August 8, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan Tribune journalist Manyang Mayom was awarded for his ‘commitment to free expression and courage in the face of political persecution’ with a Hellman/Hammett grant by Human Rights Watch on August 4.
- Sudan Tribune journalist Manyang Mayom (ST)
The annual grants are designed to reward writers ‘whose work and activism have been suppressed by their governments.’
Mayom was one of three Sudanese writers to receive the award this year.
As well as being Sudan Tribune’s correspondent in Rumbek, Mayom also works for the English language newspaper the Khartoum Monitor, and the Gurtong peace media project.
He has been beaten, arrested, intimidated and harassed on numerous occasions by security services in southern Sudan while for investigating sensitive stories such as ‘abuses by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the police, the government’s crackdown on women and girls for wearing trousers, and the detention of youth in militia prisons.’
“The award is an answer for those who are against those who are against human rights,” Mayom told Sudan Tribune after hearing of his award.
“It is also an answer for others in the media who are afraid to write what they want […] you may not be recognized in Sudan but you will be recognized internationally,” he said.
In December 2007 Mayom left his job as a senior radio reporter southern Sudanese Radio Rumbek FM 98 and began working as a freelance journalist.
It was after he left the government broadcaster he says that he began to be harassed by the southern security services and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the former rebels who have governed southern Sudan as an autonomous region since a peace deal in 2005.
In February 2008, Mayom was badly beaten by a militia loyal to Paulino Matip whose soldiers had merged with the SPLA the previous year.
The incident occurred in the Rumbek the capital of Lakes State, while Mayom was investigating a civilian disarmament campaign being conducted by the SPLA.
Mayom’s injuries were so bad that he was taken to the Sudanese capital Khartoum for treatment. When he became aware of his award on Sunday, over two years after the attack, Mayom was again visiting Khartoum for further treatment to his kidneys, which still cause him pain and do not function properly.
In 2009 security services in Lakes State tried to force him to leave Sudan accusing him of giving the region a bad international reputation from his reporting.
Mayom, who was born in the remote village of Pacong Payam in Rumbek East County in 1982, has refused to leave. His father died in 1986 fighting for the SPLA.
During his time reporting in Lakes State he has been accused of being both a spy for the Khartoum government and an agent of the International Criminal Court by local security services.
Mayom says that access to media and freedom of press in Lakes state is very poor.
Rumbek is a difficult place to work as a journalist, he says, because in many ways it is still the headquarters of the SPLA, as it was during the 22 year civil war, despite Juba being the regional capital.
Darfuri Activist - Awaif Ahmed Issag Osman
Awaif Ahmed Issag Osman a young feminist and activist from Darfur was awarded a grant for starting her own community publication informing people in El Fasher, North Darfur of news about Darfur’s seven year conflict, violence against women, and the culture and history of Darfur.
Osman, who posts Al Raheel ("tree" news) on a tree trunk in the center of town, ‘has been arrested by the Sudanese national security authorities for her activism,’ according to Human Rights Watch.
Veteran Journalist - Alhaj Warrag Sidahmed
According to Human Rights Watch Alhaj Warrag Sidahmed is ‘a well-known journalist who has written extensively on a range of political topics in Sudan, including democracy, Islam, the conflict in Darfur, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the lack of freedom of expression. Since 1999, Sudanese authorities have harassed and arrested him on multiple occasions for his activism. Many of his articles have been censored, and he has faced criminal charges for his writings. He is currently working from exile.’