Sudan closes office of Al Jazeera Live channel
January 16 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Al Jazeera correspondent Mohamed Omar reporting about protests against the military from Khartoum, October 20, 2021 (mubasher.aljazeera.net).
The Sudanese Ministry of Information and Culture withdrew the license of Al Jazeera Live on Saturday, and closed its office in Khartoum. Sudanese journalists condemned the move. The work permit of reporter Mohamed Omar was withdrawn as well, the Arab satellite channel reported from Doha.
The Preparatory Committee for the Restoration of the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate described the closure of the office as “an extension of the practices of the coup authorities towards Sudanese journalists”.
Al Jazeera Live
(part of the wider, Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network
, which continues to be active in the country), has carried liveblog coverage of the ongoing mass protests and civil disobedience across Sudan since the military coup d’état of October 25
. The putschists have consistently attempted to limit coverage of the protests by blocking the internet and mobile phone traffic in Sudan. At least 64 demonstrators
have been shot dead, fatally wounded by tear gas canisters or excessive blows since the coup.
In a press statement yesterday, the journalists' committee denounced the growing hostility toward journalists and correspondents covering mass demonstrations in the past couple of weeks, and pointed to attempts of regular forces riding in four-wheel drive vehicles to run over reporters covering demonstrations near the Republican Palace in central Khartoum last week.
It described the closure of the office as a violation of the 2009 Press and Press Publications Law, as the National Council for Press and Press Publications is responsible for licensing, regulating, and supervising the work of foreign news channels licensed in accordance with the law, and not the Ministry Information and Culture. “Therefore, Al Jazeera has the right to file an administrative appeal against this unlawful decision.”
The committee called on Sudanese journalists and others working in press and media institutions in the country “to take a unified position and coordinate professional solidarity efforts in defence of freedom of the press and the media, and their right to perform their work”.
Editor-in-chief of the independent daily El Jareeda newspaper, Ashraf Ibrahim, also condemned “the suppression of journalists doing their duty”.
He told Radio Dabanga yesterday evening that the freedom of the press is deteriorating rapidly, in particular after the General Intelligence Service (GIS)* was given the authority to detain civilians
during the State of Emergency, imposed after the coup d’état of October 25
. He further ridiculed the apologies presented by the authorities “each time journalists have been assaulted”.
'Al Jazeera has the right to file an administrative appeal against this unlawful decision.' - Preparatory Committee for the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate
The Sudanese Journalists’ Forum in the United Kingdom also condemned the hostility of “the military coup forces” against journalists.
In a statement yesterday, they pointed to journalist Rajaa Ahmed, member of the Forum’s board of trustees, who was detained on December 30, while covering the Marches of the Millions in Khartoum, and charged with inciting chaos. She was released on bail the next day. The trial date has not been set yet.
The statement further mentioned assaults against journalists
Shamayel El Nour, Osman Fadlallah, and Bakri Khalifa during their coverage of the January 13 mass protests in Khartoum, and the storming of the Al Araby
TV office in Khartoum and the detention of journalists Islam Saleh, Wael El Hasan, and photographer Mazin Onur that day.
Journalists and correspondents of satellite channels and agencies are facing increasing violence and prosecutions by the security forces since the October coup, especially when covering the pro-democracy marches
calling for a return to civilian rule.
Radio Dabanga reported last week that photographers Mohamed Khidir and Majdi Abdallah working for the Chinese news agency Xinhua
were detained and questioned for hours
by the military authorities on January 12.
Crew members of the London-based Al Araby
press agency were attacked with tear gas canisters
while they were filming protests from their office in central Khartoum on January 4.
In end December, joint security forces stormed the offices
of the Arab Al Arabiya
and Al Hadath
satellite TV channels, assaulted the journalists present, destroyed their equipment, and stole their belongings. Staff members of Asharq
News Channel and Sky News Arabia were threatened as well
During the Marches of the Millions on December 19, a large number of journalists and other media professionals in the capital were beaten and detained
. A woman journalist went missing.
* The General Intelligence Service (GIS) is the successor of the disbanded National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which was one of the most infamous and feared organs of the Al Bashir dictatorship, that acted ruthlessly against any political dissent. The NISS was officially disbanded in July 2019 by a constitutional decree “restructuring the security apparatus, to cope with the political change in the country”. The decree amended several articles of the National Security Act of 2010, in order to restructure the NISS, to adjust its competences, and change its name. The new intelligence service was no longer authorised to detain people or carry out search operations - which was reversed again when the State of Emergency was imposed by army leader and head of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan following the military coup on October 25, 2021.
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