Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener

peace radio site

© Dr Hansjoerg Biener
0107, updated 0710
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After coalition forces ended two decades of Siyaad Barre´s dictatorial rule the country fell apart. As a result, Somalia has had no effective central government since 1991. Faction leaders and their militias took advantage of the ensuing anarchy to curve the country into fiefdoms over which they frequently fought. Some clans declared independence of their territories and in Mogadishu up to three factional stations claimed to be the true Radio Mogadishu.

Just in time for the meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in September and October 2006, Freedom House released its annual report of the world's most repressive regimes. ( Nine countries are listed as being serious violators of human rights, among them Somalia. Freedom House says that "while these states scored slightly better than the 'worst of the worst,' they offer very limited scope for private discussion while severely suppressing opposition political activity, impeding independent organising, and censoring or punishing criticism of the state." Freedom House says it hopes the report will focus the U.N. Human Rights Council's attention on countries and territories that deserve investigation and condemnation for their widespread violations. The Council includes among its 47 members three countries profiled in "The Worst of the Worst": China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. In June 2006, the Council replaced the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which had been heavily criticised by human rights groups for allowing repressive regimes to gain influence over the monitoring body.

International broadcasting to Somalia
Somalia is a traditional target area of several international broadcasters. The most important is the BBC Somali service which started in 1957. It provides current affairs as well as educational and cultural programmes. The Somali section has been involved in reuniting families since the 1970s. With the humanitarian catastrophe, Somalis fled the country in huge numbers and families were dispersed all over the world, and so the British Red Cross, Oxfam and Concern started co-sponsoring a family reuniting programme in 1993.

Stations of the the UN humanitarian intervention 1992/93
In the early 1993, the UN took over a humanitarian intervention originally spearheaded by the US. The US run Radio Rajo started in December 1992 and became UN Radio Manta in May 1993. Trying to balance the factional stations it broadcast news, inquiries about missing persons, entertainment.
When the UN confronted Mohammed Farah Aydid the most powerful clan leader the operation turned into a failure, because the UN was now seen just as another force in the civil war. One of the conclusions might be that in any UN intervention there should be just one professionally run UN voice aiming both at the public and the intervention forces. Forces broadcasting services will easily be seen as broadcasting services run not as entertainment for friends but for occupying troops.
This local broadcasting was supplemented by a Voice of Peace broadcast in Somali on short wave transmitters of Radio Ethiopia, a country Somalia has fought several wars with. The UNICEF-funded programme went on the air 11 March 1993 and centred on UN activities in Somalia, mother and child health care, readings from the Koran and Somali poetry, family reunification and Somali history. Beside the UN stations, UN intervention forces also operated their own local stations.
In connection with the humanitarian intervention, VoA Somali broadcasts started on 27 December 1992, but were discontinued on 15 May 1994 shortly after the withdrawal of all US forces from that country.

Factional short wave broadcasting
The warring factions traditionally used short wave to spread their news, but the operation of all Somali shortwave stations is erratic and their frequencies are variable. C.Greenway reports on the current state of factional short wave broadcasting[1]:
Radio Baydhabo based in the southern provincial town of Baydhabo (pronounced Baidoa) is being heard again on 6800 or 6810 kHz, broadcasting between 1500 and 1800 GMT. Unlike many of the factional stations in Somalia, the station broadcasts in full AM. There is a tradition among the other stations of just using upper sideband and a carrier.
Also reactivated is the station in the northern town of Gaalkacyo (pronounced Galcaio). Radio Gaalkacyo is heard on 6985 kHz, but this frequency has recently also been used a Sudanese clandestine station.
Another two Somali stations to try for are the Radio Mogadishu operated by the Aydid faction on 6750 or 6755 kHz and Radio Hargeysa on 7530 kHz.
Of the four stations mentioned above, Radio Hargeysa in the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" probably has the best record of staying on-air and on-frequency. This part of Somalia with Hargeysa as the capital is the once British ruled Somaliland. The relative stability of Somaliland allows this part to act more or less as an independent state. However, they feel that one day their independence will be threatened.

The Mogadishu-based Somali Television Network (STN) radio and television broadcasting station on 14 May 2002 officially launched a radio satellite broadcast. Abdiqadir Abdi Ali, the STN operations manager, said that "after a two-month trial period, we are on 24 hours a day" for Somalis in the diaspora, "who have difficulty accessing news from home". The channel would initially reach Somalis in Europe, Asia and Africa. "Plans are under way to introduce within a short period, English, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili language services".

