SOMALIA: Puntland authorities shut-down independent Horseed FM Station

Puntland security agents summarily shut-down an independent radio station early this morning without providing an explanation, according to the radio’s Management.

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Officers of the Puntland security stormed Horseed Media studios in Bosaso, the commercial capital of Puntland State, and forced it off the air, according to the journalists working at the radio station.

The Director of Horseed FM Bosaso, Mr.Abdikani Hassan and other Horseed Media officials were later invited to the Provincial Police headquarter, where they have met with the Police chief of Bari region Col.Osman Afdalow.

The Police Chief of Puntland Gen.Sa’id Jakanaf was at the time also present at the Police headquarter in Bosaso. Although Gen.Jakanaf has told Horseed Media officials that he was not aware of the order to shut down the radio station.

Col.Osman Afdalow the regional (Bari) Police chief, said he was the one given the order to shut down Horseed Radio, the colonel refused to comment on who gave the order to closedown the popular radio in Puntland. Previously such decision where taken by the office of Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole in Garowe.

“…Col.Afdalow gave us a letter which was not signed nor stamped, he told us the letter was sent by the Puntland’s Police chief of operations Gen. Bile Farah Ali based in Garowe, a copy of the letter was also sent to the police headquarter, the governor and the President’s office in Garowe…” said Abdikani Hassan the Director of Horseed Media. He added “…We have also contacted the Ministry of information office in Bari Region, they were also not informed of any decisions to close the Radio…”

The Police Letter was not signed nor Stamped

In the letter, Gen.Bile said the police got the order to closedown the radio when the Ministry of information sent an official letter to the police headquarter in Garowe. But Horseed Media office in Bosaso never received this official letter from the Ministry of Information.

Abdikani Hassan, The director of Horseed FM Bosaso

In a press release by Mr.Abdikani Hassan, the director of Horseed Media said “…We don’t know why such decision was taken by the government, still no reason is given on why the radio was shutdown, we respect the law and the constitution of Puntland, all broadcasted radio programs of Horseed Media are recorded and archived….we never broadcasted anything that is unlawful…we are asking the government to allow us to continue to provide our media services to the public….”

Ismail Haji Sa’id the acting Executive director of Horseed Media House, called the government’s decision regrettable “…The independent Media is objective and well balanced, it is impossible for any independent media to only report on what the government wants to be reported..” says Mr.Sa’id adding “…the independent media have the right to investigate the policies and the actions of the government… the government itself must respect the Puntland constitution which grantees the freedom of speech…”

The government’s frequent harassment and media censorship is totally against the basic rights of the people and any progress made so far in the democratization process, says Mr.Sa’id.

Puntland Authorities have censored Horseed Media several times before in retaliation for its exclusive news and programs covering the events in the autonomous region of Puntland State, northeastern Somalia.

In September 2012, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole warned his opposition and the critical media with prosecution, in response to the protests in the region against his plans to postpone the Puntland elections in January 2013.

Mr.Farole says he will not tolerate “ failed politicians” and some “media” to threaten his rule in Puntland, “…we allow the opposition if they join a political party, but we will not tolerate those failed politicians and so called websites and media who are supporting Puntland’s enemies including terrorists and Pirates….” Says President Farole in his speech during a cabinet meeting in Garowe.

Last month, President Farole reshuffled his cabinet, when he sacked several Ministers including the information Minister Mr.Ahmed Ali Askar.

Mr.Askar was extensively trying to restore the cooperation between The ministry of information and the independent media in Puntland, his sacking was seen as another below to the government’s efforts to normalize relations with the media.

Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole named Mohamed Aidid Ibrahim as the new information Minister, Mr.Ibrahim is close friend and confidant of the eldest son of the President Mr.Mohamed Abdirahman Farole, who is also the President’s advisor on Media issues. Mohamed is the owner of Radio Garowe the mouthpiece of the government.

This Week, the new Information Minister Mr.Mohamed Aidid Ibrahim warned independent media for reporting and interviewing opposition leaders and anyone who is critical to the government’s policies.

The warning was address to the independent media specially Horseed Media which is one of the major broadcasting companies in the region and international media houses like the Voice of America’s Somali service.

The information Minister went further and called “ A Pirate and the enemy of state” one of the prominent politicians who is running for the Presidential elections in January 2013.

The Presidential candidate Prof.Abdirahman Hassan Galbax called the Minister’s accusations baseless and unprofessional, he said such remarks shows the government’s undemocratic ways and aggression towards the opposition and the independent media.

One week earlier, an email sent from the President’s office and addressed to Horseed Media’s editor on political affairs Shiine Culey, threatened him personally. The email said “..the government of Puntland will take “actions” against him personally. Adding they will send ” their operatives ” to Dubai where he resides, if he did not stop his editorial articles on the website Horseedmedia.net….”

Now the Puntland government is actively trying to also censorship the internet and print media, this demonstrated the lengths that the Puntland government is willing to go to silence the independent media.

In August 2010, Abdifatah Jama Mire, the former director of Horseed Media FM, was arrested and held for 86 days for interviewing a “rebel leader.” Following this incident, Puntland banned journalists from interviewing rebel militants and also opposition groups. In addition, the government accused VOA of fomenting instability in the region.

In October 2011, A pair of assailants lobbed a grenade at Horseed Media building in Bosaso city. After the grenade exploded, one of the attackers began shooting at an adjacent café, no one was injured in the shooting but one station technician suffered a small shrapnel wound in his left leg. No other injuries were reported. The cause of the attack was not immediately clear.

Hussein Farah
Horseed Media