and then there are people
who just dont have respect
for pregnancy or motherhood
which is a shame
since we are all came from a woman
got our name from a woman
Award-winning HornAfrik radio service shut by Ethiopian-backed government
January 16, 2007
Somalia’s Ethiopian-backed transitional government shut down four broadcasters yesterday, including a major network founded by three Somali-born Canadians, who were trying to help rebuild their violence-ravaged homeland.
“At about 1 p.m. we got a letter instructing us to close the station,” said Ali Iman Sharmarke, a managing partner of the popular HornAfrik radio and television network. “We were surprised, because we thought the media could relax once the Islamists lost control.”
Sharmarke, Mohamed Elmi and Ahmed Abdisalam Adan, all Somali refugees with comfortable professional careers in Ottawa, returned to Somalia in 1999 and founded HornAfrik, the country’s first non-partisan, independent broadcaster. It quickly built up a large and enthusiastic audience for its network of seven radio stations, an Internet website and satellite television link.
The network, which offered talk, news and music programs, was the winner of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression’s 2002 International Press Freedom Award for its courage in facing down threats and intimidation in an environment of extreme violence.
CJFE executive director Anne Game said the new restrictions on HornAfrik and others – including Al Jazeera – “are being made under the guise of national security. Somalia’s clampdown on its broadcasters is alarming and closes off one of the only independent news sources accessible to the people of Mogadishu.”
The broadcasters have been ordered to appear before the national security agency, which is struggling to maintain order as pockets of resistance continue attacks on the Ethiopians, and gun battles flare between criminal gangs and militias roaming the streets.
The shutdowns came three weeks after Ethiopian forces fought their way into Mogadishu, ousting the hardline Union of Islamic Courts which had controlled much of the country – and installing a transitional government that had failed to take power for the past two years.
Government spokesperson Abduraman Dinari told a local radio station that the media were “instigating violence,” according to a report from Agence France-Presse.
But another partner in HornAfrik, Mohamed Elmi, said the government “doesn’t want free media that really give people the real information. They want distorted information.”
He said in a phone interview from Ottawa, “Some of the things I was hearing are that they don’t want us to say the Ethiopian armies are supporting the government. They don’t want our news … on who was searched, or who collected weapons, or any other activity the Ethiopian army is doing.”
Sharmarke, who is in Mogadishu but also has a family in Ottawa, said the situation in the Somali capital was chaotic, but not as bloody as in the past, when warlords fought each other and thousands of people were slaughtered.
“When I arrived here in 1999 it was like walking into hell,” he said in a phone interview. “We called ourselves media, but we were frontline workers. For seven years we were under fire constantly. Now, this seems like business as usual.”
The network was set up with funds from Somali business people.
Sharmarke said that HornAfrik – Mogadishu’s fifth largest employer, with 142 employees – was waiting to see what would happen next.
“Nobody can explain why (the transitional government) needs martial law,” he said.
“What they need is reconciliation, after chasing each other around with guns for so many years.”
But, he said, “last night one of my employees had a very close call, caught in the crossfire between the Ethiopians and some others. It’s very disturbing, because we hoped that real government had finally come to Mogadishu.”
In 1991 the socialist government of President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown by opposing clans, who fought each other for nearly a decade, making Somalia one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world.
During the period of chaos, Sharmarke says, two of their employees were killed. The station came under attack a number of times, and some employees were temporarily jailed.
A 2004 peace deal set up a new Somali government, but they failed to take power in Mogadishu. It left the way open for the rise of Islamists, who ousted the feuding warlords in June 2006, promising law and order, and cracking down on the media with draconian rules that censured “foreign culture or bad behaviour.”
During their regime, HornAfrik was also temporarily shut down.
