The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) today condemned the forced closure of privately-owned independent television network in Hargeisa by Somaliland authorities.
According to information from Star TV journalists, dozens of police, many in uniform and others in civilian dress, have forcefully raided today at around 11:30am and shut down Star TV and started to occupy its premises. Police ordered journalists and other staff to leave and disconnected the broadcasting. Police continue to guard the offices.
Star TV director Mohamud Abdi Jama (Jawhar) said they did not know the reason that the TV network was raided as they only saw dozens of police officers who entered the premises forcefully and informed the staff to come out.
However, on the last two nights, Star TV broadcasted news reports and analysis about the Somalia-Somaliland talks held in Djibouti, whilst the TV network extensively analysed the implications of non-political social engagements agreed by the Federal Government of Somalia and Somaliland administration. These reports are believed to be the unstated motive behind the raid and closure of the TV station.
“This raid and closure is blow to media freedom in Somaliland,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General. “It is intimidation of the worst kind that suggests the authorities are trying to censor and control information and dictate to journalists what they can and cannot do.”
Media observers in Hargeisa say Somaliland authorities did not like the way Star TV has been broadcasting news on Djibouti talks and the outcome, and there is abundant evidence of a policy to isolate and punish independent voices in media.
NUSOJ today warned that the continuing attacks on the media by Somaliland authorities is a potential disaster for emerging democratic governance in Somaliland, and called the leaders in Hargeisa to change course and to end their campaign against independent journalism.
“This latest action is evidence that independent practice of journalism in Hargeisa is under greater pressure than ever before,” added Osman. “We call on the authorties to end this arbitrary and unlawful closure of Star TV.