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Engineer and Architect Suleiman Nuh Ali recalls his eight years in solitary confinement in Somalia during the
2009 NAS Annual Meeting
During the 2009 Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., Suleiman Nuh Ali told the NAS members and the Committee on Human Rights about his experiences as a prisoner of conscience in Somalia from 1982 to 1989 and of the CHR's efforts to gain his release, including a mission of inquiry to Mogadishu. (Mission delegates were Francisco Ayala (NAS), Alfred Haynes (IOM), Nobel Laureate Lawrence Klein (NAS) and Carol Corillon (CHR Director). Mr. Ali’s case was one of twelve professional colleagues unjustly detained in Somalia during the same period. All twelve prisoners were released on March 6, 1989, and shortly thereafter, in 1990, Mr. Ali and several other former prisoners came to the National Academy of Sciences, along with their wives and children and musical instruments and poetry, to express their gratitude during a joyful and festive celebration. The 2009 Annual Meeting marks Mr. Ali's second visit to the academy.
Excerpt from the briefing:
The torture we went through is what you now call water boarding. ... The process we went through was they tie your feet, your hands, your whole body so you can not move. And then somebody holds your nose and then they start pouring water in your mouth so that you can not breathe. You can stand any pain but that is one thing you can not stand because you are drowning. So that is why... the firing squad is better then the torture.
Group picture of some of the Somali prisoners, taken shortly after their
release from prison
Former CHR Chair Eliot Stellar and former Somali prisoner mathematician,
Abdi Yunis at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. in 1990