People of Somali regional state have gone through hard conditions and heightened times and their current situation is pregnant with both good and bad indications; but they must unite and seize every opportunity if they want to overcome difficult circumstances that are awaiting them, or else they will suffer forever.
For too long, the Somali region has suffered under Ethiopia’s successive regimes. The country deprives the Somali people of their rights, disdains their way of life, and denounces their continual struggle. And the Somali people’s plight began when Ethiopia annexed their region, and made it a peripheral one. Indeed, Great Britain masterminded the Somali people’s woes by handing over their region to Abyssinia. Consequently, the region’s residents have tasted everlasting bitterness and endured all sorts of hardships and humiliations, and history is full of gruesome atrocities meted out to the region’s people, at different times by varied regimes.
To fast-forward, when the Tigray led movement came to power in 1991, after ousting President Mingistu Haile Marriam, they introduced an ethnic based federalism and enshrined it in the country’s constitution. This federalism was to put power in Ethiopia’s ethnic groups in relation to administering their own affairs, but the federalism was not implemented properly. Clearly, the new constitution stipulated a statute that permitted particular federal states to secede from the country after fulfilling required conditions (The Tigrays have not trusted a unitary state in Ethiopia). Ethiopia adopted a new flag and became a federal state, albeit on paper.
Because of the adopted, ethnic federalism, some of the country’s regions benefited, the Somali region being one of them. For the first time, the region got an autonomous status and used its own language (Somali) for the region’s administration. With an enthusiastic population, the Somali language ploughed ahead and portrayed an atmosphere of unity and uniqueness. Amazed by the fact that nobody needed Amharic language and its interpreters, the Somali people in the region breathed a fresh air and saw a new dawn as members of their own were school teachers, nurses, administrators, and the like. Truly, the region would greatly benefit from the ethnic federalism, if executed correctly.
Atrocity of the Century
Soon after, the Tigray administration clashed with Somali opposition groups and emptied its anger on the region’s population. The situation worsened after the administration installed President Abdi-Iley and unleashed him on the beleaguered people in the region. Abdi-Iley, under the auspices of his masters, created an armed force in the region and called it “Liyu Police”. He told the region’s residents that the force would combat opposition groups and protect civilians’ lives and properties. But alas, that was a big lie, as the armed force turned out to be an unscrupulous one. He mobilized the Liyu Police and made them at his arsenal, summoning them whenever he needed them, and against whoever he loathed. They indiscriminately killed thousands of civilians.
President Abdi-Iley’s regime prided itself on cruelty. The regime loved to kill people arbitrarily, the regime loved to throw innocent civilians in toxic prisons, the regime loved to banish people from their own dwellings and rob them of their lands, and the regime loved to tarnish people’s integrity by naming and shaming them unjustly. For example, people would be forced to stand in front of big gatherings and admit offenses they did not commit. Out of fear, many people confessed some unheard-of felonies.
The dictator president destroyed entire towns, turning their populations into orphans and widows, unable to fend for themselves. Furthermore, thousands of innocent civilians fled their homes, and ended up in refugee camps with deplorable conditions. To illustrate a situation, for instance, Abdi-Iley’s henchmen would get together and watch helpless civilians delightfully as they were being punished. Unable to tolerate the severity of the punishments, the subdued civilians would whimper and wail, but the perpetrators would not care. What happened in the infamous “Jeel Ogaaden” is a case in point, and sums up the scope of the anguish the region’s people underwent.