MOGADISHU, Somalia 19 March 2022 – Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) strongly condemn and express their concern about the violent attack and the detention against independent journalists in Somaliland.
On 14 March, Somaliland police in Borame, Awdal region, detained Horn Cable TV reporter, Imran Hussein Adan, a day after he covered a vox-pop piece for Horn Cable TV seeking views of ordinary citizens on President Muse Bihi Abdi’s visit to the United States. The report which featured diverse views including views that criticised the composition of president Bihi’s delegation as ‘non-inclusive’. According to colleagues and family members, journalist Imran was taken to the Borame police station for interrogation where he is detained until today.
On the midnight of Friday 18 March, armed plain-clothed officers attached to Somaliland’s intelligence unit physically attacked two journalists: Abdisalan Ahmed Awad and Ali Mahdi Jibril as they drove from a hotel in the city centre of the capital, Hargeisa. The officers who were armed with pistols blocked the journalists’ vehicle midway and fired three bullets before physically beating both journalists.
“Two vehicles followed us from the hotel. In the midway one vehicle drove past us and immediately blocked our way. I tried to speak to them but six men got off and begin throwing stones shuttering our windows loudly. The second vehicle blocked the road behind us,” said Jibril who was the driver. “I attempted to escape but the men in the front shot one bullet. Then they fired two bullets. I was afraid that they may kill us. I stopped the car.”
Both Jibril and Awad said they were dragged out of the vehicle as the officers shouted “our mission is not to kill”. Both were beaten with handgun and stones. The journalists said, their attackers were loudly telling them to “stop their critical coverage” on president Muse Bihi Abdi.
“I managed to flee. They fired one bullet but I managed to run to the nearby hotel. Unfortunately, my friend Awad fell to the ground unconscious,” Jibril said.
According to Awad, he was rushed to the hospital by another friend after the attackers left. He was discharged on Saturday morning.
SJS and SOMA are deeply concerned by the increasing attacks, threats and arrests of independent journalists in Somaliland. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Horn Cable TV reporter, Imran Hussein Adan who is in detention since 14 March, and to launch an investigation into the violent attack against Abdisalan Ahmed Awad and Ali Mahdi Jibril in Hargeisa on Friday night.
“It is very worrying that armed government officials are behaving beyond the law to physically attack journalists. We are aware that some of these journalists have been threatened several times for criticising the president of Somaliland,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, the Secretary-General of Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said. “This shows the intolerance of the Somaliland presidency towards journalists that criticise its policies.”
“We demand that a full investigation be carried out into the Friday night’s incident in Hargeisa and that the perpetrators be brought to justice. We also demand the unconditional release of journalist Imran Hussein Adan,” Mumin added.
“Today we express our growing concern about the increased targeting of journalists in Somaliland. We thank God that both journalists Abdisalan Ahmed Awad and Ali Mahdi Jibril survived the attack on Friday night. We urge the Somaliland authorities to honestly investigate the incident and arrest the perpetrators,” Mohamed Osman Makaran, the Secretary-General of Somali Media Association (SOMA) said.