He dies without seeing peace in Somalia

Hell and damnation.

Press freedom groups worldwide expressed horror at the “savage” killings of two prominent Somali journalists on 11 August 2007…Six journalists have been killed in Somalia so far this year, according to the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). “This wave of attack of killing and injuring media people is an intentionally organised mission to silence [the] journalistic voice in Somalia,” the union said…CBC News said HornAfrik has criticised both the government and the militant Islamic opposition, and has been shut down several times in the past few months. Reuters said the station was shelled in April, apparently from Ethiopian positions…In 2002 Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) gave its International Press Freedom Award to Sharmarke and HornAfrik’s two other founders, Ahmed Abdisalam Adan and Mohamed Elmi. All three had fled Somalia and come to Canada as refugees, but later returned to Somalia to start the station. The CJFE award recognised HornAfrik, the first independent radio network in Somalia, for persisting in the face of intimidation and threats…Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) urged Somalia’s transitional government to thoroughly investigate and punish those responsible for the killings.

They were all three safe in Canada, but they all went back to nightmare Somalia to try to make things better – and Sharmarke and Elmi were murdered for their pains. It’s appalling.

From the Globe and Mail:

Somali associates of the two HornAfrik journalists expressed outrage, saying both deaths were part of a deliberate campaign against the media. “This wave of killing and injuring media people is an intentionally organized mission to silence journalistic voices in Somalia,” the National Union of Somali Journalists said…The men came to Canada as refugees from the civil war in Somalia. After some calm returned to the African country, they opened HornAfrik, the first independent radio network in Somalia, in December of 1999. Reuters journalist Sahal Abdulle, next to Mr. Sharmarke at the time of the blast, was lightly injured in the head and face…”Ali was a good friend. I have known him a long time. He was committed to getting the truth out. He came back from Canada to promote democracy and give Somalis a voice. Today, he paid the ultimate price,” Mr. Abdulle added.

From the Globe and Mail again:

I have long feared the arrival of news that one of “my journalists” had been killed…Unidentified men pumped bullets into Mahad’s head Saturday morning as he entered CapitalFM’s studios, where his talk show had enormous popularity for challenging human-rights abusers and warlords and extremists…HornAfrik is a beacon of media courage and integrity in Mogadishu and all Somalia…I have learned how absolutely critical a reliable, responsible news media is to stabilizing conflict-stressed states. My respect for media workers in those places is now boundless…Among the tributes to him flowing this week between trainers and African broadcasters who were at Bujumbura, Niyoyita Aloys of Burundi recalls that “at the airport, he told me he believed one day Somalia would recover peace. He told me he was not afraid of warlords. Unfortunately, he dies without seeing peace in Somalia.”

As Ross Howard implies in that comment about how critical a reliable news media is, it’s all part of the same picture – liberalism, the rule of law, human rights, peace. When it breaks down, it breaks down; you lose the whole damn thing, and life turns to shit. I’m reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel, and she lived through just this breakdown in Somalia. Some of it is hard to read – because it was so incredibly hard to live through.

‘We are all Hrant Dink,’ they said in Istanbul. We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Mahad Ahmed Elmi, we are all Ali Iman Sharmarke. We are all Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we are all Salman Rushdie, we are all Ibn Warraq, we are all Taslima Nasreen, we are all Tasneem Khalil. Back off – we’re connected.

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