IFJ condemns a terror attack against a Somali union leader

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined today the labour global organisation, the International Trade Union Confederation, to condemn the terrorist attack in Mogadishu last Friday which nearly cost the life of Omar Faruk Osman, the General Secretary of its member union in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). “I am shocked and the IFJ is deeply concerned that the leader of one of our unions came so close to losing his life at the hands of Al-Shabaab," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "It shows the grave dangers some of our leaders have to confront daily and their determination to work fearlessly to advance their members professional and social rights whatever the circumstances. Their strong leadership and unwavering commitment to journalism is recognised by all of us.” Faruk is also General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and former member of the IFJ Executive Committee. Faruk described the attack as follows: “The Al-shabaab terrorists first detonated a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) at the main gate of the hotel before six heavily armed fighters fought their way into the hotel. One of them suicided at the ground floor, killing those who were having afternoon tea/coffee there as well as security guards. The other five stormed into the first, second and third floors of the hotel where rooms are located and killed some people and held several people hostage overnight until they and their hostages died during an operation at the next day at around 7:30 a.m". And he added that: "At the time of the attack, I was having a meeting with four friends at this hotel, discussing our preparations for Labour Day commemorations. I had to run from the restaurant and get to first floor before they reached and jumped from the first floor, and hide inside next house until counter-terrorism forces arrived for 35 minutes who took control of the house where I was hiding and let me go after identifying myself. My friends were also rescued as they pretended like dead people when terrorists entered the restaurant.” Eighteen people, including 12 hotel workers and the Somalia’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yusuf Bari Bari, were killed in the attack. The IFJ joined the United Nations Human Rights Council which observed a minute of silence in memory of the ambassador, in mourning the Ambassador, described as “a true champion of human rights.” IFJ President recalls his unstinting help given to the IFJ for the cause of Somali journalists, in particular his support in the fight for the adoption by Somalia of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining against opposition from some in government circles. He expressed the IFJ’s condolences to Ambassador Bari’s family and friends, as well as the people of Somalia. FESTU is planning a commemoration ceremony for the victims on Labour Day in Somalia, on May 1st.

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