The planned hunger strike by journalists against the decision to suspend El Tayar daily started this afternoon in the office of the newspaper. “We will not lift our strike until the newspaper returns to the press.”
The 30 El Tayar journalists, who were ordered by security authorities to suspend the newspaper for an indefinite period on 15 December, announced the hunger strike exactly two weeks ago. Khaled Fathi, managing editor of the newspaper, told Radio Dabanga on Monday: “We will not lift our strike until all forms of censorship on newspapers stop and until our newspaper returns to the press.”
The journalists will not eat, but are allowed to drink water, during the strike that will continue day and night in the office. According to Fathi, they will tie their hands with chains as a symbolic expression of the restrictions on the freedom of expression in Sudan.
“They will also move the chains on their hands to produce sounds, instead of the sound of writing with pens,” Fathi said.
Doctors will conduct medical check-ups among the strikers. One of the doctors who support the protest, told Radio Dabanga last week that they will anticipate on any possible emergency.
No reasons were given for the indefinite suspension of El Tayar in December, but editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani pointed out that his editorials sharply criticised the Finance Minister’s proposal to lift subsidies on wheat, flour, fuel and electricity in 2016. Sudanese throughout the country now face high food prices, shortages of flour, and difficulties to obtain cooking gas because of the lifted subsidies.
El Tayar was indefinitely suspended before, in February 2012. It was allowed to resume publication in June that year after a decision by the Constitutional Court.
Ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Sudan is notorious for hounding its news media, Reporters said.