June 19, 2011 ·26 Comments
Please accept my compliments and profound felicitations to you, your family and the American people. As a Somaliland citizen I have the honor of writing this open letter for your attention, at the wake of the country’s 20th anniversary, since the people of Somaliland revoked their union with Somalia and declared independence in May 1991, and make this representation to elucidate my country’s case for international recognition.
Your Excellency, allow me to share with you and the American People a brief historical background of the situation that brought about Somaliland to proclaim its sovereignty from the rest of Somalia exactly twenty years ago. Somaliland gained its freedom from Britain on 26th June 1960. Unfortunately, that freedom lasted only for five days as Somaliland initiated and entered into a voluntary union with Somalia (which was then a UN Trust Territory of Somalia) on 1st July 1960, in the hope of creating a “Greater Somalia”. The people of Somaliland soon realized that their dream turned into disillusionment as their partners from the Italian Somalia inequitably took more than 70% of the new parliament and all the key portfolios in the new government and became more disenchanted after their main conditionality to endorse the union, through new constitution and referendum, was cancelled by the first Somali government, which was clearly dominated, by the Italian Somalia, as already noted, after they detected that the overwhelming majority of the people from Somaliland would reject both issues. The people of Somaliland remained pathetic captives under such an unequal union with Somalia during the following 31 years.
Mr. President, the bad experience of the people of Somaliland under the political and economic domination of Somalia is well documented and resulted in the formation of the Somali National Movement (SNM) in April 1981, which took up arms against the repressive regime of the late General Siyad Barre. Instead of addressing the genuine grievances of the people of Somaliland the regime imposed a martial law across the region and sought to resolve the problem with military means. The regime’s tyrannous policies caused the people of Somaliland to instigate mass uprisings similar to what we have been witnessing across the Middle East and North Africa and gave more support to the SNM and its armed struggle. The repercussions of the regime’s despotic policies to suppress my people’s demand for freedom resulted in enormous suffering and destruction in which the world had come to notice during the late 1980s. Backed by the popular uprisings and mass support, SNM succeeded in totally evicting the regime’s occupying forces from the region in January 1991. Under the auspices of the traditional elders and religious leaders, the SNM organized a “Grand Conference” with the aim of promoting peace and reconciliation between various clans in the region. The conference reviewed and at the same time revoked the iniquitous union, with Somalia, and reclaimed their independent sovereign entity, in May 1991, which is what Somaliland was before it had made that fatal decision to unite with Somalia. This historic decision to reclaim their long-lost independence is final and nothing will make them reverse that, for they genuinely believe that they have extricated themselves from the long captivity of Somalia and the people of Somaliland are determined, as they have emphatically shown in the anniversary through mass demonstrations in many parts of the world, never to relinquish their newly found liberty and freedom.
Mr. President, Somaliland is not only important in terms of the strategic geographical location as a result of its proximity to the narrow Babul-Mandeb entrance in the Red Sea, but also its role in maintaining the security of the oil and trade route in the Gulf of Aden and access to the Indian Ocean. These strategic geographical factors along its serious determination to fight against extremism and safeguard such a vital route against the scourge of pirates in the region should oblige the international community to acknowledge and look more positively toward Somaliland’s role in the security of what is becoming unstable region given the increasing instability in Yemen and the unending turmoil and conflict in Somalia.
In the context of a post-conflict economic base and without international development due to lack of diplomatic recognition, the people of Somaliland have succeeded in establishing functioning administrations, a multi-party political system and an active civil society sector. It also promoted internal security and stability, and created conducive environment for social and economic development. Despite these progress Somaliland’s efforts to build the capacity of its public institutions and promote sustainable economic growth and development to attain the aspirations of its people is hampered simply because the African Union (AU) supports the unjust and unsustainable principle of “intangibility of the borders” between African countries, something that has already been forfeited by the recent historic decision of the South Sudanese people whom the international community, led by your administration, allowed them to determine their own destiny.
Mr. President, my people have not only survived against all sorts of problems that emanated from the failed state of Somalia, including two decades of civil war causing upheavals that reigned across the region, not to mention political turmoil that engendered the emergence of extremist religious groups like Al-Shabaab, but also managed to put their house in order and worked towards state rebuilding activities and reconstruction. In addition, my people have worked hard to persevere and promote peace and security in the area, in full cooperation with neighboring countries and international bodies that are active in the region. The people of Somaliland are looking beyond maintaining the status quo and I am sure you would agree that they deserve more, and yes, they deserve international recognition, for they worked hard to earn their place in the international community as a free nation.
Finally, Mr. President on the 11th February 2011, after President Mubarak’s departure, you made a moving speech when you have quoted what Dr Martin Luther King had said about the independence of Ghana “There is something in the soul that cries for freedom”. Indeed, it is this sweet freedom that the people of Somaliland have discovered over the past 20 years and it is this freedom that they should be allowed to enjoy, as the people of South Sudan are going to enjoy their freedom soon.
Your Excellency, please accept my highest consideration and regard.
Adam Ismail Hassan (Liban)
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