“Somalis don’t support terrorism,” said Sharmarke. “They just want law and order and stability, and a healthy life for their children.”
today was a day of huge swells tides and cold crashes. but we will be okay. even if we are not okay we will be okay. because at least we know that we will make the best decisions available. at least when we look back on our choices. we can be proud.
oh. and i still believe after 7 months of pregnancy that the most important thing is that you listen to your body as much as possible. your body will tell you what you need when. and then you dont have to follow a bunch of outside dogma expectations guidelines etc. if you need protein, your body will tell you. yoga, journaling, dancing, music, meditation, laughter, a good cry, anger, etc. your body will tell. the longer i am pregnant, the more i am learning to trust the animal that i am…
things i have learned after more than half a year of pregnancy:
- there are plenty of people who know you who claim to love you and to care for you who will insult you without provocation about your pregnancy. either you are too fat, chubby, gained too much weight in your pregnancy. they will try to make your body a public spectacle. a part of my family a few weeks after not seeing me for over a year, came into my home, grabbed my body, poked my breasts and belly, and then slapped me on my ass. this behaviour was performed by an older male relative as well as his wife and child…when i tried over and over again to establish physical or verbal boundaries i was ignored again and again. i then told them to go fuck themselves. this male relative then played the ‘victim’ talking about how ‘hurt’ he was by my response. isnt this common that those who perpetrate the violation of your body are the first to cry ‘victim’! the sad part is that considering how he and other members of my family considered his and his family’s behaviour to be ‘normal’ then i am not the first person to be sexually harrassed by him…what did i learn? always speak up for your right to be treated as a human being with dignity.
- when you do speak up for yourself and you are pregnant…people will attribute your strange and unusual behaviour (the audacity of you to tell others not to sexually harrass you or violate your body!) to you being pregnant. pray to god that there is not some secret hormone that starts to act when you are give birth which makes you unable to stand up for yourself or your child.
- no matter what choices you have made for your baby-rearing (working mom or stay at home, formula or breastfeeding, drug free labor or c-section, cloth diapers or disposable, etc.) there will always be those who are highly critical and insulting of your choices…telling you how irresponsible you are, stupid you are, lazy you are, unrealistic, etc. the best way to deal with these insults are to ask: who the fuck are you? even if you dont feel comfortable saying so out loud keep saying it in your head over and over again? and try to find the answer. who the fuck are you? you are a woman who has never been pregnant and never had children. you are a woman who convinced yourself that you had to give up your dreams in order to have a child and have spent the past decades resentful of your choices. you are someone who feels intimidated and jealous and afraid because if i can envision another way of living then you are afraid that i will spend my time looking down on you, insulting you, and negatively judging you. as if i have the time to worry about your life…
- some of your friends/peers will treat you as if your pregnancy is an inconvenience to their fun. they will complain about how slow you are, or how boring your life is now, or how disgusting the entire concept of pregnancy is…again, jealousy and fear rear its ugly head. they will compare you to invisible pregnant friends who bungee jumped in their 8th month of pregnancy or something else fabulous and exhausting. or they will sit down next to you and out of the blue tell you that your body will never be the same again. and give up and wanting to wear a bikini in a year. and they will compare you to being sick. as if you have had the flu for the past 7 months and not a growing fetus inside your uterus. your friends are having a complex set of issues hypnotizing them into forgetting how to be a real friend. first, they are reacting out of a classic internalized sexist fear of the female body. they have in some way convinced themselves that their are no biological differences between the xx and the xy and the myriad of other genetic sex combinations and so your round belly and glowing skin freaks them out. if this could happen to you maybe this could happen to them and then they would have to deal with the complexity of gender identification…god forbid…second, in a patriarchial society the pregnant body is idealized iconografied and used as the picture of ‘true womanhood’, they feel as if you have gained some societal privilege by being pregnant and they just want to ‘put you in your place’. well, if you have become the poster child for an oppressed people (i.e. women) that is not a privilege. dont get it twisted. third, you are so beautiful, so fabulous, so lucky, you make it all look so easy and effortless, and their lives in comparison seem to be lackluster. just remind your friends that your life is even better than they can imagine. they have every right to be jealous…its only human.
i was in ethiopia a year ago for five weeks on honeymoon. to be noted the arabic translation for honeymoon is shaher asel–honey month. the week before we arrived there had been major demos in the streets as the government closed down est. 7 of the 11 newspapers in addis ababa the capital. only the government newspapers were allowed to remain up and running. the government also incarcerated 400 or more journalists and demonstrators.
