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Sudanese Writers Union shut down by authorities

January 29, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Ministry of Culture informed via letter the Sudanese Writers Union (SWU) that it is revoking its license in a move described as part of a wider crackdown by authorities on centers believed to be pro-opposition.

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Sudanese Writers Union Secretary General Osman Shenker

SWU Secretary General Osman Shenker told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the letter effectively means they can no longer continue their activities.

He said the ministry attributed the decision to SWU "carrying out activities contrary to the provisions regulating the activity of the national cultural groups and SWU statute".

Shenker said that the SWU executive committee will meet to discuss the decision and decide on whether to appeal it or ignore it altogether and continue with their usual activities.

He vehemently denied embracing any activities of political nature, especially since the statute prohibits it.

He noted that SWU has been registered since 2006 to hold cultural and intellectual seminars, film screenings and musical nights.

SWU was previously closed following the 1989 coup led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and authorities did not allow it to resume its activities until 2006, a year after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Shenker said the move is an attempt to ban and gag freedom of expression, recalling that security services closed a number of cultural centers namely al-Khatim Adlan Center, the Sudanese Studies Center, Ali al-Zein Cultural Center and most recently Mahmoud Mohamed Taha Cultural Center.

Last September, Sudanese security prevented the confederation of civil society organizations, a coalition of 25 organizations, from holding its annual convention at a ballroom in Khartoum.

As the country heads to general elections in April, authorities have intensified their clampdown on opposition parties & figures, activists and newspapers.

Most major opposition parties are boycotting the elections saying its results are known beforehand in favor of the ruling party.

(ST)