Home | Comment & Analysis    Thursday 14 August 2003

Sudan’s leader promises to end press censorship


By BBC Monitoring Media Services

August 14, 2003

President Umar Hasan al-Bashir has lifted censorship of the press in Sudan by the security service, following his recent pledge to increase political freedom in Africa’s largest country.

A presidential decree issued on 12 August transferred responsibility for overseeing newspapers from Sudan’s National Security Agency to the semi-autonomous National Press Council. The president advised the council to "keep the country’s interests in mind" when making decisions.

Putting the press council in control of the national and local press was intended "to further boost the national consensus towards resolving the nation’s problems", Sudanese TV said on 12 August.

Sudanese radio said Bashir, the head of an Islamist government that came to power in a military coup in 1989, had issued the decree in response to requests from opposition parties.

On 10 August President Bashir had promised to introduce greater political freedom in Sudan, and to review the list of political detainees.

"When we drew up the constitution, we approved multipartyism, a peaceful rotation of power, and we acknowledged the existence of the opposition, and it was good to have laws governing the press. All these we approved. However, people might differ in their opinions. I might have personal views and convictions on how the [public] interest lies regarding a certain issue, thinking that it safeguards the government’s interests, which the people may have violated.

"On the issue of press censorship, we have lifted it completely. Whoever wants to say whatever he wants, let him do so, whether it is in the press or even through the government television itself," Bashir said in an address relayed by Sudanese TV.

The opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) welcomed the decision by the president lifting press censorship and travel restriction on politicians, but expressed doubts about its implementation by the government, according to the Sudanese newspaper Al-Khartoum on 13 August.

Press freedom improving since 2002

In the view of international media watchdogs, press freedom in Sudan has improved since the government said in late 2001 it was lifting censorship of all the country’s main daily newspapers.

In August 2002, President Bashir authorized opposition political parties to operate. The rebels of the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) were not included in the measure, but the signing of a government-rebel agreement in July 2002 was hailed as a major step towards peace.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, in its survey of 2002, reported: "Sudanese journalists say they have some freedom in their daily reporting and that restrictions, including prior censorship, occur less often today than in previous years."

But periodic government crackdowns against independent papers have continued.

The Paris-based organization Reporters Sans Frontieres noted in its annual report for 2002: "Despite positive changes such as allowing opposition parties and reaching agreement with the SPLA, press freedom was under attack throughout the year. Many journalists were arrested or called in for questioning and independent newspapers were censored."

President Bashir’s latest pledge to lift press censorship, if it translates into action, will go a long way to breaking down the climate of self-censorship and fear that Sudanese journalists say they still operate under.

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  • 27 December 2007 22:48, by Nuba Vioce in Diaspora

    Unified Release from both H.Q of ECS Northern Sudan Province and Diocese of Karm Condemning Death of Bishop Steven Alful Tutu

    Nuba Mountains persistently discerned with ethnic, religious and cultural diversity and it is recognized to be the first region in Sudan to have religious cooperation and forgiveness where its population includes 50% Christians, 40% Muslims and 10% traditional religions. And all these religious groups practice their faith freely without interference any party in their affairs and they are unified, live together under the shadow of peace and security. They normally work collaboratively to rebuild one nation. These portrayals overwhelmed allover Nuba Mountains’ societies, especially after comprehensive peace which was signed between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in 2005 which grant extra freedoms including freedom of affiliation to any political party.

