US strikes in Somalia must stop: CAGE Africa

Johannesburg – The latest air strikes  in Somalia by the United States that have killed almost 100 “militants” represent an acceleration in military activity that threatens the lives of civilians and will exacerbate and intensify political violence in the region.

Added to this, a recent US “investigation” into the killing of ten civilians including three children [2] by American troops in the town of Bariire must be interrogated and challenged for its denials of responsibility despite American bullet casings being found at the site of the killings.

CAGE Africa calls for the halting of US strikes and all hostilities in Somalia.

The air strikes, conducted in November, were ostensibly targeted at “militants”. However, the United States defines a “militant” as “a military aged male in a strike zone”, broadening the reach of drone and air strikes to include civilians, while keeping the civilian death count deceptively low.

US President Donald Trump has also given US Africa Command chiefs the right to approve strikes, as opposed to permission having to go through the Pentagon. This means that strikes no longer have to be conducted in self defence or only when US and AFRICOM targets are specifically threatened, but are conducted at the behest of military officers.

The acceleration of hostilities in Somalia will have a counter-productive effect.

Feroze Boda, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“US airstrikes and ground operations in Somalia are triumphantly touted as a war against terrorism by the public relations experts of US Central Command, but they hesitate to define “militants” when challenged to do so, and all evidence points to them targeting civilians in Bariire. However, the US gets impunity for these deaths behind carefully crafted language and ‘investigations’ that rely on bogus intelligence.”

“The fact that the world’s media does not interrogate this situation shows that less value is given to African Muslim life than any other community. This is an untenable state of play that will only give rise to more grievances and discord.”

“Nothing less than full accountability for violence committed against civilians and other abuses of the ‘War on Terror’ will bring an end to hostilities in Somalia. We call for this unequivocally.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo

 


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

3 ways the War on Terror contributes to starve millions in Somalia and 3 ways you can help them straight away

Millions in the Horn of Africa are facing starvation due to the droughts. But droughts are nothing new in the region and have been managed successfully in the past. Though they are not man-made, the reasons droughts turn into famines are. In this case, the War on Terror has worsened the situation and contributed to a humanitarian disaster. These are some 3 reasons why and what you you can do about it.

1) Influenced by its backers, Somalia’s spends most of its money on security and administrative costs

In 2015, the Somali government’s total spending on administrative and security spending accounted for more than 85%, while only about 10% of total spending went towards economic and social services.

Over the years infrastructures such as water-reservoirs, wells and food storage facilities  previously used to cope with droughts have been left in ruins.

Despite the UK having pledged over £100m to relief efforts in Somalia, the security-heavy political restrictions placed upon charities means that aid does not find its way to the most needy.

This week, the British government announced £21m more aid to the stricken country. This aid, however, is to assist with efforts to “counter extremism” and bolster the National Security Architecture. This includes funding African Union forces and the Somali National Army, both of whom have been accused of atrocities against civilians.


read more: Britain’s war in East Africa

2) US restrictions prevent humanitarian aid in large parts of the country

Al Shabaab continues to control vast swathes of rural territory.

The designation of Al Shabaab as a terrorist organisation, first by the US then later by the UN security council, and subsequent terrorism financing laws have had a chilling effect on relief efforts. Fearing criminal prosecution, charities have been discouraged from operating in Al-Shabaab areas.

Al Shabaab has banned UN agencies and other charities from operating in the areas they control, citing ‘misconduct’ and ‘espionage’. They also placed conditions and restricted access into its areas, except to those it considers ‘independent’ and ‘neutral’.

For Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, talking to the “other side” is a necessity during such crisis.

“Concerns are outweighed by the extraordinary humanitarian imperative to get assistance to those people who will not survive without it”, he wrote in 2011.

3) Humanitarian aid is used as a bargaining chip

Somali journalist for Al Jazeera Hamza Mohamed hinted to this problem in a recent Facebook post:

“Have you asked yourself how the West can airdrop bombs in areas under al-Shabaab control but has never airdropped a single sack of maize to the starving Somalis living in those areas?”, he wrote.

“Aid in Somalia is all about politics. It is not about helping Somalis. Period. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“By not giving aid to those living in areas under al-Shabaab the West is hoping they will move away from al-Shabaab areas into government-controlled towns and cities.

This way, the West hopes, al-Shabaab will be left with empty towns and villages.

“This policy by the West is why in 2011 Mogadishu went from being the capital city of the country into an overcrowded IDP camp”, he concluded


Read more:  CAGE Africa calls for a rethink of AMISOM’s involvement in Somalia

TAKE THREE ACTIONS NOW!

 

1) Make dua!

Allah says in the quran: “And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy, and We send down from the sky pure water. That We may bring to life thereby a dead land and give it as drink to those We created of numerous livestock and men”. Surah Al Furqan v 48-49

People have gathered across Somalia to pray for rain, performing salaat al istisqaa (Prayer for rain).

