Jubbaland: A Letter from American Somalis (Somali-Americans) from various states protested in front of the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2013 demanding the replacement of Kenyan troops in Kismayo with a more neutral force from other African countries. States represented in the demonstration included Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Maine and New York. The demonstrators submitted the following letter to the Kenyan Embassy, US Department of State and other members of the international community:
Washington, D.C. — We, members of the American Somali community from various states throughout the United States, protest in front of the Kenyan Embassy in Washington D.C. to show how deeply we are troubled by the renewed violence sponsored and perpetrated by Kenyan forces and the grave human rights abuses committed against Somali citizens who are being massacred, maimed and displaced in and around the city of Kismayo. These human rights violations by Kenyan soldiers based in the regions of Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo were committed and continue to be perpetrated under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who already faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court and General Anthony Ngere, the commander of the Kenyan forces in Somalia. These violations of international human rights law come at a time when Somalia is emerging from 23 years of anarchy and has elected its own leaders who formed the first permanent government. The conflict in Kismayo and Kenya’s aggression dashed the high hopes of the Somali people in attaining a functioning government and diminished the momentum to defeat the terrorist group Al Shabab.
Proven atrocities, human rights violations committed by Kenyan forces stationed in Kismayo include the following:
From June 28-30, 2013, Kenyan forces were responsible for an armed conflict in which 71 Somalis were massacred and 300 others were wounded. In addition, many residential and business properties in Kismayo were destroyed by heavy bombardment by Kenyan forces of some neighborhoods.
In September 2012, Kenyan forces deliberately massacred seven innocent Somalis in the village of Janay Abdalla in Lower Jubba region Somalia leading members of parliament representing the region in the Somali Federal Parliament to formally condemn the massacre.
Although air and maritime intervention is not part of the AMISOM mandate, Kenya has been using illegal bombardments from air and navy warships against camps for Internally Displaced People, other civilian populated areas as well as Somali army camps.
Kenyan forces illegally sided with a clan militia that opposes the Federal Government of Somalia in contravention of their mandate. In fact, Kenya actively frustrated the efforts of the Somali Federal Government to establish and army command center and even illegally jailed the regional commander of the Somali army.
According to the United Nations, Kenyan forces have been flouting charcoal export ban imposed on Kismayo by the UN Security Council thereby providing a huge revenue source for Alshabab and contributing to illegal burning of trees in Somalia.
Kenyan forces derive illegal economic incentives from activities in the port of Kismayo including a 40% of port revenues as bribes to their commanders.
Latest reports indicate that Kenyan soldiers have been preventing pastoralists in Lower Jubba region of Somalia from watering their livestock in water wells that are close to the town of Kismayo accusing them of supporting the Somali Federal Government.
Undermining the Somali Federal Government, supporting an opposition clan militia, illegal use of force, corruption at the port of Kismayo, illegal charcoal exports and oppression the locals are blatant violations of the United Nations mandate for AMISOM and acts of aggression against Somalia’s sovereignty that contravenes all principles of international law.
We, American Somalis from various states throughout the USA, request from the U.S. government, the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, the European Union, the African Union and the International Community to:
In accordance with the demands of the Government of Somalia, end Kenya’s occupation of southernmost regions of Somalia as it undermines Somalia’s efforts to create a representative administration and infringes on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.
Replace the Kenyan contingency in Somalia with another African force that is willing to empower the Somali Government since Kenya’s troops have lost all credibility as a peacekeeping force and rather acted as an occupation force with hidden motives.
Hold Kenya’s leadership, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Commander in Chief of KDF as well as the sector commander Brigadier Anthony Ngere, accountable for the crimes against humanity they committed including killing, maiming of civilians and destruction of property in Kismayo and compel them to provide compensation to the victims of atrocities.
Send a Fact-Finding Mission, headed by neutral observers, to Kismayo to assess the consequences of Kenya’s massacre in Kismayo.
Suspend all military, financial, and technical and other assistance provided to the Kenyan contingency in Somalia. The military of Kenya and other security agencies have a history of human rights abuses to such extent that the U.S. Senate voted to suspend military funding for Kenya due to human rights abuses in Mount Elgon and Northeastern Province of Kenya. How then can a military that has had its funding stopped due to crimes against Kenyans be funded to commit more crimes against humanity in Somalia?
Impose a travel ban on the military leadership of the Kenyan army in Somalia and initiate an investigation to identify the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity in Somalia.
Kenyan forces continue to attack government positions and civilian populated areas through heavy areal and maritime bombardment in contravention of the AMISOM mandate. We therefore call for the immediate placement of a permanent observer mission in Kismayo while replacement troops are being arranged in order to avert further killing and displacement of civilians and government personnel by Kenyan forces.
While we will continue to expose and seek international justice for the human rights abuses committed by Kenyan forces in Somalia, we understand that the current government of Kenya and its security apparatus continue to commit human rights abuses against Kenyans as well. We welcome submissions from Kenyans who are victims of human rights abuses by the Kenyan military and other security agencies. We will provide pro bono legal help, including litigation and human rights advocacy at the global level.
United States of America