It has been a reasonably active (and reasonably political) last couple of weeks for Somaliland. Let us therefore examine some of the latest Somaliland news. We have a former Somali Prime Minister being tried in the United States for war crimes, another British cabinet minister engaging in diplomacy with Somaliland, and more SYANA political meetings with Canadian members of Parliament. So let us examine the implications of these news stories a bit further.
War Crimes Trial For Former Somali Prime Minister
Former Somali Prime Minister Ali Samantar has been deposed by the federal court in northern Virginia in a war crimes lawsuit started by survivors of Barre’s brutal regime . Mr. Samantar has sought to escape having to depose (and either perjure himself or admit to committing atrocities against the Somaliland people), due to claims of ill health, but these claims have been rejected.
Survivors, like Aziz Deria, some of whose families were nearly wiped out by Barre’s wicked regime, have seen the war crimes trial as a way to see some small measure of justice and some closure, though they often do not see Somalia’s current leaders, like Al-Shabab, as much better than Barre and his cronies, though Samantar was one of the more powerful figures in Somalia during his time. He was a defense minister between 1980 and 1986, and Prime Minister from 1986 to 1990, during which time the Somali Civil War erupted between Somaliland separatists and Somalia’s increasingly brutal and repressive government.
Even though no one expects to profit financially from the lawsuit, people like Deria believe it is important for political leaders, even former political leaders, to be held acountable for their crimes against humanity, even when (or perhaps especially when) those crimes happen against peoples the world little knows or remembers. Perhaps some measure of justice may be found for those who died ignored by the world, but remembered by their surviving relatives.
UK Minister For Africa Henry Bellingham Visits Somaliland
Somaliland247 has helpfully posted a video of the visit of the United Kingdom’s Minister For Africa Henry Bellingham to Somaliland . The visit is the first by a Foreign Office minister in three years. Mr. Bellingham spoke to the Somaliland House of Representatives as well as with President Ahmed Silanyo and his government.
SYANA Continues To Meet With Canadian Politicians
It appears that although SYANA is an organization devoted to Somaliland outreach in North America that its most productive political outreach work to date has been in Canada. In a recent report we saw that within two weeks of being founded, SYANA had met with a member of the provincial parliament of Ontario. Today, Somaliland247 reports that SYANA has met with a liberal member of the Canadian Parliament, Jim Karygiannis, who serves the Scarborough-Agincourt District and is the Liberal multiculturalism critic in the House of Commons .
As it happens, Mr. Karygiannis sits in a constituency where there are many Somali immigrants, making his visit both good community outreach as well as a sound political strategy. I am a bit surprised that SYANA has been able to meet effectively with Canadian politicians on both the provincial and the national level but has not been able to meet with American politicians in the areas like Minneapolis and Cleveland where many Somalis live in the United States. We will, however, continue to keep our readers posted on whether any American politicians are interested in meeting and working with SYANA to help promote the knowledge and interests of the Somali community in the United States as well as Canada. It appears that Canada’s politicians are quick to work with Somali community leaders, though.