Facebook Twitter Flickr Pinterest Linkedint Youtube


Yousuf v. Samantar


Yousuf v. Samantar

Bashe Abdi Yousuf

Bashe Abdi Yousuf is a native of Somalia and a naturalized United States citizen.  In 1979, Yousuf started giving his time and money to improve conditions in schools and hospitals in Hargeisa.  On November 19, 1981, Yousuf was arrested by agents of the Somali National Security Service (NSS) and taken to a government building being used for interrogation.  On the third night of his detention there, government soldiers took him out of his cell to be interrogated about his friends who had also chosen to give their time and money to support local health care and education. 

The next time he was taken out of his cell, he was blindfolded, thrown into a government land cruiser, and driven out of the city, through a military checkpoint.  After arriving in an isolated spot, the soldiers removed his handcuffs, tied his hands and feet together behind him, and placed a heavy weight on his back, an excruciating form of torture known as the “MiG position.”  He was also subjected to water-boarding and continuously questioned about anti-government crimes.  The torturers threatened to kill Yousuf if he did not confess, and he feared for his life. When the torture finally ended, Yousuf could barely walk.  The pattern was repeated multiple times.

After months of horrific abuse and conviction in a sham trial of belonging to an anti-government organization, Yousuf was transferred to a top-security prison known as Labatan Jirow, where he was confined to a tiny cell for 7 years of solitary confinement.  Yousuf considers those years of isolation to be the worst of all the tortures he endured.   

Yousuf was eventually released from prison in 1989 and fled Somalia.  He arrived in the United States in 1991.

Aziz Mohamed Deria

Aziz Mohamed Deria is a native of Somalia and a naturalized United States citizen. In June 1988, during the Somali Armed Forces’ attack on Hargeisa, a group of armed and uniformed government soldiers entered the Deria family's home.  They abducted Aziz Deria's father, brother, and cousin at gunpoint.  Later, when soldiers ordered the Deria's remaining family members from their home to exit the house, they saw Mohammed and Mustafa detained in an open field along with other men from the neighborhood.  The soldiers told the family that members of the Isaaq clan would be killed and they took Aziz Deria's father, brother, and cousin away.  The Deria family never saw the three men again.  Later, the Deria family learned from released detainees that government forces had executed Mohammed.

Buralle Salah Mahamoud

In 1984, Buralle Salah Mahamoud was a goat herder, as he had been all his life, as his family had been for generations.  One day late in the year, Buralle and two of his brothers were arrested by Somali government soldiers. They were accused of supporting the SNM.  When they denied having any knowledge of SNM activities, they were forced into a military truck and taken to the military installation in the village of Magaaloyar, where they were tied in a painful stress position called the "Mig" position, beaten and kicked.  Eventually the soldiers threw the three brothers into the back of an army truck, while still tied in the "Mig" position, and transported them to the military base in Burao, where they were interrogated and held in unsanitary and cramped conditions with several other men who were also arrested for their Isaaq heritage on suspicion of supporting the SNM. 

After four days, they taken to a military court in Burao, where they endured a sham trial along with roughly 80 co-defendants.  After four more days in detention under appalling conditions, Buralle, his brothers, and the 80 or so other prisoners returned to the court to receive their sentences.  Buralle, his brothers, and roughly 40 others were convicted and sentenced to death, with the sentence to be executed immediately.

The prisoners to be executed were directed out of the courthouse and into army trucks waiting outside. As Buralle and his brothers entered the truck, the officer calling their names apparently recognized that the three men were brothers and ordered that Buralle’s cuffs be removed.  Buralle was directed to stand next to the only two men who had been ordered released.  After the truck left with Buralle’s brothers, he heard shooting and screaming.  The truck returned empty, except for the handcuffs that had held the men condemned to die.  Buralle left with the released men, and he fled through the market place to the home of a relative. In the market, he met shocked and frightened people who told him about the massacre that had just occurred.  His brothers were among the men executed.

Ahmed Jama Gulaid

In the spring of 1988, Ahmed Jama Gulaid, a non-commissioned Isaaq officer in the Somali National Army, was assigned to the Hargeisa Department of Public Works.  On June 4, 1988, Somali government disarmed and arrested him and around 60 other soldiers of Isaaq origin at the Somali National Army Second Division Headquarters in Hargeisa.  Told they were to be transferred to Mogadishu, the detainees were instead taken to another military base near Malka-dur-duro, an area of the dry riverbed that runs through the city, taking its name from a nearby school.  There, the men were told to put their suitcases in one pile, their shoes in another, and they were packed into two small cells to await their execution.   One at a time they were removed from the cells, bound together with ropes in groups of four, and driven to the riverbed.  Gulaid and the other men left behind could hear the shots as the others were executed by firing squad.  Gulaid was in the seventh group.  He and three others were tied between two wooden stakes, and then firing squad shot them in two volleys, shooting each man twice.  Shot in the abdomen and ankle, Gulaid fell to the ground and lost consciousness.  Soldiers untied him and threw him, along with the others, into the mass grave below.  When Gulaid woke up, finding himself  under the dead bodies of men he had known, he did not realize at first that he had survived.  But he managed to climb out from under those bodies, recover his shoes, and escape.