The Sudanese newspaper El Hadatha announced on Saturday that it will cease publication because of the increasing suppression of the media. The US Embassy in Khartoum has denounced the closure of the Al Jazeera Live channel by the Ministry of Information on Saturday. Journalists say that the withdrawal of the channel's license is unlawful.
Editor-in-chief Shamseldin Dawelbeit said in an interview with Radio Dabanga on Sunday that the management of the daily newspaper suspended publication since the military coup d’état on October 25, in protest against the take-over of power by army leader and Sovereignty Council head Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan.
The management of El Hadatha has been monitoring developments in the situation before making a final decision, the editor-in-chief said. “The coup put an end to the press and media freedoms brought about by the glorious December Revolution.”
He referred to “attacks by heavily armed military formations on offices of newspapers and other media institutions, continuous assaults on journalists and correspondents, confiscating their properties, detaining and intimidating them, and the withdrawal of licenses.
“The current conditions do not allow the newspaper to fulfil its professional duty and responsibilities towards the December Revolution,” Dawelbeit explained. “We are not allowed anymore to pursue our editorial policies based on addressing transitional and foundational issues with the new forces for change, so we were forced to stop.”
Al Jazeera Live closed
On Saturday, the Sudanese Ministry of Information and Culture withdrew the license of the Al Jazeera Live channel. In response, the US embassy in Khartoum tweeted that the “revocation of Al Jazeera license is a step backwards for freedom of the press, a cornerstone of the democratic transition”.
The Al Jazeera news network on Sunday requested the Sudanese authorities to return the license of Al Jazeera Live license channel so that it can “continue its journalistic work without hindrances or intimidation”.
Journalist Hosameldin Haydar, former Secretary-General of the Sudanese Press and Publications Council, told Radio Dabanga in an interview yesterday that the decision to close the channel was not based on objective grounds. “It is an extension of the coup leaders' dealing with the media, he said.
Haydar confirmed that the decision to withdraw the license of the Al Jazeera Live channel issued by the acting undersecretary of the Ministry of Information and Culture is in violation of the Press and Publications Law of 2009.
“Licensing satellite channels and regulating their work is not within the authority of the Ministry of Information and Culture, but is the competence of the Press and Publications Council that is independent from the ministry in all its powers,” he explained.
Haydar condemned the many violations of press freedom after the October 25 coup. The latest developments “show that the authorities are fed up with the work of journalists, correspondents and media institutions.”
Al Jazeera Live (part of the wider Al Jazeera news network, which continues to be active in the country), has carried liveblog coverage of the ongoing mass protests and civil disobedience across Sudan since the military coup on October 25. The putschists have consistently attempted to limit coverage of the protests by blocking the internet and mobile phone traffic in Sudan. At least 64 demonstrators have been shot dead, fatally wounded by tear gas canisters or excessive blows since the coup.