Abdirahman Farole, President of Puntland, formerly a part of Somalia. The breakaway territory is having conflicts with Somaliland, another breakaway area that has declared its independence from people in the south and central regions of the country., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
SOMALIA: Puntland radio station still shut and its news website blocked
October 18, 2012 09:57
IPI reiterates call to authorities to end censorship
VIENNA– A week and a half after the station was first shut down, the International Press Institute reiterated its call for the Puntland authorities to allow Horseed FM radio to resume operations, and further called for the Puntland authorities to stop ordering the blocking of Horseed FM’s website.
The executive director of Horseed Media, Mahad Mussa, told IPI from the organisation’s offices in the Netherlands that Horseed’s FM station is still off air, more than a week after its Bosaso headquarters were shut down. He added that “there have being soldiers roaming around” the premises. Access to horseedmedia.net has also been blocked, Mussa said, noting it was the first time that a website has been censored in Puntland.
According to Mussa, the radio station and website were targeted because they have recently covered and translated news about a number of sensitive issues. These include the Puntland president’s efforts to postpone elections scheduled to take place in January 2013. Horseed has also raised questions about the degree of official involvement in the activities of private military firms that the United Nations has accused of breaking the Somalia arms embargo.
“We were the only Somali media covering the issue of [military firm] Saracen, and they were upset because we were translating articles,” Mussa said.
After the website and radio station were shut down, Horseed Media published on its website an open letter to the Information Minister of Puntland, Mohamud Aydid Dirir, Mussa told IPI. Mussa said that in the Somali-language letter, the station calls on the minister to investigate why funds allocated in the government budget for use by a government radio station were withdrawn although there is no such radio station, and why an FM transmitter gifted to Puntland by the federal government of Somalia for use at a government station was instead taken for use elsewhere.
The news organisation, which was founded by members of the Somali Diaspora who were living in the Netherlands, has been the target of several attacks over the years. In August 2010, Deputy Director Abdifatah Jama Mire was sentenced to six years in prison for airing an interview with the head of an insurgent group. He was released several months later and now resides outside the country, reports say. In October 2010, attackers threw a grenade at the radio station, injuring one person, reports said. Journalists and media houses in Puntland have repeatedly suffered threats, censorship and attacks in recent years.
Last month, President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole threatened the opposition and the media, according to a report on Horseedmedia.net. The website quoted him as saying: “[W]e allow the opposition if they join a political party, but we will not tolerate those failed politicians and so called websites and media who are supporting Puntland’s enemies including terrorists and pirates.”
Senior Press Freedom Adviser
Focus on Africa & the Middle East
International Press Institute