The Acts of the Democracies




Invasion of Somalia

Ethiopia invades Somalia. The USA has warships patrolling off the coast of the country and directs operations. The USA backs the invasion in an attempt to ensure a pro-USA regime. The previous month, the United Nations had passed a resolution (1725) calling for a military force from the African Union. The countries that agreed the resolution insisted that no country sharing a border with Somalia would be involved. The USA agreed to this in order to get the resoltion (which they sponsored) passed and then ignored it by allowing Ethiopia to invade.

The West backs a "transitional government" run by Ali Mohammad Gedi which is not popular in Somalia as he is a war lord. The country had been relatively peaceful since June 2005 under a popular government called The Union of Islamic Courts who had pushed the previous USA backed governemnt out. They had ruled Somalia under the following principles: The independence of Somalia, freedom from warlord terror, justice, and respect for the Muslim faith. During their brief rule they had begun to restore property looted by the previous regime.

The UK supports the invasion and declares that members of the Islamic government should not be in power.

10,000 people are displaced by the fighting. Looting by war-lord led militias occurs in the capital, Mogadishu. Banditry by the militias begins again - it had been stopped by the previous government. The new "government" imposes martial law which is enforced by Ethiopian troops. Public meetings and gatherings are banned.

A few days later, USA forces bomb the south of the country in a series of air strikes using AC-130 gunships. These contain huge machine guns that fire 3000 rounds per minute. Over 150 Somalis are killed, including a group of 70 nomads in their night camp at Afmadow. Dozens of people were killed and over 100 are injured in an air raid in the fishing village of Ras Kamboni. At the same time Kenya, a USA ally, closes its border. The USA Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, declares that no civilians had been killed. Moalim Adan Osman, a village elder in Dhobley, contradicted this: "We estimated about 100 civilians have been killed. Some are still missing. The aeroplanes have bombed large areas. The have bombed the nomads indiscriminately".

The USA ignores international protests and sends a small number of its forces into the region to "check whether they had killed their targets".

20,000 Ethiopian soldiers remain in Somalia after the invasion.

The International Somalia Contact Group (a USA led grouping) calls for a United Nations peacekeeping force. The USA grants $ 16 million aid to the new Somali "government" and offers $ 14 million to any peacekeeping force.

Over 150 people who fled across the border to Kenya during the Ethiopian invasion are arrested and secretly flown at night from Nairobi to Somalia. They are held in underground prisons at the airport at Magadishu shackled to walls and without access to legal represenation. According to human rights groups, the detainees were questioned by USA and UK officials. They are then trasnferred to prisons in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. No legal extradition procedures had been followed.

Maini Kiai, the chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, accuses the USA and UK of carrying out "extraordinary rendition". This is the process where people are moved illegally across borders and detained.

The USA backed government orders the Arabic news station, Al Jazeera, and two local private radio stations (HornAfrik and IQK Koranic Radio) to stop broadcasting from Mogadishu. The radio stations come back on air for a few months until the military shoot at their offices and attack their offices with grenades. One of the presenters and the owner of HornAfrik are assassinated.

Ethiopian soldiers arrest business people and intellectuals who oppose the new government.

Fighting between Ethiopian forces and Somali resistance kills over 1000 people during March in the capital Mogadishu.

In April more fighting breaks out between the USA-Ethiopian government and Somalis resisting the occupation. Nearly 400 civilians are killed. The USA, having got its people in power, calls for a peace deal - in contrast to its failure to call for a cease fire when its ally, Israel, was bombing Lebanon in 2006.

Fighting continues with hundreds of civilians killed. In one incident rockets were fired into a crowded market and into a bus station. Resistance to the invasion is labelled as terrorism and blamed on Al-Qaida.

According to the United Nations, 321,000 people fled from Mogadishu, a city of two million people, by the middle of 2007.

KryssTal Opinion: Somalia had enjoyed a few months of peace after years of civil war. The overthrow of its government by the USA using Ethiopian troops has resulted in hundreds of unrecorded and under reported deaths from USA foreign policy.

As people continue dying in Somalia, the conflict and its reasons are ignored by USA and UK media. Andrew Cawthorne (Reuters in Kenya) reported that "the carnage and suffering in Somalia may be the worst in more than a decade -- but you'd hardly know it from your nightly news." By May 2007, more people had died in the conflict that had been killed in Lebanon during the 2006 bombing by Israel.

Nunu Kidane, a writer from Priority Africa Network (PAN) describes the situation: "USA political and military alliance with Ethiopia - which openly violated international law in its aggression towards Somalia, is destabilizing the Horn region and begins a new shift in the way the US plans to have permanent and active military presence in Africa." The Horn of Africa is the region of East Africa around Somalia.

Walter Lindner, the German Ambassador to Somalia wrote a letter describing the situation in the country: "The obviously indiscriminate use of heavy artillery in the capital has killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, and forced over 200,000 more to flee for their lives. [Displaced persons were] at great risk of being subjected to looting, extortion and rape - including by uniformed troops at a various 'checkpoints'." The refugees are contracting cholera. International aid groups are being attacked by armed militia.

Andrew Cawthorne's report for Reuters continues with several quotes:

"There is a massive tragedy unfolding in Mogadishu, but from the world's silence, you would think it's Christmas. Somalis, caught up in Mogadishu's worst violence for 16 years, are painfully aware of their place on the global agenda."

