Friday, May 11, 2012

Sudanese Journalist's Network Event on Thursday

In a forum organized organized by the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN), there was widespread condemnation on the diminishing margin of press freedoms and the alarming rate of confiscation of independent newspapers.

"We are here to express a reality that 15 journalists and writers are banned from writing and  a reality  that newspapers are confiscated." said Khaled Ahmed, one of the speakers who is also a banned journalist.

The decision to ban journalists from writing is made by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), Sudan's security apparatus, through contacting the journalists or the newspapers that employ them. If they are banned, they can not publish in any newspaper. 

Mujahid Abdullah, who is also banned from writing since early April, said that banning a journalist from writing did not happen since Sudan's independence.

Amel Habbani, a banned journalist who served time last year for a published article told the attendees that 
"the Press laws are already bad, but the NISS have kicked them to the corner and is dealing with the laws of the jungle."

This year alone, the press in Sudan has faced a number of setbacks. Three newspaper were suspended in January and February and one of them, Rai-Al-Shab which is the mouthpiece of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), an opposition party, is still suspended.

The two other newspapers, Al-Tayar and Alwan are now back on the newsstands, however, just last week, an entire issue of Al-Tayar was confiscated from the printing house.

Al-Jareeda newspaper, suspended for over three months starting from last year was allowed to resume publishing early this year, however it has faced a number of confiscations this year.

Hassan Ishaq who writes for Al-Jareeda told Africa Review that it was confiscated three times in the past month alone. 

The editor-in-chief of Al-Jareeda newspaper, Osman Shinger, said in the forum that they work on two versions, one version follows the editorial guidelines of the newspaper , the other one is usually the one that gets published as it abides by the laws of the NISS.

"Many of the news that are censored from our newspaper are service-news such as an increase in food prices," stated Shinger.

The mouth-piece of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) , Al-Midan newspaper, was confiscated nearly 15 times this year. Confiscation happens at the printing house when the NISS sends officers with a truck to take all the printed issues.

Faisal Mohamed Salih, a journalist and human rights activist was arrested on Tuesday and released after a few hours for refusing to show-up to an interrogation at the NISS office.

"He was summoned by the NISS for 10 days in a  row and kept for 8 hours without any interrogation, he refused to go after the 11th day and this is why he was detained from his home," said Ahmed.

In a letter he sent via email and published on different websites, Salih stated that he was summoned for remarks he made in April on Al-Jazeera tv.

The SJN has vowed to take action by organizing silent protests and a march to the parliament  to protest the ongoing crackdown on the press.

Ahmed who is part o the executive committee of the SJN said that their slogan is "free press or no press".

"Its either we have real press freedom like the world, or we find another job," he added.

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