Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) strongly condemns the closure of two privately-owned TV stations in Hargeisa by Somaliland authorities on Tuesday morning, 18 June, 2019, the latest in a string of attacks against the press in Somalia.
Around 7.30am local time, more than 10 police officers under the leadership of Somaliland’s Deputy Head of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Abdi Fiin went to Eryal TV and Horyaal 24 TV studios in Hargeisa and instructed the management of the two television to close indefinitely.
According to Eryal TV chairman, Adan Aidid and Horyal 24 TV chairman, Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid), the deputy head of CID Abdi Fiin presented them a written order of closure by Somaliland’s Information Minister, Mohamed Muse Dirie which the officers took back after the two media outlets’ chairmen read it.
Eyewitnesses and journalists said the journalists and other staff members who were on duty when the police officers arrived were ordered to leave the premises.
The letter of the closure, according to the both chairmen, alleges that “Eryal and Horyal 24 accustomed to propagating anti-Somaliland Army news, propaganda against security and fueling conflict within the community”
“The CID officers raided our stations and ordered both televisions be shut without clear reason,” Adan Aidid of Eryal TV told SJS on the phone.
“We are shocked to hear all these fabricated allegations,” Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid) of Horyal 24 TV told SJS on the phone “We are independent media and our role is to inform the public through factual reporting so I don’t understand why the government is alleging us on these things.”
SJS has learnt that the same letter ordered “suspension of any other TV and newspaper already registered but has not yet started operation” meaning that dozens of newly established media outlets or in the process of establishing will not be allowed to operate indefinitely.
“We condemn the closure of the two privately owned TV stations in Hargeisa, which is meant to intimidate and suppress the independent media through violent crack down.” SJS said, “We call for the Somaliland authorities to unconditionally allow both TV stations to resume operations.”
Shortly before midday on Tuesday, a group of media directors including Eryal and Horyal 24 went to the Office of the Minister of Information Minister of Somaliland in Hargeisa to seek for further explanation about the closure. Staff at the Office of the Minister told them that the minister was not at the time in the office.
Both chairmen Aidid and Mire later held a press conference asking authorities for a clarification of the closure.
Both stations’ management told SJS that they will go to the court to challenge the closure of their stations.
In a separate case, Somali police officers in Mogadishu on Sunday 16 June, 2019, briefly detained journalist Mohamud Abdinasir Sofeysane, Shabelle TV reporter and his cameraman, Mohamed Nur Amin. Both were on assignment when the police stopped and detained them at Hawl-wadag police station for several hours before they were released without charge.