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Sudan: Government harasses opposition weekly, arrests journalists and several employees


Nairobi Friday 04 February 2011 SMC


Somaliweyn - Reporters Without Borders
(http://www.rsf.org) Alert


SUDAN 4 February 2011

Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns government harassment and intimidation of the Arabic-language opposition weekly Al-Midan, the Sudanese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, because of its coverage of street protests on 30 January. The security forces have kept it under constant surveillance for the past few days, seized copies of its latest issue, and arrested its journalists.

“The authorities are clearly persecuting this newspaper with the aim of reducing it to silence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The detained journalists must be released at once and must be allowed to go back to work without being subjected to further harassment."

"I express my great concern and deep solidarity with my colleagues and all the Sudanese journalists, calling upon the authorities to stop harassing them. I consider this attack is the worst of its kind in the history of censorship in Sudan", said Faisal Elbagir, an Al-Midan journalist and founder of Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), who was forced to leave his country in early 2009 because of his activities.

On the night of 31 January, security forces went to the place where the newspaper is printed and seized all the copies of the latest issue that were there. On 2 February, they surrounded the newspaper’s headquarters and arrested anyone who came out, including its editor-in-chief assistant, Kamal Karrar, who was roughed up. Layout designer Khalid TawfiqIbrahim Mirghani, Fatma AlbashirFathiaSamir Salaheldin and receptionist Mohamed Rahma were also arrested and the newspaper’s archives were seized.

Reporters Without Borders already condemned the arrests of journalists as they were covering the 30 January demonstrations that took place in several cities including Khartoum and Omdurman (http://en.rsf.org/sudan-journalists-censored-held-in-sudan-31-01-2011,39433.html).

“We are appalled to see that, instead of defusing tension and listening to the demands from young people, who made up the bulk of the demonstrators, the authorities are stepping up the repression, especially as regards the media that covered the protests,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“The already disturbing press freedom situation has visibly worsened in the past few days as the authorities try to suppress coverage of events. We urge the government to stop persecuting journalists and to stop obstructing the free flow of information.”

Sudan is ranked 172nd out of 178 countries in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Five journalists are in jail and about 10 have been arrested in the past week.

-----
SOUDAN

Un hebdomadaire d'opposition réprimé par le régime de Khartoum, plusieurs de ses employés arrêtés

Depuis quelques jours, l'hebdomadaire arabophone d'opposition Al-Midan, journal du parti communiste soudanais, subit le harcèlement des forces de sécurité à la solde de Khartoum. Journalistes arrêtés, copies du journal confisquées, surveillance constante, les autorités ne lésinent pas sur les techniques d'intimidation.

Reporters sans frontières condamne fermement ces méthodes qui relèvent de la persécution pure et simple et dont l'objectif est de réduire l'hebdomadaire au silence. Les journalistes arrêtés doivent être immédiatement libérés et doivent pouvoir reprendre leur activité professionnelle sans être inquiétés.

"J'exprime ma grande inquiétude et ma profonde solidarité envers mes collègues et l'ensemble des journalistes soudanais et j'appelle les autorités à cesser de les harceler. Je crois que cet incident est l'un des pires de toute l'histoire de la censure au Soudan", a déclaré Faisal Elbagir, journaliste d'Al-Midan et fondateur de l'association Journalistes pour les droits de l'homme (Journalists for Human Rights, JHR), contraint à l'exil début 2009 en raison de ses activités militantes.

Dans la nuit du 31 janvier 2011, les forces de sécurité soudanaises ont saisi les exemplaires d'Al-Midan qui se trouvaient à l'impression. Le 2 février, elles ont encerclé les locaux du journal afin d'interpeller quiconque en sortirait. Elles ont ainsi brutalement arrêté et malmené Kamal Karrar, assistant du rédacteur en chef, Ibrahim Mirghani, Khalid Tawfiq, graphiste, Fatma AlbashirFathiaSamir Salaheldin et Mohamed Rahma, responsable de l'accueil. Les archives du journal ont, en outre, été confisquées.

Ces interventions musclées des forces de sécurité à l'encontre d'Al-Midan font suite à la couverture par le journal des manifestations populaires organisées, le 30 janvier, dans plusieurs villes du pays, notamment à Khartoum et à Omdurman. Reporters sans frontières avait déjà condamné les agissements des forces de sécurité contre les journalistes couvrant les manifestations (http://fr.rsf.org/soudan-censure-et-arrestations-de-31-01-2011,39428.html).

"Nous constatons avec effroi que les autorités soudanaises, loin de calmer le jeu et d'entendre les revendications de la jeunesse du pays, qui constitue le gros des manifestants, renforcent au contraire la répression, notamment contre les médias qui couvrent la contestation. La situation de la liberté de la presse, déjà préoccupante au Soudan, se détériore à vue d'œil depuis quelques jours. L'objectif de Khartoum est d'étouffer l'information", a déclaré Reporters sans frontières.

"Nous appelons le gouvernement à mettre un terme à la persécution des journalistes et à l'obstruction à la circulation de l'information", a poursuivi l'organisation.

Le Soudan figure à la 172e place, sur 178 pays, dans le classement mondial 2010 de la liberté de la presse établi par Reporters sans frontières. Cinq journalistes sont emprisonnés dans le pays et environ une dizaine ont été arrêtés depuis moins d'une semaine.

----
Ambroise PIERRE
Bureau Afrique / Africa Desk
Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
Tel : (33) 1 44 83 84 76
Fax : (33) 1 45 23 11 51
Email : afrique@rsf.org / africa@rsf.org
Web : www.rsf.org
Twitter : RSF_RWB



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