The Wagalla massacre was a massacre of ethnic Somalis by Kenyan security forces on 10 February 1984 A.D in Wajir County, Kenya.
A massacre is a killing, typically of multiple victims, considered morally unacceptable, especially when perpetrated by a group of political actors against defenseless victims. The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage".
The Somalis are an ethnic group belonging to the Cushitic peoples inhabiting the Horn of Africa. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic family. They are predominantly Sunni Muslim. Ethnic Somalis number around 28-30 million and are principally concentrated in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti (534,000). Somali diasporas are also found in parts of the Middle East, North America, Western Europe, African Great Lakes region, Southern Africa and Oceania.
Wajir County is a county in the former North Eastern Province of Kenya. Its capital and largest town is Wajir. The county has a population of 661,941 and an area of 55,840.6 km². Wajir County has only one local authority: Wajir county council. The county has six constituencies: Eldas, Tarbaj, Wajir North, Wajir West, Wajir East, and Wajir South. Wajir County is divided into fourteen administrative divisions:
The Wagalla massacre took place on 10 February 1984 at the Wagalla Airstrip. The facility is situated approximately 15 km (9 mi) west of the county capital of Wajir in the North Eastern Province, a region primarily inhabited by ethnic Somalis. Kenyan troops had descended on the area to reportedly help defuse clan-related conflict. However, according to eye-witness testimony, about 5,000 Somali men were then taken to an airstrip and prevented from accessing water and food for five days before being executed by Kenyan soldiers.
Wagalla Airstrip is an airstrip in the former North Eastern Province of Kenya. It is situated around 12 kilometers west of Wajir. The airstrip was the site of the Wagalla massacre in February 1984.
The North Eastern Province is one of the former provinces in Kenya. It has a land area of 127,358.5 km2, with its capital at Garissa. Previously known as the Northern Frontier District (NFD), the territory was carved out of the Jubaland region of present-day southern Somalia during the colonial period. It is and has historically been exclusively inhabited by ethnic Somalis.
According to a commissioner with The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya, a government oversight body that had been formed in response to the 2008 Kenyan post-election violence, the Wagalla massacre represents the worst human rights violation in Kenya's history.
The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya (TJRC) was established in 2008. Kenya’s modern history has been marked not only by liberation struggles but also by ethnic conflicts, semi-despotic regimes, marginalization and political violence, including the coup d'état of 1982, the Shifta War, and the 2007 Post-election violence.
The exact number of people killed in the massacre is unknown.However, eyewitnesses place the figure at around 10,000 deaths.
For years the Kenyan government denied that a massacre had taken place and insisted that "only 57 people were killed in a security operation to disarm the [area's] residents".It was not until October 2000 that the government publicly acknowledged wrongdoing on the part of its security forces.
In 2010, Bethuel Kiplagat stepped aside as chairman of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission because of his alleged involvement in authorising the action that led to the massacre.Reports of the number of men from the Somali Degodia sub-clan, in particular, that were detained by security forces and brought to the airstrip range from 381 to upward of ten thousand.
In April 2012, Kiplagat was reinstated as TJRC chairman after the Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa brokered a truce between him and the other commissioners.
The same year, the former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga ordered an official probe into the atrocities and indicated that the national attorney general should bring to justice those responsible for the killings. Odinga also ordered a museum to be constructed in honour of the victims.
In February 2015, the Wajir County governor Ahmed Abdullahi said his government would partner with local and international human rights organisations in seeking justice for the victims of the massacre, saying that the Truth Commission report offered such an opportunity which remained squandered. "Those mentioned by the TJRC report and witnesses must be prosecuted. The people who afflicted the pain to our people remain unpunished and are still with us," Abdullahi said.
The film/documentary Scarred: The Anatomy of a Massacre, directed by Judy Kibinge, is the first independent visual attempt to chronicle the history of the massacre as experienced by both the victims and survivors – some of whom were government officials themselves. The documentary was launched at the National Museum in Nairobi in February 2015.
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