other hand reward these kinds of criminals. Another claim the Secessionists and their foreign supporters consistently claim is that the North “Somaliland” was once a British protectorate and the union with the South “Somaliland” was ill conceived. Now, every colonized society and those who genuinely desire to preserve history should then ask, what was there before the British and the Italian? In addition, one should wonder were the people of Somalia (North & South) fully satisfied and supported the foreign occupation, and, if so, did all the people of the North sign the treaty with the British that was used to legalize the artificial boundary drawn between the North and the South of Somalia.

The people of both sides were separated against their free will and the only group that signed the later treaty with the British was the Isaq clan, the current Secessionist group who are historically situated in Hargaisa, Burco and Barbera. In addition, students of history should note that as soon as the British left, the majority clans living in the North dissolved the artificial boundaries, since non Isaqs neither signed nor recognized the proclaimed treaty that was between the Isaq clan and the British. Hence, the betrayal of the Secessionists (Isaqs) is nothing new, but tactics that are inherently held values of the enemy of the good people of Somalia (North & South). That treaty divided families of the Darood clans in Sool, Sanaag and Cayn and the Samaroon and Issa clans of Awdal region who are adamantly against the secession. Therefore, the treaty was nullified in the immediate departure of the British and Italian.

On the economic side, it is not economically viable for Somalia to be partitioned. The Secessionists have been funding “Somaliland’s” three cities of Hrgaisa, Bur’o and Berbera with the millions of dollars from donor agencies and millions more from the Somalis in the Diaspora. Please bear in mind that these funds only sustain those three cities and nothing beyond that. Therefore, these funds are used to sustain the “Somaliland’s” militia army whose only mission is to uprooting the non Isaq clans from regions that do not support the secession. These militias of “Somaliland” have had committed serious crimes of clan cleansing

In Las Anood of the Sool region, tremendous improvement has taken place. Schools are running, electricity is restored and there is plenty of clean water and most importantly, it is safe for everyone to live here. Unfortunately, the people of Sool and Sanaag are consistently being dragged into fighting, latest one being the fighting that took place in October29 ,2004 . This recent conflict was perpetuated by the visit of Mr. Chris Mullan to Hargaisa, whose visit was mistook as clear signal for recognition by the Secessionist government. In this day and age, where people of different cultures, religions and colors are uniting to better serve their societies, why would any one support the separation of the most homogeneous community in the universe is beyond me. I want to tell the international community, advocating for secession will not only hurt Somalia but will surely undermine the security of the whole region.

The situation of my immediate family is a glimpse of the consequences that lie ahead. My husband and I love each other, we want to be together, yet circumstances beyond our control are keeping us apart. This is what the secession will do to the good people of Sool, Sanaag, Cayn and Awdal. My humble advice to the world and particularly to those who love peace and justice is devastating the lives of millions of Somalis does not justify the claim of simply fulfilling the agenda of Secessionist minority government of Hargaisa. Anyone who genuinely want to help the people of Somalia (North & South), should help them by allowing peace to take root in Somalia, where the basic needs of every Somali is met. Then, the Somalis from every walk of life will be able to decide the fate of their boundaries.

KoosJama@hotmail.com Resident of Hargaisa Currently in Las Anood

Source: Al-Jazeerah, February 24 2005