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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More