IFJ Condemns Death Threats against a Leader of Journalists Union in Somalia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for the end of the death threats against Ali Moallim Isak, a leader of the Somali journalists union after he received anonymous threatening telephone calls and two armed men went to search for him at the union office in the capital Mogadishu.

“We condemn these threats against Ali and express our solidarity with him and his colleagues working in this chaotic situation,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “Ali and his colleagues are now targeted because their work disturbs some people who claim they are fighting for democracy but ignore the fact that press freedom is one of the bases of democracy.”

The IFJ called for the end of the threats against Isak and all the journalists working in Somalia. As violence in the country has escalated, journalists have increasingly become targets. So far in 2007, 7 media workers have been killed in Somalia.

Yesterday and this morning Isak, the Organising Secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), received anonymous calls telling him that if he does not stop what he is doing he will be “under the ground.” They added that they know where he lives.

Yesterday afternoon two unidentified gunmen arrived at the NUSOJ office in Mogadishu asking about Isak. At the time Isak was at the hospital visiting a journalist shot last month.

According to NUSOJ the specific reason why Ali is threatened is unknown.

“We will continue monitoring and investigating attacks on press freedom in Somalia,” said Omar Faruk Osman, Secretary General of NUSOJ.

The IFJ is calling on the Somali government to protect Isak and ensure that he is not threatened or subject to violence.

“The Somali authorities, the African Union, the UN and other international groups should make journalist safety a priority,” Baglo said. “We do not want to see another one of our colleagues in danger simply for doing his or her job as a journalist or media professional.”

For more information contact the IFJ Africa Office at + 221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries worldwide