Somaliland: SOLJA Decries Journalists Persecution and Media Clampdown


Journalists at the WPD commemoration in Hargeisa“We shall not accept continued persecution by the current administration of the Kulmiye party which used to operate a clandestine radio station during its days in opposition politics”- SOLJA Chair

By: Yusuf M Hasan

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The country’s fourth estate commemorated the World Press Freedom Day forlornly in Hargeisa on the 4th May.

WhileSOLJA Chair Hasan M Yusuf wants persecution of journalists to stop addressing journalists at the commemoration held at a Hargeisa hotel the Chairman the Somaliland Journalists Association-SOLJA Mr Hasan Mohamed Yusuf vehemently attacked the government for what he termed as never ending persecution of the country’s fourth estate.

The assembled journalists who were commemorating the World press Day-WPD a day later since the actual date of 3rd May fell on a Friday which is a public holiday in Somaliland were visibly miserable having just been chased by police intent on dispersing a procession to the venue of the function.

While comforting the shaken journalists Mr Hasan Yusuf wondered why the administration had to unleash the crack RRU unit on the journalists who were just assembled on an agreed location for purposes of moving to the venue of the WPD event as a group.

Said he, “We are suspicious of the motive of unleashing police on us considering thatPaying tribute to the assasinated Sakin and Injured Aloley SOLJA had already been denied a license to hold the event”

The SOLJA chair also revealed that CID officers had been waiting at a local Hargeisa printing press confiscated and destroyed posters and stickers that were bearing the WPD 2013 slogans.

According to the minister of information and culture Mr Abiib Diriye Nuur (Abiib-Tima’ade) the police were justified in dispersing the procession since SOLJA did not poses a license thence the illegality of the assembly according to law.

On the issue of persecution meted on journalists by the administration in which the 90 arrests in the 2 years that the Kulmiye administration has been in power surpasses all others since 1991 when Somaliland reclaimed its self-rule, the SOLJA chair said:

“Though we are now immune to never ending arrests, the assassination of Journalist Ahmed Ilays ‘Sakin’ in Las Anod town remains unsolved despite promises to leave no stones unturned while those who recently attacked Hubaal newspaper editor are yet to be arraigned in court”

The Hubaal editor Mohamed Jama ‘Aloley’ sustained a a broken hand and fingers after two masked gunmen later identified as serving police officers attacked the media house offices in Hargeisa around 11pm-GMT+3 on 24th April 2013.

Wondering about what went wrong between the government and the fourth estate The SOLJA boss reminded that the ruling party Kulmiye was a big friend of the fourth estate who helped with the Horiyal Radio which was operated clandestinely by the party during its years in opposition.

“It appears as if the government is bent and determined on winning the record of the most journalists’ oppressive administration in the country” said Mr Yusuf.

Ms Sagal briefs on WIJAIn conclusion The SOLJA Chairperson told the administration that his association shall not sit aside and let its members who are not only underpaid but ill equipped continue to be persecuted for no apparent reason.

The United Nations General Assembly declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day or just World Press Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marking the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991.

other speakers included officials of the Women in Journalism Association who briefed on the activities of the women journalists only body