“I condemn the murder of Mohammed Mohamud Tuuryare [left] and Ahmed Farah Ilyas,” said Irina Bokova. “The number of journalists killed in the country is truly alarming and I am deeply concerned about the ability of journalists, whose courage I admire, to carry out their work in the face of such violence.
Mohamud was a producer and webmaster of the Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle.
“Mohamud’s death again underscores the hostile environment in which journalists operate in Somalia,” said the National Union of Somali Journalists.
Turyare was buried on Monday, a week after he was gunned down by unknown assailants in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. That evening, “the killers struck again, this time shooting dead one of Somalia’s famous poets and radio comedians, Warsame Shire Awale [right], near his Mogadishu home,” the LA Times reports:
Awale, in his 60s, was the 18th Somalia media figure killed this year. Turyare, 22, of the Shabelle Media Network, died days before TV journalist, Ahmed Farah Sakin, 25, was shot dead by unknown assailants in northern Somalia. Dozens more journalists and media personalities have been injured in the deadliest year on record for Somali journalists. In 2009, the next deadliest year, nine were killed…
As Somalia makes a delicate political transition, a new president has been elected and Mogadishu is more peaceful and stable than it has been in decades. Yet the rash of assassinations of Somali journalists continues, evidence of the country’s ongoing security problems and the new government’s impotence against targeted killings and suicide bombings.
In September, three journalists were killed and four were injured when suicide bombers attacked a cafe in central Mogadishu that was a popular hangout for news reporters and civil servants.
“In Mogadishu, the atmosphere is very fearful and people wonder how they can continue doing their jobs. Many have stopped. They’re afraid of being killed,” said union activist Rashid Abdullahi Haydar. “Families are afraid too. They are saying, ‘Please stop this [journalism] because you have no rights and no protection.’ It’s very precarious working conditions we have right now.”
“We urge the Federal authorities of Somalia to conduct a full and impartial investigation into Warsame’s death and the sustained killings of journalists to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice because justice delayed is a justice denied,” said Omar Faruk Osman, the head of the NUSOJ.
Awale was well-known for his Radio Kulmiye lampoons of Al Shabab, the LA Times notes.
“The Al Qaeda-linked Islamist group that has been pushed by African Union forces from urban strongholds, is thought to be responsible for a number of the attacks. But many believe that powerful warlords or businessmen may be behind some of the killings.”
Awale may have become a target because of comments he made on air about gunmen attacking civilians, the National Union of Somali Journalists said. He had performed with the band of the Somali Police Force and had reportedly urged people to join their ranks as they struggle to keep order in the face of violent attacks by Al Shabab.
The attacks also drew condemnation from the UN’s Special Representative for Somalia, the most senior United Nations official in the country.
“I strongly condemn the targeted and persistent assault on Somalia’s media professionals,” said Augustine Mahiga, “The world is concerned that none of these murders have resulted in conclusive arrests, investigations, and due process or convictions of suspects.”
Media watchdogs added their voice to calls for stronger safeguards against attacks on journalists.
“This has been the deadliest year for Somali journalists ever recorded by CPJ,” said Tom Rhodes, East Africa consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists. “This record fatality rate underlines the urgency with which authorities must act to secure conditions in Somalia, especially in the capital.”
Radio Shabelle and the National Union of Somali Journalists are grantees of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.