In May, the authorities of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland withdrew the licence of the (SBC) radio and television, based in the region's commercial capital, Boosaaso. The director of the station, Mowlid Haji Abdi, phoned HornAfrik Online and UN officials that he received a written message bearing Col Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad‘s signature which stated that, as from 22 May morning, the station which also rebroadcast BBC Somali programmes would not be permitted to operate. According to the authorities, in 2001 SBC had been given a commercial broadcasting licence for business advertisement purposes only, and in no way was authorized to engage in politics. Mowlid said the station was impartial in its reporting, though people close to Col Yusuf say it supported the administration of deposed Puntland leader Jama Ali Jama and the interim government in Mogadishu. They say that Ali Abdi Aware, the owner of SBC, and Ahmed Kismaayo, the current BBC Somali section reporter in Puntland State, are prominent Al-Ittihad figures. Puntland is in northeastern Somalia and has had an autonomous government since 1998.

A circular issued by the Somaliland information ministry on 5 June said that until broadcasting regulations were laid down, there would be no private radio stations because of the "potential dangers" of such operations. Reporters Without Borders on 14 June called on the government of Somaliland (an autonomous region of Somalia) to reverse its ban on all privately-owned radio stations. The information ministry had  warned anyone with transmitting equipment to hand it over to the authorities and said those who did not do so would be punished. "This move is a serious obstacle to press freedom and the growth of independent and diverse expression in the region," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Somaliland's president, Dahir Riyale Kahin. "The government has taken this step because it knows most of the region's inhabitants get their news from the radio." Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but yet to be recognised by the outside world.
Mustaqbal ("the future")
On 19 January 2004, a new educational programme in Somali called "Mustaqbal" started on international short  wave radio. Originally, the transmissions were meant to end with the school year in Ethiopia in July 2004, but continued until 21 May 2007.
The programme to enhance literacy proficiency for Somali Children in the Horn of Africa was part of a project "Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) for Somalis Providing Mediation and Conflict Prevention Training Through Basic Education"
(<>) According to programme assistant Abdoulkader Houssein ( the "Mustaqbal" programme had been jointly developed by the Education Development Center and the Regional Education Bureau (REB) of the Somali region of Ethiopia known as Region 5. The programmes usually closed with an full identification in English: "You have been listening to Mustaqbal, a programme designed to teach literacy in the Somali language. The programmes were designed and produced by the Education Development Centre and the Somali Regional Education Bureau. Funding was provided by the United States Agency for International Development."  The Education Development Centre also produces a programme for Sudan, called the Sudan Radio Service.
Information about Somali Journalists On the World Wide Web Omar Faruk Osman
Secretary General Somali Journalists Network (SOJON)
E-mail: omar @ or
faruk129 @
1st floor, Tree Biano Building,
via Maka Al mukaramh Road KM4 Aria, Waberi District, Mogadishu-Somalia.
Tel +2521-659944

On 20 December 2004 : Somali Journalists Network (SOJON) published its Annual Report of 2004 on the Press Freedom in Somalia. It can be read at SOJON was established as an independent, nongovernmental, professional network  to campaign for the protection  and to promote the work of local Journalists.
On 15 June 2004, the Somali Journalists Network opened its official website ( that puts forward the work of SOJON for Somali journalists. Somali Journalists Network produces press releases both nationally and internationally to reflect the intimidations to press freedom in Somalia. The website is also meant to report on the regularly organized training workshops and seminars on important issues facing Somali journalists and other journalistic activities done in Somalia. SOJON's work to support the freedom of press in Somalia is affiliated with the International Federation of Journalists and Arab Press Freedom Watch (APFW)

On 12 January 2005,  Somali Journalists Network welcome the programme from the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to corroborate the freedom of speech and freedom of press. In the programme presented to the Transitional Federal Parliament, the premier professor Ali Mohamed Geeddi and his cabinet also pledged to work on respecting the fundamental principles of human rights. “We strongly welcome the government’s arrangement to preserve the freedom of speech and freedom of press” said SOJON Director General, Abdulkadir Ali Abdulle. “This is a good preliminary indication towards defending these basic rights, which are keystones to all rights of the citizens”. In the annual worldwide index of press freedom published by Reporters Without Borders in October 2004, Somalia was listed as no. 128 of 167 countries surveyed.  The country shared this ranking with Algeria and Egypt.

