Sudan journalists detained at censorship protest
Nov. 17, 2008 Reuters
More than 60 Sudanese journalists and newspaper staff were detained at a rare public protest against media censorship.
A witness saw riot police armed with canes and shields round up
protesters as they stood opposite the parliament buildings holding
banners with the message "We need our rights".
Police said 63 people were detained.
Freedom of the press was guaranteed in Sudan in a 2005 peace deal
that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war, but
newspaper journalists have repeatedly complained about seized
print-runs and harassment.
The protesters, including several women, were herded into a cage on
the back of a police truck and driven off at around 12.30pm (local
time) two hours after arriving at the parliament in Omdurman, a suburb
Those arrested included well known columnists and senior editorial
staff from nine Sudanese newspapers, said reporters who were not
arrested during the protest.
"This has never happened before. They have never arrested so many
journalists. There is no freedom in Sudan," said Abdel Moneim Suleiman,
a member of the board of Ajras al-Huriya newspaper.
"The protesters were not there to fight. They were not armed. They just wanted to tell the public that there is no freedom."
No one was immediately available to comment from Sudan's police or ministry of information.
Sudanese newspapers say they receive nightly visits from security
officers who read through the next day's edition and instruct editors
to remove sensitive articles.
Reporters and human rights activists say the current crackdown
started in February after newspapers published reports accusing the
Government of backing Chadian rebels in a failed coup attempt. The
Government denies the charge.
The arrests come after weeks of anti-censorship campaigns, led by
Ajras al-Huriya, a publication aligned with the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement, the dominant party in the south and a member of
Sudan's coalition government, together with two opposition papers.
Individual journalists from other independent newspapers have also
joined the protests which have included hunger strikes and voluntary