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COLDOON: Somaliland's Prisoner of Conscience

Mustafa I. Adam
Monday, April 10, 2017

Recognition is one of the most testing and complicated issues in international law, and it is starting to become Somaliland’s eventual demise.  Once considered one of Africa’s great Democratic establishment, it has now resorted to the arrest and detention of Journalist to dispute their claim to statehood is being endangered.  Many quasi-states have justified their claim to statehood by being oppressive, and few have been considered legitimate.  Somaliland has adopted this romantic notion that international recognition will bring about democratic rights, state building, and good governance which will in return advance access to international institutions and lending establishments. The truth to this view would leave a portion of the population traumatized.  

As per the presiding government, until sovereignty comes, anything that damages the public image of the country is treasonous, and any person is exemplifying such moral decadence shall be arrested without due process.  The institutional wisdom that has been winning the hearts and minds of international observers has become its Achilles heel.

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Somaliland has turned its legacy into a non-existent state that is governed by constitutional laws that are resolute when it suits a particular political party.  The nation is obsessed with achieving sovereignty without the political environment to formulate a constitution that allows the fair representation of all citizens.  The lack of credible leadership and the bickering of the political elite who only shoulder the burdens of the state when their political surroundings affect their bottom line is unacceptable. It has become a nation without the constitutional framework or the rules of engagement to deal with any political predicament.

Unfortunately, one of these predicaments has become the arrest and detention of Abdulmalik M. Coldoon.  A prisoner of conscience who has been detained and sentenced to two years for supposedly threatening the peaceful establishment of Somaliland and it’s neighbor; Ethiopia.  Conventional wisdom would dictate that a country doesn't repeat the very reason it justifies its international recognition.  Somaliland has vowed that no citizen shall ever experience oppression for holding political views that were not tolerated by its government yet to the contrary.

"When a cause comes along, and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice." Mumia Abu-Jamal

I am not advocating for the character of Coldoon for I’ve never met the man, but we do share a common understanding that the rule of law must be upheld and that due process should take place.  If the Somaliland government doesn't demonstrate the concept of citizenship and uses recognition as an apparatus to detain any individual, then the entire country might as well become prisoners of conscience for holding political views that are not tolerated by their government.  I urge the current administration to follow the rule of law and release anyone detained for their opinions, starting with Abdulmalik Sheikh Muse Coldoon.

Mustafa I. Adam  | Canada  | April 10, 2017
[email protected] | Twitter @muyuadam

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