By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The fourth estate commemorates the 5th National Press freedom day.
Members of the Somaliland Journalists Association-SOLJA converged in all regional centres to commemorate the 5th National press Freedom which was held in the shadow of slain reporter Ahmed Farah Sakin ‘Ilias’.
In Hargeisa where the journalists met at Imperial hotel, The Secretary general of SOLJA Mohamed-Rashid Muhumed Farah informed that the year 2012 will enter the annals of history as the worst for journalists due to the high number of their arrests as well as an assassination.
Said he, “Within the current year 79 journalists from both print an electronic media houses have been arrested”. He stressed that this figure is worrisome since it surpasses the number of reporters arrested in the last 19 years of the country’s history.
While mourning the demise of the late reporter Ilias who was gunned down in Las Anod town a fortnight ago the SOLJA SG asked the government to expediate investigations thus bring the culprits to book.
The late Ilias who became the first journalist to be assassinated in the country reported for Universal TV in Sool region was also an executive committee member of SOLJA.
Due to logistics the national press freedom day which usually commemorated on the 9th of November was postponed for day. The date of 9/11 was chosen by journalists as their freedom day since it is the date that the father of Somaliland journalism late Mahmud Abdi Shide passed away in 1998.
Speaking at the function in Hargeisa veteran Journalist Hussein Ali Nuur of AP and Ahmed Saeed Igge of BBC urged those entering the profession to uphold ethics thus avoid and reduce the now continuous friction with authorities.
Gracing the occasion politician Dr Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, leader of the opposition UMADDA party castigated the government for the large number of journalists arrested in such a short period.
He also touched on the proposed National Intelligence service that he termed as unprocedural due to several clauses that not only impinge on the free operation by the media but within the citizenry as well.
The Director General ministry of Information Abdirashid Jibril who defended the government on its record of journalists arrest said that the string of arrest were initiated by Dr Gaboose during his tenure as the minister of interior prior to his resignation late last year.
The youthful Information DG also asked SOLJA to stop accusing the government at all times and look inwards thus ascertain the actual reason behind the very many arrests insinuated.
To bring the function to a close was the national chairperson of SOLJA Mr Hasan Mohamed Yusuf who urged the president not to sign the pending National Intelligence law but return it to parliament for removal of the clause that gives the yet to be created intelligence agency carte blanche authority over media activities.