Media fraternity condemn abduction of Zanzibari journalist
The media fraternity has strongly condemned the abduction of a Zanzibar based journalist Salma Said and appealed for her immediate release.
Five institutions – the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF), Tanzania human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC), Union of Tanzania Press Clubs (UTPC) and Media Institute of Southern Africa – Tanzania chapter (MISA Tan) made the plea following the abduction of the Ms Salma who presumably left Zanzibar on Friday March 18 on a plane bound for Dar es Salaam.
So far it is not clear where exactly the journalist who reports for newspapers published by Mwananchi Communication ltd - the Citizen and Mwananchi and the German broadcaster - Deustche Welle (DW) was abducted and her whereabouts are not known.
She made a brief phone contact with the DW from a secret location she is held later on March 18 after she was abducted, but ever since the contact number is now not reachable.
The Executive Secretary of MCT, Kajubi Mukajanga, the Chairperson of TEF, Theophil Makunga and the National Coordinator of THRDC – Onesmo Olengurumwa release a signed press release in which they appealed to all security institutions including the police to take immediate steps to look for Ms Salma and ensure and reinstate her security and thoroughly follow-up what had happened to her.
The statement also appealed to members of the public to assist and join in the search for Ms Salma.
It also underscored that Ms Salma should be unconditionally and immediately released so that she continues with her professional duties especially in this crucial period of the repeat election.
Security organs should ensure that journalists and defenders of human rights in Zanzibar are not threatened in anyway and that they should be able to operate freely during the elections.
The statement advised Zanzibar journalists to work without fear to the extent of abstaining to report. They should instead to work diligently conscious of their security, the statement said.
Ms Salma has been repeatedly threatened following her reportage on the Zanzibar political developments especially after the nullification of the October 25, 2015 poll results.
“ It is true that I have been receiving threats through phone calls and messages telling me to stop writing about government and if I don’t stop, I will be beaten or something bad will happen to me”, Ms Salma was quoted in final edition of the Election Monitor newsletter published by MCT.
Salma was reported in the newsletter as saying that there have been occasions when she was followed by a car and it was her belief that this was another attempt to frighten her and make her afraid to continue with her work as a journalist.
Summing up the joint appeal made at a well attended press conference at MCT offices, Mukajanga appealed to all media outlets to come together in pressing for the release of Ms Salma.” This should not be left to Mwananchi newspapers where she is reporting