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Journalists and unions attacked in Africa, Middle East and South America

27 May 2011

Journalists and their trade unions in Somalia, Bahrain and Argentina have seen a surge of attacks.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:

"These are the latest examples of attacks on journalists and their unions. Journalists are at risk for simply doing their jobs. It is our collective duty to stand with them and their unions in their time of need. The NUJ condemns these attacks and we stand in solidarity with our colleagues around the world."


The office of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) was raided and robbed. The union continues to receive threats against members and the leadership of the union.

NUSOJ says four men armed with AK-47 guns and two accomplices raided the union main office at Taleex Street in Mogadishu, gaining entry by telling the security guard that they were NUSOJ staff.

Once inside, they took union documents and four computers before escaping in a Toyota pickup. The security guard was ordered not to talk to anyone about the attack at the risk of losing his life.

Beth Costa, International Federation of Journalists general secretary, said:

"These actions are the latest in a series of persistent violations against the journalists' union, its members and leaders that have continued in the past two months to deny journalists their right to freedom of association and expression."

On Monday, two gunmen came back to the offices of the union and threatened three NUSOJ officials who had gone to investigate the robbery. The gunmen warned that anyone who comes to the offices of the union would be killed.

One gunman said:

"Anyone who does not like his life let him come here and we will step on his dead body."

The three union officials were also told they risked their lives if they continue to represent the union and its leadership in Somalia.

The International Federation of Journalists is concerned about consistent politicised actions against NUSOJ members and its leadership to prevent them carrying out their legitimate activities, a clear violation of their right to freedom of association and freedom of expression.

Beth Costa said:

"We are very concerned about the safety of NUSOJ leaders and members and we shall do everything in our power to keep them safe and defend their legitimacy.
"The Transitional Federal Government has the primary responsibility to guarantee the security of journalists, including NUSOJ leaders and its members in the areas under its control. They need to investigate the raid on the union's office and bring the robbers to justice."

NUSOJ has been working in a temporary office in south Mogadishu for the last two years due to the lack of security at the main office, which is located in a combat zone between Al-Shabaab and transitional government forces.


The Bahrain Association of Journalists (BJA) has condemning the savage beating and inhuman treatment of reporter Nazeeha Saeed who was arrested on 22 May over the story she had filed about the repression of anti-government protesters.

The woman reporter, who was covering the uprising for France24 and Radio Monte Carlo in the Douar el loulou area, suffered severe injuries at the Rafa police station where she was badly beaten by her interrogators and bore torture marks.

Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, said:

"We are appalled by this senseless and cruel treatment of a working journalist and we urge the Bahraini authorities to hold accountable the officers involved. The brutal behaviour of security forces towards Saeed shows there is no end to media repression in Bahrain and the world must make it clear that these gross violations of peaceful protesters', women's and journalists' rights will not go unpunished."

Media reports say that Nazeeha Saeed was summoned to the Rafa police for questioning over her report on the death of Ali Abdelhassan who was allegedly killed by security forces during the anti-government protests of 17 February 2011.

She was detained for 12 hours during which she was reportedly savagely beaten up and tortured. After her release, the French consulate arranged for the journalist to receive medical treatment in France due to the gravity of her condition.

The BJA has also called for a full investigation into the allegations of torture and requested from the authorities a copy of the complaint made by the reporter, stressing the need for transparency and independence in the investigation in this case.

The IFJ has accused the Bahraini government of widespread intimidation and systematic harassment against journalists which have already led to the arrests and sackings of at least 68 media personnel in the country since the start of the protests for political reforms.

The IFJ, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Education International (EI) and the Belgian trade unions ACV/CSV, ABCC/FGTB and ACLVB/CGSLB have called for the immediate release of all detained trade unionists, teachers, journalists and workers as well an end to all harassment against trade unions leaders and activists and respect for press freedom.


The NUJ called on journalists and trade unionists to support the Argentina Federation of Press Workers by contacting the authorities in Buenos Aires to demand repeal of the decision to shut down the Federación Argentina de Trabajadores de Prensa (FATPREN) office.

Tags: , somalia, bahrain, argentina, nusoj, ifj, bja, france24, radio monte carlo, fatpren, press freedom, trade union freedom, journalists injured, death threats, solidarity, nazeeha saeed