In Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has shut down three radio stations over the past two days. Radio Shabelle was closed on Monday and on Tuesday authorities took the same action against Radio Simba and Radio Banadir.
Among those reacting to the closing of Somali radio stations is the Committee to Protect Journalists. Tom Rhodes is the African program coordinator for the CPJ. From New York, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the station closings.
“Obviously we’re shocked, but unfortunately we’re not surprised. It’s part of a growing trend that’s been happening in Mogadishu as things are getting more and more precarious,” he says.
As for possible reasons for the closings, Rhodes says, “We’ve talked to the directors of each of the stations. And all three of them actually don’t know exactly the reason for it. And they haven’t had a chance to address the authorities about it. I mean the reports we’re getting is that Ethiopian-backed troops, as well as local national troops, are raiding the stations and then telling them that their orders [are] from their superiors.”
He describes the plight of the media in Mogadishu as “dire.” Rhodes says, “The problem that the media face, particularly the independent, private media in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, is that they tend to get enemies from both sides of the fence. The government opposes them because they’re reporting on some of the atrocities that are going on. At the same time, the Islamic-backed insurgents also oppose them because they see them as an opponent to their cause.”
The CPJ official says the TFG has promised to solve some of the problems, but he says it’s an ongoing situation. He adds that many of those attacking the stations may actually be acting on their own and not on orders from their superiors.