WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF HARGEISA
By M. M. Afrah, Toronto (Canada)
have never been so offended as I was by dozens of emails
from Isaaq clansmen in the Diaspora who unjustly branded
me as "Just Another Southerner who woefully failed"
to go deep into the crimes committed by the Barre regime
in the 1980s/1990s against the Isaaq people.
I am not tainted with the virus of tribalism, rather
I am one who focused on the human rights of the Somali
people wherever they are, with particular emphasis on
the events that took place both in the South and Northwest.
In my present and past writings I recognized and respected
the dedication, dignity and devotion of the Isaaq people
and their desire to live in peace and stability, while
guns are still smoking in the rest of Somalia. But to
poke a joke and try to distort my last TALKING POINT
by people who claim to be "Isaaq patriots" is unacceptable
and warrants hard-hitting talkback. To stoop so low
as to brand me as Just Another Southerner, shows up
a crude mean-mindedness on the part of these "Isaaq
patriots" in the Diaspora. In the civilized world it
is called character assassination, but as one who has
gone through the "mills" more than once, I consider
such negative criticism as pointless as chalk lines
bashing is common phenomenon, especially among many
Somalis. No wonder many of my colleagues gave up the
profession as very hazardous and thankless. A former
colleague in Sweden said he gave up journalism "because
I cannot please everyone" he said. He now writes children's
books in his adopted country.
is difficult to be more concise in summarizing the root
cause and who was responsible for the destruction of
Hargeisa and the death of thousands of its inhabitants
unless one was close to the source. The truth is that
when the Hawiye pilots of the disintegrated Somali Air
Force refused to carpet bomb Hargeisa, the Barre regime
hired white Rhodesian mercenary pilots to do the job,
which they did mercilessly. One Abgal mig-19 pilot by
the name of Ahmed Hassan (Ahmed Gaal) dropped his deadly bombs on the
mouth of the Red Sea, instead of dumping them on Hargeisa.
Then this courageous young pilot landed his mig-19 bomber
at Djibouti Airport where the Belgian Government in
Brussels eventually granted him a refugee status. He
is still living in Brussels and deserves the highest
award ever given out to persons who saved humanity from
the jaws of death.
And in Mogadishu the answer to Siyad Barre's nationwide
call to join the army was: "Dalkaaga daafac diidi
mayo, Isaaq se ku duuli maayo" by the Abgal
clan. Then the regime press-ganged people to be drafted
into the demoralized army that led to the death of many
young people who have been shot by the Red Berets as
they tried to escape the dragnet. The same Red Berets
summarily executed a number of draft dodgers behind
the Xalane Boot Camp in Mogadishu. Some of these were
students at the defunct Somali National University.
I happen to know one of them personally. This was 1970s/80s
when even Suleyman Gaal, Silanyo and most of the present
crowd worked for the Revolutionary Government.
you and I know very well that to disobey orders in "Revolutionary"
Somalia was tantamount to committing suicide. In the
1970s when almost everybody was toeing the revolutionary
line, only one man, the highly respected playwright
and songwriter, Mohamed Warsame Xadraawi, defied the
Revolutionary government. He refused to toe the line
by depicting in one of his famous plays, a play about
a despot who tested the loyalty of his subjects by pointing
to a camel and calling it a horse, his people were too
afraid to contradict him. Though Siyad Barre himself
often said that government depended on the truth, what
matters was that the people do not dissent from what
their rulers tell them, even if it is not true. Xadraawi
was sent to a very remote corner of the country to serve
years in captivity, incommunicado and without trial,
after producing another "anti-revolutionary" play in
Mogadishu. Those who are old enough will certainly recall
this episode which was secretly celebrated in the country
by people who have not even see the controversial play
and dubbed it as "Xadraawi Versus the Regime". We journalists
representing international news organizations were forbidden
to see him or to send any story pertaining to his captivity
- a complete news blackout.
majority of the present leaders, whether in the Northwest
or in the South heaped praises on the achievements of
the "blessed" October Revolution, singing "Ceynaanka
hay, Weligaa hay". No wonder, the current crop
of leaders insist that it is necessary to call a camel
a horse in order to test the loyalties of clan members,
win their support and enrich themselves in the process.
It is back to square one, and trying to contradict them
is like dancing with death! Apparently the Warlords,
who are mainly former army officers, had learned a lot
from their erstwhile Master of Manipulations.
email from a Somali student in Australia was upset for
rewriting the history of Somalia and asked why I wanted
to talk about "all that old stuff, all the anti-Barre
garbage when you know that the warlords are the real
butchers of the Somali people?"
man who writes from Italy (Hi Ahmed!) said he had recently
paid a frighteningly short visit to Mogadishu. "I was
afraid to open my eyes in the morning. Somalia is becoming
more like Dante's Purgatory. But some people succeed
there not because they're talented, but because they
can easily deploy heavily armed militia at a short notice
in a bid to kill people they perceive as their enemies,"
he lamented. "By prolonging the armed conflict the Warlords
are transporting Somalia back to the stone age", he
A woman who goes by the name of Zam-zam in San Antonio,
Texas in the United States, castigated me for failing
to name names, such as Morgan, Gaani, Jess, Gabyow,
Ahmed Suleiman Dafleh and Buluq-Buluq who she said were
responsible for the death of thousands of innocent civilians
in Hargeisa, Mogadishu and Kismayo. She said that it
was Buluq-Buluq who hired the white Rhodesian mercenary
pilots who destroyed Hargeisa. She said, like Siyad
Barre, all these men are from the Darod clan "bent on
destroying the Isaaq and the Hawiye".
dear readers, I had recorded all these events, including
the mass executions of Isaaq tribesmen living in Mogadishu
at the Jesiira Beach at the height of the SNM rebellion
in my news dispatches and in my first book "Target:
Villa Somalia", which unfortunately is out of print
now. However, I plan to reprint it in the very near
future. I was the only journalist who was fortunate
to interview the lone survivor of that massacre carried
out by the Red Berets and the NSS at the crack of dawn.
The mass graves are there for anyone to discover.
from Sheffield in England, one man had one last question:
"What is your tribe?" he asks. I could just say I belong
to one of the clans who are responsible for the circle
of violence in Somalia, but that would be cagey and
somewhat evasive. However, there is no need to agonize
over that question. A cold logic dictates the answer
pronto: "I am a Somali regardless of what some will
think, and I believe Somalia will survive one way or
another". Just like every peace-loving Somali I am hoping
miracles to happen, that's if you still believe in miracles.
Speaking of mass graves in Somalia, I urge the UN War
Crimes Tribunals in The Hague and Arusha to investigate
the carnage in Somalia as they did to the genocide in
Bosnia committed by Milosovic in the Balkans and the
Hutu Interhamwe murderers in Rwanda against the Tutsi
minority. At the same time I urge the UN International
Law of the Sea and the Green Peace to investigate the
Mafia crime syndicates who repeatedly dump toxic waste
on the Somalia coast with impunity. Something must also
be done to the foreign trawlers who illegally vacuum
clean the marine resources in our territorial waters.
These illegal activities must cease immediately in
compliance with the United Nations International Law
of the Sea. It is a matter of life and death.
26 IS A DAY TO COMMEMORATE BY EVERY SOMALI AND SOLEMNLY
COMMIT TO MEMORY ABDULLAHI TIMA CADDE'S FAMOUS GABAY
"KANNA SIIB, KANNA SAAR."
Mohamoud M. Afrah © 2002