The recent violence and unrest in Las’anod, Somalia, has once again brought to light the ongoing conflict and human rights abuses the Somaliland administration has committed, which is funded by the British government. On December 28th, 22-year-old student Abdishakur Ahmed Salat was shot and killed by Somaliland forces. Coordinated bursts of gunfire can be heard across the main arteries and roadways as violence rocks the city for the third night. The forces fired on demonstrators killing 11 more civilians.
Somaliland, a region that has declared independence from the rest of Somalia, has cut power and ordered internet service providers to shut down cellular communications in an attempt to suppress the demonstrations.
The local population, including local officials, is protesting against the repressive tactics of Somaliland and its president, Muse Bihi, a former warlord with a history of killing civilians. They are calling for Somaliland to leave the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) regions, where the protests are taking place, and for the region to unite with the Federal Government of Somalia under Khatumo state, a federal member state within the FGS.
These regions are at the epicentre of competing ideologies between separatists, like Somaliland, and those who wish to remain part of Somalia. The population of the SSC regions do not accept Bihi’s aim to split from Somalia and has accused him of carrying out ethnic cleansing in an attempt to silence them.
The violence and repression in Las’anod are not isolated incidents. For years, Somaliland has been accused of carrying out extrajudicial executions, tribal cleansing, and mass human rights abuses, particularly in the SSC regions. Hundreds of intellectuals, civilians, students, and religious leaders who have spoken out against secession have reportedly been assassinated by Somaliland’s British-funded and trained RRU militias.
The situation in Las’anod, the capital of Sool province, has reached a boiling point, with residents rising up against the repressive tactics of Somaliland. The city is effectively under siege.
Officials in Las’anod are quitting their positions and joining the demonstration against Somaliland’s sectarian rule. This uprising is a clear sign of the discontent and anger felt by the people of Las’anod towards the Somaliland administration. One, Hodo Aqil, wrote in her resignation letter, “I stand with my people who are being treated unjustly, we have 3 bodies in the mortuary and don’t have any space for the fourth body. I am calling on all who hold positions to resign.”
Federal MPs from Lascanood who represent the region in the Federal Parliament of Somalia have condemned the killings in Lascanood and called on President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to intervene. However, the Puntland regional government has accused Somaliland of having ties to the extremist group Al-Shabaab, raising further concerns about the situation in Las’anod and the SSC region. Mohamud Aidid Dirir, Puntland’s Minister of Information, stated, “Somaliland and Al-Shabaab are working together, the people in Burco, Berbera and Hargeisa not being killed, why are the people in Lascanod being killed alone?”
It is deeply concerning that The Federal government of Somalia and the international community have turned a blind eye to these human rights abuses. instead, keep praising Somaliland for its supposed commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
The African Union peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), has also turned a blind eye to these atrocities.
But the people of the SSC regions, including Las’anod, will not be silenced. As the death toll continues to rise, the residents are determined to stand up for their rights and demand an end to the violence and repression they have been subjected to for far too long.
The responsibility for the violence and deaths in Lascanod falls on the shoulders of President Muse Bihi and his top officials, including the Minister of Interior, Mohamed Kahin, the Chief of Police, Mohamed Saqadhi, and the Chief of the Armed Forces, Nuh Tani. These individuals have been accused of direct involvement in the deaths and displacement of civilians.
It is imperative that the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community take a stand against the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Lascanod and the SSC region, and work to bring an end to the suffering of the local population.
The people of Lascanod and the SSC regions deserve to live in peace and security, free from the fear of extrajudicial execution and human rights abuses. It is time to step up and address this ongoing conflict before it is too late.