CJFE alarmed by closing of Mogadishu radio stations

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Jan 16 Update CJFE is delighted that HornAfrik and the other major radio stations in Somalia were allowed to resume broadcasting today. We hope this reversal by the government in Mogadishu is a sign that they understand the importance of press freedom and that it must be protected. The role of the independent media will be especially vital during the rebuilding of this country, when it is important that all voices are heard. CJFE, IFEX and other free expression organisations will continue to monitor and advocate for these rights. Media Release CJFE alarmed by closing of Mogadishu radio stations (Toronto, January 15, 2007) CJFE is concerned about reports it received today from Mohammed Elmi, journalist and one of the founders of HornAfrik, that the independent radio station has been closed down along with other radio and television stations in Mogadishu, Somalia. Mohammed Elmi reports that the order was given at 1:30 pm today by the National Security Agency of Mogadishu. An official letter was sent by the NSA for Mogadishu telling stations that upon receipt of this communication they were to immediately close down operations. Management of these stations were told to report to a meeting with the Head Security Officer, the newly appointed Colonel Ahamed Hassan Ali, head of the NSA for Mogadishu on Tuesday, January 16. CJFE Executive Director Anne Game states that "As is so often the case, the press restrictions are being made under the guise of national security." She added "Somalia's clampdown on its broadcasters is alarming and closes off one of the only independent news sources accessible to the people of Mogadishu." No reason has been given for these forced closures; however it could be under the pretext of martial law, which was announced this week. Among the stations closed are HornAfrik, Radio Voice of the Holy Koran, Capital Voice and Al Jazeera and Shabelle Media Network. HornAfrik, one of the affected radio stations, was the winner of CJFE's 2002 International Press Freedom Award. It was awarded to HornAfrik, the first independent radio network in Somalia, for its work in the face of intimidation and threats in a society where there is no one to protest to, and no protection of freedom of the press. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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