Somali journalists have gone on strike to protest the assassination of
a colleague and general insecurity targeted on their profession, writes
Dennis Itumbi for journalism.co.za.
The strike has completely paralyzed journalism in the country. Two top editors confirmed in phone interviews that the strike would go on until concrete assurances were provided.
The journalists also want the intervention of the international community. Around 15 Mogadishu-based journalists held a press conference Tuesday, two days after the director of private radio Shabelle, Mokhtar Mohamed Hirabe, was assassinated in broad daylight in the capital.
"In addition to the direct threats against us, we cannot work impartially at this time and send correct information to society, so we are temporarily suspending our journalism activities," the group said in a statement.
"We know the impact this decision can have on society and the free flow of information but we are obliged to stop working in Mogadishu in order to save our lives," Shabelle editor Abdirahman Yusuf explained.
"We are in danger, so we call on the international community to protect Somali journalists," the statement read.
That is despite the fact that the Somali Journalist Association recently supplied helmets and bullet proof jackets to journalists recently in efforts to protect them.
Hirabe was the third Radio Shabelle journalist to suffer a fatal attack since the start of 2009, the fifth journalist killed this year.
Somalia is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. Media houses have been routinely shut down by the authorities and many
reporters, Somali and foreign, have been kidnapped by armed groups.
Two freelance journalists, an Australian and a Canadian kidnapped near the capital some nine months ago, are still being held.
Somalia has lacked an effective central government since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre plunged the country into violence.
The security situation has been particularly volatile in recent weeks, with an offensive by insurgent groups bent on toppling internationally-backed President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and a counter-attack by government forces.