By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 20 — Right after the UN Security Council visited Mogadishu, Somalia’s Army and the UN-supported AMISOM force raided Radio Shabelle, jailing journalists.
On August 19 Inner City Press asked the UK Mission to the UN about the raid and the at least three journalists still in detention: Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, Owner of Shabelle and SKY FM, Mohamud Mohamed Dahir a/k/a Mohamud Arab, Director of SKY FM and Ahmed Abdi Hassan, Shabelle deputy head of news.
On August 20, the UK Mission’s spokesperson Iona Thomas told Inner City Press that “the UK is concerned by reports of mistreatment of journalists in Somalia and we are urgently investigating the matter with the Somali authorities.” We hope to have more on this.
Back on August 15 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked if there is any UN response to this raid on independent media — by UN supported forces.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq replied that there was no comment by the UN mission UNSOM under Nicholas Kay, and that Inner City Press should “check with AMISOM.”
But they’re the ones who did it. Inner City Press asked again: no UN comment on the closing down of a radio station?
Haq replied that he has no verification — it is widely reported – and that he hasn’t heard from UNSOM about it. Why not?
Similarly, little has been heard at UN headquarters from UNSOM about envoy Nicholas Kay’s recent visit to Somaliland, of which Kay has said, “Pleased to be in Hargeisa. Excellent talks with HE Mohammed Younis and his colleagues. Good to see our significant UN team in Somaliland.”
FUNCA member in Hargeisa Mohamoud Walaaleye, who has previously defended press freedom there, has made inquiries and provided more information to New York, to FUNCA and Inner City Press, than the UN Spokesperson’s Office has conveyed from Kay.
What is Kay’s response to criticism of his approach to Somaliland, for example here, here and here. (Somali Embassy US saying “UN Envoy Nick Kay actions & policies are threaten the peace, Security, stability, sovereignty & territorial integrity of Somalia)? On this too we hope to have more.
Back on May 12 in an advance copy of the UN’s report on Somalia, to be issued as S/2014/330, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is “concerned about the potential for confrontation between Puntland and ‘Somaliland.’ I call on both sides to avoid escalating tensions.”
Many note that Somaliland, without the quotation marks Ban puts around it, has been more peaceful than Mogadishu for some time – and that the UN system raised tensions by, for example, handing Somaliland’s airspace to Mogadishu.
Ban’s report also says he remains “concerned about the continued export of Somali charcoal” and encourages “the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea to list the responsible individuals and entities.”
In this advance copy, Ban “strongly recommend[s] to the Council an extension of the mandate of UNSOM for one year to 3 June 2015.”
When on April 23 UNSOM envoy Nicholas Kay along with AMISOM head Mahamat Saleh Annadif took questions at the UN, Inner City Press asked them about the new Ugandan guard unit, about the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group and about Somaliland including its disputed airspace. Video here from Minute 14:23.
Kay said, “at the moment we’re absolutely clear obviously on the international legal position vis-a-vis Somaliland, it’s not a recognized state by anyone. But they have a very strong sense of their own statehood and aspirations to independence.”
Kay referred to the Turkey-facilitated talks between Somaliland and the Somali government in Mogadishi, including about airspace. He said that UN funds and programs operate in Somaliland. But UNSOM does not: Somaliland points to the mandate it was given by the Security Council.
On the Ugandan guard unit, Kay said they will protect the UN but work with AMISOM. But in March, AMISOM spokesperson Ali Aden Houmed was quoted by Voice of America that “we do not have the fact of what these forces are and they are not part of us… UN and Uganda had been conducting ‘a secret negotiation.'” Neither Kay nor Mahamat Saleh Annadif addressed this.
On sanctions, after Kay recounted improvements in reporting and “information” that are underway, Inner City Press asked if the Somali letter requesting the ouster of SEMG coordinator Chopra has been withdrawn. Kay said he has not seen the letter. Well here it is: Inner City Press exclusively obtained, reported and published it. Has it been withdrawn?