By: Osman A.M.
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Remains of 44 Somalilanders butchered 30 years ago by Dictator Siad Barre and haphazardly disposed in shallow graves en-mass have been accorded a proper and decent sendoff with adherence to Islamic rituals of burial in Hargeisa
The final rites of decent burial were performed at the Masala graves in Hargeisa at a ceremony attended by Government dignitaries, Forensic experts from various countries led by the EPAF team from Peru and families & friends of the victims as well as a large number of citizens.
More than 200 mass graves with bodies of between 50,000-60,000 unearthed 44 skeletons two days ago, remains of war victims in additional to 38 bodies recovered last year in the first phase under a project of Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (PFAT) that have been invited by Somaliland War Crime Commission (SLWCC), a commission that was created during the post war era in 1997 with dual objectives of according proper burial to victims of these atrocities as well as taking judicial redress against the perpetrators these heinous crimes.
The Peruvian Forensic Anthropologists is headed by Franco Mora who has previously worked in similar projects in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guatemala & Mexico, global jurisdictions with tendencies of experiencing genocide like ethnic cleansings resulting to mass burial of victims. Franco Mora’s team averred that Somaliland’s case is unique as it involves a gruesome task of teaching the locals how to recover the remains in such a way that you use the skeleton for criminal prosecutions adding that all the human skeletons uncovered so far were buried with respect to Islamic rituals by facing the dead towards Mecca.
Somaliland War Crime Commission (SWCC) is headed for the last four years by Mr. Ahmed Khadar a 63 year old citizen notwithstanding his absentia during the commission of these heinous crimes that took place almost 30 years ago but still conversant with what transpired then.
He provides a brief narrative of events, “Those killed were civilians & militia members of Isaaq clan that were viewed rebellious against the then ruling regime due to their affiliation to Somali National Movement (SNM).They went after people on the pretext of mere suspicion before hunting & slaying them after off course undergoing torture and sometimes they randomly collected men, women & even children indiscriminately executing them instantly”.
Mr. Khadar believes that despite the occurrences of gross violations of human rights abuses in the failed union with the Republic of Somalia targeting its northern population (today’s Somaliland) the then cold war politics prevailing globally prevented & protected Barre’s regime from possible prosecutions in the international criminal justice avenues because of the protagonists’ vested interests in Somalia. The war crime chair is however optimistic that though the perpetrators live outside the Somalia & Somaliland justice shall one day not only be done but shall be seen to be done in deterring reoccurrences of such heinous crimes of human race.
The Peruvian team of Forensic experts is mainly helping Somaliland unearth its past so that they can do it on their own come one day.
The war victims were re-buried on the southern periphery of Hargeisa within a cemetery named Maslaha graves & in attendance were Government ministers for foreign affairs & international co-operation Hon. Mohamed Bihi Yonis who had prior lured the Federal Republic of Somalia to consent criminal liability of perpetrating these atrocities, justice & judicial affairs minister Hon. Hussein Abdi with their religious affair counterpart Hon. Sheikh Khalill, the chairman of the ruling party Kulmiye Hon. Musa Bihi as well as other high ranking state officers.
Somaliland is now seen in the eyes of the international community as a serious nation whose keenness in unveiling the truth of what had happened is commensurate with the events of latest developments relating its former partner-turned foe in the failed union as majority of its population believe that justice would be dispensed for families, beneficiaries & heirs of victim of that war particularly when viewed with close considerations of what is happening in Somalia today. Only time will tell.