Militiamen raid Mogadishu Radio Station
Reporters sans Frontières has condemned a 22 September 2004 raid by militiamen on a local FM radio station in Mogadishu, in which a security guard was roughed up and a journalist was threatened and detained. The operation was ordered by a local Islamic court, after being prompted by a dispute between two businessmen.

February 2005 BBC journalist killed
While local journalists always work under threat, the death of a BBC journalist sparked international attention. On 9 Februar 2005 BBC journalist, Kate Peyton (39), was fatally shot, on the day of her arrival in Mogadishu. She wanted to join number of foreign journalists from international media who came to cover the repositioning of Somali Transitional Federal Government, and to make reports on the changes of Somali distressed situation.
She was getting off her vehicle to go to the hotel, where a delegation consisting of parliamentarians and ministers led by the speaker of newly founded parliament are residing, when she was offended at the back by a single bullet from two masked men inside a taxi.  She was rushed to Madina Hospital where she underwent  surgery, but unhappily she died for internal blood loss. Kate Peyton has worked for the BBC as a producer and reporter since 1993. She was brought up in Africa and has been based in Johannesburg for a number of years. She has also worked as a producer and trainer for the South African Broadcasting Corporation in Johannesburg.
The reasons for this and other similar attacks remain undetermined. One theory says that the attack was meant to augment the insecurity justification to bring IGAD peacekeeping forces to Mogadishu and to damage the cheering reception of the delegation of the speaker of the parliament. The second reasoning takes the opposite side and thinks that this act was done to prevent and jeopardise the arrival of IGAD peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu.
The security council of African Union authorized the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to send peacekeeping troops to Somalia to reinstate peace and order. The elected president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed repeatedly requested the intervention, which is strongly opposed by Mogadishu based former faction leaders but now members of the council of ministers of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The opposition ministers called for their followers to attack foreign peacekeeping troops.

BBC Launches Radio amnesty for Africa
From 6 until 26 July 2005, the BBC had a radio campaign in aid of African nations - fronted by presenter Nick Knowles. The BBC's digital radio team and BBC Radio Five Live teamed up with manufacturers and about 1000 retailers across the country to offer listeners a discount of 10% on a new digital radio when trading in their portable FM sets. Over 2000 radios were handed in. Out of those some 1200 sets were reconditioned and sent to Somalia and South Sudan for distribution by the BBC World Service Trust and its partner, the African Educational Trust (AET). Batteries were donated by Duracell.
The trust and the AET will use the radios to further their work on theSomalia Distance Education for Literacy project - or 'Radio Teacher' -which offers education to men and women who have grown up during civil war with no chance of schooling.

Media watchdog demands release of detained journalist
(IRIN 4 Aug 2005) The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has demanded the unconditional release of a radio journalist arrested in the Somali town of Jowhar, the temporary seat of Somalia's transitional federal government.
"It's outrageous that Abdullahi Kulmiye Adow has been detained for doing his job," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said in a statement. "We call on the Jowhar and transitional federal authorities to ensure that he is released immediately and unconditionally."
Adow, who works for the Mogadishu-based independent HornAfrik radio station, was reportedly arrested in Jowhar, 90 km north of Mogadishu, "at 1:00 am [2200 GMT] on Wednesday" (3 August) by militiamen, Hassan Ade of HornAfrik told IRIN on 4 August. The authorities in Jowhar have not disclosed reasons for the arrest and Adow has not been charged "as of now" said Ade.
Adow had on 2 August filed a report that alleged that senior officials of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) where being housed in a school and that parents had demanded that the officials vacate the
school before the beginning of a new term, according to Ade.
President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi have made Jowhar the temporary seat of the interim government arguing that the Somali capital, Mogadishu, lacked security.An estimated 100 members of the transitional parliament and other government officials -  led by the speaker of parliament Sharif
Hassan Shaykh Aden - have chosen to operate from Mogadishu.
In May, another HornAfrik journalist, Abdallah Nurdin Ahmad, was shot and wounded by an unknown gunman.
The transitional government was set up in neighbouring Kenya in October 2004 following peace talks between various Somali clans and factions. The peace process was sponsored by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

