NUSOJ Reactions to the Malicious Falsehood and Defamatory Statement of Minister of Information, Posts & Telecommunications

25 January 2012

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns in strongest terms possible the malicious falsehood and defamatory statement by the Minister of Information, Posts & Telecommunications of Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Abdulkadir Mohamed Ahmed (Jahaweyn) with respect to NUSOJ’s report on the plights of journalists.

The Annual Report of NUSOJ highlights plight of journalists who have been victims of all forms of attacks, including outright repression of media freedom and journalists’ rights by the Ministry Information, Posts & Telecommunications and other elements within the TFG against NUSOJ and its leadership by relentlessly persecuting unionists through harassment, intimidation, arrest, and even interrogation.

The Ministry denied such repressive measures against journalists and their national union, but the facts contradict the Minister’s rebuttals. Officials of the ministry were brutally involved in covert and overt activities to limit the ability of NUSOJ members to assemble peacefully in March 2011; unfairly tried to facilitate prosecution of 5 NUSOJ leaders; and amongst others.

NUSOJ holds that the Minister owns and has the right to respond to our report; especially as it is one of our expectations that such response will help to progressively move towards better rights protection and promotion. Unfortunately, the Minister, characteristically, yet again missed the opportunity to address the salient issues contained in the report.

Rather, the Minister has chosen like in the past to pursue a savagery attack as part of a series of planned “illegitimate conspiracy” against NUSOJ and its members. NUSOJ calls into question consent of the Office Prime Minister and the top leadership of the Transitional Federal Government about this libelous statement of Minister Ahmed.

We make bold to say that we stand by the contents and context of our report as it relates to the state of rights of rights of journalists in Somalia.  Press freedom continued to be curtailed, violations of the rights of media persons and organisations continue unabated, including verbal, psychological and physical abuses. The employments of the police and the judiciary in such attacks have been unrelenting.

At this material point in time, things have not changed. For instance, journalists who operate outside the Ministry’s control, are discriminated, barred, intimidated or even malevolently belittled, slandered and questioned. The murderers of four journalists who were killed in Mogadishu in 2011 in the areas controlled by the TFG are yet to be neither investigated, tried nor punished. Save for one of the killings, which was investigated by the African Union Peace-keeping troops panel, the other three have remained largely unresolved thereby contributing in no small way to the growing and deepening culture of impunity in Somalia. On 18 December 2011, Abdisalan Sheik Hassan was allegedly murdered by a government soldier. However, it is a widely known fact that the killer is still at large, despite cover up arrest of someone else who was not the actual killer.

The attack of the Minister and his officials at the Ministry, who do not understand the independence of trade unions and journalists movements is the price of the struggle to be and continue to remain independent, which we are paying and prepared to continue to make and pay whenever necessary.

The Ministry has since then been saying it does not recognize NUSOJ and its democratically elected and internationally recognized leadership as a legitimate and legal union leadership because the union is technically unregistered at the Ministry.  It must be pointed out that the Ministry tried with futility to illegally extract a payment of $1,500, which we rightly considered as a bribe.

The Minister, Abdulkadir Mohamed Ahmed (Jahaweyn), furthermore, had in the past aided the use of NUSOJ logo fraudulently and helped the use of forged letterhead by misguided individuals motivated along clannish interests. It is also sad part of the Ministry that the Minister tried in vain to convince landlord not to evict and acquire the office space previously occupied by NUSOJ as part of his strategies and desperations to undermine legitimate, independent and progressive workers’ organization such as ours.

Despite these difficulties, the union has over the past months continued to hold meetings to discuss pressing press freedom and labor problems, issued press releases on media freedom and labor rights violations, officials of the union went to court to legally challenge the fraudulent use of the name of the union with the consent of the Ministry of Information and supported various actions, such as protests and solidarity support actions for journalists.

NUSOJ leaders surprised that the Minister states such blatant lies, and we would like to urge the Minister to learn to comment from an informed position as he has got the NUSOJ story all wrong. Our message to the Minister is clear, stop the futile battle against journalists and embrace progressive engagement.

Interestingly, but unfortunately, the Minister claimed that the funds of the union are been embezzled. This allegation is completely concocted and a mischievous lie meant to distort truth and confuse people. This is a minister who has never seen the accounts of the union and has never made any attempt to contribute to the financial base of the union. We want to say unequivocally that all funds and monies received from the subscriptions from our members and donations from our partners are regularly accounted for in accordance with laid down procedures. Our donors, who have severally and satisfactorily commended our prudence and financial tact and transparency, regularly audit our accounts and expenses. We continue to commit ourselves to this time-tested tradition and obligations.

NUSOJ, which maintains largest membership of journalists across-board, continues to enjoy the support, solidarity and recognition of International, Continental and Regional journalists, freedom of expression and trade union organizations.

We hope the Minister would come to the point of appreciation of the issues and stop all illegitimate actions against NUSOJ, which are bringing disrepute, in no small ways to the Transitional Federal Government and the current cabinet.

Lastly, we must add that we are at the moment consulting and analyzing our response options on libelous and falsehood statement by the Minister and other orchestrated attacks against NUSOJ from the Ministry.

Source NUSOJ.