Somalia: Journalists Stop Work to Mourn and Condemn 'Savage' Killing of Colleagues

Regulation & Policy

A somber mood engulfed Somali capital Mogadishu last week after journalists downed their tools and shut down their broadcasting stations to mourn and to protest the latest killing of Radio Shebele director, Muktar Mohamed Hirabe. 15 senior radio journalists of editors, producers, reporters, and anchors held a press conference at Hotel Sahafi today and announced the work stoppage.

Zuktar Hirabe who was in the company of his colleague Ahmed Omar Hashi, was on Sunday (7 June) shot five times by a gunman at Bakara market in Mogadishu. Ahmed Omar who described the attack and killing as “vindictive and barbaric” was also injured in the attack. Muktar is the fifth journalist to be killed in Somalia by gunmen this year alone, and according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) the death is a confirmation that the Somali journalist has become a serious target of those who are averse to truth.

“We are sad but we won’t relent, we are concerned but won’t be afraid. We will march on as journalists despite the assassins' bullet that has been falling us one by one,” said NUSOJ secretary-general, Omar Faruk Osman, while supporting and commending the journalists decision to engage in the black-out picketing in protest to the killing of their colleagues.

But as the journalists carried on with their protests, six journalists have reported to NUSOJ having received death threats from named people, whom they said would be held responsible should they be killed. “We would go further than just to condemn this killing by calling on all parties engaged in the Somali conflict to respect the life and work of a journalist. Let the killing end. We condemn the continued murders with impunity in Somalia. We now demand that the international community should take serious attention in this Horn of Africa country that has been transformed into more or less a butchery of journalists,” Omar said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists urges the Canadian and Australian governments to work for the immediate release of two freelance journalists who have been held captive in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, since August.

On Wednesday, a woman claiming to be captive journalist Amanda Lindhout called the Canadian broadcaster CTV, saying she fears for her life and pleading for the government to assist her. Lindhout and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were abducted along the Afgoye-Mogadishu road, just outside the capital.

"I have been held hostage by gunmen in Somalia for nearly 10 months. I am in a desperate situation," the woman told CTV. "The Canadian government must have some duty to help its citizens in such a crisis."