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A Government at War with Its Own People: Testimonies about the Killings and the Conflict in the North in Somalia (Now known Somaliland).

An Africa Watch Report on January 31, 1990

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©1990 by The Africa Watch Committee All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America ISBN 0-929692-33-0

Cover design by Deborah Thomas

THE AFRICA WATCH COMMITTEE

The Africa Watch Committee was established in May 1988 to monitor and promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights in Africa. The Executive Director is Rakiya Omaar, the Research Director is Richard Carver, Joyce Mends-Cole is the Washington Representative and Karen Sorensen is Research Associate.

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Human Rights Watch comprises Africa Watch, Americas Watch, Asia Watch, Helsinki Watch, and Middle East Watch. The Chairman is Robert L. Bernstein, the Vice-Chairman is Adrian W. DeWind. The Executive Director is Aryeh Neier and Kenneth Roth is Deputy Director. For further information, including a full publications list with subscription forms or an annual report, please write to:

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Before people talk about the future, it is necessary to understand what brought this situation about. It is not only a question of what the solution is but firstly understanding how and why all this happened. A part of the solution must lie in the answer to that question. We all have homes, cities to which we are deeply attached. Today, the lucky ones are refugees in Britain, Canada, and Holland and the majority are in camps in Ethiopia or waiting in Dire Dawa and Djibouti to get out or are trapped inside Somalia. Prosperous city-dwellers, civil servants, businessmen, the experienced, the educated and our youth, all those who should be at home building our futures are all refugees. The world must understand that we are not here because we wanted to live elsewhere. We have been driven out.

Khadra Muhumed Abdi, Interview with Africa Watch, London, June 2, 1989

We couldn’t believe that taxes paid by the Somali people, the weapons bought to defend the people and the army, created and trained to defend the nation, were now all being used against the people. Who could believe that planes belonging to the Somali army would take off from Hargeisa airport to bomb Hargeisa itself and its population? From dawn to dusk, day in and day out, and intermittently during the night, there was shelling, bombing, people being slaughtered by soldiers on the streets, in their homes and in all the places they sought refuge. It makes you wonder if the people who did this believe in God. How can they? There is no place like home and we want to go home. But first, the system has to go and we must get new leaders.

Hassan Ismail, Interview with Africa Watch, Cardiff, July 8, 1989

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