Three Journalists Detained, Two Incommunicado; One Tortured
International PEN protests the May 16, 2010 arrest and detention of three journalists for the opposition daily newspaper Rai al-Shaab amid a post-election crackdown on the Sudanese media and opposition leaders. Deputy editor Abu Zar al-Amin has reportedly been transferred to police custody after being given electric shocks; the whereabouts of reporters Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Dahab Ibrahim remain unknown. PEN calls on the Sudanese authorities to release the three journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture.
According to PEN's information, Abu Zara al-Amin, deputy editor of the opposition daily newspaper Rai al-Shaab, and Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Dahab Ibrahim, reporters for the same publication, were arrested during a raid by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on the newspaper’s offices in Khartoum on May 16, 2010. NISS agents confiscated equipment and copies of the latest issue of the paper and closed the newspaper down until further notice. Two other Rai al-Shaab employees, administrator Nagi Dahab and printer Abu Baker Al-Sammani were reportedly also arrested.
All three journalists were detained incommunicado. As of May 25, al-Amin had reportedly been transferred to police custody and his wife and brother had been allowed to visit him. He is reportedly being accused of anti-state crimes. According to press reports, al-Amin is in poor health and claims to have been ill-treated by national security agents, including being subjected to electric shocks. The whereabouts of the other journalists and employees is still not known.
The raid on Rai al-Shaab was apparently triggered by an article published on May 14, alleging that Iran had built a weapons factory in Sudan to supply insurgents in Africa and the Middle East. The ruling National Congress Party dismissed the report as false and a scheme by the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP) — which publishes Rai al-Shaab—to damage relations between Sudan and the United States. The day before the raid, on May 15, the authorities had arrested the PCP leader Hassan al-Turabi, who is a vocal critic of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accusing the politician of “stirring up hatred, disseminating malicious lies and abuse of Sudan’s foreign relations."
There were further raids on several other newspapers on May 19, including on another opposition newspaper, Ajras Alhurria, which was ordered to remove an article on the journalists’ arrests, among others.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, was re-elected in national elections in April 2010. According to rights groups, the election process was seriously flawed and marred by widespread repression and human rights violations.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the May 16, 2010 arrest and detention of journalists Abu Zara al-Amin, Ashraf Abdel Aziz, and Dahab Ibrahim of the opposition daily newspaper Rai al-Shaab, which PEN believes is a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
- Expressing serious concern that the journalists have been held incommunicado and that al-Amin has reportedly been subjected to torture;
- Calling on the Sudanese authorities to release the three journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture against al-Amin.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
PO Box 281
Fax: +249 183 774339
Director of the NISS
Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
WITH COPIES TO...
Chair of the Human Rights Committee
Dr Priscilla Joseph
Fax: +249 187 560 980
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible.
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after June 29, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org