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Intense Violence Against Journalists in SomaliaAlysha Atma Salem-News.com African Affairs Correspondent
“This killing demonstrates again that journalists in Somalia are being targeted by gangs and militias in the country” - Gabriel Baglo
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has sounded the alarm over the complete absence of safety for journalists in Somalia. Authorities must give top priority to the safety and the security of Somali journalists in order to guarantee press freedom in this country. Somalia has become a deadly place for journalists to work. The intense violence in Mogadishu between the government and insurgents have made the environment ever more dangerous. The government’s lack of respect for freedom of press has left journalists open to targeted threats.
August 25, radio journalist Abdullahi Omar Gedi was repeatedly stabbed as he left work in the Galkayo district of Puntland.
Unknown assailants fatally stabbed radio journalist Abdullahi Omar Gedi in the Galkayo district of Puntland. Gedi, 25, had just left work at Radio Daljir when attackers stabbed him repeatedly and left him unconscious, he later died of his injuries in the General Hospital of Galkayo.
“CPJ sends its deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and colleagues of Abdullahi Omar Gedi,” said Committee to Protect Journalists East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “We urge Puntland authorities to do their utmost to bring these perpetrators to justice.” August 24, a stray bullet killed Barkhat Awale, director of Hurma Radio, during heavy fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Barkhad Awale Adan was killed in the afternoon of Tuesday, August 24 2010, during gunfire exchange between the Transitional Federation Government and the Islamists group, Al-Shabaab, in Mogadishu. Awale Adan, 60, Director of Hurma Radio and was on duty at the radio station when he was hit by a bullet. He was rushed to Madina hospital where he was confirmed dead upon arrival. The late journalist has been a mainstay of media for that last 30 years.
“The violence in Mogadishu has made it extremely dangerous for media professionals to carry out their work without falling victims to the ever flying bullets and widespread criminality. We have lost, yet again, another veteran journalist courtesy of the raging hostilities,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. An arbitrary six year jail term was handed by a court in Bossasso on August 14 to Abdifatah Jama Mire, Director of Horseed Media after finding him guilty of “interviewing and broadcasting views of people who are fighting the government.”
“We condemn this gross miscarriage of justice against our colleague,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “Independence is as the heart of professional journalism and the authorities cannot decree which views are allowed or banned in media. Even opposing views need to be heard in a democracy. This judgment must be set aside.” IFJ calls on the Puntland authorities to drop all the charges, release immediately and without conditions the journalist and lift the interdiction to interview the rebels.”
The police commissioner, Colonel Abdisalam Aflaw, arrested Abdifatah and seven other media workers from Horseed Media radio station; of the seven, Mire was the only one held in custody. According to local sources, neither the prosecutor nor the police brought any evidences to substantiate their allegations, nor did they allow the journalist to have legal representation. The court President, judge Farah Hassan Ismail, convicted Abdifatah Jama Mire of breaching the Anti-terror law in Puntland and sentenced him to six years in jail and fined US$500.
On August 15, following the sentencing of Abdifatah, the Puntland Information Minister Abdihakin Ahmed Guled held a press conference and ordered news organizations and journalists not to interview the rebels and threatened any journalist or media house that fails to obey this order will face “severe punishment”.
“Undoubtedly this is a politically motivated judgment that is meant to send a strong message of how Puntland authorities are prejudiced towards independent journalism, diversity of opinion and, a gross violation of journalists’ freedom to report on issues of public importance,” declared Omar Faruk. “Our colleague broke no law and we will defend him completely and with everything we have”.
May 4, Al-Shabaab insurgents killed Radio Mogadishu journalist Sheikh Nur Mohamed Abkey near his home in the capital, Mogadishu.
“It is inacceptable to interfere in media affairs. The Puntland authorities have to respect journalists’ rights and create environment for the journalists to work safely. This killing demonstrates again that journalists in Somalia are being targeted by gangs and militias in the country,” said Gabriel Baglo. “ The authorities must take concrete and urgent measures to protect journalists doing their work and innocent civilians in general.”
*Source: Committee to Protect Journalists is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org. *Sources: International Federation of Journalists
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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