Authorities in the breakaway republic of Somaliland have formally charged a poet, Naema Qorane, with spreading unpatriotic propaganda.
The poet has been outspoken in her calls for a united Somalia, something she champions in her performances and Facebook posts. If found guilty, Qorane could face up to eight years in prison.
She was charged by Somaliland’s Attorney General for “anti-national activity of a citizen and bringing the nation or state in contempt”.
The charge followed her arrest on 27 January upon her return to her native Somaliland after visiting Mogadishu where she has performed at a TEDx event.
Guled Ahmed Jama, who heads an independent human rights centre in Hargeisa, called Ms Qorane’s arrest “oppressive”:
The main issue we are criticising the authorities for is the arrest of Naema for a rant she wrote on her Facebook – we believe that she has exercised her rights to express her opinion.
We believe that this is not in line with local and international laws. We see the charges against Naema as oppressive measure against her rights to express her views.”
Somaliland authorities are sensitive about matters related to unification.
The self-declared independent state was created in 1991.