No sympathy for ex-Somali official now living in Fairfax

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mohamed Ali Samantar, who was the defense minister (1980-86) and prime minister (1987-90) during the military dictatorship of the late Somali president Mohamed Siad Barre, claims that he "always respected the rule of law" and "served the people rightly and justly" ["I am no monster," front page, March 2].

What Mr. Samantar, who now lives in Fairfax and is being sued in U.S. court, doesn't say is that Somalia was not ruled by laws but men during his years in power. The military government was a socialist dictatorship that allied itself with the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. It came to power through the barrel of a gun, closed the parliament, shut down the courts, eliminated opposition parties, destroyed independent media, nationalized private businesses, invaded neighboring countries and crushed clans that refused to surrender to brutal men in uniform.

The fact that Mr. Samantar is old, that he is ill, that he loves his grandchildren or that he can no longer enjoy real sugar in his tea isn't an issue. We must remember the thousands who were sent to their graves early by Barre and his henchmen, including Mr. Samantar, for believing in the basic rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Abdul Abdi, Beltsville

The writer was a staff member of the Somali Service of Voice of America from 1992 to 1993.

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