SOMALIA: A LONG-TERM HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS
All the stories published here a true account of how things realy accoured in 80’s, most of the victims are from Somaliland and belong to the Isaaq Clan of the proper north Somalia. Copy right of Amnesty International.
1. Human Rights in Somalia
Human rights have been persistently violated in Somalia ever since 1969 when the present government assumed power. These violations increased during the 1980s, as the government took stern measures against suspected political opponents and those believed to have links with armed opposition organizations.
The evidence reveals a consistent pattern of torture, lengthy and often arbitrary detention of suspected political opponentsof the government and unfair trials of political defendants. Prisoners have been kept for years in harsh conditions, incommunicado and without proper medical treatment.
Many prisoners have been executed after unfair, frequently summitry trials, and many unarmed civilians have been executed extrajudicially by the security forces.
A number of those detained without trail or serving long prison sentences are prisoners of conscience, incarcerated because of their opinions, who have not used or advocated violence. One prisoner of conscience in Somalia, Yusuf Osman Samantar, a lawyer and former member of parliaipernt, has been in prison without charge or trial almost throughout the present goverriment’s 19 years in office.
The humam rights violations documented in this report have often been brought to the attention of the Somali government Amnesty International has repeatedly called on itto end these grave violations of basic human rights. But the appeals have largely gone unanswered. Recently the government accused Amnesty International of interfering in its internal affair’s and making propaganda for the opposition.
To this. Amnesty international replied that human rights were a matter of concern to the international community and that the government was under an obligation to prnotect these rights, particularly in view of its commitment to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty International reiterated its political impartiality and that it had carefully scrutinized information coming from politically motivated sources, The government has not consented to receive an Amnesty International mission and in early 1988 refused to issue visas to Amnesty International delegates wanting to visit Somalia to observe an important political trial.
Meanwhile torture, numerous detentions and other, human rights violations continue. The organization’s concern has been increased by news of major human rights abuses during fighting in the north between government, and oppositior forces, which began in late May 1988.
This report is based on evidence collected overn some years about political prisoners, torture, laws providing for the trial or detention of political defendants, political trial prison conditions and executions. Former political prisoners’ testimonies have been a cruciaI part of the information on a human rights situation treat has been difficult to document.
Some of these testimonies , particuIarly those that describe torture in details, are included in the report. However, the names of the victims have in most cases been withheld at their request for fear of reprisals against their relatives in Somalia even years after the victims have left prison. The government’s repression of dissent and criticism and its efforts to prevent any information about human rights bein collected within Somalia, or given to anyone abroad, have hindered the documentation of human rights
abuses in Somalia over the years.
Information from political sources. such as opposition organizations, has been carefully scruti nized in order to ensure that Amnesty Internationals reporting on SomaIia and appeals to the government of Somalia are based on reliable and impartial evidence which has been corroborated by independent sources.
The government’s first prisoners of conscience in 1969 were members of the elected civilian government which it overthrew in a military coup. Many of them were held without trial for four years Former, Prime Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Egal was detained from 1969 to 1975, rearrested in 1976, sentenced to 30 years’imprisonment, then released the following year. Mohamed Abshir Musse, former chief of police, was detained with out trial from 1969 to ‘1982 except for a few months’ freedom in 1973 prisoners of concience arrested in the 1970s and 1980s have included government ministers, diplomats, civil servent, members of parliament, army officers lawyers, Islamic reIigious leaders and teachers (sheikhs), business people. university lecturers, teachers and students. poets in the somali oral poetic tradition, doctors and scientists, and countless farmers and nomads. Particularly disturbing has been the widespread and arbitrary imprisonment of school students. some as young as 12 many refugee too have been arbitrarily detained for a long periods.
Since 1978 people suspected of support of armed oppsition have been imrisoned. following a war with Ethiopia in 1977-78 and an unsuccessful coup attempt by part of the armay in 1978, the government faced armed oppsitions by somali exile group based in ethiopia – the Democratic front for the salvation of somali (DFSS) and the Somali national movement (SNM). It has reacted by making widespread and often indiscriminnate aressts or even Killing people in part of the country from which these groups have drawn their support from – fro example in Mudug region in southeast between 1978 and 1982 and in the north since 1983. A state of emergency was in force throughout the country from October 1980 until March 1982. Since then the northern region have been under virtual military rule by thre northern sector army commander
Amensty international believes that many of those arrested and not used violence or advocated armed opposition but were seized arbitrarliy and without good couse. many other political prisoners may have advocated armed struggle against the government or may have had political links with the armed opposition. Amensty International does not cliam that all political prisoners in Somalia have beeb or are prisoners of conscience. nevertheless, the protection of basic human right of all prisoners arrested on political grounds has been a long-term Amensty International concern in view of the pattern of arbitrary detention, unfair trial and torture of such prisoners.
Since 1969 many thousands have been jailed for political reasons, either on the basis of actual evidence of their involvement in opposition activities or for privately criticizing the government or President or else merely because they were a relative or associate of a supposed political opponent.
It is impossible to estimate the actual number of political prisoners: this information is not disclosed by the government and clearly the individual prisoners Amnesty International knows about are only a fractiori of those held throughout the country. The increase in armed opposition activity in the 1980s has meant an increase in the number of Suspected government opponents arrested.
The Torture of political prisoner’s was reported several times in the 1970s but more frequent reports of this in the 1980s indicate that it has become routine and systematic. Regularly used torture methods include: the “Mig” , so-called from the swept-back wings of the MIG aircraft:
the prisoner is placed face down or the gr,c)und, hands and feet tied together behind the back with a rope, which is pulled tight so that the body is arched backwards, in which position the victim is beaten. often until unconscious: water torture: the victim is tied up and submerged in water until nearly drowned – either dipped head first into a bucket or, tank of water, or else
put in the sea tied up in a sack; electric shocks; squeezing with pliers of the testicles of male prisoners: rape (in the case of female victims).
Torture is inflicted particularly by the National Security Service (NSS) and the military police, The NSS is the main state organization responsible for internal security and the arrest and interrogation of people regarded as a threat to national security. The military police perform similar functions in the north.
The establishment of the NSS in 1970 was part of’ a series of legal measures by the new miIitary government in it’s first year of offocie designed to suppress and punish any opposition to its rule. A series of decrees created a battery of national security laws which enabled the indefinite detention with out trail of political opponents beginning with retroactive legislation which legalized the detention of members of the overthrow government and permitted summary trial of people alleged to criticized or opposed the new government. These new laws and the special court procedures, which conflict with international legal and human rights standards, are still in force and underlie