2006 Ethiopian intervention
After months of rising tension the Union of Islamic Courts took over much of the country's center and south and declared a holy war on Ethiopia, which supports Somalia's weak-but-internationally-recognized interim government. This led to an open intervention of Ethiopian forces in Somalia. In connection with the intervention the external service of Radio Ethiopia added an extra Somali broadcast at 1800-1900 UT, in addition to the one at 1200-1300 UT. (Chris Greenway 11.8.2007)
Hundreds of thousands of Mogadishu residents have fled fighting in the city since January, when the Ethiopian military returned the transitional government into power. Daily attacks by suspected Islamist militants and counter-attacks by Ethiopian and Somali government troops in Mogadishu have left thousands of people dead. Authorities have repeatedly cracked down on the media for its coverage of the plight of civilians during security operations. HornAfrik has criticised both the government and the militant Islamic opposition, and has been shut down several times in the past few months. In April 2007, HornAfrik's studios were destroyed by shelling as Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's transitional government attacked suspected strongholds of Islamist fighters. HornAfrik has been a VOA affiliate for several years, broadcasting both English to Africa and, more recently, Somali-language programs.
Voice of America once again in Somali
Summer 2007:
1600-1630: 1431 (Djibouti, non-dir), 11675 (Sri Lanka 250 kW, 263°), 15675 (Sao Tome 100 kW, 76°)
1700-1730: 11675 (Sri Lanka 250 kW, 275°), 15675 (Botswana 100 kW, 10°)
Summer 2007 (July):
1600-1800: 11530 15675 
1600-1630: 1431 (Djibouti 600 kW, non-dir).

From December 28, 2006 until February 18, 2007 the Voice of America added an additional half-hour morning radio news program in Amharic to cover the crisis in Somalia. At the time VOA's Horn of Africa Service broadcast 12 hours a week, in the Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrina languages, but not in Somali.
Beginning Dec. 28 news and information in Amharic was broadcast
0300-0330+0400-0430 UTC on 13815 and 15610 kHz and
1800-1900 UTC on 9320, 9860, 11675, 11905, 13870 kHz
Programs were also available online at
Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia, a country with an estimated population of 70 million people. According to recent surveys, VOA Amharic attracts 18% of the adult population on a weekly basis.

On February 12, 2007 the Voice of America introduced a daily radio broadcast in the Somali language to the Horn of Africa. ( The half-hour programmes provide world news as well as news of Somalia and the entire Horn of Africa region. The broadcast also offers music and discussion features to allow leaders and ordinary listeners alike to express their opinions on topics of interest.
first schedule
1600-1630 UT (1900 in Somalia) 1431 (Djibouti) 13580 (Sri Lanka 250 kW, 267°) 15620 (Botswana 100 kW, 10°)  kHz.
1700-1730 UT (2000 in Somalia) 13580 (Sri Lanka 250 kW, 267°) 15620 (Sri Lanka 250 kW, 263°)+ locally on HornAfrik 88.8 FM
The programmes will also be available live and on demand on the service's website.
The programmes produced by a group of Somali broadcasters at VOA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., and freelance reporters supplement VOA's broadcasts to the Horn of Africa in Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna. Initial funding comes from the U.S. Department of State. The Broadcasting Board of Governors which US goverment foreign broadcasts want to continue the new Somali Service on a regular basis and has included it in its budget proposal für 2008.

In July 2007 the programme output in  Somali was doubled. The additional half hour, aired live 1630 to 1700 UTC, was to include a wider variety of listener interactives, such as call-ins, roundtable discussions, and debates on topics ranging from health, education, and youth to business and development. Weekend programming will offer in-depth discussions and interviews focusing on the interests and needs of Somalis.
People who have followed U.S. international broadcasting over the years, wonder what the impact over time of sustained U.S. broadcasting to Somalia would have been, rather than "surge" broadcasting in times of crisis. Critics say the effort is designed to give the appearance that U.S. international broadcasting can respond, when in fact the decades-long record mirrors a U.S. government approach that has essentially ignored Somalia and its difficulties.

