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Somalia February 23, 2005
H.E. Abdullahi Yusub
Office of the President
Puntland State of Somalia
Fax: (011.252) 944-8503 / 545-4024
We write to condemn attacks on journalists in Somalia, including the recent physical attack and professional censorship of radio reporter, Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed. Mohamed reported on 26 September on Radio Banadir that the elders of the Jawhar community had asked the committee running one of the city’s mosques to resign in favor of a new committee that had their approval and that of the local authorities.
After the report was broadcast, Mohamed was stopped and beaten on the main road in Jawhar by militiamen loyal to the Middle Shabelle region’s administrative chairman, Mohamed Dhere. The next day, Dhere’s spokesman issued a decree stating that Mohamed was “forbidden” to practice his profession — and that the Middle Shabelle region and also the authorities would consider themselves “attacked” if he failed to comply.
In response to protests by local and international press freedom groups, the Jawhar authorities offered to lift the ban if Mohamed admitted spreading “false” information and asked for amnesty. At this writing, he has refused to do so.
There has previously been condemned by Reporters Without Borders for his attacks on press freedom, including the February 2004 harassment of Abshir Ali, editor-in-chief at the independent Radio Jawhar , and the May 2004 arrest and detainment of Abshir Ali and Abdulgani Sheikh, news editor at the station.
We urge you to assure the safety and freedom of Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed to practice his profession in the Middle Shabelle region and to launch an immediate independent investigation into the attacks on him and other journalists, along with the prosecution of those responsible for the attacks.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your prompt reply.
Freedom of the Press Committee
cc: Abshir Farah Hassan
Office of the Prime Minister
Republic of Somalia
Ambassador Ahmed Abdi Hashi
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Somalia
to the United Nations
425 East 61st Street, Suite 702
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 759-0651
The Sandhya Times