- "I shall respect a Somali individual as long as he deserves respect, but if he turns away from the correct path, then that is not my business"
- —Siad Barre
Siad Barre was the military dictator of Somalia from 1969 to 1991. His rule has been caled one of the worst human rights records in Africa. He had thousands persecuted, imprisoned without trial and tortured. Both the urban population and nomads living in the countryside [were] subjected to summary killings, arbitrary arrest, detention in squalid conditions, torture, rape, crippling constraints on freedom of movement and expression and a pattern of psychological intimidation." Amnesty International went on to report that torture methods committed by Barre's National Security Service (NSS) included executions and "beatings while tied in a contorted position, electric shocks, rape of woman prisoners, simulated executions and death threats." In the late 1970s Barre faced shrinking populairty and increased domestic resistance. In response, Barre's elite unit, the Red Berets (Duub Cas), and the paramilitary unit called the Victory Pioneers carried out systematic terror against the Majeerteen, Hawiye, and Isaaq clans. The Red Berets systematically smashed water reservoirs to deny water to the Majeerteen and Isaaq clans and their herds. More than 2,000 members of the Majeerteen clan died of thirst, and an estimated 5,000 Isaaq were killed by the government.