May 7, 2008
Do you want to know what the entire American political establishment -- Democrat and Republican, conservative and "progressive" -- really stands for? Do you want to know what they all support, whole-heartedly, without the slightest objection or demur? Do you want to see their true vision for the world, behind all the pious rhetoric and poisonous lies? Then look no further; here it is, in the raw:
A leading human rights group on Tuesday accused Ethiopian troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people's throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women. (AP)"The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed," said Michelle Kagari, Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International, speaking from Nairobi.Witnesses described to Amnesty International an increasing incidence of Ethiopian troops killing by what is locally termed "slaughtering" or "killing like goats" -- referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies.In one case, a 15-year-old girl found her father with his throat cut upon returning home from school, after Ethiopian security forces swept through her neighbourhood.Other cases in the report include:Haboon, a 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, who said her neighbour's 17-year-old daughter was raped by Ethiopian troops. When her 13 and 14-year-old sons tried to defend their sister, the soldiers beat them and took their eyes out with a bayonet. The mother fled. It is not known what happened to the boys. This girl is in a coma as a result of the injuries she sustained during the attack.Guled, aged 32, who said that he saw his neighbours "slaughtered". He said he saw many men whose throats were slit and whose bodies were left in the street. Some had their testicles cut off. He also saw women being raped. In one incident, his newly-wed neighbour whose husband was not home was raped by over twenty Ethiopian soldiers. (Garowe Online)
Ceebla'a, aged 63, from Wardhiigley, said she fled Mogadishu on 15 November 2007 with her young children after some shooting in the area. One day she saw three men leaving their shops being picked up by Ethiopian soldiers for investigation. The next morning she saw the bodies of the three men on the street. One was strangled with electrical wire. The second had his throat cut. The third had been chained ankle to wrist, and his testicles had been smashed. (Amnesty report)
These Ethiopian troops were armed, trained and funded by the Bush Administration, then sent into Somalia as a proxy army for yet another Terror War "regime change" operation in late 2006. American military forces have been directly involved in the operation, on the side of the invaders, throughout the conflict, from the very beginning to this day -- as evidenced by the U.S. missile attack last week that killed at least two dozen civilians in the course of an "extrajudicial" assassination of a Somali insurgent leader.
American forces have bombed fleeing refugees, slaughtered innocent herdsmen and destroyed villages in attempts to assassinate a handful of individual alleged, on shaky and specious evidence, to be "part of" or "associated with" or "linked to" al Qaeda. American agents have seized refugees from the Somali war, including U.S. citizens, and had them "renditioned" to the notorious prisons of the Ethiopian dictatorship. And as we have noted here many times, the Bush Administration has sent in death squads to "kill anyone left alive" after American strikes.
There has been no objection to any of this from any major figure in American politics. Barack Obama doesn't object to it. Hillary Clinton doesn't object to it. Nancy Pelosi doesn't object to it. It goes without saying that John McCain and the Republicans don't object to these latest war crimes by their blood-drenched leader. The entire Washington power structure has lined up to support this hideous project: military aggression, murder, destruction and rampant atrocity. Somalia -- already one of the world's most fragile and ravaged nations -- is being battered into utter destruction before our eyes....and in our names.
"The human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia is growing worse by the day. This report represents the voices of ordinary Somalis, and their plea to the international community to take action to end the attacks against them, including those committed by internationally-supported [Transitional Federal Government] and Ethiopian forces."
Security in many parts of Mogadishu is non-existent, and the entire population of Mogadishu bears the scars of having witnessed or experienced egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
"There is no safety for civilians, wherever they run. Those fleeing violence in Mogadishu are attacked on the road and those lucky enough to reach a camp or settlement face further violence and dire conditions."
The American-backed invasion, and the depradations of the American-backed TFG, which was helped into power by Somali warlords in the pay of the CIA, have, inevitably, radicalized opposition forces, some of whom respond with similar brutality. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, violent "regime change" aggression only exacerbates the extremism it purports to combat. And, as in the other Terror War operations, the chaos wrought by the war in Somalia breaks down all vestiges of society and human communion, leaving people prey to freebooting criminal gangs and the ravages of desperation.
