Arrests, Assassinations, and Sexual Assaults… Sudanese Journalists in the “Army’s” Hell

Journalists in Sudan face severe conditions during the war, as local and international organizations call on the warring parties to allow media professionals to perform their duties without endangering them.

Several journalists have been subjected to assaults and violations by elements of the Sudanese army in various cities across the country, including cities not experiencing any military confrontations, according to human rights organizations.

Journalist Sidiq Dalay has joined the list of journalists arrested during the current war. The journalists’ union revealed on Tuesday that Dalay was arrested by an army intelligence unit in Al-Damazin, the capital of the Blue Nile region, bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Dalay had fled Khartoum to Al-Damazin, far from the battle zones, along with dozens of other journalists displaced by the war, now in its second year.

The head of the Sudanese Journalists Union, Abdel Moneim Abu Idris, indicated that “Dalay was arrested over an article condemning the murder of one of his relatives in Gezira state, central Sudan.”

Last week, the Sudanese Congress Party announced the killing of its branch head in Al-Qurashi area of Gezira state, Salah Al-Tayeb, in army intelligence prisons, without any comment from the army.

Abu Idris added that “Sudanese journalists were among the first groups affected by the war, as it took place in central Khartoum, which hosts most of the press institutions.”

He noted that the fighting caused over 90% of journalists to lose their jobs due to the sabotage, looting, and destruction of their institutions. Hundreds of journalists were forced into internal displacement, while dozens sought refuge in various countries.

The army has not commented on the union’s statement.

Data from the journalists’ union indicate that over 390 journalists have been directly violated, alongside five male journalists and three female journalists injured or physically assaulted, including one case of sexual assault.

The data also report 39 cases of kidnapping, arrest, and detention of Sudanese journalists, including five female journalists, and 28 shooting incidents targeting journalists, including ten female journalists.

Betrayal and Threats

In the latest attacks on journalists, reporter Samar Suleiman received threats from unknown individuals, “putting her life at risk.”

Suleiman stated that “the war forced her to leave Khartoum and return to her family in Kassala state, eastern Sudan, after losing her possessions and job.”

She added, “After arriving in Kassala, I engaged in voluntary activities to help displaced people in the city’s shelters, which displeased the army, and I received revenge threats via WhatsApp messages and phone calls.”

Suleiman indicated that unknown individuals posted her picture on social media platforms with comments claiming she was part of the army’s sleeper cells.

She clarified that “the threats had a revengeful nature, some hinting at physical elimination, prompting her to file seven complaints against those who threatened her.”

She emphasized that she does not belong to any political group, adheres to professionalism, and works to assist those affected by the conflict while supporting the cessation of the war that has harmed Sudanese people.

Last April, journalist Azza Ira was assaulted by three armed men, according to the Sudanese Journalists Union.

Murder and Terror

The violations against journalists in Sudan have not stopped at threats but have also led to murders, with six Sudanese journalists killed during the war, according to the Sudanese Journalists Union and other press organizations.

The union confirmed the deaths of journalists Samaher Abdel Shafi, Halima Idris, Issam Hassan Murjan, Issam Al-Hajj, Ahmed Youssef Arabi, and Khalid Bellal during the current war.

Abu Idris noted that “some journalists were killed by army gunfire, while shells fell on other journalists’ homes, leading to their deaths.”

He added that “Sudanese journalists face suffering and restrictions, and many have found themselves under suspicion and betrayal when they showed their press IDs to soldiers at military checkpoints, with each side accusing them of supporting the other.”

Last March, the Sudanese Journalists Network condemned the killing of journalist Khalid Bellal, stating that “the incident highlights the targeting and assassination of journalists, several of whom have been treacherously killed by members of the Sudanese army.”

According to union data, 26 print newspapers have stopped publishing, while 18 radio stations and six television channels have ceased broadcasting, and more than 29 media institutions and press offices have been destroyed or closed.

Today marks World Press Freedom Day, designated by the United Nations on the 3rd of May each year, as an occasion to shed light on the reality of this freedom and the challenges it faces and undermines. It’s also an opportunity to provide an annual account of the violations suffered by the media and journalists worldwide, offering an insight into the risks and stakes threatening one of the key elements of democracy around the world.

Security expert General Abdel Hadi Abdel Basset believes that “many journalists affiliated with the forces of freedom and change, or who support them, have faced negative attitudes during the ongoing war in Sudan.”

Abu Idris points out that “the current situation of Sudanese journalists is the worst in years, as the danger continues even after the war ends, since they won’t find institutions capable of accommodating many of them, due to the looting and destruction they have suffered.”

Journalist Emad Abdel Hadi faces criminal charges related to crimes against the state, incitement to war, and subversion of the constitutional regime, as part of a list of charges involving 49 individuals among the civilian leadership in the city of Nahud, in West Kordofan state.

The Sudanese Media Forum indicates that “deliberate violence, murders, destruction, and persecution have affected hundreds of journalists, media outlets, and media institutions during the war.”

In a statement last week, the forum declared that “the army will not stop at suppressing free media outlets and silencing their voices by the force of arms.”

Sudanese authorities closed the offices of Al Arabiya, Al Hadath, and Sky News in April, before reversing their decision regarding Al Arabiya and Al Hadath, while Sky News’ office remains closed.

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