we met a man running from the ethiopian governement to darfur. he was muslim and a journalist for a now-illegal paper. from darfur he said he could criticize the ethiopian government. i asked him if he could criticize the sudanese governement if he was in darfur. he replied: no.
we also learned alot about ethiopia in the global geo-politics realm. ethiopia as modern history post ww2. carter is best friends with the president of ethiopia. so i guess it is no surprise that the us would use ethiopia to invade somalia. my only question is what do we want from somalia?
i also was not able to sense what were many of the relationships allowed sanctioned between muslims and christians in ethiopia. i would say that the capital looked to be 50/50. and women’s fashions for both religions are elegant.
U.S. support key to Ethiopia’s invasion
By Barbara Slavin
WASHINGTON — The United States has quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia, whose recent invasion of Somalia opened a new front in the Bush administration’s war on terrorism.
A Christian-led nation in sub-Saharan Africa, surrounded almost entirely by Muslim states, Ethiopia has received nearly $20 million in U.S. military aid since late 2002. That’s more than any country in the region except Djibouti.
Last month, thousands of Ethiopian troops invaded neighboring Somalia and helped overturn a fundamentalist Islamic government that the Bush administration said was supported by al-Qaeda.
The U.S. and Ethiopian militaries have “a close working relationship,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said. The ties include intelligence sharing, arms aid and training that gives the Ethiopians “the capacity to defend their borders and intercept terrorists and weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
Advisers from the Guam national guard have been training Ethiopians in basic infantry skills at two camps in Ethiopia, said Maj. Kelley Thibodeau, a spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Djibouti.
There are about 100 U.S. military personnel currently working in Ethiopia, Carpenter said.
Somalia has been the region’s primary concern for the U.S. government since the early 1990s. U.S. troops, sent to Somalia as part of a peacekeeping and humanitarian mission, withdrew in 1994 after a failed attempt to capture a clan leader led to the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers in 1993. The incident was later the subject of the book and movie Black Hawk Down.
The country has had no central government since 1991. The capital, Mogadishu, has been controlled by a series of warlords. A fundamentalist movement called the Islamic Courts Council consolidated power by defeating the warlords six months ago.
Ethiopia responded in December, invading to oust the Islamic Courts and prop up a government backed by the United Nations and Western countries.
At least 8,000 Ethiopian troops remain in Somalia, according to United Nations observers.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said he would like to be able to withdraw his troops in a few weeks. But there has been little progress in creating an African peacekeeping force to replace the Ethiopians.
Meanwhile, the ousted Islamic movement has begun attacking the Ethiopian troops. And, in an audiotape aired Friday on a website used frequently by Islamic militants, al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri urged Somalis to defeat “the crusader Ethiopian invasion forces.”
Ethiopia’s population is split almost equally between Muslims and Christians, but there are concerns that the Ethiopian intervention “will be framed as another Christian vs. Muslim war,” said retired Marine general Joseph Hoar, who headed the U.S. Central Command from 1991-94.
The Bush administration understands that Ethiopia’s intervention “is against international terrorism, not against Islam,” said Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States.
The close U.S. embrace of Ethiopia is risky, in the view of several Africa experts and human rights advocates. Even though Ethiopia had good reasons of its own for intervening to blunt a Somali threat to its security, it is perceived as acting on behalf of the United States, said William Zartman, an Africa expert at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
The intervention is controversial in Ethiopia, where the Meles government has become increasingly repressive, said Chris Albin-Lackey, an African researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The Meles government has limited the power of the opposition in parliament and arrested thousands. A government inquiry concluded that security forces fatally shot, beat or strangled 193 people who protested election fraud in 2005.
At least 96 prisoners, including several opposition leaders, journalists and the former mayor of Addis Ababa, face charges of treason, plotting to commit genocide and inciting violence, Albin-Lackey said.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., plans to re-introduce legislation in Congress that would tie U.S. aid to Ethiopia to an improved record on human rights, but the prospects of passage are uncertain. “We have to be careful that that old maxim — the enemy of my enemy is my friend — does not make us unwitting enablers of abuse,” Smith said.