Here is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Somalia. The BBC has a report from inside “Africa’s Guantanamo,” the Ethiopian prison where refugees fleeing the American-backed invasion of Somalia were “renditioned,” often with help of U.S. agents.
[Yes, I know that no one cares about this. I know that the fact that thousands of Somalis have been slaughtered and millions more driven into suffering and desolation by a vicious war being conducted at every step with American assistance, in America’s name — in your name, if you’re an American — is not nearly as important as whether or not Joe Biden strikes the proper tone in his “debate” with Sarah Palin tonight. I know that even to most true-blue “progressives,” the Somalis are non-people — except when they show up as wild-eyed beserkers on late-night re-runs of “Black Hawk Down.” I know that every time I write about Somalia, the traffic for the site plummets like the stock of a clapped-out merchant bank just before it gets a government bailout. But I don’t really care. With the full approval of the entire bipartisan political elite, America is breeding death, hate, extremism and a hellish storm of blowback through its actions in Somalia. You might not give a damn that this evil is being wrought in your name, but I do. So here’s more.]
From the BBC:
Among [the fleeing refugees] were Salim Awadh, a Kenyan, and his Tanzanian wife, Fatma Chande. Both of them were arrested as they crossed the border [from Somalia to Kenya in January 2007].
“I was kept in a cell with other women. Then the Kenyan anti-terrorist police questioned me – they asked me why we went to Somalia,” Fatma says.
I meet Fatma in her small two-room house in Moshi, northern Tanzania. She is quietly spoken and her voice falters as she explains what happened next.
“I told them my husband got a job repairing mobile phones in Somalia. But they tried to force me to admit that my husband was a terrorist. They said I had to tell them the truth or they would strangle me.”
…In the first weeks of early 2007, news began to filter out that several hundred people – including children – had been arrested trying to enter Kenya.
Al Amin Kimathi, the head of Kenya’s Muslim Human Rights Forum, sent volunteers to police stations across the capital, Nairobi, trying to collect information.
“Some very frustrated senior police officers told us point blank: it’s not our operation, go and ask the Americans, just call the American embassy. We even saw the Americans bring in detainees and take them out of certain police stations in Nairobi,” he said.
Many of the refugees were sent back to Somalia, and then “renditioned” onward to Ethiopia.
“A week after we arrived we were interrogated by whites – Americans, British, I was interrogated for weeks,” Salim says….
Former detainees have also told the BBC they were questioned by US agents. One said he was beaten by Americans.
…Al Amin Kimathi believes Ethiopia was seen as the ideal destination.
“It was the most natural place to take anyone looking for a site to go and torture and to extract confessions. Ethiopia allows torture of detainees. And that is the modus operandi in renditions.”
…More than a year and a half after the renditions, the US government still refuses to respond to questions on the alleged US role.
…Meanwhile Fatma is still waiting anxiously for news of her husband.
After Salim got access to a mobile phone, he was able to speak to her from his cell for the first time in more than a year.
Now the phone has stopped working, Salim has disappeared once again.
I wonder what Biden and Palin will say about all this! I can’t wait to see the oratorical agon of these two giants of statecraft as they engage in a constructive, informed exchange over American policy in Somalia.