Somali journalists leave profession in fear as another dies

By Tom Rhodes/Africa Program Coordinator on June 9, 2009 2:38 PM ET

The funeral of Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe. (NUSOJ)Somali journalists held an emotional press conference in Mogadishu today at the Sahafi Hotel after Sunday's fatal shooting of the former director of Shabelle Media Network. (Sahafi means "journalist" in Arabic.) Roughly 15 journalists from different news outlets announced they were suspending their work because of security concerns. "We can no longer operate independently and impartially, and our lives are in danger because of the chaotic situation in our country," said a statement signed by the journalists, who were mainly editors and producers at local radio and TV stations.

Since late 2006, dozens of Somali journalists have either been killed or forced into exile due to the ongoing fighting in the capital. CPJ helped former Shabelle Media Network journalist Baabul Nor leave Mogadishu in November 2007 after he survived gunshots, police raids, and detentions. Now in exile in Uganda, Nor told CPJ about his former friend and colleague, Shabelle Media Network Director Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe, below, who was gunned down by armed men Sunday morning near the station in Mogadishu:

"It was with a great sense of loss that I heard of the death of my colleague Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe. I send my greatest sympathy and deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues, and my heart is truly saddened.
"Hirabe, former TV and radio director of Shabelle Media, had a dedicated audience in Mogadishu due to his balanced reports, programs, and stories. He was a kind, considerate man who geared his stories to the concerns of the poor and the needy. In 2006, he helped organize a Shabelle assistance program for orphans in Internally Displaced Person camps in Mogadishu. Well respected, he was also often the peacemaker when heated arguments arose within the station.  

"My former colleague began his career with Shabelle as a correspondent reporting from Djibouti, and covered the reconciliation conference in 2000 that formed the former Somali government. In 2005, he came back to Somalia and started reporting on the conflict in the capital. He covered a range of programs including politics, business, and entertainment during his work at Shabelle.
"With such experience, Hirabe was nominated the director of Shabelle in late 2007 after his predecessor Bashir Nor Gedi was assassinated and the station's former deputy chairman, Mohamed Amiin, fled to Sweden. Journalists were literally trapped inside the radio station at the time as the former government and insurgents battled next to the station in Bakara Market. Up to 10 Shabelle staffers left the station for security reasons and death threats; three of them were evacuated to Uganda with the help of CPJ. 
"Hirabe's death reportedly appears to have been an assassination by Islamic insurgents. I know that his passing will leave a void in the Somali media, in the hearts of all those who knew him."

Radio Shabelle, one of leading independent media companies in the country, has been broadcasting since March 2003. The company launched a TV station earlier this year. Somalia is one of the most dangerous places for the media to work in. Five reporters have been killed this year--three from Shabelle--either as direct targets or caught in the crossfire of fighting between different groups.


i am sorry about like this killing

mahamoud huseen June 9, 2009 4:05:11 PM ET

Somali journalists just they are meeting more abastucles about their job, they can't avoid to report the true News.

know when they are walking at inside the city Mogadishu they are not allow to call thier for the sicke of security.

they need a great help for every side, just more then 20 journalists leave thier work others are also planing to do so.

Mohamed Abdi Hussien (Madaale)

Mogadisho Member of Hurmo Comunity Radio Staff

Mohemd Madaale June 9, 2009 10:36:23 PM ET

It was hard but a necessary decision when Somalia journalists saw leaving their profession as a step towards safety; they had to abandon their line of work as fears grew faster intheir country.

Two beloved colleagues were brutally shot in daylight; those behind the killings still enjoy their crimes with impunity and justice is still miles away.

My sympathy is with my friends and the families those victims left behind while I’m still very much worried about the safety of other journalists who are still working in the capital Mogadishu including myself.

Anyway, I believe that press freedom is a responsibility exercised on behalf of the society and that we should be brave and not intimidated by the brutal actions of those whose ambition is silencing us.

Yeah, of course, they can silence each of us any time by killing, but the legacy of freedom we leave behind will always be standing-still.

I’m not afraid of death because I have a moment that I cannot go beyond, and that is the time Allah allocated me to depart so that, no worries I will work and serve the community even it costs my life.

Mustafa Haji Abdinur June 10, 2009 12:35:50 PM ET

It is great disaster that journalists who remain in Somali, have just decided to flee their home country after they encountered
abastucles about their job and some of them were killed.
they need a great help for every side, just more then 20 journalists left their job others are also planning to do so.

I my self, Ahmedsadik one of Somali exiled journalists living in Kampala, I left Somalia, when I got injured in 2007.

I am too much sorry my five friends who were brutally and deliberately killed in this year and those behind the killings still enjoy their crimes with impunit.

I am sending condelnce to the families those victims left behind since I am still very fearful of the safety of other journalists who are still working in Somalia.

I am kindly requesting the international press organizations to assist Somali journalists whether they stay in the country or abroad, because today Somali journalists have a lot of problems.

The international press organizations will be wanted to use the trustable agencies or channels if they assist Somali journalists, it is clear that there are numbers of people who claim that they advocate Somali journalists' rights.

Ahmedsadik Yusuf Mohamed

Somalia: Media outlets seek governent protection

After the continues killings of the journalists, the media outlets based in southern Mogadishu decided to move to the areas controlled by the government in the capital as safe zone, reports say on Wednesday.

Local Radio and TV stations are now planning to evacuate from the neighborhoods controlled by the Islamist hardline insurgents in south of the capital after they received death treats over their journalistic duties.

Around eight Radio and TV stations will relocate in Waberi, Shibis, Hamarweyne and Karan districts those are under the protection of the government to continue their broadcasting.

Yesterday, around 30 professional journalists announced that they stopped their journalistic works to safe their lives from execution.

