S Y L L e t t e r s
S Y L L E T T E R S
M A Y 1 5, 2 0 0 8
The representatives of the Somali Youth League, Ali Bin-Nour and Abdullah Issa (left) are seen with the representatives of the Coptic Christians in Eritrea, Dejash Bena Brakini, Sheikh Sulaiman El Deen Ahmad, and Beiru Tedla. Location: United Nations (Lake Success), New York Date: 20 April 1949.
May 15, 2008
Nowadays, many Somali youths want to connect their struggle of having a stable, functioning government to the history of the Somali Youth League (SYL), which had been formed on the 15th of May, 1943.
The league emphasized Somali youth solidarity and community awareness. It represented a symbol of hope and thus disseminated relentlessly literatures of liberation that stimulated the political thinking of the Somali youth. In short, the league succeeded to become a source of agitation and resistance for the Somali youth.
In the 1940s, SYL leaders addressed their grievances and plans to the Media. And sometimes, such open letters resulted in a heated debate in places like UK’s House of Commons.
Seeking to inform the present generation, Roobdoon Forum goes a considerable way towards filling this gap of generations and thus supplying some of the League’s correspondences.
Open Letter to Mr. Attlee
By Abdulqadir Sakhaawadiin
[A letter requested to be published in New Times and Ethiopia News]
Your Excellency, I have taken the liberty to draw your attention to the afflictions with which the Somali people are burdened under your Government, which is represented by the British Military Administration.
We have heard and believed that Great Britain had sacrificed the blood and lives of her sons and daughters, and devoted all her resources of wealth and manpower, in the fight against the Axis Powers in order to make the world safe for Freedom and Democracy.
The Somalis were not the enemy of the Allies. It was their misfortune that your enemy – the Italians – forcibly occupied and subjected our country fifty years ago. We are, therefore, among the enslaved and oppressed to whom Freedom and Democracy was promised.
To the people of Somaliland, the five years since the day of our ‘liberation’ have been conspicuous in their lack of humane considerations and the brutal suppressions of democratic rights. Today the British Military Administration is almost as feared and disliked as the tyrannical Fascist Rule.
Racial discrimination exists in Somaliland, notably at Mogadishu.
Collective Punishment Laws have been enacted and are enforced. They are the means of spreading terror and want among the people. For instance, some Askaris recently deserted. The livestock of their innocent tribesmen was seized. The criminals had not taken refuge with the tribesmen. The incident had taken place very many miles away from the tribal area. No livestock of the deserter was in the hands of the tribesmen. The milk of the livestock is the staple food of the people. Seizure of the livestock is all the more detestable in that it deprives the women and children of their means of sustenance, through no fault of their own.
Collective punishment is also the root cause of the majority of killings in Somaliland, for when the ignorant tribesmen get excited at such a tyrannical act and protest against it by stone-throwing or the futile brandishing of sticks, they are shot down for rioting.
Conscription for slave-labour exists. The poor wretches thus collected are parceled out by the British Military Administration among the agricultural concessions at Genale [Janaale], along the Juba River and the area held by the S.A.I.S (Sociieta Agricola Italo-Somalo). The slave-labourers are compelled to work in these areas under conditions which are a living mockery of Democracy and the ideals of human rights. The workers are brutally flogged in public for routine offences.
Some officers of the administration flagrantly violate one of the foremost of human rights – the sanctity of the person. Elders and respected Somalis are bullied and struck in offices by them or on their orders at any show of spirit.
The laws and policy under which our country is administered were forged mainly by the Italians and Fascist statesmen for their own vile ends. The application of this tyrannical law by a Democratic Power is not only a great wrong but is causing the gravest miscarriage of justice.
We recall to you the ideals and principles fro which the heroes of England and the Allied countries gave their lives, and beg of you to send a disinterested and competent Commission or Mission to examine our complaints and make recommendations for the speedy relief of the causes of misrule.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant.
ABDUL KADER SAKHAWADEEN (a Somali).
Somali Stand on Trusteeship
Representative Declares Opposition of Youth League to Italian Control
The New York Times
November 19, 1949
A letter sent to the New York Times by Abdullahi Isse
To the Editor of the New York Times:
An editorial dealing with the question of the former Italian colonies appeared in your paper of November 12, 1949. In this editorial you stated that the Russians, after being defeated in the United Nations, “have had their little triumph in winning over the Somali Youth to communism.”
Although you intentionally omitted the word “League” it is obvious that you are referring to the “Somali Youth League”, which I have the honor to represent here.
First of all, may I ask on what grounds you base the assertion that the Russians have won over the Somali Youth League to communism? Is this only because the U.S.S.R. together with the other Communist States (including the federal Peoples’ Republic of Yugoslavia) and others, have strongly supported our just and legitimate cause both during the last and the current sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations? If so, may I remind you that they equally supported the legitimate cause of the people of Libya, and, at least, part of those of Eritrea.
