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Shuun Hersi And The President
Shuun Hersi, a 70-year-old lady, has been incommunicado for 45 days without trial. She was arrested by the so-called Security Committee, an extra-legal apparatus used by the government of President Dahir Rayale to imprison any citizen alleged to present risk to public security.
Shuun was accused of demolishing a fence wall that one business tycoon, known as Arab Ha Iswalin, had built illegally on a piece of land belonging to the heirs of her father, Hersi Gelleh.
The businessman claims that he purchased some plots on the land in question from Shuun’s brother before the real estate was legally divided up among Hersi Gelleh’s heirs who are over 100 people in number.
But a decision by the Hargeysa regional court on June 14, 2003 had invalidated such a claim on the basis of Islamic Sharia (the law that governs inheritance affairs in Somaliland) which disallows the acquisition or dispensation with a real state until the quantum share entitlement of each of the heirs concerned has been determined and allocated.
In fact, Shuun Hersi has petitioned the court to block the businessman’s claim over their land. She was however arrested while her petition, on behalf of all the heirs to the estate, was pending before the High Court. A lower court sanctioned her arrest by the police. When her lawyer asked for her release on bail, the Hargeysa security committee intervened to block her being freed from jail.
Many attempts have been made so far to secure Shuun’s release but all these efforts have been fruitless simply because the president of the land gave his orders that this old lady remain in prison until she accepts relinquishing her relatives ownership rights over as many as 45 plots.
Our first main concern is that Shuun Hersi has been held up for 45 days now without the due process of the law. She has not been charged yet, because the authorities have failed to produce even a tiny shred of an evidence that she was responsible for the demolishing of the illegally erected fence wall. This total disregard for Shuun’s human rights is not only highly deplorable but also another clear indication of president Rayale’s crookedness and disrespect for the rule of law.
Otherwise, how come that the president of the country gets himself involved in a simple land dispute? What is the motive behind his involvement? Aren’t there more important issues that need his attention?
Our other main concern is the government’s persistence to use the illegal security committee for the indefinite detention of citizens on the pretext that they pose risk to public order.
The lower house of Parliament and the former Supreme Court chairman Faysal Haji Jama, have both declared the security committee apparatus as unconstitutional. However both houses of parliament are urgently required now to legislate a statute prohibiting the imprisonment of Somaliland citizens by the state except pursuant to an act of parliament. Every Somaliland citizen, even if a member of parliament, could wind up being jailed by a security committee with no way to defend herself or himself.
The country’s parliamentarians should better act now before citizens become obliged to take the law into their hands.
Urgently Needed: A Sensible US Policy Toward Somaliland And Somalia
It is too early to say whether the appointment of retired diplomat John Yates as special envoy to Somalia is going to help the situation in Somalia or not. It would depend among other things on what his portfolio entails and his government’s agenda.
But based on his recent statements, the outlook for US policy in Somalia does not look good because it is based on imposing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on Somalis, an overwhelming majority of whom hate and despise that nominal government. US policy toward Somalis is so lopsided that it has practically ceded the management of the June reconciliation conference to Abdillahi Yusuf and his minions.
Let’s face it, except for support from a few warlords, the US is friendless among Somalis. Most of the people of the south, especially Mogadishu hold the US as sharing in the responsibility for the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia which resulted in the death of more than a thousand people in just the latest battles, the driving of thousands from their homes and the destruction of their properties.
In Somaliland, too, there is a growing sense of disenchantment with the US. Many people have come to the conclusion that the US has nothing to offer Somalis other than war and destruction. People here are asking: if the US truly wants to help Somalis, how come they have not helped Somaliland in rebuilding its infrastructure, health system and schools, let alone its diplomatic recognition?
Every time US officials are asked about their dysfunctional policies toward Somalis, they like to point to the millions of dollars they have given toward humanitarian relief. While Somalis appreciate that humanitarian assistance, it is important to note that the US has played a role in creating the catastrophe in the south to which they are responding. Second, the Somali reality cannot be reduced to the security needs of the US and the humanitarian needs of Somalis. For instance, there is no pressing security problem in Somaliland, neither is there a humanitarian crisis in Somaliland, but there is an urgent need for re-building the infrastructure, improving health care, and delivering services to the population. The US role has been absent or minimal in all these areas compared with European countries that have less at stake in what happens in Somaliland and Somalia. To cite a few examples, the Swedish government has decided to deal directly with Somaliland as a self-governing entity. Similarly the British ambassador comes regularly to Somaliland. Ethiopia has a liaison office in Somaliland. Whereas the US has not embarked on a single positive initiative toward Somaliland. On the contrary, many of the actions and utterances of US diplomats are either wittingly or unwittingly having a destabilizing effect on Somaliland. The fact that the first visit of the American Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer was to Baidoa to support warlord Abdillahi Yusuf and not to Hargeisa where peace and democracy has been flourishing for over a decade and half is an excellent indication of how misguided US policy is. The US lack of any effort to re-assure the people of Somaliland about the unidentified aircraft that have been shuttling between Somaliland’s cities is another measure of US action or inaction that is having a negative effect on Somaliland. Many Somalilanders think that these are American military aircraft and are anxious that their lives might be in danger. The US could have helped by either clarifying that the airplanes have no intention of harming Somalilanders or confirming that the airplanes do not belong to the US. But the US has done neither and so more and more people are becoming more and more concerned about US intentions.
Jendayi Frazer recently said that the TFG has to change, and that it cannot continue as it is. She was right. But the same applies to her administration. US policy toward Somaliland and Somalia has to change, otherwise the US will find itself totally friendless among Somalis.
Source: Somaliland Times