The move came after the Islamist terror group Al-Shabab deliberately threatened the free media people or stop what they called ‘the anti-mujahideens propagandas’ – as the latest murdered journalist was Mokhtar Mohamed Hirabe, director of Shabelle Radio and TV.

On Saturday, May 6 2009, Hirabe was gunned down inside Mogadishu ’s main Bakara market by three masked militants armed with pistols who shot him on the head with five bullets till he died on the spot.

By Dahir Abdulle Alasow
[email protected]

i am sorry about like this killing

Abdirashid Siad Abdi June 10, 2009 5:40:50 PM ET

I am very saddened by the death of my colleague Muqtar Hirabe. he was a backbone with in the Somali media.

his killing was not a voilation against a fatal journalist, who didicated his life for reporting the ordeals of the voiceless, but it is also a message to all Somali journalists.

Hirabe known to be polite and very respectful individul was gun downed and that means, who ever killed Hirabe would no spare the life of the other journalists

that is what forced many to sspend their noble profession and those who still remain in the profession are leading a desprate and fearful life.
these remorseless killers must be accounted for and journalits should get protection,since they are the eyes and the ears of the outside world.

Mohamed Olad Hassan June 11, 2009 2:26:10 AM ET

The loss of Mukhtar Mohamed Hirabe will haunt us as long as we breathe.

I could hear the bullets that cost his life and with a shock and disbelief i learnt his death.

I last saw him one day before he was assassinated in a cold blooded attack that aimed at one icons of the Somali media.

It was my first time that I thought about giving up a beloved career following this deliberate killing but I have now decided to stay behind.

I extend my heart felt to bereaved family members, relatives, friends and colleagues and call for media organizations worldwide to take care of his family.

It is the responsibility of each and every one of the citizens of this world to contribute to the protection of the Somali journalists.

abdiaziz mohamed dirie,a somali journalist in mogadishu

abdiaziz mohamed dirie June 11, 2009 2:48:58 AM ET

i am deeply touched the series aasassinations against somali journalists and the intellectuals in somalia which mostly go unpunished.

these victims are the eyes of the somali society and the killers want to make the people blind and deaf so i condemn these inhumane acts of murder with strongest terms.

i am also sorry that journalists have forced to flee for safety grounds and i also congratulate those who are committed to stay and work in a country where it is nearly impossible to operate.

somali journalists have fallen victims for groups under the cover of islam where each accuses the other of being responsible for the death of the journalists.
they the victims for political point scoring ,which is abhorrent and at the expense of the victim's family.

Ahmed Hussein Adan

a resident in mogadishu

ahmed hussein adan June 11, 2009 11:34:53 AM ET

I was devastated and nearly passed out when I heard Muktar Mohamed Hirabe was killed and I understood from that point that the savage people who killed Hirabe wouldn't spare anyone so the resigned journalists had no other options but to resign.

Hirabe was gentle, innocent and one of the very few good humans I have ever seen in my life.

I remember his endless jokes which he would never hurt the feeling of the person he joked with and I have never seen him being angry at anyone so no reason on earth to target such that highly rated decent man.

I really miss but his good memories will never fade out from my mind.

May Allah rest his soul in peace.

Mohamed Amiin Adow June 11, 2009 12:51:21 PM ET

I Mr Abdi Aziz is one of the somali Journalists suspended their work as security situation, I Blieve that Criminals will not stop killing journalists, becuase they want not to cover their bad actions agaist humanatarians,

Abdi Aziiz M. Guled "Afrika" June 14, 2009 4:44:26 AM ET

So sad for Somalia journalists, in prayers we are with you.

Ojwang Joe of 98.4 Capital Fm, Kisumu Kenya June 14, 2009 4:59:51 AM ET

Ahmedsadik Yusuf Mohmed

The journalists who are currently in the country have not confidence to work or to stay in Somalia due to they are still under attack.

Last three years Somali journalists were killed and threatened by unknown groups, most of them fled to Somali neighborig countries such as Djabbuti, Kenya, Uganda, though, some journalists got resttlement in USA, EU coutries and Autralia.

Unforjunately Some of the Somali exiled journalists who are in Africa, did not still furher assistance and they are complaining about what thier future will be.

However, all Somali journalists need assistance from international humanitarian organizations specially the ones involved with journalists'rights if they stay in the country or abroad.

The journalists who are currently in the country have not confidence to work or to stay in Somalia due to they are still under attack.

I am kindly requesting to international community to give protection and resettlement since more than 5- innocentjournalists were brutally killed in Somalia.

Ahmedsadik Yusuf Mohmed
Somali journalist

Ahmedsadik Yusuf June 14, 2009 2:15:35 PM ET

Hello this is Nur Hasaan iam one of the Somali exiled journalist in Kampala really i used to work with Shabelle radio in Merca lower shabelle region really i fled the country when Alshabaab took over the city at the time my colleague Miktar Mohamed Hirrabe was killed by unknown men
that really gave me very frustrated as a journalist because the killers gave me all time a phone call death threat that we are the next men who will be killed
so in june this year i came here in Kmapala where i was wellcomed by my colleagues like Hassan sheikh Abdullahi and Ahmed Sadik
we are waiting now help from the UN because we can not go back to the country

i am sorry to killing my dear brother Mu

ibrahin mohamed ali October 28, 2009 11:32:48 AM ET

I am very sad about this killings to my Somali journalists, whom we are in some boat.

I am requesting international community to look a kind eyes to Somali journalist and rescue them, because they are in danger, when they are serving their people.

I,who am Somali journalist I also run from the difficulties of my homeland, where is became famous killing innocent people and targeting journalists if they tell the true.

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