Journalist and prominent humanitarian imprisoned in the breakaway region of Somaliland for visiting Mogadishu

Somaliland soldiers parade on May 18th, marking the anniversary of the day the region claimed independence from Somalia in 1991

Authorities in Somaliland, a breakaway region in north Somalia, have arrested a prominent journalist and humanitarian after he visited Mogadishu. Minutes after touching down in Hargeisa airport, Abdimalik Musa Oldon was taken away by two individuals wearing military clothing, as shown in a video circulating Somali social media.

Oldon left Somaliland, where he is from, several days ago to visit Mogadishu, where he took part in celebrations welcoming Somalia’s new president. He broadcast numerous videos of the celebrations on his Facebook page, which has more than 100,000 followers. The winner of the election was Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, a widely admired technocrat who pulled off a surprise win against the incumbent president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who had been dogged by allegations of massive corruption.

Oldon has been involved in journalism in Somaliland, but he is more well known for his humanitarian work, where he uses video to raise money for impoverished people. He recently raised close to $17,000 for a woman living with H.I.V who had been rejected by her family.

Although Somaliland claims to be democratic and has a constitution that guarantees free expression, authorities in the breakaway region persecute individuals who support, or are suspected of supporting, the political unity of Somalia. A few days ago two young poets were arrested after they recited a poem praising Somalia’s recent election, and several years ago Somaliland made international headlines after it imprisoned an entire musical group for waving the Somali flag. Somaliland authorities also regularly send militias against towns in the eastern region of their claimed territory, on the border with the Puntland federal state of Somalia, to harass and attack local tribes in the area that are resistant to the writ of the secessionist authorities.

Somaliland claims that all territory falling under the jurisdiction of the former British protectorate of Somaliland belongs to it, however this claim is rejected by the Somali Federal Government and numerous tribal groups who settle in the borders of the self-declared republic. Since declaring independence in 1991, Somaliland has received no outside recognition.