Somalia / Police raid union office, briefly arrest journalist union leader

By African Press Organization (APO)

MOGADISHU, Somalia, November 14, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Secret police this morning, Sunday, 13 November 11, raided the offices of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in Mogadishu without any warrant and arrested a union leader briefly.

Two police officers armed with pistols entered the union offices and arrested Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed, NUSOJ's Organizing Secretary, and took him to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

The office of Mogadishu police commissioner denied issuing the arrest and raid order. The two police officers were immediately arrested and claimed that the Ministry of Labour had given them the orders to raid union offices and arrest the organizing secretary. The Director General of the Ministry of Labour, however, denied before officials of CID that the Ministry issued such order. The union expressed surprise over this move, which it termed criminal.

“The police raid of our offices and arrest of the union's organizing secretary, in our view, is part of the continuing plan by elements within the Transitional Federal Government to intimidate and terrify the union's leadership, disrupt the work of union and paralyze its secretariat's work by unsettling union staff,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Journalists, union officials, parliamentarians and civil society activists gathered at the CID headquarters and strongly condemned the raid as well as the arrest of Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed.

“The arrest and raid is a means to silence the national journalists union and suppress the voice of journalists through backroom deals,” said Abdirisak Omar Ismail, President of NUSOJ Supreme Council.

The Union demanded the immediate end organized and hostile actions from the officials against leaders of members of NUSOJ and a stop to disruption of its work by the police.

Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed was released after he was detained illegally at the CID headquarter some 90 hours and continued at the union's office work.