By Ahmed Abdidool
Mustafa Omer, the deputy and acting President of the Somali state in Ethiopia, addressed his fellow Somalis about the ongoing situation in the country amid the aftermath of the foiled coup d’etat. His main message was unity against the ‘enemy’ this time invoking the ethnicity card to divide and dismantle the country. His words were hiding behind being holy and caring. While his words preached unity of the Ethiopians his actions do the exact opposite in his home region. In the last six months he flirted with Amhara supremacists while committing human rights violations in the Somali region.
The same man professing unity, peace, and prosperity is implanting fear mongering and intimidation on his own people at the local level. In Kebridahar my father, Deeq Abdullahi Abdidool, was picked up from his house against his will. His time as a hostage took him to a remote village in Korahe Zone being held by the notorious Liyu police. They are paramilitary troops in the Somali Region of Ethiopia that receive direct orders from the regional acting and deputy President, Mustafa Omer.
After two days he was transferred back to Kebridahar in a military vehicle and brought to the office of Ali Sanwayne. Sanwayne is the commander of the Liyu police in Korahe and began to intimidate my dad and told him he was dismayed to see any relatives of the former President still around. To this commander, all relatives of the former President must be dead, in captivity, or in hiding. My father interrupted him and said he called Korahe home long before Abdi’s rise to power and that he would be staying and dying in Korahe no matter who the President is. At this point the encounter became violent as is routine when one is in the custody of the Liyu police.
Ali Sanwayne stood up, held my father by his neck, and yelled “I could shoot you five times in the head and no one would dare to ask a single question about your fate.” At this point elders in the area heard the commotion and pleased to the commander to let my father go. He acquiesced to these elders but only with a threat that there would be a time when he would never let my father go. All of this is forming a long pattern of abuse toward my father’s sub-clan.
As most of you may remember, my father was arrested in November last year on the allegation that he knew where firearms were hidden by a former Liyu police general who was a distance relative of his. On the date of the accusation my father was in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. By chance or mere luck, the judge who was on duty on my father’s court day recalled traveling and performing the haj with my father. My father was released on bond and his case dismissed, I assume, on the grounds of his alibi as he couldn’t be on two continents at once. Since that failed accusation they have tried a new tactic. This time they blame him for inciting his sub-clan members.
In Korahe this effort is concerning because people are known to be killed under Ali Sanwayne’s supervision. In the last week alone, several people were killed by his troops. Ali Sanwayne receives his orders from Mohamed Ahmed (Haji Tuur) and Mohamed Omer, the Liyu police boss and Mustafa Omer’s brother, respectively. The latter took a public oath that he would take vengeance for the death of his late brother and it will not be concluded until 100 men are killed. He has no official title and only time will tell if he will ever effectuate his oath or not.
In this power structure, the vice and acting President of the Somali region lost his own brother, Faisal Omer, to the former regime in a similar predicament to what my father is facing today. These include escalating actions starting with humiliation and harassment which ultimately end in the death of the target. His brother’s problem with the previous government was merely that he was the brother of Mustafa, at the time a human rights and social media activist. Now, under Mustafa Omer’s presidency, I would never have imagined the same trend of identifying, targeting, and eliminating innocent citizens would continue.
The prejudice against my father and his sub-clan has its roots in the State House in Jigjiga. His only offense is being related to the former president. Even so, during that presidency my father was kept in solitary confinement and never brought to court for a year. Any clan affiliation and bias in his favor surely would have resulted in better treatment. When the presidency changed there was hope for better treatment by Mustafa Omer.
The current President must be cognizant of, and instigating, the problem. Maltreating an entire sub-clan is unethical, immoral, and irrational in the highest order. Collective punishment is a technique that was highly used against our people by the TPLF and their collaborators. Seeing it still being widely used to this day, despite Mustafa Omer’s words to peace and unity, is disheartening. As the rest of Ethiopia is enjoying new freedoms the Somali Region is being held hostage by a ruthless oligarchy that are composed mostly of remnants of the former regime. Unless stopped, these human rights abuses will jeopardize and sully any effort by the federal government to stabilize the region.
Mustafa Omer claims to be pioneering a new dawn for the Somali region, but closer scrutiny reveals his actions are but a continuation of trends which have been in existence for years. I’m of the view that there is an imminent danger to the safety of my father, and I’m afraid he will be tortured, jailed, and executed without ever being heard from again. I highly fear his death, God forbid. Mustafa Omer, the acting deputy President of the Somali Region and his coterie should be held accountable if anything happens to my father.
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