August 2007 - wave of violence against journalists
On 10 August, Radio Mogadishu journalist Abdihakin Omar Jimale was wounded in the shoulder by gunmen who fired at him in the Yaqshid neighbourhood north of the capital and was hospitalised.
On 11 August 2007, unknown gunmen shot Mahad Ahmed Elmi, director of Capital Voice radio (HornAfrik Media), four times in the head at close range as he neared the door of his office. He bled to death after being rushed to the hospital. Elmi hosted a popular daily morning talk show in which Mogadishu residents phoned in reports about specific neighborhood news involving issues like crime or government security operations that affected their daily lives. A few hours later, as mourners filed out from Elmi‘s funeral, Ali Sharmarke, founder and co-owner of HornAfrik Media, was killed when the car he was in was struck by a remotely detonated landmine explosion. The explosion hit the front passenger side where Sharmarke sat. Reuters correspondent Sahal Abdulle, seated immediately behind Sharmarke, sustained minor injuries.
HornAfrik, currently broadcasting two programmes in Mogadishu, has faced constant intimidation and threats since it opened in 1999;  Canadian Journalists for Free Expression awarded the 2002 International Press Freedom Award to the three founders of HornAfrik, Ali Sharmarke, Ahmed Abdisalam Adan und Mohamed Elmi. The award recognised HornAfrik, the first independent radio network in Somalia, for its work in the face of intimidation and threats in a society where there is no one to protest to, and no protection of freedom of the press. All three journalists had fled Somalia and come to Canada as refugees, but they returned to Somalia to start HornAfrik. Two of the founders live in Ottawa again with their families.
On 24 August Abdulkadir Mahad Moallim Kaskey of Radio Banadir Mogadishu was killed in the southwestern province of Gedo. He also worked for  Radio Maandeeq in Gedo and Radio Daljir in Puntland.
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 journalistic voice in Somalia," the union said. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urged Somalia's transitional government to investigate and punish those responsible for the killings.

October 2007: another media owner murdered
After the eighth slaying of a journalist in Somalia this year, on 19 October 2007, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) issued an urgent appeal for international measures towards the Somali
government. Bashir Nur Gedi, acting head of Shabelle Media Network - the second biggest in the Horn of Africa - was the third media owner murdered by unidentified gunmen in the capital.
"Abandoned by the Somali authorities and their international partners, journalists have become key targets who are easily accessible," RSF said. "One after another, the country's leading media owners are being eliminated." RSF also condemned the continuing arbitrary arrests of journalists by local and federal authorities.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) said young gunmen shot Gedi several times outside his Mogadishu home, killing him instantly. "This is an intentional killing that has political motives," NUSOJ said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Gedi was returning home after holing up in the station's headquarters for a week with other employees due to threats, according to journalists who spoke with his family. More than a dozen staffers remained inside in fear of their lives, said Shabelle chair Abdimaalik Yusuf from exile in London.
Radio Shabelle's critical reporting made it the target of frequent attacks from both government and opposition forces known as the Islamic Courts, according to the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net). More than a dozen journalists have been arrested this year  and five others ambushed and robbed, AFP said. Dozens of journalists have fled Somalia in the past few months, EHAHRD-Net added.
Somalia - Media executive of prominent radio station assassinated in Mogadishu
- NUSOJ/RSF on Radio Shabelle:
- CPJ:
- Shabelle Media Network:
- Human Rights Watch capsule report:

January 2008: Journalist killed in landmine blast
A journalist on his way to a press conference was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Somalia, report the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and other IFEX members.
Hassan Kafi Hared, a correspondent for Somali National News Agency (SONNA), a Somali government run news agency, and the Somali website, was walking to a press conference in Kismayo when a remote-controlled landmine exploded on a road in the nearby village of Siyad. Two doctors with Medecins Sans Frontières-Holland and their Somali driver also died in the attack when their vehicle was destroyed in the blast.
Hared is also a long-time member of NUSOJ, and was the treasurer of the organisation's southeastern branch.
According to RSF, Kismayo and the surrounding region have mostly been unaffected by the Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu - they are controlled by local clans. But the rebels recently threatened to launch attacks and bombings outside the capital. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that since October, six Kismayo-based journalists have fled to Kenya.
Hared's death follows reports that another journalist has been beaten for "biased and provocative" broadcasts, report NUSOJ and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). On 26 January, Abdihakim Yusuf Moalim, a journalist with the private radio station Somali Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) in Bossasso, Puntland, was covering a meeting between Puntland officials and local communities in Bossasso. The Deputy Ministry of Security for Puntland, Ibrahim Artan, slapped Moalim in the face and accused him and his radio station for broadcasting "biased and provocative" reports. Moalim was then violently beaten by Artan's security guard and detained for an hour.
NUSOJ on Moalim:

[1] C.Greenway, East African Report, Oct BDXC-UK Communication via Glenn Hauser´s DX-Listening Digest 1-137

Dr. Hansjörg Biener
c/o  Lehrstuhl Evangelische Religionspädagogik der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg,
Regensburger Str. 160, DE-90478 Nürnberg

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