Home | News    Tuesday 3 January 2012

Sudan shuts pro-opposition newspaper

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January 2, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Security authorities in Sudan suspended on Monday the publication of the daily newspaper Ra’y al-Sha’b, hours after its copies were confiscated.

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The paper, which toes the line of the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi, was previously suspended on several occasions, the latest of which occurred in May 2005 following the paper’s publication of reports alleging the construction of a weapon factory by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Sudan.

However, the title resumed publication in October 2011 after a Sudanese court annulled the decision of the country’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) to suspend the paper.

According to Ra’y al-Sha’b’s Editor-in-Chief Al-Tayyib Ibrahim Issa, the order of suspension was communicated to him by NISS agents while he was arraigned before the state prosecution for questioning over Ra’y al-Sha’b’s publication on 23 November of a news story about the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces, an alliance of rebel groups fighting to overthrow the government.

The paper said in a statement posted on its website that an armed force of NISS agents arrived around 6pm local time at the paper’s offices and ordered its staff to leave and take their personal belonging.

Prior to the suspension, nearly 15,000 copies of the paper’s Monday edition were confiscated by the NISS.

While the NISS gave no reason for the confiscation, Sudan Tribune has learned that the barred copies contained an interview with Jibril Ibrahim, a senior member of the Darfur rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

In the interview, Ibrahim spoke about a huge contrast in the way his group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), treated the government’s Prisoners of War (POW) “as their sons” and the way the latter treated theirs.

JEM’s official also reaffirmed their intent to topple the government through military means. JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim was killed in December 2011.

Meanwhile, the NISS has claimed that Ra’y al-Sha’b was suspended for violating professional ethics, warning that any attempt to jeopardise national security in the name of press freedom will find a similar response.

In statements carried by the Sudanese Media Center (SMC), a website affiliated to the NISS, the head of the NISS’s media department warned that whoever is tempted to “cross the redlines” in the name of freedom would be deterred.

He added that press freedom does not mean subjecting national security to dangers by supporting rebel groups.

He further explained that the suspension of Ra’y al-Sha’b was prompted by the paper’s violations of professional ethics and the “Code of Journalistic Honor” which stipulates the necessity of protecting national security from frivolous actions and compromises.

The term “Code of Journalistic Honor” refers to an agreement signed in 2010 between chief editors of newspapers and the security authorities. The deal was made in exchange of lifting direct censorship by NISS agents against newspapers, but it obliged editors in chief to exercise “self-censorship” and refrain from publishing any content that harms the state and national security.

Sudan’s interim constitution guarantees freedom of expression but subsidiary laws like the Criminal Procedures Act and the National Security Act contain articles which allow for curtailment of press freedom.

The reality on the ground is that newspapers, especially pro-opposition ones, are often censored, confiscated and subjected to legal proceedings against the background of their reporting.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 3 January 2012 11:43, by abdullah

    They trying to silence the voices of the masses, the dictatorship is now afraid and is feeling the heat from the revolutionaries who want a regime change. They are arresting activists and shutting down media outlets who speak out against their dictatorial policies. The fire of freedom is coming to Sudan, release all detainees and allow media to operate free. down down with the NCP dictatorship.

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    • 3 January 2012 15:29, by never

      that is true Mr.Abd but it seem to me like if s. Sudan complaint about what NCP is not doing wright toward southerners, you northerners jump up and said that is not true. now, you guys are getting the message. Bashire is working with his tribe men and not the whole Sudan because ICC issues, he doesn’t trues anybody than his own clan. look at Darfur, blue Nile and Nuba mountain. deal with it guys!

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  • 3 January 2012 17:47, by simon sebit

    whatever happened to free press!!! Looks like Bashir is taking Sudan down the drain with him coz acting like this he will push the general public to take to the streets and then he’ll hear the sound of freedom so loud that nightmares of Egypt, Libya, Syria etc will haunt his days and nights. Sudanese have had enough and they are not gonna remain silent for long. I’m a South Sudanese living overseas but I feel for my cousins up north. We are having a similar fiesta down south with a government that’s so corrupt and money hungry that they don’t seem to notice the rediculous cost of living for the average citizen. Makes me sick.

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