Summary: First reburial of civil war victims takes place in Somaliland

9th March 2014: With the help of SRT grantee the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF), the government of Somaliland has reburied 45 victims from Somalia’s ethnic conflict of the 1980s, setting a precedent for other African nations and affirming the right to a dignified burial.

The reburial – the first of its kind since Somalia emerged from civil war – took place at the Hargeisa cemetery in the capital of the autonomous state of Somaliland. Muslim sheikhs wrapped the 45 sets of remains in shrouds and watched as they were buried in individual graves.

The victims, all men, are assumed to have been members of the Isaaq clan, which opposed the rule of former Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre. The men were among many who were taken in for questioning by police in 1984 and never reappeared. According to estimates, over 60,000 people were killed during the repression in northern Somalia.

EPAF had previously exhumed the victims from three mass graves and gathered evidence which may help to identify them. EPAF’s Director Jose Pablo Baraybar, who helped to manage the reburial ceremony, predicted that it will strengthen Somaliland’s efforts at nation-building and have an “illustrative impact” on other countries.

EPAF was invited to work in Somaliland after Mr Baraybar received an award in 2010 from SRT grantee the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA).

CJA has pursued a case against Mohamed Ali Samantar, a former general in Barre’s army who led the repression in the north of Somalia and now resides in Virginia. A US court levelled a fine of $21 million on Mr Samantar in 2012.

Full story from the Advocacy Project:

Press release from EPAF:

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