Washington, D.C., August 13, 2007 - We deeply regret and condemn the senseless murder of Ali Iman Sharmarke, a longtime friend of the Voice of America, and a courageous journalist committed to establishing a free press in his native Somalia.
On Saturday, August 11, 2007, Mr. Sharmarke, co-owner and founder of HornAfrik Media Company, and Mahad Ahmed Elmi, director of HornAfrik's Capitol Voice FM station, were murdered in two separate incidents in yet another example of attempts to silence the independent media in Somalia. Their deaths bring to a total of six the number of media workers murdered in the country this year.
Mr. Sharmarke was educated in the United States and Canada and held dual Somali-Canadian citizenship. He sacrificed a comfortable life in Canada to return to his homeland in 1999, where he established the country's first independent radio station, HornAfrik, in Mogadishu. The station's broadcasts often focused on the plight of civilians caught in the conflict between Somali government forces and Islamist insurgents. HornAfrik has been a VOA affiliate for several years, broadcasting both English to Africa and, more recently, Somali-language programs.
The loss is profound, not just for his countrymen and family, but for the international community. He understood the risk to his life and faced great personal hardship in the name of contributing to the greater good of society through peaceful means. Sharmarke was a courageous and uncompromising force for good in the world.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America appeal to the government of Somalia to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice and to take substantive measures to protect its journalists and support free media.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, including The Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). Through its broadcast services, the BBG provides the United States and its leaders direct and immediate access to a worldwide audience of 140 million people. Current governors are Chairman James K. Glassman, Joaquin F. Blaya, Blanquita W. Cullum, D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, Edward E. Kaufman, Steven J. Simmons, and Mark McKinnon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an ex officio member, is represented by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen Hughes.
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