Panafrican News Agency

Journalists’ federation critical of Khartoum crackdown on pro-defunct regime media

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has criticized a recent government decision to suspend four independent news media on the ground their funding was affiliated to the defunct regime of Omar Bashir.

The Federation charged that the government in a new move to curb press freedom has announced the seizure of four independent media houses, including two newspapers and TV-channels.

On January 7, the Sudanese Anti-Corruption Committee announced the seizure of all accounts and assets of daily newspapers al-Sudani, Al-Rai al-Aam, and satellite TV channels, Al-Shrooq and Tayba. According to news reports, this was done in order to scrutinize accounts and identify the owners.

The al Sudani (Arabic for the Sudanese) and Al Rai al-Am (Arabic for Public Opinion) are affiliated to businessmen and persons related to the disbanded National Congress party of Bashir.

Al Shrooq TV is strongly linked to the then ruling National Congress party, while Tayba is a satellite religious TV related to Islamists and Muslim brothers. But both denied any link with Islamist and the ruling party circles.

The Federation reported that the offices of the news media have been occupied by security forces and all employees have been ordered to leave. The IFJ together with its affiliate, the Sudanese Journalists Union (SUJ), have denounced this latest blatant attack on Sudanese media.

The release quoted the SUJ as declaring that “the move reflects a new phase of violation against freedom of press and expression; muzzling voices, confiscation of all rights of freedom of expression, and violation of all international conventions on freedom of the press.”

The Sudanese government is following up on its announcement made on 14 December 2019, to dissolve all trade unions in the country. This includes the SUJ, an affiliate of the IFJ.  

The newspapers, though independent, have been accused of continuing to support the ousted regime and the Islamists in the country against the new revolutionary government led by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdouk.

According to the government, the move is meant to assess the status of the newspapers and the TV channels and to examine their funding. It said the decision is not final and that any move taken by the government could legally be challenged and rights restored.

“We are deeply concerned with the Sudanese government meddling in independent media outlets and the dissolution of trade unions. This is a grave assault on press freedom and the fundamental right of freedom of association. It is against the most fundamental human rights for the government to pick and choose its own union leaders.” IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, was quoted as saying.

-0- PANA MO/AR 10Jan2020