My heart bleeds with the people of Raaso whose innocent children and women were mercilessly massacred on Thursday September 3 when the notorious paramilitary Liyu forces opened fire on peaceful protesters killing nine people, six of them children under seven years of age while injuring 39 others. The disturbing situation unfolded after demonstrators took to the streets to denounce what they called Liyu police’s mistreatment of the city residents due to the government’s mishandling in ending communal tensions around the area.
This brutal and evil massacre of the people of Raaso on September 03, 2020 is solely the responsibility of DP Mustafe, his regional security head – Hussein Hashi and the commander of the Liyue Police. Because this crony trio and the mafiaso paramilitary gang they preside over are the sole architects of the first state executed massacre in the region since the fall of Abid Iley. They all failed to live up to their solemn oath to safeguard their people.
It is unfortunate that Mustafa who once fell prey to Abdi Iley and his Liyu Police brutality, oversaw the killing and the maiming of dozens of innocent people that he had the responsibility of looking after them.
It was tragic to see that Mustafa, Hussein Kassim and commander Haji Tur, all close relatives of the president will order his Liyu Police to press ahead in suppressing the Raso people amid a contentious event they dubbed a “ceremony of ending the conflict in Raaso, Salahad and Lagahida’’ held in Jigjiga and broadcasted on SRTV that they knew to have triggered people towards anger.
Organized by the regional government, the ceremony was attended only by government officials and elders representing only onside of the feuding communities. Raaso elders left the process due to their disagreements with certain proposed solutions to end the communal tensions while also incensed by Mustafa total disregard for their proposals and attempt to threaten and intimate those who oppose his decision.
Decades of mistreatment and mass displacement of the Raaso people, also called Reer Fiqi Omer, from five different Zones of the Somali Region has disenfranchised the community and created an atmosphere of distrust between them and successive governments over the years. It is tragic and regrettable that lack of poor leadership and resolve to solve these communal tensions have resulted the loss of countless precious human lives of their own Somali kin.
The way forward:
- It is important that community leaders and intellectuals of the concerned communities take charge of the matter and work towards finding lasting solutions to end this tragedy for a lasting peace and harmony among the people.
- I urge the Mustafa and his administration to deescalate and ensure no more pain is inflicted on already reeling communities. It is important that peoples right to peaceful demonstration is guaranteed without using deadly violence of the kind that hollowed out Raaso and it’s people again. It is also incumbent about the government that people can go by their lives without fear for their lives and properties in their own region.
- I urge the Federal Government of Ethiopia to take a close look at the situation so that it can intervene in the event that Somali regional government keeps failing its responsibility of ensuring peace and administering justice.
- For a lasting peace and swift end to the resentments within those communities, it is a must that the perpetrators of the heinous massacre of the Raaso people brought to justice.
For sake of disclosure, I never took a side on these communal resentments and I have no other agenda than ending this tragedy. This a painful experience hurts not only but for any concerned Somali from the region.
By: Abdirashid M. Abdullahi
Abdirashid is a former regional government official and Jigjiga University lecturer.