Colonel Yusuf Abdi Ali (Tuke), was invited in the opening ceremony of the Somali embassy in Washington. He firmly stood next to the president and smiled at the camera.
A picture of Mohamed Abdilahi Farmaajo, the president of the Federal Government of Somalia, with Colonel Yusuf Abdi Ali (Tuke), was shocking and unbelievable.
It was shocking because of Tuke symbolizes horror. It was unbelievable because many did not expect President Farmaajo will honour a man who represents mass killings and torture, a war criminal, whom many survivors are seeking to hold into account for his atrocious actions.
Tuke was one of the most feared, brutal, murderous and recognizable faces in the military of Siad Barre regime. He was not a low-level operative. He was “first identified in a 1992 documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which detailed allegations that Ali had tortured, killed and maimed hundreds of people while working for the Barre regime”.
The genocidal military regime of Siad Barre usurped power in 1969 by overthrowing a democratically elected government.
Honouring the man who murdered civilians, committed rape, torture and arbitrary detentions is a disgraceful act, incomprehensible and utterly shameful.
The tens of thousands of civilians murdered by the Siad Barre regime in all parts of Somalia deserve justice. Instead of addressing the war crimes and crimes against humanity, President Farmaajo honoured the perpetrator. The survivors and the families of those murdered and maimed were insulted by the president’s premeditated and purposeful action.
In 2016, Al Jazeera documentary, “Kill all but the crows”, details gruesome stories of heinous crimes committed by Tuke. The documentary is full of testimonies of eyewitnesses and survivors.
On 21st May 2019 a jury at a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, found that he was responsible for torture.
Human Rights Watch report titled “Somalia, A Government at War With Its Own People”, published in January 1990, details extrajudicial executions, massacres, and torture committed by the regime in the then Northern Regions of Somalia (now Somaliland).
When the war broke in the Northern Regions in May 1988, Human Rights Watch’s “estimate of the number of people killed by government forces, shot point-blank, or killed as a result of aerial bombardment and artillery shelling and war-related wounds, is in the vicinity of 50, 000 to 60, 000. The figure is so high because the army sought both to punish Isaak civilians for welcoming SNM attack and to discourage them from further assistance to the guerrillas.”
Col Tuke was among the military officers who committed these crimes. He was known of his ruthlessness and brutality of hismethods.
During the prolonged civil war in Somalia, many atrocities were committed. Justice never offered a hand to the Somali people who suffered under the cruel hands of a dictator, warlords, fanatics and clan militias.
That is not normal. War criminals should not live happily in cities like Washington and London without facing justice. They should not sit in Somalia’s parliament, military and police. It is not possible to restore peace in Somalia when men like General Morgan,the Butcher of Hargeisa, is allowed to run for the presidency, and Col Tuke is blessed by a sitting.
Guleid Ahmed Jama
Guleid is a human rights lawyer based in Hargeisa, Somaliland.