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Somaliland arrests an independent journalist in an indiscriminate dragnet targeting people from Southern Somalia

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) draws attention to and condemns the arrest of journalist Mowlid Ismail Diged by Somaliland police as he covered the mass arrests and detentions of Somalis from southern Somalia, whom the Somaliland administration has declared “aliens”.

Police in Las Anod city, the regional capital of Sool, arrested Mowlid Ismail Diged, Director of Halbeeg Media as he captured still and video footage at Las Anod Stadium, where hundreds of businesspeople and laborers from the Southern and Central regions of Somalia, were being held by the police ahead of expulsion from the self-declared autonomous state. His equipment was also confiscated and footage deleted.

Journalist Mowlid Ismail Diged

The Somaliland administration last night launched an indiscriminate dragnet targeting people from South and Central Somalia whom the Somaliland administration described as “foreigners.” Officially and internationally, the Somaliland regions remain part of Somalia and has repeatedly stated its secessionist crusade.

“People from southern Somalia are foreigners and they are like Ethiopians or any other foreigner. We will drive them out of Las Anod. We are not Somalis and we don't care. We are Somaliland” said Sool Regional Police Commander, Ahmed Abdillahi Abdi, after arresting the journalist.

NUSOJ condemns this dangerous development, the arrest of a journalist on duty and the victimization of people based on the community they hail from and background. Somalis are citizens of Somalia regardless of where they choose to reside in the federated republic of Somalia.

“Mowlid Ismail Diged has not committed any offence apart from being a journalistic witness to the unprecedented, indiscriminate and illegal actions of the Somaliland administration.  No amount of media harassment is going to hide the dastardly act of the disenfranchisement and displacement of hundreds of people from their rightful occupations and property” said said NUSOJ Secretary General Omar Faruk Osman. “We demand for the immediate release of Mowlid and the return of his equipment without any preconditions”.

 “No citizen of Somalia residing, living and working in any part of the country can be stripped of citizenship on the whims of politicians who want to send a political message. The Somaliland administration is also reminded that as the effective authority on the ground, it is duty-bound by international conventions to protect and guarantee the rights of all people in the territory under its control,” Osman added.