MOGADISHU, Somalia 22 December 2022 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), the Somali Media Association (SOMA) and Somalia Mechanism for Safety of the Journalists (SMSJ) condemn the raid and closure of the independent local Radio Hiiraanweyn in Beledweyne, Hiiraan region on Thursday 22 December, as well as the arbitrary detention of four of Radio Hiiraanweyn journalists after covering an al-Shabaab attack in the central Somalia region.
Around 11:00am on Thursday morning, the Beledweyne police commissioner Bishar Hussein Jimale, summoned Abdullahi Osman Idow, Radio Hiiraanweyn technician and detained him at the police station. Later, at around 2:00pm armed police officers raided the radio station and ordered its complete shut down before detaining three journalists: Mustaf Ali Adow (the radio’s chief editor), Abdirahman Moalim Muse (news reporter) and Abdimajid Abdirahman Adan (news reporter). All the four journalists are currently held at the police station while the radio station remains off-air.
Early on Thursday, Radio Hiiraanweyn reported an al-Shabaab attack on the rural villages on the south of Beledweyne following withdrawal of the Ma’awisley forces who complained about lack of salaries. The radio news story was published also on its Facebook page.
SJS, SOMA and SMSJ strongly condemn the raid of Radio Hiiraanweyn, which is an independent radio station, and the arbitrary detention of four of its journalists. We call for the Hirshabelle authorities to immediately free the four radio journalists and allow Radio Hiiraanweyn to resume its operation without any condition.
Meanwhile, SJS, SOMA and SMSJ are concerned about the new directive by the Office of Somali President which orders media houses to submit their news content for approval before it airs. Many of the media stations that received this order are members of SOMA.
“We are shocked to learn about the raid against Radio Hiiraanweyn in central Somalia and the detention of four of its journalists by Hirshabelle State police. The radio station was put off-air and its journalists arrested after they covered a news story about an al-Shabaab attack in villages on the south of Beledweyne on Thursday,” SJS President, Mohamed Ibrahim said “We strongly condemn this attack on Radio Hiiraanweyn as we call for the authorities to free the four detained journalists without condition. Journalism is not a crime. The ongoing security operations should not be used as an excuse by state security forces to restrict the freedom of the press.”
“Today, Hirshabelle State police raided Radio Hiiraanweyn, a member of SOMA and closed it down. The police also arbitrarily arrested four journalists whom they are holding at the police station without charge. We demand for the immediate freedom of our colleagues and the radio to be allowed back to air,” SOMA Secretary-General, Mohamed Osman Makaran said, “Today’s attack on Radio Hiiraanweyn is a part of a series of violent measures and restrictions against journalists and media freedom. On Saturday this week, media stations including our members received a new order from Villa Somalia in which the president’s communication officials demanded that local news outlets must submit their content for approval before any broadcast which we all refused.”
SJS, SOMA and SMSJ also condemn the ongoing threats and persecution against SJS Secretary-General, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin including the restrictions against his right to movement and right to freedom of expression by the ministry of information officials as another example of the blatant violations that Somali authorities are committing with total impunity. Abdalle’s court hearing is now scheduled to commence at Banadir Regional Court on 4 January 2023.