The brutal murder in Seemaal hamlet has created a fierce debate among certain members of Awdal intelligentsia, civil societies, clan chiefs and the public at large on the best possible way to confront such a tragedy. Amoud University has even assembled Awdal intellectuals to debate on the issue, though the final conclusion has yet to be published. As expected, some have suggested that the matter should be left for the government of “Somaliland” to deal with and bring the perpetrators of this heinous and premeditated murder to a court of law. Others are on the opposite side of the fence and believe that victims’ immediate relatives i.e. people who lost their loved ones and borne the brunt of this unspeakable barbarity should take the law into their own hands and avenge for their fallen men. Given the inaction of successful governments, I won’t blame them if they do.
Successive Somaliland governments have dismally failed to apprehend the earlier butchers from Gabiley, the cold-blooded murderers who slaughtered and mutilated innocent travellers from Awdal in a broad day light on the Dilla-Gabiley road in July, 2009. Now, almost two weeks have gone since Seemaal murder, and apart from the brief and rather superficial incarceration of Abiib Timacade (he is out of jail now) and the dismissal of General Nuuh Taani replaced with his cousin, the real culprits are still at large and, as in the previous murder, protected by a network of well-connected members from Gabiley community. In spite of the earlier furor by government officials, the prospect of arresting Seemaal murderers and bringing them before justice is fading away as fast as a morning fog. Even Sultan Suleiman’s vow to go into the mountains (his words) turned out a vacuous and empty gesture. Seemaal victims are still waiting for “Somaliland” justice to be delivered.
In a normal society where a government has unbiased, strong and effective law enforcement agencies that citizens can have faith in them, ordinary people should refrain from taking the law into their own hands, hence avoid vigilante activities. “Somaliland” government has no such agencies, or at least reliable ones. Hence, ordinary citizens are left with no choices but to fend off murderers and other petty criminals. People in Seemaal, who suffered horrendously time and again at the hands of Gabiley Mafia supported by rogue elements within the “Somaliland” army, may call to arms to defend themselves. In countries where effective law enforcement agencies are readily available, murderers and other criminals are brought in before a court of law and pay their dues. But in a country society is hugely divided along clan lines and government institutions often take the back seat in favor of rotten clannish system where tribal chiefs disguised as political parties wield almost all power, people may have no choice but to resort to violence in order to redress the injustice suffered by their kith and kin. Awdal community in general and the residence of Ceelbardaale in particular have given successive “Somaliland” governments the benefit of the doubt on more than one occasion to arrest Gabiley murderers, but their patience may finally be running out of esteem.
As I said in my earlier article on the issue, the killers of Seemaal are there to be captured but nobody in Gabiley is willing to roundup the killers in their midst and bring them before justice lest they are branded as traitors by the clan leadership. Furthermore, instead of collaborating with the law enforcement agencies, the Gabiley community including their politicians is out in the streets in their thousands, accusing the government of all kinds of injustice, including the incarceration of their tribal henchmen suspected of abetting and aiding the Seemaal and Dilla-Gabiley road criminals.
Now, coming back to the gist of this article, some well-known intellectuals have accused their fellow Awdalities of being more belligerent than necessary, and consequently undermining the peaceful co-existence between “Somaliland” communities, notably those currently in dispute on Ceelbardaale. In everyone’s book, peaceful co-existence should not be a one-way traffic, but that is not the case right now as far as Awdal community is concerned. They are the only willing partners in this endeavor and yet suffering horrendously as a result. In an opinion article which appeared on several websites, Dr. Abdishakour Jowhar, a heavyweight commentator on Somali politics, had to say this about a communiqué issued by the Diaspora Tol group on the unpunished murder in Seemaal: “The TOL response rallies the tribe and softly and gently sounds the clarion call for the Tonton Macoute”. He went on to conclude his opinion article with the following line: “Let us hope that Bashir’s choice triumphs, the choice of life over death, of justice over vengeance, of peace over war”. “Let us hope that the spirits of the Tonton Macoutes remain buried in their graves”. Although cleverly disguised, the distinguished doctor seemed more critical to the TOL communiqué than the actual criminals from Gabiley.
In the same article, Dr. Jowhar heaped praise on another opinion article by Bashir Goth, an Awdalite intellectual, who urged for caution in the Seemaal murder. It seems Bashir Goth’s article had struck a chord with Dr. Jowhar while TOL’s reasonable response to the incident looked too belligerent to the liking of the honorable doctor who found fame and fortune in “Somaliland”. Dr. Abdishakour knows more than anyone else that the criminals within Gabiley community have been unleashing terror on their counterparts in Ceelbardaale day in day out since early 1990s, often receiving underhand support from the Somaliland army headed until his recent downfall by their clansman, General Taani. What the Gabiley mafia is doing to the peaceful community of Ceelbardaale is no less if not akin to what Israelis were doing to the Palestinians during the declaration of Jewish state in late 1940s: raiding houses in the thick of night and killing whoever was in their way to force them leave their homes and properties behind. The Gabiley mafia killed and looted with impunity. They got away with murder time and again. They were allegedly welcomed as heroes in Somaliland’s presidential palace and even threatened the former minister of interior under Rayaale government, Abdillahi Ciro, in the vicinity of Ahmed Silanyo’s residence. For those who are not familiar with Tonton Macoutes, it was a Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959 by President François ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier to protect his reign and terrorize dissidents. In the context of Ceelbardaale, which community looks and acts like Tonton Macoutes, Awdal Community or Gabiley community? One might ask who the real Tonton Macoutes is. Awdal community owes an answer.
Mohamed F Yabarag