Doctors have requested journalists of El Tayar daily newspaper who plan to embark on a one-day hunger strike to volunteer for continuous medical check-ups.
“The check-ups will be done in anticipation of any possible emergency,” a doctor told Radio Dabanga on Sunday.
A number of journalists of El Tayar newspaper that was suspended for an indefinite period in December last year decided to embark on a one-day hunger strike on 1 March. In a statement on Saturday, the El Tayar journalists committee announced that the hunger strikers will be staying at the newspaper’s office in downtown Khartoum for 24 hours.
The action will be followed by a campaign to collect one million signatures demanding the return of the newspaper.
On 15 December, the media department of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) suspended the newspaper indefinitely.
No reasons were given, but editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani told Radio Dabanga that he did not rule out that the suspension of the newspaper must have been triggered by his editorials in which he sharply criticised the Finance Minister’s proposal to lift subsidies on wheat, flour, fuel and electricity in 2016.
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.
The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) reported in November that press freedoms declined remarkably during the past months after the NISS changed its approach.
“In order to avoid international pressure, they began focusing on the repeated summoning of journalists instead of confiscating print-runs of newspapers,” a senior member of the Network told Radio Dabanga.
Apart from summoning journalists, the security apparatus widened the ‘red lines’ on particular topics, and banned the publication of views disagreeing with the government position on various issues, the SJN stated in its quarterly report.
The report also pointed to the increasing encroachment by the NISS on personal property of journalists, its fabrication of news in order to create doubts about the credibility of the press, and its increased attacks on the electronic media.
Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index.