In the face of all this deliberately fomented horror -- and its embrace by the entire American political establishment -- it is difficult to regard the U.S. presidential race as anything other than a sickening obscenity, played out on a stage drenched in viscera. "Oh my god, did you hear what Harold Ickes said about Barack?!" "Mercy me, did you hear what those latte-swilling Obamaniks said about Hillary's gas tax plan?!" This is juvenile navel-gazing taken to sinister extremes. I honestly cannot fathom such people, who pretend to care about politics and policy -- yet ignore the unspeakable ruin and suffering that are the reality of our politics, the accepted, bipartisan results of our policies.
Until we have a politics that considers the fate of Haboon and her children to be just as important, just as meaningful, just as real as our own, there will be no end to this cycle of atrocity and terror, no end to ruin and revenge, no real change, no matter who is elected.
(More details from the Amnesty report can be found after the jump.)
Below we see from the Amnesty report that U.S. proxies in Somalia are utilizing the same kind of "counterinsurgency techniques" which fuelled extremism and insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan:
In many cases TFG and Ethiopian forces were searching for specific, named individuals believed to have collaborated with armed groups, and in several such cases they beat, arrested or killed someone other than the person they were looking for. In many other cases, TFG and Ethiopian forces would sweep entire streets, moving door to door, beating or shooting those they found in areas from which armed groups were believed to have launched attacks, or areas presumed to be armed group strongholds. Many individuals and families under such circumstances were accused of collaboration with armed groups by association or mere proximity to attacks.
Bush's proxy warriors in Somalia are also practicing "extrajudicial assassination" in the manner of the Crawford Caligula:
Among the most common violations reported were an increased incidence of gang rape, and scores of reports of a type of killing locally referred to as "slaughtering," or "killing like goats." These terms refer to extrajudicial killing by slitting of the throat. Amnesty International heard dozens of testimonies stating that the bodies of such victims were left lying in pools of blood in the streets and in homes until combatants, including snipers, evacuated the area and it was considered safe for family and neighbours to retrieve them.
Here are more stories of the actual human beings being ground to bits by the Terror War machine:
Mahad, aged 41, a refugee from the Black Sea area near Bakara Market, described the actions of the TFG: "I cannot say in one story why I wasn’t safe, there are too many stories. My worst experience was one day when the TFG soldiers raided my village. These are the authority troops of Mohamed Dheere (the Mayor of Mogadishu). This was two and a half months ago at about 5am in the morning. I was watching from upstairs in my house. They were in a line and everyone had their hands against the wall. Then the soldiers fired on them, in bursts from their AK47s. They were six or seven meters away from me. I didn’t hear the soldiers say anything. I heard the people screaming, others were reciting the Koran, others were crying. After one hour, when the troops left, we came out to see the bodies. They also looted the village. They were Somali TFG forces. Everyone was killed because they were accused of being al-Qaeda. On another day [in early November], a Tuesday morning, I went to Bakara Market at 7:30am and I saw 21 bodies. I counted them. The bodies were lying alongside the road, all together in a row. They were all shot dead, with bullet holes all over their bodies. I saw two of them had their hands tied. I think they were killed because their clan was supporting the ICU..."
Ruwe in Mogadishu, who fled in October 2007, told Amnesty International: "I saw girls get raped in my neighbourhood and on the streets. I saw people get slaughtered. I saw people killed in their houses, their bodies rotting for days. It happened to my neighbour’s two girls."
Barni, aged 15, from Hawl Wadaag District in Mogadishu, said her area was controlled by the TFG in mid-2007. But when armed groups attacked the TFG and overwhelmed them in the area, the Ethiopian forces came in too. When she came home from school on a day of significant fighting, she found her father with his throat cut, and the rest of her extended family was gone...
Canbaro, aged 35, from the Dayniile District of Mogadishu, lost her eldest son (aged 15), who was killed when he left their house to watch some fighting and was caught in the crossfire in late 2007. On the same day two male neighbours were killed by Ethiopian troops when they entered their house. Their wives were "caught by force" (one of many euphemisms for being raped).
Fatima, 28, from the Wardhiigley District of Mogadishu, fled in late 2007 because she and her sisters were "mishandled" (another euphemism for being raped) by Ethiopian troops, she said, and she was afraid for her children...
