Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Victims of war crimes unearthed by heavy spring rains

Human remains in a farm field located at Boqol-Jire in Hargeysa. Visible bullet holes can be clearly seen in most of the victims skulls, indicating that they were executed at point blank range in the head.

Hargeysa, Somaliland, 14 April 2007 (SL Times) - A new site containing hundreds of victims of war crimes perpetuated by Siyad Barre’s regime in 1989 was discovered early this week, when heavy downpours of the spring rains exposed a number of mass graves with human remains in a farm field located in Boqol Jire district of Hargeysa.

This particular site is close to the largest genocide mass graves discovered in Somaliland at Mulki Durduro, and is located on the farmland of Sheikh Ibrahim Sheikh Musa Duale.

Somaliland Times staff visited the site on Wednesday and witnessed hundreds of human remains including children, men and women of all ages. Many of the victims met their deaths with their hands tied behind their backs and were bound together with strings/ropes. Among the human remains, the victims’ personal clothing and footwear were still intact.

"These mass graves are not the only ones. There are many more scattered in and around our farmland", said Luul Sh. Ibrahim Sh. Musa Duale, a member of the family who owns this land. She added, "Over the years, we have found many mass graves in our land, often the rains expose these graves, unearthing the human remains out in the open, and we simply rebury them again and inform the authorities. But no one ever comes to do anything about them or to preserve them from the rain."

Abdirahman Shunuf, the chairman of Somaliland Intellectual Society, who was present at this new mass gravesite, along with other top opposition leaders and former SNM officials, told SL Times: `I was made aware of these mass graves back in 2000, and our

organisation managed to erect concrete barriers to stop the surface erosion of the ground from being carved up by running surface rain water. Unfortunately, this time the rain seeped in-between the concrete barriers we erected and managed to carry away large chunks of the ground earth surrounding the mass graves, into the flooded dry riverbed.'

Also present at the newly discovered mass gravesite was the leader of Kulmiye party, Mr. Ahmed Muhammad Muhammud (Sillanyo), who was the Chairman of the National Somali Movement (SNM) at the time that these genocidal war crimes were being committed by Siyad Barre’s regime in 1989. Silanyo told the SL Times, `this place is the place where the SNM fought some of the fiercest battles against the enemy. And each time the SNM forces inflicted heavy losses on Siyad Barre’s forces, his forces took revenge on defenseless and innocent civilians like these.”

Standing over the exposed mass graves, with human remains protruding out of the earth, Silanyo said, "these graves are from that unfortunate sorrowful time. A national genocide committee was formed to investigate and document these atrocities. The world was informed, experts and investigators in mass-killings and genocide came and carried out thorough research and investigations, much was documented and published worldwide regarding these war crimes." Silanyo continued, "the national genocide committee has done great a great job over the years in uncovering these crimes. They found similar mass graves in many areas in Somaliland, from Erigavo, Burco and Berbera to Gabiley. The

number of the victims cannot yet be determined, and is not an easy task. Nevertheless, in recent times, this committee has not been as active as it used to be in the past. I believe it should be reinvigorated, and should start working again as it used to in the past, in the 90s, and begin recording these mass graves here right away."

Also present at the mass gravesite was Muhammad Hashi Elmi, a former SNM high ranking member and a founding member of the organisation. Mr Elmi said, "it’s most unfortunate that we can be witness to such a sight, whereby the human remains of the countless innocent men and women, young and old, are before us to see, and that they were murdered for simply belonging to a particular community. And, worse still, for 16 years we have known these killing fields and gravesites, and yet, nothing is being done to get to the bottom of this sad saga in our history. These war crimes committed against the people of Somaliland were perpetuated long before those in Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia. The difference is that the mass murderers who committed genocide in Rwanda, Bruundi and Bosnia have been prosecuted with the help of the UN and the international community, whereas those who committed genocide against the people of Somaliland are officially invited by the UN and are being groomed as the future leaders of Somalia. Why are these criminals being treated as future leaders of Somalia, when they are known by the world to have been responsible for these war crimes against the people of Somaliland? We should demand that the national genocide committee should be provided with the resources necessary in carrying out its work. This government should make this matter a priority, a thorough study and investigation of these crimes should be undertaken and the perpetrators should be pursued.

Heavy rain torrents, washed away large chunks of ground earth in and around the newly discovered mass gravesite
Victim's of Sayyid Barre's brutality can be seen here. All of the victims hands were tied behind their backs and bounded together back to back by a single rope, before being shot in the head.
leader of Kulmiye party, Mr. Ahmed Muhammad Muhammud (Sillanyo), at the mass gravesite talking to SL Times on 11 April 2007.

Source: Somaliland Times

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