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Sudan: Newsrooms strike against confiscations

November 30 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Journalists in Khartoum sit outside during their strike to oppose the repeated newspaper confiscations and repression of media on Wednesday 30 November (RD)
Journalists in Khartoum sit outside during their strike to oppose the repeated newspaper confiscations and repression of media on Wednesday 30 November (RD)

The Sudanese Intelligence and Security Service confiscated the print-runs of five daily newspapers on Wednesday morning. Again El Jareeda, El Ayam, El Youm El Tali and El Tayyar were targeted. Newsrooms went on strike today while two papers will not print tomorrow.

El Watan print-runs were also seized today. The confiscations coincided with the end of the civil disobedience actions in Khartoum that led to unusually quiet streets in the past three days, as residents refused to go to work and open their shops.

El Jareeda copies have been seized for three consecutive days,” said Ashraf Abdelaziz, editor-in-chief of the independent daily newspaper. He said that the government does not welcome coverage of the disobedience actions. “The newspaper has suffered heavy financial losses as a result.”

Three El Jareeda journalists joined the strike of the Journalists' Network on Wednesday (RD)

Because of the successive confiscations its management decided not to publish on Thursday morning and resume publication on Friday 2 December instead. Also El Midan will not appear in the kiosks tomorrow.

Abdelaziz pointed to the similarity with the widespread demonstrations against the lifting of fuel subsidies in September 2013. Newspapers were heavily affected by the security service's punitive measures against the press. “These have created an atmosphere of tension among journalists. Pessimism prevails as the repeated seizures of newspapers describe the future of the National Dialogue.”

Editor-in-chief Osman Mirghani saw his El Tayyar being confiscated on the second day in a row on Wednesday. The newspaper suffered a heavy loss which he said has amounted to one hundred thousand Sudanese pounds.

“I tried to meet with the security service (NISS) to identify the reasons for the confiscation but I did not find a way,” Mirghani said. “But the reason for the confiscation is likely to be the paper's coverage of the civil disobedience.”

Mirghani and Abdelaziz said that the repeated confiscations of newspapers go against the outputs of the National Dialogue and the assurances of the Dialogue participants by ensuring public freedoms in Sudan. Last October, recommendations on basic rights and freedoms were officially endorsed in a National Dialogue Document.

Newsrooms strike 

Today, the Sudanese Journalists' Network called upon journalists and newsrooms to strike for one day to protest the repeated confiscation of the five newspapers and violations against press freedom. 

Khalid Ahmed, one of the leaders of the Network, said that there was a great response to their call. “Reporters of newspapers in Khartoum laid-down their news service and editorial activities. Journalists gathered in the office of their newspapers without doing their daily work.”

This strike is a first message, according to Ahmed, and will be followed by a number of protests. The newspapers that went on strike are likely to be printed with less news and articles tomorrow, however, most newspapers did not join the actions of the Journalists Network.

Abdelrahman El Ajab, editor-in-chief of El Youm El Tali told Radio Dabanga: “I know that many newspapers did not enter into a strike but they have shown their goodwill for it and hope it will turn out successful.”

Photo below: Adil Kadar (El Ayam newspaper), Rashan Oshi, and Mashaer Daraj carry a badge with 'Journalists strike!' today (RD)

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