Somali Union Condemns an Attack Against a Radio Journalist

Statement of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) is today condemning the brief detention and harsh pounding of Radio Shabelle Reporter, Ms Maryan Mohamud known Maryan Qalanjo, in southwest town of Baidoa, the headquarters of Bay region.

The Radio reporter was assaulted two times by militias loyal to Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) of the Digil and Mirifle ethnic group, who have power over the south-western regions of Bakool and Bay. Initially, the journalist was attacked in the Baidoa airport while she was in the Taxi that took her from her hotel to cover the arrival of the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan from Galka'yo of Puntland. "The militiamen opened her door and directed towards her their guns by saying 'get off the car' but she refused and the Taxi driver drove her back to her hotel" a witness told NUSOJ who asked anonymity.

The second show of aggression happened at the journalist's hotel by the same militias. She was removed from her room forcibly and was hit several times and taken to Baidoa police station, according to reliable sources at the scene. "I was detained at 12:30hrs (Local time) but freed at 15:30hrs" Maryan Qalanjo told NUSOJ. "I am feeling pain at the head, kidney and the spine" she added.

The Organising Secretary of NUSOJ Ali Moallim visited her at the cell in the police station. "I saw Maryan crying as a result of ache of the maltreatments" Ali added. "She really suffered substantial abuse and her face seemed changed".

However, the Minister of Farming Colonel Hassan Mohammed Nur, nicknamed Shatigadud, who is at the same the acting Minister of Interior of the Transitional Government, issued a decree ordering her release, but as well banned her to carry out her journalistic work in Baidoa. Apart from the ministerial post, Shatigudud is a member of the parliament and the chairman of one of the RRA factions.

Government officials told NUSOJ that they were disturbed by disinformation that Radio Shabelle is reporting on government leaders particularly the speaker of the parliament. The officials claimed that the Station aired a falsified report which reasoned the trip of the speaker of the parliament to Puntland was to take billions of counterfeit money. But the speaker's trip was to settle dispute between Premier Ali Mohammed Ghedi and Puntland Authority on production of oil in Puntland regions, according to major local media reports. Again, the TFG was annoyed by a Radio Shebelle report on the agreement the speaker of the parliament signed with Puntland president Gen. Adde Muse of resolving the political conflict between TFG and Puntland. But the Radio report stated that the speaker has the work of the legislative body (parliament) but not the work of the executive organ (the government) such as the agreement with Puntland.

"This is hard-hearted and premeditated attack aimed to hurt Maryan bodily and her job" said the NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. "We appear our complete solidarity for our colleagues who are carrying out their work energetically and objectively". "We call the TFG to lift the ban on Maryan's journalistic work immediately and unconditionally".

Daily operations of the Radio in Baidoa were briefly suspended on 22 May by infuriated militias who belong to Digil and Mirifle ethnic group. Radio Shabelle is Mogadishu based FM station.


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