‘Detention and torture’ of Djibouti army pilot sparks rare protests

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DJIBOUTI — Revelations of indefinite detention and torture of a military pilot in Djibouti has sparked protests amid claims the officer who had escaped the country was arrested in Ethiopia and handed back to Djibouti government.

Residents in the capital Djibouti took to the streets in a rare protests Thursday with the government claiming vehicles and shops were torched as angry protesters demanded the release of the disgraced officer.

It has now emerged the officer identified as Fuad Yusuf Ali who is currently in detention had escaped the country but was later arrested by Ethiopian authorities and deported.

In a video that has surfaced online, a woman claiming to be Ali’s wife narrates the circumstances that led to Ali’s arrest.

MARGINALISATION AND DISCRIMINATION

According to Samira Jama Abdi (wife), Ali, an air force pilot fled Djibouti for Ethiopia on March 27 this year after complaining of marginalization and discrimination in the army. He was however arrested early April as he sought asylum.

“We believe he was arrested by Ethiopian intelligence and handed over to Djibouti government,” Samira said. “Prior to his fleeing, he had gone without salary and his children were suffering. That is what caused him to flee his country after opposing his generals over what he termed as discriminatory orders.”

Samira added that she received a call from Gabood central jail in Djibouti in May confirming her husband was in jail. They said he asked me to bring food, Samira said.

But even as Samira’s version of events was filtering through, another video appeared online this time round showing Ali pleading for help. In the video, Ali said he had been tortured and was detained in a toilet.

The video shows what appears to be several wounds from his thighs to the ankle.

The officer whom according to the wife has served in the air force for 10 years calls on Djiboutians to ‘stand against the government and fight for their rights.’

Reacting to the protests, Interior Minister Mumin Ahmed Sheikh Thursday warned against the demos noting it had resulted in damage to property.

The government of Djibouti is yet to formally respond regarding the soldier’s detention.

 

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