Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Internet is proving to be mightier than dictators and terrorists in Somalia
By Bashir Goth
The old adage of the pen being mightier than sword is haunting the regime of Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG). With more than eight radio journalists killed in 2007 and President Abdillahi Yusuf’s regime resorting to draconian rules to silence the free press, it seems that Yusuf and his mentor Meles Zenawi are forgetting that in the 21st century it is the Internet that is mightier than dictators.

Yusuf must know that all his swords, all his guns and all his dictatorial rules will not be able to blunt let alone silence the pen. It is simply against the grain of true journalists to submit to power. With every pressure, with every draconian rule aimed at silencing them, their sense of smell for news will sharpen, and with every drop of blood of a journalist split, their antennas will heighten for seeking the truth.

It is the responsibility of journalists to report the truth on the ground, to tell the world about the innocent Somali women, children and elderly killed by Ethiopian soldiers or by the insurgency. To them a dead person is a life lost. Their duty is not to judge or explain but to show and expose the ugly aftermath of a battle. They count the dead, they seek the human story behind each one; the orphaned children, the bereaving mothers, the plight of the feeble elderly rummaging through the rubble of their destroyed houses to rescue a family picture or a thing of value that could remind them that they once had a family, a property, a life and a dream of a better future for their children.

On the contrary, Yusuf’s regime wants to hide the truth, to bury the dead under the darkness of the night, to portray the destruction and the mayhem in Mogadishu as stories of fiction created by terrorist-friendly media. Yusuf deceives himself by having the power to shut down radio stations and newspapers and descending heavy-handedly on all freedom of speech.

Fortunately, however, Yusuf and his toady advisors forget that we live in the 21st century – the age of the Internet. The era of this level playing and liberating media channel that is mightier than all tyrants. Whenever Yusuf and his lackeys try to silence one newspaper or one radio station in Mogadishu, they have to deal with dozens of their clones surfacing the second day on the Internet, carrying the truth to an even larger audience.

Yusuf has to remember that Somali journalists will continue exposing the truth; they will continue focusing searchlights on what he hides in dark corners. There is no place to hide for you Mr. President. If you close the papers and radio stations in Mogadishu, we have a more powerful tool in the Internet that can convey the truth about your dirty war to the whole world. You can hide from the insurgents behind Ethiopian tanks, but there is no world that can shield you from the long reach of the journalist’s pen. Neither can the so-called insurgents, hide their murderous and barbaric actions behind patriotic names and Islamic cloaks. The Pen will not dodge to expose the atrocities committed by all the perpetrators of heinous crimes against the Somali people, be it Yusuf’s regime, the Ethiopian army or the insurgency militias. Awdalnews Network

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