Top two SNM War CriminalColonels (Col. Bihi and Col. Kahin) Tied to ’90s-2017 Carnage, Killing Thousands of SSC People.
Left: War Criminal Colonel Bihiand Right: War criminal Col Kahin
Somalia, Buuhootle — The atrocities of the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn (SSC) civil war in the 1990s-2018 are still recounted in whispers here — tales of horror born out of a scorched-earth tribal and factional conflict in which civilians and noncombatants were frequently slaughtered end masse.
Stark evidence of such killings is held in the mass graves that still litter the all SSC countryside. One such site is outside Kalshaale, in the north of Buuhootle. It lies only half-excavated, with bones and the remains of clothing partially obscured by water and mud from recent flooding. Experts say at least 300 victims are here, and each skull that lies exposed is uniformly punctured by a single bullet-entry hole at the back.
The powerful men accused of responsibility for these deaths and tens of thousands of others — some said to be directly at their orders, others carried out by men in their chain of command — are named in the pages of a monumental 800-page report on human rights abuses in Somalia from 1988, before the SNM secessionist invasion of SSC regions, to the fall of the Somali central government in 1991, according to researchers and officials who helped compile the study over the past six years.
The list of names is a sort of who’s who of power players in Norther Somalia Secessionist militiamen: former and current warlords or officials, some now in very prominent positions in the Somaliland tribal government, as well as in insurgent factions fighting it. Many of the named men (Col. Bihi and Col. Kahin) were principals in the civil war era after the Siad Bare, and they are also frequently mentioned when talk here turns to fears of violence. Already, there is growing concern about a scramble for power and resources along ethnic and tribal lines in the region.
But the report seeking to hold them accountable is unlikely to be released anytime soon, the researchers say, accusing senior SNM officials of effectively suppressing the work and those responsible for it. For their part, human rights activists say the country is doomed to repeat its violent past if abuses are not brought to light and prosecuted.
At the same time, some officials here — including some International INGOs — express worry that releasing the report will trigger new civil strife.
Titled simply, “Conflict Mapping in SSC Since 1988,” the study, prepared by the Somali Independent Human Rights Commission, details the locations and details of 380 mass graves of civilians or prisoners, many of the sites secret and none of them yet excavated properly. It compiles testimony from survivors and witnesses to the mass interments, and details other war crimes as well.
The study was commissioned as part of a reconciliation and justice effort ordered by Somali Federal Parliament in Somalia in 2015, and it was completed this past December. Some of the Somalia’s top experts in forensics and what is called transitional justice advised the commission on the report and provided training and advice for the 40 local INGOresearchers who worked on it over a six-year period.
Three SSC Diaspora and localINGOshuman rights activists who worked as researchers and analysts on large sections of the report spoke about its contents on condition of anonymity, both out of fear of reprisal from colonels (Bihi and Kahin).
According to Somali rights advocates and Western INGO’s officials, word that the report was near to being officially submitted to the International War Crime Court.
At a meeting on Dec. 21,2017 including Diaspora and INGO’s Commissioners and other top officials, argued that dismissing Colonels would be too mild a punishment. “We should just shoot 20 holes in their faces,” he said, according to one of those present. He later apologized to other officials for the remark, saying it was not meant in earnest.
The figures accused in the report of playing some role in mass killings include some of the most powerful figures in Somaliland’s government and ethnic factions, including the current tribal secessionist president Col. Bihi and his right-hand minister of Security Col. Kahin
Among them are second President Dahir Riyale, a Boramian from the ex NSS, and Ina Ali Warabe, aleader from the UCUD Party (alliance with Al-Shabaab religion sect); Gen. Nuux Taani, a war criminal from the central regions of Somaliland.
Those men gave no response to verbal and written requests for comment about their naming in the report.
In all, the researchers said, more than 120SNM Militiamen leaders are named in the report as responsible for mass killings.
The report also investigates killings of civilians and prisoners said to be carried out by the SNM and other Isaaq tribal insurgents, including Al-Shabaab insurgents.
Named specifically in the report as responsible for war crimes in massacres of prisoners in SSC regions now leading Secessionist Tribal State of Somaliland GovernmentColonel Muse Bihi and Col, Kahin — and whose release is thought to be a condition of negotiations with the insurgent group.
As the report languishes, evidence in the graves is being destroyed, sometimes as a function of poor care of the sites and sometimes intentionally.
One mass grave containing more than 100 dead was discovered in the Qorulugudarea of Cayn region, where General Nuux holds sway, during a road-building project in March. The half-dozen bodies that were turned up were simply relocated to a cemetery and the construction went on, bulldozing over most of the rest of the remains.
In 2007, two mass graves in the Xuddun township of Sool region were simply covered over by construction of a new water piping that researchers said was developed and owned by General Nuux Taani.
During the civil war period, after the Siad Barre Government were left and before the Secessionists took power, warlords like Col Bihi, and Col Kahin, fought bitterly among themselves as well as against the Somali Government, who are mostly pro-unionist ethnic Dhulbahante. The conflict among these leaders, who had all fought in the tribal separatist against the Central government of Somalia, was on both political and tribal grounds.
For many SSC people, the warlords’ atrocities are taken as a given — old news better left unrevived.
By: Habon Haji Abdi, SSC INGO’s at Buuhootle City