If Somalia of the past had any common denominator with any other country in the world, it is none other than Israel. Just as the Jews from anywhere in the world have automatic right to come to Israel and settle if they so wish, so anyone of Somali origin from neighboring Somali territories whether independent or otherwise, or from anywhere else in the world, could come and freely live in Somalia with no questions asked. Unfortunately, things ain’t what they used to be in the present-day stateless Somalia, where patriotism and Somali solidarity are moribund, and where warlords, federal puppets masquerading as heads of a defunct state, and the likes of Farole and Dahir Rayale run their own fiefdoms under foreign protection or Ethiopian guidance.
One of the casualties of the collapse of the Somali state is the demise of that long-standing common Somali heritage, entitling any Somali to come and live in mother Somalia and acquire immediate citizenship if so wished. It has been shamelessly dishonoured by Somaliland and Puntland and for what price? Somaliland under, Dahir Rayale, believes that no price is high enough for securing recognition from Ethiopia. From their perspective, feeding hapless Ogadeni to the Ethiopian dragon is a small price to pay for their high-prized goal. What is sad is that this illegal, immoral and heinous crimes committed in the name of Somaliland’s illusory recognition rarely ever raise eyebrows, let alone objections, among those who call themselves Somalilanders at home or among the Diaspora. No people in Somalia have been more vociferous as they have been about the abuses committed against them by Siyad Barre but it is another matter when it comes to what they are doing to others, whether the Ogadeni or the Sool, Sanag & Cayn people they now occupy and oppress.
The same mentality of collusion with Ethiopia also prevails among Puntlanders at every level of the administration (Sool, Sanag and Cayn regions are nominally part of Puntland but do not subscribe to, nor condone, this shameful practice). To the best of my knowledge, no critical voices against these shocking crimes against the Ogadeni residents have been raised by Puntlanders inside or outside the area. On the contrary, the reverse has been the case judging by press releases and articles appearing in WardheerNews. Thus, the Minneapolis- based Puntland Diaspora Forum (PDF) has challenged US Congressman Donald Payne’s commendable statement on the flagrant abuses of human rights in Puntland (“Abusive behaviour in Puntland”) and scalded him for what they call his “hastily drafted criticism based largely on unsubstantiated allegations…”. Their star witness for refuting these “unsubstantiated allegations” is the very same Puntland authority which is in the dock for these crimes. PDF claim disingenuously that they have been “assured by senior cabinet level officials that no one was in fact handed over to Ethiopia”. What else did PDF expect to hear from the culprits other than denial? It reflects badly on their credibility that they made no effort to contact the victims’ families, or the Ogaden Diaspora in the area, or civil society organisations, or the countless other sources for independent reliable information that are available and accessible to anyone genuinely committed to get to the bottom of this matter.
Though its actions are abhorrent and unpardonable, yet Somaliland can at least claim to be pursuing the goal it set itself from the day it declared secession in 1991 and that is to secure recognition from Ethiopia and pay any prize. But what are Puntland and its leader Farole gaining from this slavish subservience to Addis Ababa? There is obviously nothing in it for the people of Puntland, but for him, grovelling to and gratifying Meles Zenawi might be a prudent insurance policy to guard against his wrath or to win his favours. This is reminiscent of the time of the slave trade when European slave traders coming to the West African coast would dangle glittering and worthless glass beads in front of beguiled African chiefs and bargain the capture of their fellow Africans from the hinterland which they eagerly obliged. Taking their cue from Meles Zenawi, what Abdirahman Farole and his soul mate Dahir Rayale are doing in the 21 century to their fellow Ogadeni guests is no different ( Siyad Barre and the founding fathers of Somalia must be turning in their grave in horror).
The Ogaden liberation struggle will grind on for sometime. Meles Zenawi’s response has always been predictable. Like other beleaguered colonialists before him, he believes that the best way to defeat the indomitable and elusive Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is to inflict indiscriminate and unbearable collective punishment on their people in the hope that this would deny the insurgents the support and sustenance they need to wage their liberation struggle. What Meles Zenawi is doing as an Ethiopian imperialist is consistent with what his predecessors - Menelik, Haile Selassie and Mengestu Haile Mariam - have all done to the Somalis they subjugated in their empire for over a century. Denial of basic human rights and institutionalized militarised occupation and ill-treatment of the Somalis in the territory is the folklore that passed from one Somali generation to the next.
What is new and unpalatable is the fact that for the first time since its independence, Somalia has come a full circle from a proud, united independent country, respected and feared by its neighbours, and sworn to defending the rights of its brethren in other non- free Somali territories, to one where Ethiopia has now become the unchallenged overlord and arbiter of Somalia’s affairs, where its Bantustan partners -, Puntland and Somaliland - are its active collaborators in its oppression of the Ogaden people. In the absence of sympathy and support from the wider Somali public, and in the face of Somaliland and Puntland duplicitous collusion with the enemy, it is a consolation to the forlorn disowned Ogadeni that at least outsiders like US Congress Donald Payne is on their side and ready to speak on their behalf. It behoves the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Independent Expert appointed by the UN Secretary General for the human rights situation in Somalia, as well as human rights defenders such as Human Rights Watch, to speak up against the on-going worst human rights abuses against the Ogaden people in their own territory and in Somalia. As for the Puntland Diaspora Forum (PDF), well, with so-called brothers like that, who needs enemies like Meles Zenawi?
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