By Adan Iman
On March 8, 2015, two TV journalists were imprisoned in Berbera. The two, Abdirahman Mohamed Egeh of Royal TV and Mubarak Osman Said of Star TV, were imprisoned for allegedly betraying the Nation.
In November 2014, four radio journalists were jailed in Hargeysa and their radio equipment confiscated. In a piece posted on February 26, 2015, Somaliland.org, the flagship internet mouth piece for the Sillanyo Administration, provided an update of the status of the radio journalists in a news item entitled: “Update of Radio BAADI-GOOB Staff & Equipment that was engaged in the Destruction of the Nation (Qaran Dumis)”. It quoted the prosecutor for Marodi Jeeh region, Abdikarim Ahmed, as saying the case is nearing a conclusion after three sessions. According to the website, the prosecutor pointed out “the four defendants have confessed that they were the ones operating the radio and for disseminating the material they are alleged to have broadcasted” adding that “we have brought before the court the equipment for the radio and the defendants led by Yonis Farah Osman”. The prosecutor said the defendants were charged with the possession of illegal radio equipment, disseminating false information and songs inciting the people to revolt against the State. He added Yonis Farah Osman owned the majority ownership in the equipment and accused the defendants of working for WADANI party.
Last year also, among others: Haatuf and its sister newspaper, the Somaliland Times, were shuttered and the owner Yusuf Gabobe and his editor Ahmed Egeh were imprisoned; In Borama, Mohamed Abdi Muse of Boramanews.com and Abdulaziz Ibrahim Abdillahi of Universal TV were jailed; Muktar Nuh Ibrahim of Horn TV and Musa Hassan Sheikh of Somsat TV were thrown into jail; Universal TV was banned from broadcasting into Somaliland and Hubal newspaper was shuttered.
When Ahmed Sillanyo was campaigning to unseat Dahir Rayale his supporters operated FM radio called HORYAAL that his supporters operated in Hargeisa. The Rayale Administration neither confiscated the equipment nor imprisoned those who worked at radio HORYAAL.
Some of the staff of the radio, Duhul and Sayid are high ranking officials of the Sillanyo Administration, the former spokesman for President Sillanyo. It defies credulity that Ahmed Sillanyo would charge journalists with treason when he was engaged in the same behavior when he was opposition leader!!
It has become a common practice for officials and supporters of the Sillanyo Administration to accuse their critics of such charges as treason and being enemy of the State. The use of these words is a marker for a descent into fascism. These charges were used during the 20th century by communists; fascists and other dictators to eliminate those they suspected challenged their authority. The number of people, who were killed by dictators in the 20th century, the bloodiest century in human history, is estimated to be about 260 million people. These are loaded words – treason, betrayal of the nation, enemy of the people- that should never be used in Hargeisa against anybody. The fact is those journalists are as patriotic as anybody else.
The policies of this Administration raise a larger question: If President Ahmed Sillanyo is to run again will he allow for free and fair election? His behavior since he became President casts doubt on this: he spends millions of dollars on the government controlled media- TV, radio, print and internet websites- but adamantly objects to giving any air time or space to the opposition parties to express their views and charges them with treason when they open their own news outlets; he imprisoned elected members of parliament and municipal council on frivolous charges; he jailed print, TV and radio journalists; he shuttered newspaper shops and confiscated radio equipment, all in violation of the constitution.
His age, which is not less than 80 years, and his bullying, undemocratic and autocratic streak, should be a factor. If he does not mess up with the election results himself, others will do for him. A condition of the extension of his term, which ends on June 26th 2015, must be that he should not run again.