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El Tayar journalists ‘spend noisy night’ in Sudan’s capital

March 3 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Sudanese journalists gather outside the office of El Tayar newspaper to announce their hunger strike, 1 March 2016 (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)
Sudanese journalists gather outside the office of El Tayar newspaper to announce their hunger strike, 1 March 2016 (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

Last night, at the end of the second day of the hunger strike of El Tayar journalists, large numbers of security and police surrounded the newspaper’s premises in downtown Khartoum.

“Security agents on motorcycles kept the journalists from their sleep during the night,” a supporter of the newspaper told Radio Dabanga this morning.

“It seems that the authorities are extremely irritated after international media covered the news of the hunger strike,” they commented. “People say that President Al Bashir is very angry, and accused the journalists of turning the suspension of El Tayar into a political issue.

“The journalists are ready for the worst, as large numbers of security and police forces have surrounded the office since yesterday evening. It looks as if they are preparing to forcibly halt the hunger strike.”

Fainted

On Wednesday, the second day of the hunger strike El Tayar managing editor Khaled Fathi told Radio Dabanga that two women journalists fainted.

El Tayar managing editor Khaled Fathi informed Radio Dabanga that an ambulance transported Difaf Mahmoud to a nearby hospital from the newspaper’s office in downtown Khartoum. Mona Faroug, was treated by the medical team stationed at the office.

Fathi stressed that the hunger strikers will not stop until their demands are met.

Freedom of expression

The journalists decided on the hunger strike in protest against the indefinite suspension of their newspaper by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in December last year.

No reasons were given for the suspension, but editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani presumed at the time that his editorials sharply criticised the Finance Minister’s proposal to lift subsidies on basic commodities in 2016.

El Tayar reporter and columnist Shamayil El Nur told The Guardian that the action marks a significant shift in the fight for freedom of expression in Sudan. “This is the first ever hunger strike by journalists in the history of the Sudanese press, and the first to happen outside a prison.”

She said the protest was not just about lifting the ban on the newspaper. “Of course we have the immediate goal of having the suspension lifted. But in general we are using El Tayar’s case as an example defend freedom of expression.”

Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.


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