February 11, 2011

H.E. President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
People’s Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: +249 183 774339

Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
NISS Headquarters
Khartoum, Sudan

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme alarm regarding the recent arrests of 12 journalists from Al-Midan, Al-Ahdath, and Alsahafa newspapers.

According to our information, Al-Midan reporters Samir Salah Eldin, Mohamed Rahama, Kamal Karrar, Ibrahim Mirghani, Suleiman Wida’a, Khaled Tawfiq, Mohaned el-Dirdiri, Fatima Bashir, and Fathia Tinga, were arrested on February 3, 2011, for their coverage of pro-democratic protests that occurred on January 30, 2011. They are currently being held incommunicado in Khartoum, and there are serious concerns that they may be at risk of torture and ill-treatment.

Al-Ahdath journalists Hamza Baloulwho and Ali Ahmad Haj Al-Amin were arrested on January 10, 2011, for covering student protests, and are being held incommunicado. Alsahafa reporter Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim was arrested on November 3, 2010, and his whereabouts also remain unknown. 

PEN American Center believes the detention of these 12 journalists is part of a systemic disregard for the safeguards for freedom of expression in Sudan in which journalists are targeted in relation for their writing, and considers their arrests to be in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sudan is a state party. We therefore urge Sudanese authorities to disclose the whereabouts of all those detained, to provide solid assurances that they will not be ill-treated in detention, and to release them immediately and unconditionally.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee           
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Dr. Priscilla Joseph
Chair of the Human Rights Committee
National Assembly
Fax: +249 187 560 980

Ambassador Dr. Akec Khoc
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 667-2406

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