Somalia: Popular Radio Station Silenced, NUSOJ Strongly Protests
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is gravely concerned about the growing press freedom crisis in Somalia following shutting down of Radio Shabelle, a popular Radio Station in Mogadishu, on 12 November 2007 by the Security Forces of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
Around 11:30am Mogadishu time, heavily armed security forces operating in Bakara Market forcefully entered the premises of the Radio Station and ordered all staff to come down from their building, according to the management of the Radio. The security forces, subsequently, commanded the Radio Director Ja'far Kuukay and head of its Programmes Abdirahman Yusuf, publicly known Al-Adala, to go with them. Although Shabelle staff were released, they were informed by the commander of the army that their station is closed, Chairperson of Shabelle Radio Abdimalik Yusuf told NUSOJ. The radio station, immediately, went off air as ordered.
The security forces of the Transitional Federal Government did not cite the reasons behind their closure. But the Radio Shabelle journalists believe that their professional and independent stance caused the closure.
"We denounce this illegal action from security forces which silenced today Radio Shabelle" said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. "We appeal to Transitional Government to allow Radio Shabelle to resume its operations because of the important community service function it performs in serving the news and information needs of the people".
Radio Shabelle and its journalists experienced gross violations of their professional freedoms and rights, according to the records of the National Union of Somali Journalists. Apart from continuous threats and terror acts against its employees, its acting Chairperson Bashir Nur Gedi was recently assassinated at his home in Mogadishu.
"Somalia became the worst country for press freedom and security of journalists in Africa and the second most dangerous place for journalists in the world after Iraq, because political groups do not like the Somali media's role of disseminating useful, impartial and objective information to the public" Omar Faruk added.
"Since this is blatant violation of international law that severely restricts the Somali people's access to information, an internationally-recognized human right, we call upon the international community to immediately intervene and end ongoing grave violations of press freedom" Omar said. "We again inform the Transitional Federal Government that it has international obligation to protect and respect journalists by allowing them to freely seek, receive, and impart information without fear of their safety'.
(National Union of Somali Journalists (Mogadishu), 12 November 2007)