May I be permitted also to point out that in May of this year (during the course of the last session of the Assembly) the Libyans organized open demonstrations in Tripoli and other centers, displaying the flags of Communist states and the portrait of Stalin. In these demonstrations they destroyed the British and the United States flags, stoned British and American citizens and violently attacked the Italian community in Tripolitania. Yet you do not consider the Libyans Communists because of their open expression of appreciation for the role the Communist states played in defeating the plans of the Imperialist Powers.
While the Somalis have also demonstrated against the return of the Italians as administrators of Somaliland, they have not done so under the banners of any Communist state, nor have they attacked foreigners. These demonstrations were peaceful until broken up by British police. Indeed, the Somalis have done nothing to justify your accusation that they have been won over communism. You did not in your editorial – nor can you now – submit any evidence to sustain your charge.
Stand of League
It is a known fact that the Somali Youth League, as leader of the nationalist movement for the independence of Somaliland, unalterably opposes the restoration of the hated Italian rule under any form whatsoever in our land. Also the League strongly opposes any foreign domination of Somaliland. In pursuing the struggle for the liberation of the country, the League has submitted to the General Assembly and various committees of the United Nations several memoranda, petitions, documents, etc., containing certain relevant data.
Today the confusion of nationalism with communism in colonial areas is common error. Fortunately, the world knows the methods practiced by colonial Powers to suppress nationalist movements and at the same time label them as subversive and pursuant of Communist ideology. All classes of the inhabitants of Somaliland are united in a common front and they are now concerned only with the immediate problem facing them: the national struggle for the freedom of their country from foreign subjugation.
While maintaining our militant and purely nationalistic character, we refuse to be trapped in the conflict between the red communism of the East and the white supremacy “democracy” of the West. We retain deep sympathy and respect for all those nations – Communists and non-Communists alike – who strongly supported the just and legitimate aspirations of our people.
The unjust solution proposed fro Somaliland is entirely contrary to the wishes and welfare of the inhabitants. That the majority of the Political Committee reached this unfortunate conclusion after considerable bargaining and political expediency at the sole expense of the weak and defenseless Somali nation is a fact well known to the whole world. It is as clear as the light of day that, in order to do something for the Italians, it is proposed to sacrifice the Somalis and offer Somaliland to Italy as a bribe.
Somali in U. N. Plea for Italy as Trustee
The New York Times
October 07, 1949
Lake Success, Oct. 6 – United Nations delegates today heard a representative of a native Somaliland organization declare his country was not ready for independence and would have to refuse it if the world organization decided to confer it.
Islow Mahadalla Mohammed , representing the Somali Conference , called for an Italian trusteeship over Somaliland until the country was ready for independence. At the very least, he said, Italy should be included among the administering powers if the United Nations voted for multiple trusteeship.
The Somali representative spoke before the General Assembly’s Political and Security Committee. He was bombarded by questions from many delegations who made it plain that they thought the Somali Conference did not represent any large segment of the population.
The Latin-American delegations decided at the caucus this morning to link the question of independence for Libya with Italian administration of Italian Somaliland. Under the proposal, which was submitted by Cryo de Freitasvalle, head of the Brazilian delegation, the Latin-American countries would not agree to independence for Libya unless the assembly also agreed to the Latin-American proposal regarding Italian Somaliland.
 Islow Mahadalla was the President of Somalia Conferenza (Somali Conference); he was a typist in the office of an Italian judge.
 Somali Conference (Somalia Conferenza) was an umbrella association, combined all elements or groups in Somalia (Southern) that supported the Italian claim to trusteeship by the United Nations. At the United Nations, the Somali Conference spokesman, Islow Mahadalle, not only stated that his country was not ready for independence, but also demanded from the UN Commission to let Italy rule Somalia for thirty years. The groups that formed the Conferenza to support Italian trusteeship for 30 years were:
Patriotic Beneficence Union: members of this group were mainly from Abgaal clan and some 500 Arabs in Mogadishu. The group claimed to have a membership of 80, 788. The President of this group was Salah Omar.
Hidaita Ul Islam: this group, which also belonged to the Somalia Conferenza, supported Italian interest and disliked the Somali Youth League. The group’s vice-president, Abukar Hussein, said: “Wherever there is a British Officer, next to him is a Somali Youth League member, either as a boy, a personal servant, or as an interpreter, and that is why we have troubles.”
Young Abgals: claimed to have 30,000 members, of whom 25,000 reside in Mogadishu (between 12 -60 years of age). This group, as part of the “Commitato Progesso Somalia”, stated that that they belong to the Somalia Conferenza.