Over 30 Sudanese journalists yesterday, launched a hunger strike protesting the shutting down of their newspaper by their government. The El Tayar reporters may at the end, be credited with organizing the biggest strike of this kind in the country and they were greeted with an average number of supporters in Khartoum on Tuesday.
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Linking hands already laden by self imposed chains, the journalists had assembled at the front of the building, announced their intent and then proceeded to retreat inside the building to begin the process of what will be a long sit in. The newspaper’s managing editor says; “we want to draw attention to the difficulties faced by journalists and the restrictions on the freedom of press in the country in general”.
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Ahmed Yousef El Tay who is currently facing a death penalty over allegedly inciting an Arab spring with his publications and also introducing anti-government editorial policies at his newspaper, did not fail to comment from his home where he awaits news of his sentence He stated that; “the best outcome we anticipate from this [strike] is that the culture of protest, peaceful protest that is, spreads among Sudanese people”.
Sudanese journalism has been an upward struggle since Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 and he has come down hard on the press on a number of fronts. Ahmed Yousef El Tay the El Tayar editor-in-chief along with another prominent editor for instance are being charged under two articles of the criminal code which adheres to Islamic Sharia law but are likewise in direct conflict with the constitution which spells out the right to “freedom of speech”.
Freedom of speech especially for the press cannot be over emphasized as a tool in nation building, especially as it comes to shaping and directing public opinion, so we do hope that the Sudanese government and general public are moved by the protest of these journalists.
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