Release of three journalists arbitrarily detained for covering armed conflict in Galmudug, Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 05 October 2021 – The Somali Journalists Union (SJS) and the Somali Media Association (SOMA) salute the freedom of three journalists: Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow in Dhusamareb, Mohamed Abdukadir Said in Galkayo and Hashim Omar Hassan in Adado after their arbitrary detention.

On Monday, October 4, police from Galmudug in the town of Adado arrested Radio Adado and Five TV freelance writer Hashim Omar Hassan following the his Sunday report which covered a meeting of members of Sufi supporters who supported the renewed resurgence of the Ahlusuna militia in Galmudug. He was detained at the Adado police station. According to Sharma’arke Suley, the director of Radio Adado, the journalist was released a few hours later after his director agreed to bring him back after the police summoned him. There is no charge against him.

On Sunday October 3, Galmudug police in Dhusamareb released freelance journalist Mohamed Abdiweli Tohow after his detention on September 28. According to Tohow, he was released without charge but ordered to return once police summoned him. “I was beaten several times during police detention. The police force shaved my head, ”he said.

On Sunday October 3, Galmudug police in Galkayo briefly detained freelance journalist Mohamed Abduqadir Said, who works for private local radio station Radio Hayan and was part of a group of local journalists recently trained by SJS with support from the Canada Fund. for local initiatives. According to Mohamed, his arrest came after Galkayo Sud (Galmudug) police chief Qasim Sheikhdon called the journalist by phone and ordered him to report to the police station where Mohamed was being held upon his arrival. His detention came after covering a group of Sufi followers who announced their support for the resurgence of the Ahlusuna militia in Galmudug. Mohamed was released later that day without charge but was ordered not to report the issues regarding the Ahlusuna militia in the area.

The SJS and SOMA are gravely concerned about the increased pressure exerted by the Galmudug police on journalists and media covering the resumption of conflict in the region. Police officers in Dhusamareb, Adado and Galkayo intimidate, detain and threaten journalists covering armed clashes between the security forces in Galmudug backed by federal government forces against the Ahlusuna militia which have continued since late September.

“Galmudug’s security forces should stop intimidating, detaining and threatening journalists who cover armed clashes between its security forces and the Ahlusuna militia. Journalists should be allowed to report independently, ”Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, general secretary of the Somali Journalists Union (SJS) said. “The role of journalists is to report on what both parties to the conflict are doing. These threats, intimidation and detentions against journalists are only intended to silence the media and prevent the public from understanding what is happening in Galmudug.

“We condemn the recurrent arbitrary detentions of journalists in Galmudug. We call on police officials to stop intimidating local journalists because of the way they report on the conflict in the region. The authorities in Galmudug and his security forces must know that the armed conflict in Galmudug cannot be an excuse to restrict media freedom, ”said Mohamed Osman Makaran, Secretary General of the Somali Media Association (SOMA) .