Press Release: Since their occupation of Lascanod, the regional capital of the Khatumo State of Somalia in October 2007, Somaliland's militia..
have subjected the occupied people to continuous human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes. No one has ever been charged for these crimes let alone punished for it. It goes without saying that it is a practice condoned by the secessionist administration in Hargeisa who are ultimately where the buck stops. Homesick and hundreds of miles away from their homeland in the one-clan secession enclave, and forced to be in a hostile environment where they are not welcome and face armed resistance, they vent their alienation on the defenceless nomadic population. Rape, culturally the most dreadful thing they could vengefully inflict on a proud people steeped in the Darwiish resistance heritage, is the militia's most feared disposition.
The occupied Khatumo people in the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) regions may have become somewhat inured in the past to heinous crimes committed by Somaliland's militia, ranging from using their armoured vehicles to run over fleeing nomads, to slaughtering in their prisons captured defenders of the Buuhoodle/Cayn region of Khatumo State. But even by the past standards, nothing would be as shocking and dastardly as the gang-rap in broad daylight of a 13 year old shepherd girl, Halimo Hussein Warsame, on 24 December 2012 at Lafawayn, close to the town of Hudun in Sool region. She was victim to a group of Somaliland militia who, after monstrously raping her, cut her throat and killed her. Though girl shepherds and women in general had been warned to beware marauding Somaliland militia n the area, unsuspecting Halimo had paid the ultimate price for exercising her God-given right to gaze her goats in her own territory.
Somaliland Today, a website hailing from Somaliland, reported on 29 December that one of their soldiers suspected of committing this crime is now at the militia's camp. Though the incident is not acknowledged officially, true to the past, the fact that it is reported in their media is unusual and authenticates the veracity of the case. Time will tell whether the alleged suspect is simply in confinement at the camp for his own protection as often is the case, or whether for the first time this will be a prelude to charging him and his accomplices for the crimes they committed.
Little Halimo's rape and murder has happened at the same as that of an Indian woman, also gang-raped in New Delhi on 19 December and who subsequently died of the injuries she sustained during her ordeal. Her case has shocked not only the Indian public and government but the international community. Even the UN Secretary- General, Ban Ki-moon felt obliged to weigh in and to issue the following statement:
"Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated," and that every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected."
The Secretary- General's commendable reaction applies equally to Halimo's case, both victims of unsolicited aggression. Is it too much to expect from the Secretary-General's representative for Somalia, Mr. Augustine Mahiga- unashamedly
Somaliland's advocate than an upholder of his mandate - to follow the example of his boss and take a similar clear-cut stand not only against Halimo's aggressors but also against the root cause of the problem which is Somaliland's criminal occupation of parts of Khatumo. It also behoves President Mohamoud Sheikh Hassan to speak up notwithstanding his soft spot for the enclave.
In the meantime, even if the suspect(s) are charged, convicted and given the punishment they deserve (which is unlikely), Khatumo's young girls, like Halimo, and her fellow Khatumo womenfolk will continue to be easy targets of rape and sexual abuse and harassment from Somaliland's militia just as the overall Khatumo people will remain victims of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity as long as Somaliland's occupation of Khatumo's territory persists. Nothing less than their total, immediate and unconditional withdrawal can ensure the end of the suffering of our people. Towards this end, Halimo's unspeakable rape and murder will if anything galvanise the struggle for freedom from the occupiers. More than any other person who perished under Somaliland's occupation, her name will henceforth and for ever remain a symbol of the price the SSC paid under this occupation and the struggle for their freedom. She will not have died in vain. Her innocent tender age and her unjust murder ensure her God's mercy and reward in heaven.
Khatumo Forum for Peace, Unity and Development