Somaliland massacre report: In what marked the latest round of tensions between Somalia and Somaliland, clashes erupted in the city of Las Anod, at the beginning of the year. The clashes resulted in the deaths of many with the international community calling for a ceasefire.
However, in the clashes and the resultant deaths of protesters, the role of the UK has now become suspicious especially with the country reportedly covering up the “Somaliland massacre” report.
UK covers up Somaliland massacre report
As per a report, by “Declassified UK” the foreign office of UK is censoring “vital information” on who shot protesters in Somaliland, after funding a police unit that is blamed by some for the killings.
The UK diplomats will not declassify their assessment of who killed the pro-Somalia activists at a demonstration in the city of Las Anod over the new year.
The censorship decision was made in response to a freedom of information request by Declassified UK.
In censoring the documents, the foreign office has said, that releasing its records from the incident “could potentially damage the relationships between the UK and Somaliland” and even jeopardise national security.
Thus, the UK diplomats have controversially relied on an exemption in the freedom of information act that is meant to protect international relations between states – even though the British government does not officially recognise Somaliland as a state.
Around 20 people had been killed in the clashes in the breakaway region of Somaliland. Puntland’s Vice President, Ahmed Elmi Osman Karash, told Reuters, “What is being done by the Somaliland army is a massacre of civilians,” and accused the security forces of violence.
The killings sparked months of open warfare, in which the local Dhulbahante clan – who generally favour union with Somalia – took up arms in a bid to stop Somaliland’s army controlling the city.
148 civilians have died in the ensuing conflict since February, research by the charity Action on Armed Violence has found.
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UK’s response has been concerning and its censorship of information has raised doubts, as substantial UK aid has gone towards strengthening Somaliland’s security forces, including the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), an elite police team implicated in the Las Anod killings.
The RRU was funded by British taxpayers for almost a decade until 2020, despite long-running concerns over its human rights record. Moreover, the UK now funds a police “Counter Terrorism Unit” instead of the RRU.
Britain’s defence ministry has previously paid Adam Smith International, a security consultancy, to train Somaliland’s military intelligence.
Tensions between Somalia and Somaliland have prevailed since the latter broke away and declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Somaliland remains internationally unrecognized to this day.
However, the interference of Western countries like the UK has only complicated the matters.
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UK’s Andrew Mitchell began funding their security apparatus in 2011 and the UK is the only Western nation to open a “permanent office” in Hargeisa.
Former UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson is even an honorary citizen. Further, last year he organised a debate in Parliament to encourage recognition of Somaliland.
In addition to this, we had previously explained that Somalia had rejected an “illegal claim “by a British company Genel Energy to oil exploration and exploitation rights in the country’s Somaliland.
Ex-defence secretary, Michael Fallon, sits on the board of Genel Energy, exploring for two billion barrels of oil in the breakaway region – against the wishes of Somalia’s government.
On top of all this, now the report about UK covering up information on who shot pro-Somalia activists is only going to complicate matters in the troubled African country.
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