A joint statement today by 17 Sudanese media institutions and press organisations, including Dabanga – Radio TV Online, with “a comprehensive plea to safeguard the role of journalism in crisis reporting, hold perpetrators accountable, and work towards a future where media remains a cornerstone of a democratic Sudanese society”, has prompted wide reaction, including the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and a leader of the Arab Socialist Baath Party.
Responding to questions on the joint statement by Dabanga News, the official spokesman for the SAF, Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah, said: “The SAF, as a national and regular institution, supports the rights and freedoms guaranteed to media professionals in performing their media mission, ensuring that they are not subjected to any harassment, and allowing them to perform their role within the limits of what security conditions allow, and what the requirements of Sudanese national security allow”.
‘We are in favour of media institutions playing their neutral media role, that does not take sides with falsehood or a specific party’ – SAF spokesman, Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah
Gen Abdallah added: “We [the SAF] are in favour of media institutions playing their neutral media role, that does not take sides with falsehood or a specific party.”
He condemned the violations suffered by a large number of media workers, which included armed men entering their homes and stealing their property, and acknowledged that that the violations have included media equipment being smashed, preventing journalists from doing their duty, and harassing them.
Youssef Ezzat, political advisor to the RSF Commander, Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, responded that the RSF welcomed todays joint statement by media institutions. He assured Dabanga News of the RSF’s readiness to allow any local or foreign media outlet to enter their areas of control.
‘We invited all media outlets to our areas of control, but they did not come…’ – RSF spokesman, Youssef Ezzat
However, at the same time, he said that journalists would only be allowed into areas under RSF control if the RSF is notified in advance, explaining the need for “the RSF to fully coordinate with journalists and ensure that they are provided with protection to carry out coverage in the areas under its control”.
Ezzat denied that the RSF has detained any journalists. “We invited all media outlets to our areas of control, but they did not come,” he said.
Arab Socialist Baath Party
Prof Siddig Tawer, a former member of the Sovereignty Council and a leading member of the Arab Socialist Baath Party, praised today’s joint statement by press and media institutions.
Tawer told Radio Dabanga that “the joint statement draws attention to a real catastrophe, almost forgotten, in light of the absurd practices of both sides in the war, across the country”.
He acknowledges that “since the first day of the war, workers in the field of journalism and media have been subjected to compelling circumstances as a result of the practices of both sides of the war”, noting that “some of them remained stuck inside their workplaces for a long time”.
‘Restricting professional media deprives public opinion of the reality of the scale of destruction and the humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan’ – Prof Siddig Tawer – Arab Socialist Baath Party
Tawer condemned what he called “disinformation campaigns and concealment of facts and their absence of professionalism and professional media ethics”. He warned that the “elements of the former regime” exploited their presence within the security services, and “deliberately restrict the national media voices that reject the continuation of the war”.
He says that those elements resorted to settling scores, which led to a surge in non-professional media content. “This represents a threat to national harmony by facilitating hate speech and sedition among the components of society.”
He concluded: “Restricting professional media deprives public opinion of the reality of the scale of destruction and the humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan”.
The joint statement Sudanese Media: Four Months of Violations, collaboratively produced by a number of media organisations in Sudan, represents a unified effort by independent media institutions and press organisations to address the critical state of press freedom in Sudan amidst an ongoing and devastating conflict. Spanning the period from April 15, 2023, to August 15, 2023, the statement emphasises the perilous situation faced by Sudanese journalists who have become collateral victims caught between opposing factions.
“Today’s statement stands as a comprehensive plea to safeguard the role of journalism in crisis reporting, hold perpetrators accountable, and work towards a future where media remains a cornerstone of a democratic Sudanese society,” the signatories say.