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Hargeisa (SL Times): The 20th anniversary of the 20th February school children uprising was observed on Thursday. It was 21 years ago when thousands of high school students went to the streets in protest against the imprisonment of members of the UFFO group by the dictatorial regime of Siyad Barre. UFFO was a self-help group whose members were mainly university graduates. They were arrested by Siyad Barre’s secret police for embarking on a scheme for cleaning Hargeisa’s only public hospital. After they were charged with acts of subversion and belonging to an illegal organization, members of the UFFO group were brought to Hargeisa regional court to stand trial.
As thousands of students gathered in front of the court chanting for the release of the group, the security forces fired live bullets into the crowd. 17 student demonstrators were killed and many others were wounded as demonstrations spread to engulf much of the town.
Most of the UFFO group members received long-term imprisonment sentences. The last bunch of them were released in early 1989.
Early Thursday morning a wreath was placed at a memorial for the students that were engaged in Dagaxtuur "Stone throwing." Later, the occasion was marked by speeches at Al-khayria Plaza. Among the key-note speakers were KULMIYE party’s presidential candidate, Ahmed Sillanyo, UFFO veteran leader Mohamed Mohamud Omer Hashi, SNM veteran Mohamed Kahin and Somaliland Vice-President, Ahmed Yusuf Yassin. Somaliland’s former first lady Kaltum H. Dahir had also made her first public appearance on Thursday since the death of her husband, late president Egal. Kaltum was one of the demonstrating students on that Feb 20th day of 1982.