By: Guleid A. Mahir
Since 26th December last year a Somaliland government journalist Yusuf Mohamed Hassan (Sancho) has been in custody in Ethiopia after he was arrested in Jig jiga town where he was on transit en route to Addis-Ababa for a family reunion.
Yusuf who is also a blogger & an editor with somalilandsun.com last posted a piece entitled ‘Jig jiga the Ethiopian town where Bajaj is King Transporter’ on the eve of Christmas in his site which he has been managing since 2011.
According to reliable sources, Yusuf was last seen accompanied by a Caucasian male whose nationality we have not yet ascertained. The journalist was to meet with his children; Latifa, Salma and Gaddafi who travelled from Kenya for a family get-together in Addis-Ababa.
Though the detained newspaper reporter possesses dual nationality; that of Kenya & of Somaliland, he was however using a Somaliland passport at the time of his travel with one month visa issued by the Ethiopian Consulate in Hargeisa.
Mr Yusuf is an employee of the state owned Dawan Media Group Newspapers that publishes news in Somali, Arabic and English languages. He is the associate editor in chief of the weekly ‘The Horn Tribune’ the government mouth piece for the English local readership.
Indigenous Somalilanders of East Africa (INSOMLEA), an organization that champions the plight of Somaliland aborigines’ from E.A countries have through its senior officials sought audience with top public figures to inform them on the dilemma facing the journalist.
To begin with, they notified the chairman of Dawan Media Group Mr Mohamed Osman Mire (Sayid) who is the immediate boss of the reporter behind bars in Ethiopia. The Sec Gen. of INSOMLEA, Mr Abdihakim Mohamed Osman who is professionally an Advocate & a member of Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLA) had conferred with a top local musician Mrs Zahra Ahmed Jama who jointly with other officials, visited the Information, Culture & National Guidance ministry headquarters in order to plead with the minister Mr Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir (Ukuse) who unfortunately was out of the office at the time.
The organization which is famous for playing a vital role by acting as a nexus in integrating its members with the native citizenry, the government and the private sector in various socio-economical areas has also tried to liaise with other forces that can secure the release of the Kenyan born Somalilander who was travelling with Somaliland passport having a valid one month tourist visa upon the expiry of his Kenyan passport that he came with to Hargeisa, some fifteen years ago.
INSOMLEA’s Secretary General Mr Abdihakim M. Osman, a comrade & a colleague of the detained reporter updated Yusuf’s employer Ministry of Information, Culture & National Guidance, Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in additional to the Hargeisa based Ethiopian consulate that tackles Somaliland diplomatic loggerheads with their Ethiopian neighbour.
The association with membership of the so called Somali Sijuis is gradually losing faith with the government after it has failed in securing the release of the journalist by diplomatically convincing the Addis Ababa administration to pardon the reporter for the mere misdemeanour that he might have committed in Jig jiga where he was initially apprehended for two weeks before being released shortly then re-arrested the very day of his freedom to unknown detention facility within Ethiopia.
INSOMLEA, a community with membership of 400 families scattered in the city of Hargeisa is now mobilizing right activists particularly the detainee’s colleagues in the media fraternity to agitate for his freedom.
Whilst The Horn Tribune, a state owned newspaper deliberately desisted reporting the predicament facing one of their own, private media owners on the other hand brought to the public limelight the miseries that befall their friend though no action was taken by the concerned state organs.
The E.A. association acknowledges the bold initiatives taken by media houses especially ogaal, sahafi, Geeska, Yool and other local dailies that publish news in Somali language while still hopeful for Yusuf’s freedom who is currently believed to be incarcerated in the capital Addis Ababa where he is to be brought to court on 21st February for charges of immigration offences. He is allegedly charged for practising journalism while having a tourism visa issued to him prior to his travelling.
“The East African association in Hargeisa is now calling for the support of human rights activists, Foreign Ministry’s department of international cooperation & the stakeholders in the media profession led by the newly elected SOLJA chairman Mr Mohamud Jama Huto, Information minister Ukuse, Interior Minister Ali Mohamed Waran Adde whose docket is known for apprehending fugitive criminal suspects fleeing to Ethiopia upon committing crimes due to its contacts with authorities in the semi-autonomous Somali inhabited territory by employing diplomatic relations and connections ranging from security, intelligent exchanges in addition to cross border hostilities; a common border problem in most developing nations” notes Mr Osman.
The Ethiopian consulate general Maj. Gen (Rtd) Mulugeta seems to be confused on the predicaments facing the reporter as he insists to be furnished with circumstances leading to his arrest; why, and what & where he is detained. Facts he awaits local administration to provide him with.
Somaliland and Ethiopia have positive bilateral & diplomatic relations which the consulate ought to harness by employing all possible means within its disposal to acquittal of local travellers with valid documents to avoid similar confinement of Somalilanders in future.