We should all supplicate in our prostration and qunoot for all those stricken by droughts and famine in the world.

2) Donate to trusted, independent charities

“Who is it that will offer up unto God a goodly loan, which He will amply repay? For, such (as do so) shall have a noble reward”. Surah Al – Hadid, 57:11

The urgency requires that we donate immediately to alleviate the suffering of the people on the ground. There are several independent charities which work on the ground. Do your research and don’t delay!

3) Campaign to end the violence that causes famine

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to get aid delivered to the country, but if we don’t address the man-made causes of the crisis, we will likely see the same disaster again in the coming years, just like we saw it in 2011 with 250 000 losing their life.

There have been calls on social media for accountability for crimes committed by the UN backed AMISOM peace keeping forces in advance of the major London-Somalia international conference.

You can join these calls and support CAGE’s efforts to call for accountability and an end to violence in the War on Terror. Get involved by subscribing and donating.


LEARN how you can Become a CAGE supporter

 

(CC image courtesy of UN Photo on Flikr)


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

CAGE Africa opposes Trump’s battle plan for Somalia

Johannesburg – CAGE Africa opposes the decision by US President Trump to relax some of the rules for preventing civilian casualties in its counter terrorism strikes in Somalia.

The existing USA battlefield rules already transgress international laws of war. The USA has arrogated to itself the right to kill any human being, anywhere and at any time. The killing is done for secret reasons, based on secret evidence in a secret non-transparent clandestine process, using secret criteria and carried out by secret persons.

Trump’s directive will allow Africa Command to treat Somalia under even  less restrictive and non-transparent  battlefield rules.

No interagency vetting is required on strikes, meaning commanders may strike people thought to be al-Shabaab militants using only that requirement, without them posing a specific threat to the US. Some civilian bystander deaths are permitted if deemed “necessary and proportionate”.

Trump also, by Executive Order, extended the state of emergency in Somalia with respect to “the unusual and extraordinary threat” to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, facilitating increased military activity in the country.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“The United States is already working hand in hand with Somalian forces and the Africa Union mission in Somalia (AFRISOM), whose have been accused of gang rape and other atrocities against civilians. This directive will add to the recruitment drive of al-Shabaab in the same ways as their continuous support of abusive troops does.”

“Gung-ho militancy is not the way to find solutions. Rather, it threatens civilians and creates a climate of fear. On top of this, the directive comes at a time of draught and famine for Somalia, when groups of people roam the countryside in search of food and can be easily mistaken for militants.”

“We call for a complete withdrawal of AFRISOM troops in Somalia, an end to extrajudicial killings by drone or otherwise, in favour of a dialogue based approach to the conflict, and full accountability for war crimes. The people of Somalia deserve nothing less.”

 

Press enquiries:

Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo
+27 84 648-1425


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.

CAGE Africa calls for enquiry into police killings of three Muslim women in Kenya

Johannesburg – CAGE Africa calls for a full and independent enquiry into the deaths of Tasmin Yakub, 25, Ramla Abdirahman, 19, and Maimuna Abdirahman, 21, who were killed by police at the central police station in Mombasa, Kenya on September 11 this year.

According to police, the three women had recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, and had walked into Mombasa Police Station armed with a knife, a petrol bomb and a suicide vest. Police said they had fired on the women to thwart a terrorist attack, while one of the women was burnt almost beyond recognition by her incendiary device. Police have subsequently arrested seven alleged co-conspirators.

There are, however, several concerns with this version of events. According to human rights activists the three girls went to report a stolen phone, fought back when male officers attempted to forcibly remove the niqab of one, and were all then shot dead and at least one set on fire to lend credence to the cover-up story. No weapons or suicide vests have since been produced.

Post mortem reports seen by CAGE show excessive police force: Ramla was shot seven times, including twice to the head, and Tasmin was shot eleven times. Maimuna died from severe burns.

Furthermore, Maimuna and Ramla’s father was reportedly co-erced into signing an affidavit stating that he would not hold police officers accountable for their actions.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“Two video clips of events give credence to the notion that this is a cooked up story. One clip shows Tasmin and Maimuna lying on the ground outside the police station. One sits with her right arm in the air before collapsing next to the prone body beside her and rolling onto her back. Over the next two minutes at least two armed officers take turns firing seven shots at the girl who was collapsing. The second clip, allegedly filmed inside the police station, shows the horribly burned Ramla, lying on the floor, moaning as police question her. The call to prayer can be heard in the clip showing that she was left without medical assistance for two and half hours and died in severe pain.”

“There are no weapons and no injured police officers. The police station also does not display any damage from an alleged detonation. If the women intended to harm, they should have been arrested and given a fair trial – instead this is an extrajudicial killing.”

“By using reasons of ‘terrorism’ to justify killing Muslims, police risk inflaming tensions even further. The only way out of this cycle of violence is a return to the rule of law and justice. We call for a full and independent enquiry into these events.”

Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes
karen@cage.ngo
+27 84 648-1425


NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.