The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns in the strongest terms, the unexplained attack today on Mustaqbal Media by Somali security forces, during which they ransacked the media house, taking away production equipment.
At around 5:50am on April 27, Somali security forces raided and forcefully entered the headquarters of Mustaqbal Media, an independently owned media house, located in Hodan district, in the KM4 neighbourhood. The security forces then ransacked the offices and confiscated Radio and TV production equipment, including computers used by management staff, Ahmed Isse Gutale, Director of Mustaqbal Media told NUSOJ.
Bashir Mohamud Yusuf, night shift-editor who was at the station during the raid was beaten up by the soldiers.
Neither the government nor the security forces has come out to explain the reasons behind the raid. However, Mustaqbal Media has in recent weeks aired a number of critical reports about government operations and the electoral dispute between the federal government and some federal member states.
“We wish to state in no uncertain terms, that as an independent broadcaster, Mustaqbal Media was operating within its rights to provide the public with critical information and analysis on issues of national importance. It is regrettable that the security forces should be treating us like enemies,” said Gutale.
“We urge the government to return the equipment they confiscated from our offices and do desist from treating us in a manner that makes us feel targeted by the very government that has a duty to protect us,” he added.
“We strongly condemn this unwarranted attack on Mustaqbal Media. It represents a return to the naked aggression against the media that had made Somalia a notorious place for journalists and independent media to operate” said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman.
“Today’s attack is all the more shocking because it is the first time in 5 years since President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo came to office that we are witnessing such an incident in Mogadishu. The Mogadishu media community had taken a break from such ugly and violent raids by security forces targeting news media organisations” he added.
In this period of political turmoil and security operations, NUSOJ urges the government forces and the forces loyal to opposition politicians to respect media neutrality, refrain from interfering with the work of media and desist from acts that put journalists’ safety in peril.
NUSOJ also reminds journalists to exercise extreme caution in this situation, and put their safety first. They should also avoid situations that could compromise their professionalism, independence and impartiality.