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Strike ‘unrivalled success’: Sudanese Journalists Network

May 27 - 2015 KHARTOUM
With the slogan ‘A free press, or no press’ Sudanese journalists staged a protest against the gagging of the press by the security apparatus on 26 and 27 May 2015 (RD).
With the slogan ‘A free press, or no press’ Sudanese journalists staged a protest against the gagging of the press by the security apparatus on 26 and 27 May 2015 (RD).

The majority of the journalists in Khartoum responded to the call of the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) to embark on a strike today, in protest against the continuing press curbs by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On Monday, security agents confiscated the print-runs of ten Sudanese newspapers. Four newspapers were suspended indefinitely. The next day, hundreds of journalists staged a protest in front of the National Press and Publications Council in Khartoum.

The National Consensus Forces (NCF, a coalition of opposition parties), the National Umma Party (NUP), and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, and many civil society organisations supported the strike.

“Sudan has been hijacked by the NISS,” Dr Maryam Sadig El Mahdi, Co Vice-President of the NUP, told Radio Dabanga.

“No one has any insight in the internal by-laws of the security apparatus. The NISS has taken over the function of the Sudanese army, the Justice and Information Ministries, as well as many functions of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, in particular those of the police,” she said.

Protests to be continued

“The strike today (Wednesday) turned out to be “an unrivalled success,” Khaled Ahmed, member of the SJN, told Radio Dabanga. “We received many solidarity messages from members of civil society organisations, and human rights activists.”

“Our next step is to expand the protests, and also call on all editors-in-chief and publishers to participate, as no newspaper is immune to the censorship, confiscations, and suspensions by the NISS,” he said.

The weekly newspaper of the Sudanese Communist Party, El Midan, announced in a statement today that it will not bring out its Thursday issue this week, in solidarity with the other newspapers.

‘A free press, or no press’  

The SJN issued a statement later today, saying that the successful strike “proves that the pens of the Sudanese journalists are resistant to fracture, and beat the censors’ hands.

“The more blows the security apparatus deals on newspapers and journalists, the more the journalists become persistent in their resistance against the vicious attacks by the NISS,” the statement reads.

“Today, the journalists en masse responded to SJN’s call to embark on a strike. Hundreds of journalists of 18 newspapers participated. [..] The Network lauds the new spirit among the journalists [..]. New concepts of the role of journalists are emerging beyond the old ones. Instead of bringing news, journalists have become activists [..].”

The SJN stressed that the strike is confined to one day, as it will “look for new means to restore the dignity of the press in Sudan.”

The statement concluded with the slogan of the protesting journalists: “A free press, or no press.”

International reactions

The Arab Coalition for Sudan (ACS) and the Arab Network for Media Crises also condemned, “ in the strongest terms”, the confiscation of the copies of ten Sudanese newspapers from the printing presses in Khartoum, and the suspension of El Jareeda, El Khartoum, Akhir Lahza, and El Intibaha daily newspapers on Monday.

The ACS called on “all international and regional human rights and press organisations to work together, in order to put pressure on Khartoum to stop the systematic gagging of the Sudanese media, raise its hands from the press and journalists, and to respect the international human rights standards”.

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