"Nobody cares about Somalia, even if we die in our millions."

Michael Weinstein, a USA expert on Somalia at Purdue University explains why the media has been quiet about the situation in Somalia:

"For the major [world] leaders, there is a tremendous embarrassment over Somalia. They have committed themselves to supporting the interim government -- a government that has no broad legitimacy, a failing government. This is the heart of the problem. ... But Western leaders can't back out now, so of course they have 100% no interest in bringing global attention to Somalia. There is no doubt that Somalia has been shoved aside by major media outlets and global leaders, and the Somali Diaspora is left crying in the wilderness."

Although Ethiopia invaded Somalia and installed a puppet government, the affair was planned by the USA who are present in the background. The USA newspaper, Washington Post, reported "a picture of a nation that jails its citizens without reason or trial, and tortures many of them -- despite government claims to the contrary. Such cases are especially troubling because the US government, a key Ethiopian ally, has acknowledged interrogating terrorism suspects in Ethiopian prisons, where some detainees were sent after being arrested in connection with Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in December. There have been no reports that those jailed have been tortured."

The next day the newspaper was reporting that "more than 200 FBI and CIA agents have set up camp in the Sheraton Hotel here in Ethiopia's capital and have been interrogating dozens of detainees -- including a U.S. citizen -- picked up in Somalia and held without charge and without attorneys in a secret prison somewhere in this city, according to Ethiopian and U.S. officials who say the interrogations are lawful."

Carl Bloice of the USA based National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism reveals: "On file are plans - put on hold amid continuing conflicts - for nearly two-thirds of Somalia's oil fields to be allocated to the U.S. oil companies Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips. It was recently reported that the U.S. - backed prime minister of Somalia has proposed enactment of a new oil law to encourage the return of foreign oil companies to the country.

Nunu Kidane: "The unlawful U.S.- Ethiopian invasion and occupation of that country and the accompanying human suffering and human rights abuses constitute a new - and still mostly hidden - war in many ways similar to that in Iraq. And, waged for the same reason.

Sound familiar? The same process that were seen in Afghanitsan, Haiti and Iraq are now operating in Somalia. The rest of the world stands meekly by or, in the case of the UK, approves.

An exiled leader of Somalia, Hassan Dahir Uways, flees to Eritrea. The USA (which essentially paid Ethiopia to change Somalia's government) accuses Eritrea of destabilasing the region and threatens the country with sanctions. Eritrea publishes a condemnantion of USA foreign policy.

Nine months after the USA backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, over half a million people have been displaced and 80,000 children are in danger of starvation. The central market in Mogadishu is closed by the Ethiopian military who then burn it down. Kiosks and roadside stalls are also torn down leaving many people with no source of income.

Stephen Grey, a UK journalist in London and author of Ghost Plane, publishes an artical detailing the detention and torture of a UK citizen who was in Mogadishu at the time of the USA-backed Ethiopian invasion.

Reza Afsherzadegan was a 25 year old computer student from London (UK) who had gone to Somalia during the pre-invasion peace to teach computer skills to young people. Reza fled the capital during the invasion. He was captured by Kenyan soldiers near the frontier and flown to Nairobi.

He was held in crowded communal cells, with buckets as toilets, and accused of going to Somalia to train as a terrorist. "They would ask me if I've handled any weapons or received any training. I said I hadn't seen any of that. But they would look at me and say `you're lying'." Among the prisoners were women and children. "I saw a woman with five-year-old kids in cells opposite me and it was just incredible; you can't believe the way they've treated people." In violation of the Vienna Convention, Reza was denied access to his embassy (which would have been the UK embassy as he was a British national) but instead was questioned in a hotel by MI5, the British security service. Other detainees were treated in the same way.

A month later, Reza was flown blidfolded to Somalia with other detainees: "I thought to myself, can they do this? You know, can they send us to Somalia? The MI5, they know about us. They just sent us to Somalia. Can they do this?" They were held in dark, dirty underground cells.

Reza and other UK citizens were released and flown to the UK by the British embassy in Somalia. Other detainees were flown to Ethiopia. These included 11 women (five of them heavily pregnant) and 11 children as young as seven months old. Many of the people held in secret in three countries were released without any charge. Four of the women gave birth in captivity.

The story of the secrret detentions came out when some detainees obtained mobile (cell) phones from their guards and contacted human rights groups (among them Reprieve and CagePrisoners). The Muslim Human Rights Forum obtained flight manifests showing that 90 people were taken from Kenya to Somalia and these included women and children. Many ended up in Ethiopia where they were questioned by a team of USA agents.

One female victim was Fatma Chande, a 25 year old woman from Tanzania. She reported that she had been questioned by USA agents in Ethiopia. They also took her fingerprints and a DNA sample.

She stated: "The Kenyans told me originally that it is the Americans who wanted my husband, it's the Americans who were interested in us. The police tried to force me to admit my husband was a member of al-Qaida. I told them he was a businessman. He was nothing to do with al-Qaida. They kept banging on the table. They threatened to strangle me if I didn't tell them the truth."

Fatma's children also suffered: "When we arrived at the airport, we were handcuffed and our headscarves were pulled down over our eyes. The men were hooded. The children were crying all the time saying `we want to go home, we want to go home'."

This story was completely ignored the UK and USA newspapers and television news.

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