Just Another Guy with Opinions

Justice or Brutality?

Posted by shadmia on June 27, 2009

Young Somali Men 2Somali ThievesSomali Men

Four young Somali men screamed in pain and blood flowed freely, as first their right hand and then their left foot was severed from their bodies, amputated by masked men using long knives known as machetes. The men aged between 18 and 25 were accused of, and plead guilty to, stealing guns and mobile phones. The severed body parts were later hung from trees and electricity polls.

The amputations were ordered earlier by a Shariah court run by al-Shabab militants who are fighting to topple Somalia’s government and install a strict form of Islam known as Wahhabi.

“The defendants admitted the charges brought against them and were sentenced accordingly. Each one of them will have his right hand and left leg amputated publicly,” said Judge Sheikh Abdallah al-Haq.

The amputations were not immediately carried out because that particular day was very hot and the court decided that carrying out an amputation in such conditions could lead the accused to bleed to death.

Amnesty International pleaded with the court not to carry out the sentence, saying the four men had not been given a fair trial.

“We are appealing to al-Shabab not to carry out these cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments,” said Tawanda Hondora, a spokesperson for the human rights group.

“These sentences were ordered by a sham al-Shabab court with no due process or guarantees of fairness.”

Their appeal was ignored as were the appeals from the international community for leniency.

The amputations were carried out at an al-Shabab military camp in the north of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. Hundreds of people, including women and children, showed up to witness the bloody spectacle. The Somalia government appeared to have no authority to stop the punishments.

“All I can say for now is that it was a violation against human rights and a sentence carried out by criminals,” Somali Information Minister Farhan Ali Mohamud said when asked to comment on the amputations.

The human rights group Amnesty International condemned the amputations, saying they amounted to torture.

“The horrific nature of such acts that were carried out in front of a crowd adds further injustice and dehumanizes these teenagers,” said Tawanda Hondora, the deputy director of Amnesty International’s Africa program.

The al-Shabab were unapologetic for their strict interpretation of Islamic law that calls for amputation for crimes of theft.

“We will punish like this everyone who carries out these acts,” said al Shabaab official Sheikh Ali Mohamud Fidow.

Al Shabab has carried out executions, floggings and single-limb amputations before, mainly in the southern port of Kismayu. Movies and soccer games are banned in areas it controls, and men and women cannot travel together on public transport.

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One Response to “Justice or Brutality?”

  1. ruben eberlein said

    ‘Western Powers and Somalis Will Not Accept a Taliban-style Regime’

    Interview with Paula Roque, Horn of Africa Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS, Pretoria), about the current situation in southern Somalia and Mogadishu. She comments on the motivations of young people to join al-Shabaab, the international approach to Somalia and the presence of international Jihadists in the country.

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