Somalia: Use of lethal force to quell protests in Baidoa unjustifiable
Following news that Somali security forces in Baidoa opened fire this morning on protestors, killing a parliamentarian, Abdishakur Yaqub Ibrahim as known as Abdishakur Bule, and a young boy in ongoing protests that erupted on 13 December, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Sarah Jackson said:
“Somali and Ethiopian security forces in Baidoa must refrain from using lethal force against protestors, including ahead of, during and after the South West regional presidential election scheduled for 19 December. No one should have to die for simply expressing their views."
Amnesty International has also gathered information indicating that three individuals, two men and one woman, were injured yesterday when security forces opened fire during the demonstrations and are nursing bullet wounds in Baidoa Regional Hospital.
“Protesters should be able to count on the security forces to protect them, and not violently turn their weapons on them. The Somalia authorities must immediately open an investigation into this use of excessive force and hold all officers responsible to account,” said Sarah Jackson.
Using digital verification techniques, Amnesty International has confirmed that a video posted on social media depicts recent violence in Baidoa. Semi-automatic rifle fire is heard in the video, which also shows at least one police officer carrying an assault rifle and another man with arterial bleeding in his arm, consistent with a gunshot wound.
On 13 December, Ethiopian forces in Baidoa arrested former Al-Shabaab leader and spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow also known as Abu Mansur, and flew him to Mogadishu, sparking protests. Sheikh Mukhtar Robow was one of the candidates vying for presidency in Somalia’s South West regional elections scheduled for 19 December.
Muktar Robow was second in command in Al-Shabaab when the armed group committed serious human rights violations in Somalia including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, forced recruitment of children and other abuses against people living in Al Shabaab-controlled areas.
Somalia’s South West region is expected to be the first of the country’s regional states to hold elections in the coming months.