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Two journalists dismissed amid harassment of radio station

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has strongly condemned mounting suppression and violation of media rights in the Gedo region of southwestern Somalia by the Al-Shabaab Islamic group.

During the week of 17 August 2009, two journalists were barred from performing their duties, and the only news media organisation operating in the Gedo region was restricted and suppressed.

Al-Shabaab, which has established an "Islamic administration" in Bardhere, ordered Radio Markabley to fire two of its journalists. In a written order which was signed by the head of the "Islamic administration" in the region, Abdiwahab Hashi Hassan, the group instructed the management of the radio station to dismiss Mohamed Abdullahi Farah and Sahro Ali Mohamud.

The two journalists, who are both newscasters and producers, have been sanctioned for unspecified "biased reports" and for "overstating the capacity of the transitional federal government and that of the Ahlu Sunnah Islamic movement".

On 22 August, the Al-Shabaab leadership convened a meeting with Radio Markabley management and presented the following edicts and accusations:

1. That Radio Markabley has been neutral about "holy war" and has been working "independently."
2. That the radio station must eliminate all secular songs from its broadcasts.
3. That the station must not use any musical programs, interviews, advertisements or news.
4. That no woman journalist should work as a broadcaster at the station.
5. That journalist Sahro Ali Mohamud must not work anymore at Radio Markabley.
6. That the radio station must not give any prominence, preference or titles to members of the transitional government of the Gedo region. This must also apply to leaders of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jameeca Islamic group.
7. That the station must not feature in any interview any official of the transitional government or any leader of the Ahlu Sunnah Islamic group.

Radio Markabley was also told to broadcast these seven edicts and accusations, but the station responded that they will take them into consideration and then state the station's position.

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