Subject: Slaughter of Journalists
Today, 11 August 2007, a terrible crime was committed in Mogadishu, Somalia, a carefully planned assassination of two prominent journalists - Mahad Ahmed Elmi of the Capital Voice Radio and Ali Iman Sharmarke, manager and owner of HornAfrik TV and Radio.
Mr. Elmi was gunned down just outside his radio station by two armed men who were waiting for him at around 7:00 a.m. local time. The second journalist, Mr. Sharmarke was killed by a remote controlled road side explosive device which targeted the vehicle he was riding in a convoy of vehicles returning from the funeral of Mr. Elmi who was killed earlier today. Mr. Sharmarke was pronounced dead at the scene of the explosion. He was going back to his radio station to be interviewed by Aljazeera English TV on the circumstances of the death of Mr. Elmi.
A third journalist, Mr. Abdihakim Omar Jimale was fatally wounded last night after he was shot in the chest by two gunmen in the Yaqshid district of Mogadishu. The targeting of journalists is certainly an act of terrorizing the journalism community and silencing the free press in a country illegally occupied and ruled by warlords. The TFG and Ethiopian occupation have already banned all foreign journalists from the country.
Somali Concern Group (SCG) condemns the assassinations of journalists and silencing of free press in a country struggling to learn the trade mark of freedom of expression and free press. Mahad Elmi, Ali Sharmarke, Abdikarim Jimale and all other killed reporting what is happening in Somalia deserve justice. About six journalists were killed in Mogadishu in the last few months in circumstances similar to these latest assassinations. Giving them justice will also protect otherjournalists who bravely report from a country that does not allow foreign reporters to come in and scrutinize what is happening there.
On Tuesday, 7 August, an officer from the Ethiopian Embassy in Mogadishu named Jamaludin called on Shabelle Radio Station and threatened with punitive measures if they donít stop the broadcasting of growing humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses that are daily taking place in the city. On Friday, 10 August, 9 of Shabelle radio staff were detained by the TFG militias and still journalist Bile Abdullahi is in detention.
It is also documented that HornAfrik and GBC (Global Broadcasting Corporation) Radio and TVs were bombarded by the Ethiopians during the fighting in last April. HornAfrik was also searched four times in July on the pretext of weapons search and nothing was found. Its co-chair Mr. Ahmed has recently fled Somalia and went back to United States after he was threatened.
No question that the perpetrators of these horrific crimes are the TFG and Ethiopian forces. They are the only side that is doing something illegal and want to hide from the public and international community. The gross human rights abuses such as planned assassinations, detentions, raping, robbing public properties and confiscation of private properties such as 4X4 vehicles, money, computer, mobiles and property ownership documents. The thousands of detained civilians held for distortion and ransom money as a new way funding the illegal occupation is dehumanizing. Detainees must pay at least $500 before they are released. Otherwise, they will stay behind bars for a long time. Children as young as 10 year old are in detentions and one them is named Ali Abdi.
The security situation in Somalia and particularly in Mogadishu has rapidly deteriorated since the Ethiopian invasion of the country in December last year. The abuses to human rights, the closing down of free press and subsequent intimidation and killing of journalists and growing political uncertainly in the country should be enough to end the appeasement of the occupation and supporting the criminal institution it protects against its own people. The TFG has no legitimacy from its people and capacity to political reconciliation. It is only waste of time and resources to blindly support an institution that is failing and doomed to die.
We call upon the United Nation, United States, EU countries, Arab League, African Union, Human rights organizations to investigate the unlawful killing of the journalists and continuous human rights abuses that are daily taking place in Somalia and bring those responsible of these heinous crimes before the court of law.
We urge you to end the occupation as it is the source of instability and deteriorating human rights violations in Somalia. The appeasement and supporting of the occupation will not bring about peace and reconciliation in Somalia as the Somali problem is one of political and needs political solutions and not military or occupation.
Give justice to those slain on the line of duty and bring those who committed these heinous crimes before the court of law.