Massacre widows testify in private - Daily Nation

Massacre widows testify in private

Tuesday April 19 2011

Stephen Mudiari | NATION Mr Abdilahi Shurie (centre), a victim of the Wagalla Massacre, is led away from the public hearing on the atrocities on April 18. 2011.

Stephen Mudiari | NATION Mr Abdilahi Shurie (centre), a victim of the Wagalla Massacre, is led away from the public hearing on the atrocities on April 18. 2011.  

By SAMUEL SIRINGI [email protected] and ISSA HUSSEIN [email protected]

A special session to hear testimonies of women rendered widows by the Wagalla massacre 27 years ago was held in camera on Tuesday.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) presiding chairman Ronald Slye made the decision after it emerged some of the women were also victims of sexual violations.

The session, held at Raha Palace Hotel in Wajir town, was led by women commissioners including vice-chairperson Tecla Namachanja.

Some of the women were determined to speak out on the atrocities last Sunday when they wailed at the Wagalla airstrip, where more than 2,000 people were said to have been killed by security officers in 1984. The official figure is 57.

At the open session, former soldier Abdirahman Elmi Daud narrated how he was asked to wake up his colleagues who were to join an operation with the regular and Administration Police to round up members of the Degodia clan.

Mr Daud was an army corporal serving in the 7th battalion based at Wajir military camp.

“I was personally asked to use military lorry since I was a military truck driver to ferry the rounded up residents who were my clan members to Wagalla airstrip,” he said.

He said he witnessed 30 people beg urine from others since there was no water to drink.

The commissioners heard that 30 people felt they were overwhelmed by the suffering and decided to flee from their tormentors leading to massive beating by the security officers.

Mr Daud said he was arrested after he picked up injured victims and secretly took them to a centre created by an Italian aid worker for treatment.

Military orders

He was taken to Wajir Army camp where he was accused by the commanding officer of breaching military orders.

He was later referred to a martial court in Nairobi leading to his early retirement from the force. “I was denied renewal of contract.”

Mr Daud claimed he drove former military chief of staff Joseph Kibwana, who was then brigadier, from the airstrip to the military camp then to Wajir DC’s office where he held a meeting with former TJRC chairman Bethuel Kiplagat and former Provincial Commissioner Benson Karia.

More witnesses continued to speak about the human rights violations they underwent over the years in the region.

Mr Mohammed Ibrahim Dayow told of how he lost his father and five brothers in Hadado during the Shifta war in 1966.

Military men, he said, raided his home and killed his father, five brothers and 300 camels.

Mr Dayow said security officers torched his houses before seriously injuring him. He was detained for 33 days during which his 300 sheep and 400 cows were stolen.

Meanwhile, the commission was told that the ethnic feuds that led to the Wagalla massacre were as a result of the colonial government’s decision to demarcate boundaries in Wajir town along ethnic lines.

Unlike other regions in North Eastern Province, Wajir town was divided into three areas, former Wajir West MP Ibrahim Ali Hussein said.

The east of the town, he said, was left for the Degodia clan, which bore the brunt of the Wagalla massacre.

The west was left for the Ajuran while the south was occupied by the Ogaden.

Mr Hussein, who served between 1969 and 1974, said every community protected its grazing land.

But this changed in the early 1980s when the Degodia clan spread its dominance towards the west, sparking inter-clan flare-up with the Ajuran clan.