Farmaajo: We Have No One Else to Blame
NUSOJ has received incontrovertible reports from journalists, of death threats after they came out from this event, which took place on 29 November 2011.
At least eight journalists fear for their lives after getting death threats from Al Shabaab, following the live coverage by RBK of the off the record discussions with FC of AMISOM during which the journalists talked about the militant group and its strategies, which unknown to the journalists, was being recorded by Al-Shabaab.
Some 22 journalists and cameramen attended discussions with AMISOM Force Commander. The voices of the journalists who openly spoke to the commander were recorded by Al-Shabaab’s propaganda machinery, Radio Andalus.
Al-Shabaab officials telephoned the journalists and called them “spies who deserved death.” Radio Andalus carried repeatedly broadcasts of the journalists’ voices, calling them “paid spies”.
RBK, which is run by Albany Associates International Ltd, has reportedly offered US$8000 to journalists whose safety and security are jeopardized. But the journalists have refused to accept this payment, as it cannot be an incentive that can sufficiently cover up their security and ordeal they are going through everyday.
According to journalists who attended discussions with AMISOM FC and spoke to the union, they were invited to a press conference held by the AMISOM force commander and other Somali military officials on the security in Mogadishu.
It turned out partially to be discussion between the FC and journalists on how they could work together in order to improve the security in Mogadishu and to defeat Al-Shabaab. Prior to the discussions, all the journalists were asked to shut down their recording devices and put down their notebooks. Journalists’ cell phones were also switched off.
All the discussions as well as questions and answers between FC of AMISOM and the local journalists were aired live by RBK. The journalists were later surprised to realize that their off the record had been aired live by RBK and Al-Shabaab was recording.
NUSOJ condemns the action of persuading journalists to talk about the militants when the Bar Kulan radio was live, in the process exposing the journalists to extreme danger.
“This live broadcasting by Radio Bar Kulan has put journalists in imminent danger and is an attack on journalists’ safety,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.
RBK’s senior news editor Farah Lamaane, who objected to leaving the live transmission equipment for the November 29 press conference, has been dismissed, apparently to cover up the awkward situation in which the RBK management finds itself after this debacle. Lamaane’s objections to the request to leave the live transmission equipment for the said press conference, was reportedly ignored by the management.
“This is implausible when lives of local journalists were put in danger and they work in fear of being murdered for talking to military officer in what is supposed to be off the record, and at the same time another colleague’s job at Bar Kulan was put on the line and unjustly dismissed” Osman said.
“We believe that Farah Lamaane was blamed for the wrongdoings, dangerous mistakes and amateurish conduct of others in Bar Kulan for reasons of expediency,” added Osman. “We revile such flippant actions and their masters who intend to use up Somali journalists in fulfilling other purposes”
NUSOJ is outraged to learn that there are individuals in Mogadishu, attempting to play the role of intermediaries between endangered journalists and RBK in an effort to convince them not to speak out, making fake promises of monetary compensation of between US$2000 & $3000 by RBK to sort the matter out quietly when the journalists are living in fear for their lives since then.
“The Radio station will be held responsible if any journalist gets harmed as a result of this reckless approach to seeking information from journalists and carrying live broadcasting of their views" declared Osman.
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.