Somalia:UN Highlights War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing Against Wagosha Bantu Community in Kismayo
Washington D.C. October 24, 2015: The United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea has said crimes amounting to war crimes have been taking place in Jubba regions against the Wagosha Bantu community for the last two decades, with recent crimes being committed by Al Shabab and the clan administration led by Warlord Ahmed Madobe.
In its report, the UN said the community is facing killings, torture, forceful displacement and various types of atrocities, which amount to war crimes.
The UN report has also revealed the lies of branding the Wagosha community as one of the minority groups, and has now declared that the community is about 1.5 million, which is about 15 percent of the Somali population.
Read the UN Monitoring report 2015 from page 236 with the detailed evidence.
Read the Summary: S/2015/801 236/322 15-16012
The situation of the Bantu/Wagosha community in Al-Shabaab held areas of Lower and Middle Juba
Summary: Since Al-Shabaab seized control of the Juba Valley members of the Bantu/Wagosha farming community who inhabit the riverine villages and key towns have become increasingly subject to systematic violations of international law, including killing, maiming, torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of civilians, and sexual and gender-based violence. The violations have increased in number and ferocity as pressure on resources and territory from an ongoing offensive see Al-Shabaab prepare for a ‘final stand’. The range of persistent and serious violations experienced by the community as documented by the Monitoring Group may constitute war crimes in non-international armed conflict and also crimes against humanity, including with respect to the underlying acts of persecution, murder, torture and sexual slavery.
The nature and scale of the persecution and forced displacement of the community, coupled with allegations of inward transfer of population to lands from which the community has been displaced (yet to be investigated by the Monitoring Group) may also be understood as ethnic cleansing. Members of the community interviewed perceived their current treatment by Al-Shabaab as an escalation in a continuum of persecution by dominant groups and clans who have viewed the Bantu as second class “adoons” (slaves). There is a long history of severe persecution of the community, including, as well-documented, by Hawive and Darood militia in the wake of the fall of Siyaad Bare regime. One elder described the situation in Al-Shabaab-held areas as the latest episode in a “long term strategy” to “get rid of” the Bantu from the Juba Valley. Grave concern was expressed that patterns of killing, extortion, forced displacement and violent land-grabbing experienced under Al-Shabaab would continue if local power elites were permitted to continue to assert control in a new ‘liberated’ framework. It was claimed that the senior leadership of Al-Shabaab in the region were from dominant clans and that many had ongoing business and security relationships with clan, business and military/security networks of the Interim Jubbaland Administration (IJA) and Kenyan and Ethiopian military structures. Indeed as this report was being finalised in late August 2015 reports were being received that Ethiopian and Somali security forces were removing Bantu farmers from their lands around Bardhere (south towards Sakow) in order ostensibly to clear mines. Refusal to leave was being met with beatings. Members of the community told Monitoring Group sources that they were fearful that this clearing was in fact a land-grab. The Group was unable to corroborate these reports, but they do reflect the level of fear of the community. In addition to the expected deaths of children who had been conscripted, members of the community were fearful that the Bantu/Wagosha community more broadly would be scapegoated and persecuted in the context of any transfer of power.Indeed one of the frequent suggestions was that the delay in the launch of the offensive to “liberate” the Juba Valley was part of a strategy to ensure that both the community was displaced as much as possible from its land and that those remaining could be easily dispossessed of their land and accused as collaborators with Al-Shabaab.
The exclusion and marginalization experienced by the community in Kismayo exacerbated this perception. Email from Bantu activist in the US, 24 August 2015. 57 The period of time when the UN was in control in the region was cited by many as a period of protection and safety. Other interviews were conducted with refugees who had fled villages in the Juba Valley during the last twelve months. Journalists, UN and international non-governmental organisation (NGO) and local NGO staff members, and academics were also consulted. The testimonies contained in this report relate to events which allegedly unfolded in villages between and around Jilib and Jamame in Middle and Lower Juba between 2013 and 2015. The precise names of the places where the events occurred are not used in the report for reason of the safety of those interviewed and their families. The details of the findings of the Monitoring Group’s investigation are presented in strictly confidential annex 6.2.b.
It was not possible to direct conduct interviews with individuals living in the area although some phone interviews were conducted indirectly by Somali interlocutors. The villages and towns in Bantu areas of Lower and Middle Juba with their Swahili based names reveal the origin of these towns: Cha mama (became Jamame); Osman Moto (an original Shekih of the community). In a forthcoming academic article it is estimated that the population of Bantu in the Juba Valley is between 851,206 and 1,571,302 or 6.9 per cent to 14.9 percent of the national population. This is significantly greater than previously understood with implications for the participation of the community in the federal process.