Friday, December 09, 2011

Dignity is in peace, not in cowardly murder

Bashir Goth

All Somaliland communities were shocked by the gruesome and cold-blooded murder of innocent people sleeping peacefully in their own homes in Seemaal area on December 5, 2011; a horrific reminder of the slaughter of innocent travelers on the highway near Kalabaydh area on July 11, 2009.

As a relative of the victims, I can understand that the first thing that comes to the afflicted community’s mind is to take things into their own hand and revenge. In the absence of an effective government, revenge and retaliation were once the only nuclear deterrents that the Somalis knew. Not to retaliate for your dead ones was and can still be considered as a sign of weakness if not sheer cowardice in the Somali context. Men of peace, particularly at times of heightened tensions are looked down as wimps, while belligerent men who rally the clan behind the Tollaayeey and Aabbahay Goblan banners are seen as heroes.

It is not easy to control one’s emotions in the face of such calamity, and the easiest, most emotionally immature choice is to take the gun and revenge; because anyone, even a child or idiot, can grab a gun and kill people, but not everyone can take the most difficult route and snatch peace out of the jaws of death.

The gun-toting war hero can win a battle at the cost of dozens even thousands of lives lost but the peace hero wins victory by sparing equally as many lives from imminent death. Aggressive violence and war come easy but at a high cost. One should look at what is at stake in a war; death and destruction.Yes, one might believe they are living in dignity and some can argue that death is sometimes better than living in indignity, but in cases like that of Kalabadydh and Seemal it is the murderer who lives with indignity and not the living relatives of the victims.

Cowardly terrorists who sneak in under the cover of darkness and cold-bloodedly murder innocent sleeping people and travelers are devoid of all dignity. They are indeed a shame on the community they hail from and it’s the duty of their community and the families they came from to do what’s right, allow and support our police department to thoroughly investigate this act of violence and hand over any suspected parties for judicial judgment. But to answer their heinous act by killing other innocent people is equally abhorring no matter how honorable it might look in tribal traditions.

My intention of writing this short piece is therefore to commend the Gadabursi Community for trading the empty pride one feels in taking revenge and killing to the real pride and dignity that comes with being peace heroes rather than war heroes in dealing with the Kalabadydh daylight murder. I would also like to call upon them again this time to resort to their renowned wisdom and tradition of taking the dignified but difficult route to peace in dealing with the Seemaal killings. It is quoted of Somaliland’s former President Rayaale to have said: “Dagaal Ducaan Ka Doortay…” ( I rather choose prayers over war…) As despicable and wimpy as that might look to the bellicose psyche of the Somalis, it indeed reflects a moral high ground and the epitome of wisdom and intellectual maturity.

I say this while demanding justice for the victims slaughtered in Seemaal. We all demand justice for him and those before them. The Sultans of Awdal have unequivocally said this. The Sultans of Gabiley and Hargeisa have said it. The opposition and government political leaders have said it. The wise men and women of Somaliland have said it.

Justice should be done and done quickly and the government should keep its promises to apprehend the murderers and bring them before a court of law. Safeguarding the security of its citizens is one of the fundamental and national responsibilities of the government. These recurring, cowardly and terrorist acts are a threat not only to the national security but will also destroy the bond and cohesion between the community and will in turn cause a great damage to the reputation and image that Somaliland has built over the years as a peaceful oasis.

The steps the government has taken so far and the unanimous condemnation and shock expressed by the different quarters of the Somaliland community are all welcome and highly reassuring, but it is the sole responsibility of the government to turn its words into action and bring the criminals of the Kalabaydh and Seemaal to justice. This should be a matter of national priority for the government and it should devote all its resources to that cause instead of using live ammunition on peaceful demonstrators and arresting and imprisoning community leaders for exercising their right for free speech.