Accessibility links

UN, Human Rights Workers Condemn Murder Of Somali Activist

The United Nations and human rights officials are among those condemning this week's murder of a Somali activist in the capital Mogadishu, saying that it is increasingly difficult for humanitarian work to continue in the volatile country. Cathy Majtenyi has details for VOA from Nairobi.

Isse Abdi Isse was chairman of a Somali non-government organization called KISIMA, a partner to a number of humanitarian groups active in human rights and protection issues.

Isse was involved in humanitarian work and handled human rights cases in Lower Juba.

The activist was shot dead Wednesday while attending a workshop held at Kamal Hotel in Mogadishu. It is unclear who killed him and why.

The next day, the Office of the U.N.'s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia released a statement condemning the murder.

The head of the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Somalia, Philip Lazzarini, tells VOA he does not believe that Isse's murder will entirely stop human rights work in Somalia, as, he says, Somali activists are very brave.

But, he explains, the murder may cause humanitarian and human rights officials to think twice about the work that they do.

"This will be considered by a certain number of partners as a warning, which might slow down or dissuade some of our partners to be too visible in this environment," he said. "So it will, in a way, be having an impact [on] our ability to monitor the overall humanitarian situation but also our ability to respond."

One Somali human rights activist, Ali Said Omar Ibrahim, tells VOA Isse's murder is typical of the human rights violations that have been happening in Somalia ever since civil war broke out in 1991.

He describes what it is like being an activist in Somalia.

He said, "We cannot freely express your [our] position. There are no security guarantees, there are always dangers. We continually face threats from different groups."

"The worst thing is that you cannot continue working and publicly say that I've been threatened by that group or by that group, and we cannot name them," he added.

Ibrahim calls on Somalia's transitional government to improve the security situation in the country and to fully investigate the murders of Isse and other activists who have been killed.

For the past 16 years, militias loyal to clan and sub-clan-based factions have controlled different parts of the country, with no central authority to provide law and order and even basic services to the population.

A transitional Somali parliament was formed in Kenya more than two years ago following a peace process.

The Somali government recently announced that it will be holding a peace and reconciliation congress next month to bring warring clans and sub-clans to the table for peace talks.

More than 1,000 Ugandan peacekeeping troops are currently in the capital as part of the African Union's stabilization plan for Somalia.