Two young women have been picked up by the police for wearing loose, long blouses known locally as ‘diri’ which resembled the Somalia blue flag with a white star in the center.
The girls were thrown in jail and their tailor, later, picked up and roughly handled by police officers in Gabiley, some 90 kilometers west of the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa.
The incident coincided with the tour of President Bihi in the western regions of the republic.
A local councilor of that city, Mustafa Sayid, visited the girls at the station where they were incarcerated.
Talking to the press, Clr Sayid stated that the police did not adequate grounds for holding the young women.
“The material they wore did not have one but above twenty white stars emblazoned on the blue fabric they had on,” he said.
The Councilor said the untailored robes were sent to them from Djibouti, and they could have been treated as harmless as they were by the police.
“What harm would a piece of cloth with any color pose for the nation?” he asked.
But the combination of the fact that the president was touring the area at the time the women donned the loosely-tailored blouses and the possibility that both the girls and their Djiboutienne friend were sending a political message could not be missed.
In 1991, Somaliland decided to repeal the union it went into with Italian Somalia in 1960 which has been, in fact, abused and annulled by the military dictatorship which came to power on a coup d’tat in 1969. The people of Somaliland lost tens of thousands of civilians to mass executions in the hands of the brutal dictator, Siad Barre, saw hundreds of thousands more cross over to Ethiopia for refuge, and were forced to wage a protracted guerilla-like war for emancipation in the 80s. As a result, most of the Somaliland citie
s were destroyed by the regime and, most heinously, MiG fighters taking off from the Hargeisa airport strafed the city itself and civilians fleeing out of it indiscriminately.
With those dark memories still alive on Somalilander minds, and the fact that the junior partner in that union – Somalia – still claims unfair, illegal jurisdiction of Somaliland, Somalilanders have become understandably sensitive to everything ‘Somalia’ including the flag they have, since then, associated with repression, genocide, destruction and political, ethnic and economic domination by Somalians over them.
Gabiley witnessed the horrors of residents burn alive in public, others thrown in deep-bore wells alive. Djibouti is not known for its close support of the Somaliland sovereignty case, either.
Somaliland has, to date, holds the rare record of holding six free and fair elections with three presidents, a parliament, and local councils elected democratically and so certified by domestic and international election observers.
Somalia is scheduled to hold its first in 2020.
Cover image by courtesy of Foore.com