    It was impulsive testimony at the final stage to find some of the PLM/A leaders in Moro area (Nuba Mountains) detains and persecutes their own citizens as a matter of listening and surrendering to provocations carried out by some of the church leaders acting against their colleagues (religious leaders) from other denominations or congregations even though they are from one region (Nuba Mountains), one area (Moro society), one clan (letokfla – within Nuba/Moro community), and they are brothers in Christ from same religion (Christians), and from same denomination (Episcopal). Although of all these interrelated imagery, the other party still asserts to be legitimate have start to inflame the fire of sedition, that subverted people based on religious legality as he is a God who shall judge people in accordance to what they’ve done in the earth. Despites the fact that all of us are Christians, worshiping same God our lord Jesus Christ, other party don’t recognize our faith. Bishop Andudu, Bishop Ezekiel Kondo and Canon Alazer Alimam and the rest of their supporters continue to stand behind all these plots against other congregation in whom they described it as illegitimate. The root cause of this problem originates from one source and encircled around one pivot that addresses only one point pertaining to who is legitimate and illegitimate where party claimed to be legitimate is supported by few number in their congregation emphasized to be intellectuals and educated people lead by business Bishop Andudu Adam Alniel who is working against Bishop Peter Elberesh who is supported by a large number of uneducated congregation, but filled with faith. The group of Andudu protested that Bishop Peter is illegitimate Bishop and Bishop belongs to the National Congress Party.
    All these religious groups and members of civil society administration in the Nuba Mountains aware of the radical theory and constitutional responsibility as documented in the Sudan interim constitution that calls for separation of religion and state in both SPLA and NCP. And in correspondence to the clear letter issued by our late hero the fallen leader and the former of SPLM/A Chairman Dr. John Garang DeMabior as he mentioned that “The movement cannot interfere into church affairs, but encourage the church leaders to reconcile their religious beliefs and reunite, but however, if this is not heeded to by the church leaders, then every group among them has a right to exist as a separate church of denomination”. Despites of this clear message, Bishop Andudu Adam Alniel filed various lawsuits with lies against Bishop Peter Elberesh where he notified some of the SPLM/A intelligences by provoking them with illusions to perform violent acts against followers of Bishop Peter Elberesh without persuasive reasons. Lately after announcement of enthronement for Bishop Steven Alful Tutu was spread out, which was expected to take place on November 18.2007, Bishop Andudul attempted with all sources to induce public, local and regional authorities to prevent buses from entrance into Korji area, which were carrying congregations to attend the enthronement. After Bishop Andudu failed to persuade authorities, he has started to irritate SPLM/A security personnel officers with erroneous information that made them ultimately to kidnap Bishop Steven Alful on November 15. 2008 and took him into unknown place and killed him. People searched for Bishop Steven for three days and they finally found his body was thrown into heavy bush.
    Immediately after this incidence was occurred, the new phenomenon were appeared that Bishop Andudu has bribed and paid the large amount of money about sixty million Sudanese pounds (60,000) equivalent to thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) to SPLM/A Security Personnel Officers to assassinate about ten (10) church leaders in whom he accused them with erroneous assumptions and he informed SPLM/A Security Personnel Officers, exaggerating by laying to them and alert them about existence of security threat in the area as he indicate to them that Bishop Peter Elberesh will arrive in Korji soon with military force, armed with heavy weapons. Isn’t this bizarre thing?. Based on these exaggerations, a number of platoons of SPLA armed task forces were sent to the area of Korji to protect people there and they are well prepared and waiting to confront that force leaded by Bishop Peter Elberesh (which was an extreme lie). After the buses were arrived in Korji area which were carrying the congregations expected to attend the enthronement, they were properly searched by SPLA Security Officers and each individual rider was properly searched as well and neither weapon was founded nor dangerous thing was found either, but they found poor people with empty hands and they came from Khartoum to fulfill church ministry and nothing else.
    Remarkably after this ruins were taken place Bishop Andudu was returned back to Khartoum with panic and fear and never slept in his home, but slept in different homes to home and roaming from area to area in suburbs of Khartoum, and he is unable to participate in any public, spiritual gatherings fearing that some of innocent people he commit crime against them may find him. Bishop Andudu also attempted to depart the country through many airports in northern part of Sudan but found many blocks in whom he has ultimately fled back to Nuba Mountains area and escorted by SPLA army to Kauda so that he can flee through Kauda airport to another neighboring county. This recognized to be empirical evidence for whoever commit the crime, but despites of all these hidden conspiracies, and wherever Bishop Andudu may sleep, departed or hide, whether in earth or sky his day is approaching. This because deceptions have short limit to be ended, and the truth shall take its place.
    For this reason, we would like to urge public authorities from both SPLM/A and the government of Sudan and human rights societies to form investigation committee to elicit the authenticities and explore all the veracities presented upon this incidence. We would also like to urge public authorities of the neighboring countries to arrest this kind of criminal person (Bishop Andudu Adam Alniel) and extradite him and handle him to the authority of his country whether SPLM/A or Sudan Government so that he can be judged according to the law of his land.
    Finally we would like to pass our condolence to the family of late Bishop Steven and pray to God that he may bless them and bless all the congregations and to explore them the reality upon this case. May God bless us all in our way to prevail the truth and justice to our people.

    Episcopal Church of Sudan,
    Northern Sudan Province

    Copy for Deputy Governor of South Kordufan ?
    Copy for Deputy chairman of national congress party?
    Copy for Brigadier General Jogot Amkuwar ?
    Copy for Bishop Peter Elberesh Kowa ?
    Copy for Whom It May Concern ? Copy for First Vice-President & chairman of Southern Government ?
    Copy for cha. of security and national defense at national assembly ?
    Copy for Vice-President ?
    Copy for Minister of Justice ?
    Copy for Chairman of Human Rights Commission ?
    Copy for Governor of South Kordufan ?

    repondre message

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