Somaliland's Horn Stars band arrested over Somali flag

image copyrightAFP
image captionEach of the five points of the Somali flag represent a region where ethnic Somalis live

Members of one of Somaliland's best-known groups, the Horn Stars, have been arrested for allegedly waving Somalia's flag at a concert.

They were performing during Eid al-Adha in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

The four musicians are accused of holding performances which oppose Somaliland's independence.

Somaliland declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but this has not been recognised internationally.

The four, Nimaan Hilaa, Hamda Queen, Mahamed Ahmed Bakaal and Abdirahman Aydiid, were arrested when they returned to Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa, from Mogadishu on Sunday.

On Twitter people have started posting message of support for the musicians using the hashtag #FreeHornStars.

Somaliland's deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Adarre said they were on the payroll of the Somaliland's information ministry and were not allowed to do anything against Somaliland:

"The Somaliland artists can perform anywhere in the world but not in Somalia. They should not be involved in politics. Somaliland and Somalia have conflicts to resolve," he said.

"We are not silencing them, they can perform anywhere they want, but they have to abide by our laws."

Another prominent musician, Khadra Silimo, told the BBC that the four were not government employees and had done "nothing wrong".

"They sang love songs in Mogadishu and I don't think that should be a crime."

The five points on the white star of Somalia's flag each represent a region where ethnic Somalis live, including Somaliland.

Somaliland has its own flag.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Somaliland flag is very different, and includes the statement of Islamic faith

Somaliland: Find out more

image copyrightUPDATED AUGUST 2015
  • Declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but not recognised internationally
  • Runs own affairs, holds regular elections
  • Former British colony
  • More peaceful than rest of Somalia

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