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Sentencing of six more artists sparks unrest in Khartoum

September 25 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Members of Feed Arts rehearse a theatre performance in Khartoum (Social media)
Members of Feed Arts rehearse a theatre performance in Khartoum (Social media)

Khartoum North Criminal Court sentenced six more members of the Feed Arts group to two months in prison and a fine of SDG5,000* for public disturbance and breaching public safety, bringing the number of detainees to 11.

Dozens of activists organised a protest in front of the Central Khartoum Criminal Court, denouncing the members of the Feed Arts group convictions.

The new ruling was issued yesterday, despite widespread rejection of the previous conviction of five members of the Feed Arts group to two months imprisonment for ‘public disturbance’. Previous convicted members include young film director Hajooj Kuka, who won international awards with his documentary Beats of the Antonov (2014).

The protesters described the judge’s verdict as “unfair”, “malicious”, and targeting of the arts. They called for a State of Artistic Emergency to be called, along with special charter to protect art and artists.

According to human rights defenders, the verdict is based on complaints by neighbours about the group making too much noise during rehearsals.

Noise complaints

In early August, members of the Feed Arts group were rehearsing for a theatrical performance in El Zohour in central Khartoum, which led to friction with residents of the neighbourhood, who filed a complaint on August 10 (which they later withdrew).

The police followed up on the complaint that day. During a discussion with the group, one of the police officers took pictures of Dua Tareg with his mobile phone which she objected to. After she asked him to delete the pictures, the policeman reportedly slapped her.

Other members of the group then loudly protested against the policeman’s behaviour. The policeman filed a complaint against them on charges of public disturbance and violation of safety. The members were temporarily detained and assaulted by the police.

On 17 September 2020, five of the artists were sentenced to two months of imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 SDG.

* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). At the parallel market in Khartoum, the greenback is selling for SDG250 (a record height of SDG260 was reported on September 10).

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