Somali PEN Workshop on The impact of the Civil war in Somalia on the Writer’s Freedom and Career in Commemoration of the Imprisoned Writer’s Day
In Commemoration of the Imprisoned Writer’s Day, 15 November, the Somali-speaking PEN’s Southern Somalia Branch organised a day long workshop at Hotel Sahafi, in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on 16 November 2008. Sponsored by International PEN, the Workshop, brought together over 80 writers, journalists, artists, lawyers, human rights activists, representatives from civil society organisations and others. The focus of the event was the Impact of the Civil War in Somalia on the Freedom and Careers of Somali writers and journalists. The purpose was to create awareness of the prevailing violations against the rights of Somali writers and other members of the creative community in the country as part of the general violations against human rights in Somalia, perpetuated by the continued chaos and lawlessness caused by the long-running civil war.
The proceedings of the event started with an opening speech by the Secretary of the SS PEN’s Southern Somalia Branch, Abdinasir Moallin Yusuf, who highlighted the background and significance of the International Day for the Imprisoned Writer. After welcoming and thanking the participants on behalf of PEN, Abdinasir highlighted the importance of the occasion and pointed out that the proclamation of such a day shows how corned are freedom lovers worldwide, including UNESCO and International PEN, about the suppression of writers’ freedom of expression. He made it clear that the main purpose of this event is to create awareness among all concerned of the constant violations committed in Somalia against the rights of writers and journalists because of the nature of their profession as opinion leaders. He also highlighted commitment of PEN to combat against such violations through its tireless campaign at the national, regional and international levels. In addition, Mr. Yusuf stressed the need for joint efforts to reverse this situation.
After a number of opening statements, a major presentation was made by Mr. Sharif Macallin, from the Somali Freedom of Expression Coalition who presented a report of the problems encountered by writers and journalists in Somalia. He give a warring picture of the latest human rights violations against Somali writers and journalists, including physical attacks, killing, imprisonment, kidnapping, casual arrests, harassments and so forth. Mr. Sharif informed the meeting that last year alone 11 writers and journalists were reported murdered in Somalia and the number is believed to be more. In the first half of this year eight journalist were killed or injured, 30 journalists and writers were arrested, 18 tortured, and 14 were kidnapped. The report was thoroughly discussed by the participants.
The Meeting then proceeded to another major component, namely a roundtable convened by Prof. Hirsi Haji Ulusow from Mogadishu University. The roundtable focussed on the best ways and means to protect freedom of expression in Somalia. Some of the participants suggested, among other things, to utilise the existing national and international instruments such as the National Charter of Somalia’s Federal Government and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The participants came up with a number of recommendations including the need for more meetings and for better coordination between all concerned to create a wider awareness of the problem and to join efforts towards finding workable solutions.
The day winded up with a refreshing artistic performance (poetry, music and educational songs) presented by a group of Somali performing artists, including such national stars as Said Mohamed Harawo, Dahabo Shiikh Maxamuud and Abwaan Farey. The theme of many of the pieces performed were relevant to the focus of the event.
Other Articles by and about the Somali Pen events:
* A Unique Somali Literary Festival in London
* Bandhig Suugaaneed Lagu Qabtay Waqooyiga London
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