The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been banned from the breakaway region of Somaliland for allegedly undermining the identity and dignity of the self-declared independent nation not recognized by Somalia or any other country, local authorities in control of the area have announced.
Somaliland Information Minister Saleban Yusuf Ali Koore told reporters Tuesday from the city of Hargeisa, the territory's capital, that the ban on the BBC had been imposed on the grounds that the network had lost its neutrality and was acting against the independence of Somaliland.
Koore said the BBC failed to recognize that the former British protectorate was a democratic country that has stood on its feet for the last 31 years, with multiple presidential and parliamentary elections.
Somaliland is a breakaway region of northern Somalia that declared independence in 1991 amid Somalia's civil war.
Starting from today, I have commanded all functions related to BBC in Somaliland to be suspended, Koore said.
The ears of the Somaliland people do not deserve the statements which the BBC uses to describe Somaliland, he added.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia during the 1991 civil war but is not diplomatically recognized by any other nation.
The BBC broadcast radio bulletins in the Somali language and has a network of journalists operating across Somalia, including in Hargeisa.
Somalia opposes Somaliland's claims to independence and considers the region part of its territory, although Mogadishu authorities have virtually no power over local affairs.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Somalia 140th out of 180 countries on its global list of press freedom, with more than 50 journalists killed in the country since 2010. Journalists and media houses are facing new challenges in their daily activities. On July 18, a reporter and a cameraman working for Arlaadi media, a Mogadishu radio and TV station, were arrested by security forces, according to station director Ahmed Ali Nuur, who also said the news crew was attacked, fired at with live bullets, beaten up and also some of its equipment was either seized or destroyed. Nuur said no information has been provided as to why the men were attacked, but the journalists deserve justice.
Abshir Mohamed Nur Farasa, one of the journalists who was assaulted, said he was reporting on street damage caused by recent rains in Mogadishu when he was beaten at gunpoint by security officers. He said he was not told why he and the photographer were being attacked. After they were beaten, Farasa said, the officers took the cameraman to the police station and destroyed his equipment.
Somali police spokesman Abdifatah Adan Hassan told the VOA that the police took immediate action after the incident and arrested one of the people who assaulted the journalists, while another was still at large.
Hassan said individuals possibly dressed in security forces uniforms might have been creating problems.