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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Muhammad Ali Samatar

Muhammad Ali Samatar (Somali: Maxamed Cali Samatar) (born 1931) is a former Somali army officer, and was a key figure in Somali politics in the 1970s and 1980s.

Samatar was an important official in the government of Siad Barre, having served as a general in the Somali Armed Forces, as Defense Minister from 1980 to 1986, and as Prime Minister from February 1, 1987 to September 3, 1990, the first person to fill that post since Barre abolished the position upon assuming the presidency in 1969.

The Somali Armed Forces, with assistance from security agencies, carried out widespread atrocities against suspected opponents of the Barre government during the time of Samatar's service as Defense Minister. Human rights reports implicate the military in the systematic use of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary and prolonged detention.

The Isaaq clan, located primarily in the northwestern region of Somalia, known as Somaliland, was a special target of the military government. During the 1980s, the Somali Armed Forces initiated a brutal counterinsurgency campaign to deter Isaaq civilians from sympathizing with the opposition Somali National Movement (SNM). The Armed Forces killed and looted livestock, blew up water reservoirs, destroyed homes, and tortured and imprisoned alleged supporters of the SNM, including businessmen, teachers, high school students, and nomads tending their herds. Mass executions of civilians occurred regularly throughout the north during these years.

In June and July 1988, the Somali Armed Forces launched an indiscriminate aerial and ground attack on cities and towns in northwest Somalia, including Hargeisa and Buroa, the region's two largest cities. The attack destroyed most of Hargeisa, with the most extensive damage in the residential areas, the marketplace and in public buildings in downtown. The Somali Army engaged in systematic assaults on unarmed civilians, leaving more than 5000 dead. As a result of the fighting, approximately 400,000 Somalis fled to Ethiopia, where they remained in refugee camps for many years.

2004 lawsuit

On November 10 2004, the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability filed a lawsuit, Yousuf, et al. v. Samatar, on behalf of six Somali nationals against General Mohamed Ali Samatar, accusing him of a wide range of human rights abuses committed during the regime of Siad Barré during the 1980s. The lawsuit alleges that, as Minister of Defense from 1980 to 1986 and then as Prime Minister from 1987 to 1990, Samatar's subordinates in the Armed Forces committed crimes against humanity by targeting civilians for widespread abuse.

The lawsuit was filed under the internationally-recognized principle of "command responsibility", whereby a military commander may be held responsible for abuses committed by subordinates if the commander knew, or should have known, about the abuses and failed to take all reasonable measures to prevent the abuses or punish the offenders.
As of late 2006, the lawsuit is still active, and there has not yet been a response from the U.S. State Department.

External links

Source Wikipedia

vdePrime Ministers of Somalia
Haji Ibrahim EgalAli ShermarkeHaji HusseinHaji Ibrahim EgalFarah Salad† • post abolished, 1970-87 • Ali Samatar • Hawadle MadarArteh Ghalib • vacant, 1997-2000 • Khalif GalaidJama AliAbshir FarahAbdi YusufMohammed Ghedi

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