Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Saddened by Murders of Somali Journalists

    TORONTO, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - CJFE was greatly saddened to hear of the murders
of Somali journalists, Ali Sharmarke and Mahad Ahmed Elmi on August 11. Ali
Sharmarke was one of the three founders of the radio network, HornAfrik, and
Mahad Elmi hosted a popular radio show for the station.
    HornAfrik, has faced constant intimidation and threats since it opened in
1999; committed to giving a voice to all Somalis, it provides coverage and
access to international and domestic coverage unavailable through other Somali
    The killings of these two journalists, just hours apart, brings to six
the number of journalists killed in Somalia this year. It is a great blow to
press freedom in Somalia and a great loss to the journalistic community and
all who knew them.
    CJFE awarded the 2002 International Press Freedom Award to the three
founders of HornAfrik - Sharmarke, and his colleagues Ahmed Abdisalam Adan and
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. Elmi and Adan now live in
Ottawa with their families. Mohamed Elmi who was reached at his home today,
said that it was too early to speak about the future of the radio station, but
that it was important that it continue. He also commented on the support they
have received from around the world, and from the Somali diaspora, which has
cut across political lines.
    "HornAfrik is a remarkable success story in one of the most difficult and
dangerous places in the world to practice journalism," said CJFE Executive
Director Anne Game. "Now, more than ever, Somalia and the world need voices
like HornAfrik to be heard."
    CJFE calls on the government of Somalia to make the safety of journalists
its top priority and to ensure that a thorough and independent investigation
is carried out into these murders. The Somali government says that two men
have been arrested already.

    Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more
than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who
work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and
around the world.

For further information:

For further information: Executive Director, Anne Game, (416) 515-9622

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