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Protesters Denounce Illegal Occupation of Somalia

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Issue: 42 Section: Canadian News Geography: Africa, Ontario Somalia, Toronto Topics: social movements, war

January 21, 2007

Protesters Denounce Illegal Occupation of Somalia

Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians calls for immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian troops

by Isabel Macdonald

Toronto, January 20, 2006--A demonstration organized by the Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians against the US-sponsored occupation of Somalia. Photo: Isabel Macdonald

On January 20, several hundred people protested in front of the US consulate in Toronto to demand the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia. “Somalia should not be a theatre of proxy wars and the hidden agenda of Ethiopia and its American allies,” said Shukria Dini, an organizer with the Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians (CCSC), the group that organized the demonstration. The CCSC emphasizes the illegality of the occupation, which violates the principle of state sovereignty enshrined in the UN Charter, as well as UN Resolution 1725, which forbids neighbouring states from deploying troops to Somalia. The occupation is also a violation of the African Union Charter. Dini emphasizes the gendered impact of the occupation, citing reports of Ethiopian soldiers raping women in Somali towns and villages.

CCSC demands an immediate end to US diplomatic and military support for the occupation, and a halt to the US bombing of Somalia. The coalition also demands that the Canadian government join the international community in denouncing this illegal aggression against Somalia.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not made any official statements about Ethiopia's occupation of Somalia.

The rally included speakers from the Trade Unions Against the War, the Canadian Arab Federation, the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, the Canadian Peace Alliance and the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, as well as an anti-occupation coalition of people from one of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, Oromos Against the Ethiopian Invasion of Somalia.

Acting with US support and funding, Ethiopia invaded Somalia in the last days of 2006, replacing the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) with a government led by US-backed warlords. The ICU, which took power in Somalia six months before the Ethiopian invasion, were credited with restoring stability for the first time since civil war tore the country apart in the early 1990s. The ICU had been criticized for imposing unpopular religious rules in the country, but remained popular for its stabilizing effect; during its brief reign, the Mogadishu airport had been opened for the first time in over a decade.

Toronto, January 20, 2006--A demonstration organized by the Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians against the US-sponsored occupation of Somalia.
Toronto, January 20, 2006--A demonstration organized by the Coalition of Concerned Somali-Canadians against the US-sponsored occupation of Somalia. Photo: Isabel Macdonald

Former CNN and BBC producer Tim Lister reported that, "When the Islamic Courts were expelled, some residents of the capital were relieved that strict Sharia law, which had forbidden movies, televised soccer and the chewing of the narcotic qat leaf, was gone. But for most, apprehension was the dominant sentiment."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that US Special Forces had participated in the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

Immediately following the invasion, US-backed warlords staged a crackdown on media outlets, including one founded by Somali refugees who lived in Canada but who returned in 1999.

US planes bombed Somalia several times, claiming to target Islamic terrorists. A reported 70 people were killed by the air-strikes, with hundreds reported injured. Hundreds of families have fled the area of the bombings, fearing more attacks.

"The answer to terrorism is stable, democratic states, not rule by army warlords," Africa Action director Nii Akuetteh told the New York radio and television show Democracy Now! "Some of these people that the US has armed are actually terrorists, so even if the US is trying to protect its interests in the region, it is going about it in a terrible way... It seems to me it will make the situation much worse."

Speaking on the same program, Salim Lone, former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq, said that, "The US has been trying for many months now to try to undermine the Islamic Courts Union. They have been violating the existing UN resolutions since 1992, which forbid any armed assistance to Somalia... the US has been violating the arms embargo, over the UN, and using private contractors to funnel arms to the warlords."

In 1993, Canadian troops operating in Somalia tortured and killed Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali, and tortured several other Somalis, many of them children. The ensuing scandal was known as the Somalia Affair, but a commission charged with investigating the incidents was shut down before it finished its work. No one was ever officially held responsible.

It is estimated that 100,000 Somalis now live in Canada.


» Dominion: Whose Trauma? The "Somalia Affair" and Canadian mythology

» Democracy Now: Conflict in Somalia

» World Politics Watch: Is Somalia Doomed to Repeat History?

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a childish article

this is a childish article.the radical islamic courts were setting up a taliban style government. read this news- http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=111292007
The Islamic courts were identified of attacking Ethiopia.They held suspects of 9/11 bombings.They waged holy-war on Ethiopia more than ten times.Ethiopia and the somali government worked together to stop a taliban regime from forming in the whole of Somalia.Anyway the ethiopian troops are said to be withdrawing their troops already. Please don't spread hate between countries by writting childish articles. Just state the news, don't add misleading facts and exaggerations. These two neighboring countries have a chance to live peacefully for the first time in decades.This is the best thing i have witnessed as a regional analyst. Don't spark hate between their people living abroad who might be reading this childish article.

Great Article

Great Article! I really enjoyed reading this piece as it presents a fair representation of the facts in Somalia. There has been a disturbing trend towards militarization of foreign policy which has led to the legitimizing of illegal military action on any sovereign nation so long as it is disguised as an ambiguous 'war on terror'. The similarities between the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the UIC in Somalia end at the fact that they share a common faith. Making this comparison is paramount to comparing The IRA with the Vatican simply because they are both two groups based in religion.

The rampant use of now meaningless buzzwords like 'Talibanization' 'Terroist' 'War on Terror', has made it all to easy for people to create fake and inaccurate association based on what they read or hear. There have always been interests in the horn of Africa, and for the better part of the cold war the US and the former USSR fought many proxy wars in the region. These most current events are just following in that trend. It is important to have a historical context on which to base your opinions on.

I urge anyone who is interested in finding out the true intentions that interested parties have in the region to read more than just one source before deeming this or any other articles childish. Also, be certain to question the source and its impartiality and integrity on the subject.

Here are some other good articles on the subject.

Somalia: Crusade Number Four by Eric Margolis

International lawlessness by Salim Lone (UN spokesman in Iraq in 2003)


Somalis protest over Ethiopians--BBC Online article


Somalia: The Collapse of the Islamic Courts--Aden Abokar and Steve Kibble, Panbazuka News


Anti-US Backlash in Somlia limited, but threat remains--Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Gulf Times


Oil ... again!

There is a column on this by Wanjohi Kabukuru, saying that "Oil, not terrorists" is the reason for the US attack on Somalia. What else is new?

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