Hibo, aged 52, from the Yaaqsheed area of Mogadishu, now has nine children. Her husband and two other children were killed by Ethiopian troops on 27 March 2007. She told Amnesty International, "My story begins with the men not spending the night at home anymore. We were afraid they [Ethiopian troops] could break in and take them [family members]. One night when they were entering the bush they were stopped by soldiers who told my husband not to move. He didn’t move, but they searched him and found some money. One of my sons cried out, 'Don’t take this, we don’t have anything else at home for my mother and the other children.’ One of the soldiers beat my son, and my husband responded by trying to protect him. The soldier beat my husband, and my other son grabbed onto him. The soldier took out his gun and shot him. I saw this from my window. Both boys were shot [dead] and they took my husband. After two days I was called to the hospital to collect my husband. When I arrived he was dead."
Zakaria, aged 41, from the Black Sea area, near Bakara Market, in Mogadishu said, "On 16 October 2007 I was in Somalia. On the fourth night I was there the village was occupied by Ethiopians. I was among 41 who were arrested by the Ethiopians. We were taken to the military base. I could see the battle wagons, and more than 15 technicals [Technicals are jeeps with heavy machine guns mounted on the back].. I was questioned by a Somali guy who was working with the Ethiopians. We were all asked the same question: 'Why are you here?’ We said we were just living in our homes. When the questions ended, nine of us were taken away and dropped into a lorry. I think these nine were taken to Ethiopia. I think this is because two of them were mullahs with long beards. Others looked 'normal,’ mostly teenagers, under 20. I used to hear that when the Ethiopians made arrests they pick up people who look like Islamists, and they take them to Ethiopia. The rest, 32 including me, we ran away, we escaped, but 11 were killed, shot dead. I could see them falling as they were ahead of me, they were the first group running away. That was the day I decided to flee the country. Later, on 22 November I saw five bodies that had their throats cut. Two of them were beheaded. The area was occupied by Ethiopians."
Ebyan, aged 35, from Medina in Mogadishu, just arrived in a settlement two days before Amnesty International interviewed her. She said, "They killed my husband and my father on the same day on 25 November 2007. They were riding together in a car. When they were stopped, my husband started speaking in Somali, but the soldiers didn’t understand. They shot my husband in the forehead. When my father intervened they shot him too. After they killed my husband I hid two of my four children under the bed, and took two with me. I broke the bed over the two beneath so that no one would find them there. Later I came back and found them. I fled and left everything behind."
As noted above, the chaos and societal collapse caused by the "regime change" is breeding extremism and criminal anarchy. From the Amnesty report:
...clan, sub-clan and local political leaders and militias... have acted as bandits, perpetrating raids, robberies and other abuses against civilians, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. For example, those called "Mooryaan" are described as "gun totting young men" or "street kids," who behave as criminals against civilians.
Nasteexo, aged 25, left Mogadishu because of insecurity. Break-ins had become common. Armed men opposing the TFG, called Mooryaan took her sister: "First they steal, then they take away the girls. Sometimes the girls come back, sometimes they don’t. It was a Thursday in mid-November. We were robbed by armed men. They were only two, and they were masked. They tried to take my sister, but my husband intervened, saying 'this girl is too young and poor.’ This is when they shot him in the chest with rifles. Then the two masked men ran away with my sister. My husband died after he was shot. I ran away from my home because my husband was shot in front of my kids."
Meanwhile, those who flee the hell of Mogadishu and other cities find no respite from horror on the road:
One woman stated, "On the road from Mogadishu, there are robbers who come and take your money or just fire directly at the buses. Sometimes, there are roadblocks where they stop and ask you for money. If you don’t stop, they will kill you. Other bandits will jump out and shoot straight at the car, killing the driver and robbing the occupants. They will rob them of everything, and drive away with the car, leaving the women and children abandoned on the road. Sometimes, bandits will threaten and rape women—even if they are pregnant or breast feeding. My own family members have experienced things like this."
Amnesty concludes with a ringing declaration that "that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia." It goes on to name the TFG and Ethiopia as bearing special responsibility for the level of atrocity. But the report omits one chief conspirator in this monstrous crime against humanity: the bankroller, armorer and trainer of the Ethiopian invaders, the paymaster of the Somali warlords, the missile-striker, the refugee-bomber, the "extrajudicial" assassin, the renditioner, the wielder of death squads: the United States government, under the direction of George W. Bush, and with the full and willing complicity of the entire political establishment.