Honourable Professor Ali Mohammed Ghedi
Transitional Federal Government of Somalia
Paris and Mogadishu, 2 June 2006
Dear Professor Ali,
The Paris-based international press freedom organisation, Reporters Without Borders, and the Mogadishu-based National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) would like to jointly express their deep concern about attacks on journalist Maryan Mohamud Qalanjo of Radio Shabelle, yesterday in the city of Baidoa.
Ms. Maryan was assaulted twice by militias loyal to the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) of the Digil and Mirifle ethnic group, who control the southwestern regions of Bakool and Bay, because of controversial reports aired on Radio Shabelle.
Ms Maryan was first attacked in the airport of Baidoa where she had gone to cover your arrival from Nairobi and the return of the speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan, from Galka’yo.
The same militias were responsible for the second attack, which took place at her hotel. She was forcibly removed from her room, hit several times with gun butts and taken to Baidoa police station, eye-witnesses said. She is currently suffering from pain in the head, the kidney area, and the spine as a result of these blows.
Col. Hassan Mohammed Nur, who is your government’s farming minister and at the same time the acting interior minister, subsequently ordered her release but banned her from working as a journalist.
We are aware of the dangers that can result from the publication of false news in these times of great tension in Somalia, but nothing can justify treating a journalist in such an inhumane manner.
We therefore appeal to you to ensure that orders are given to the security forces under your command to respect the work of the media and that, in the event that your government wants to protest against a news item, it should do so with the professional organisations that have competence for dealing with such legitimate requests.
In this particular case, we ask you to lift the ban imposed on Ms. Maryan, or at least to set a date in the very near future when she may go back to work.
We trust that you will give thoughtful consideration to our requests.
Reporters Without Borders
Omar Faruk Osman