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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
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 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.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid