Mohamed Abdi was a 24 years old rickshaw driver in Mogadishu. He was killed on a drive by shooting by the security in Mogadishu’s busiest road MakaAlmukarama Falsely accusing him of tailing their car. The place where Mohamed was killed was a near police check point with a large crowd of people as witnesses and no one bothered to stop the murders not even the men in uniform who were supposed to protect the civilians and uphold the law. It was a broad daylight killing of very innocent young boy whose family including his wife and young son were waiting for him to come home after long day of work. We spoke one of his friends who witnessed his death at the scene.
“I was having dinner at a nearby restaurant, we heard gun shots, and everyone was running toward the main gate to see what has happened. Once outside I saw the crowd around the rickshaw, I came closer to see if it was someone I know but seeing the body, I almost lost my consciousness! I saw his Body laying down under his rickshaw, I was shocked. I placed my hand on my head! It is really very painful that an innocent person gets killed in cold blood and the murderers get away with it!! He was a father of a son and a loving husband . He sustained his family by driving the rickshaw and ferrying passengers across the city and the job was his main source of income and he managed to pay all his bills”.
Around 7,000 rickshaw drivers are currently living in Mogadishu and using this as a bread wining or source of income to support their families, some of them managed to pay university fees. Thanks to the private business companies who have started this initiative since 2012. Somalia is a country where unemployment rate is as high as 65% according to UN statistics and the few available jobs people are hired with nepotism as locals say “it is who you know, not what you know”
With this opportunity, thousands of jobless young men have started working as rickshaw drivers, however, the obstacles faced by these groups is extremely heavy burden of which many of them can’t carry in their shoulders, some of them left the job. They were refused to use some of the most important public roads of which they could make quite a handful amount of money while private vehicles and other mini buses are allowed. This is combination of political interests of the local administration and the accusations against rickshaw drivers that they are the ones executing terrorist attacks. One of them who requested to remain anonymous spoke to us about their concerns.
“Why does government put all this pressure on us if they can’t create jobs for us?” raising his eyebrows with surprise. “They treat with us like we are not even citizens, I mean we were told not use the airport road because of security reasons. We used to pick and drop a lot of people at the airport, it was our biggest source of income but they said because of security reasons they stopped us using it while allowing other cars to use”. He said while throwing his hands in the air with disgust.
All major terrorist attacks which were targeted with Jazeera hotel and UN compound in Mogadishu that locates the same airport road were used either private luxury cars orbig Lories. “How can you allow other cars to use that road when you know that they are used to execute such horrible crimes?” He added.
We asked him about the case of this young boy who was killed. If they intervened it? “We face these problems, some of us are arrested for no reasons or for refusing to pay illegal money. We have association but it is just a name, we don’t trust each other. Somali community has lost trust because of that tribal conflict that has lasted so long and everyone is just striving to his personal gains. I have heard the death of this poor guy, it hurts me as a bother, I can imagine the family he left behind but we cannot say anything about it. I would have started protest if I had the solidarity of all other rickshaw drivers in Mogadishu but everyone is in fear for his own safety”.
Witness Somalia and Several youth activists have raised the issue and carried out online social media campaign demanding justice for Mohamed. Three men who are accused of been behind the killing were arrested, but according to his father Abdi, things seem to be mishandled .
“Every time I go to the police station I am told that the investigation is underway, I want justice for my son! He was innocent! Killed by brutal man who had no mercy, respect for the sanctity of life and regards for the law. I heard there are efforts, he might be released but I will never forgive, God will punish him in hereafter. I don’t trust the system because every time I raise my case they ask me money, why should I pay money?” he asked with tearful eyes,
Mohamed’s father is just hoping for the best, on 12th June he called media including local radio stations and spoke publicly about the case demanding justice and that perpetrators should be punished for what they did to his son.
Source: WITNESS SOMALIA