News / Africa

Media Rights Group Cautions that Independent Media in Somalia May Disappear

A Somali media rights group is voicing grave concern that the continuing lack of security, growing censorship, and dwindling domestic and international support for journalists in Somalia could wipe out independent media in the country.  

The National Union of Somali Journalists says Somalia's once-thriving independent media will cease to exist, if the current crackdown on media organizations continues unchecked.

The general secretary of the media rights group, Omar Faruk Osman, tells VOA that members of the country's powerful radical Islamist groups - al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam - have threatened the media into submission, raising serious concerns about whether the Somali people will ever have access to uncensored news again.

"There is oppression of the media in every place of the country," said Omar Faruk Osman. "But the situation is extremely out of hand in Mogadishu.  It is content.  It is programs.  It is interviews being censored by Hizbul Islam and al-Shabab.  They are not allowing the media to operate freely and independently.  Our fear now is that people in Mogadishu will miss independent and critical information coming from media [that is] not politically allied with any of the warring sides in the country."

Since 2007, al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants have steadily consolidated power in southern Somalia, partly by seizing media stations in areas under their control.  The group controls radio stations in strategic towns such as Baidoa in the Bay region and the port town of Kismayo in the south.  

In early 2009, another fundamentalist insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, joined al-Shabab in its efforts to topple the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu.  Despite backing by the United Nations and the presence of the 5,300-member African Union peacekeeping troops, the fragile government has been unable to expand its reach beyond a few blocks of the capital.  

Osman says extremists, determined to implement their strict version of Islamic law in every part of Somalia, have fiercely targeted the media in Mogadishu to help them achieve their goal.   He says private media organizations are also suffering financially because many businesses are too afraid to buy time for advertisements.  

"Media is a powerful tool and has influence in the communities," he said. "Because of that, they attack the media.  At the end of the day, there is no rule of law in the country.  There is a rule of the gun and if one does not abide by the rules imposed illegally, then someone having a gun will kill you.  And that is what is happening."

On Wednesday, Hizbul Islam forced 14 private radio stations in Mogadishu to stop broadcasting music, which the group called "un-Islamic."  Radio stations say they complied with the order following threats.  Last week, al-Shabab also forced the private radio stations to drop VOA and BBC programs, calling them western propaganda that violated Islam.  

Osman is equally critical of the international community.  He says donor nations are undermining private media in Somalia by withholding funding.  He says the money that should be going to Somali journalists is now going to fund radio stations recently established to counter extremist propaganda.

With donor backing, the Transitional Federal Government launched Radio Mogadishu last year.  And the U.N. support office for the African Union peacekeeping mission established Radio Bar-Kulan, which broadcasts from Nairobi but is heard in Mogadishu on an FM station. Osman says in the capital, neither station is viewed as an outlet that reflects the voice of the people.  

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for working journalists.  The National Union of Somali Journalists says at least 19 media professionals have been killed there since 2007.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid