(WiPC/IFEX) - The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC) protests the arrest and detention since 16 May 2010 of three journalists with 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. The WiPC calls on the Sudanese authorities to release the three journalists immediately and unconditionally and to investigate the allegations of torture.
Abu Zara al-Amin, Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Dahab Ibrahim, respectively deputy editor and reporters working for the opposition daily newspaper "Rai al-Shaab", were arrested during a raid by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on the newspaper's offices in Khartoum on 16 May 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 25 May, al-Amin had reportedly been transferred to police custody and his wife and brother had been allowed to visit him. He is said to be 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 given electric shocks. The whereabouts of the other journalists and employees is still not known.
The raid on "Rai al-Shaab" was apparently triggered by a 14 May article alleging that Iran had built a weapons factory in Sudan to supply insurgents in Africa and the Middle East. The ruling National Congress Party (PCP) 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 15 May, the authorities arrested 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 19 May, including another opposition newspaper, "Ajras Alhurria", which was ordered to remove an article on the journalists' arrests.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is 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.
Please send appeals:
• Protesting the arrest and detention since 16 May 2010 of journalists Abu Zara al-Amin, Ashraf Abdel Aziz and Dahab Ibrahim of the opposition daily newspaper "Rai al-Shaab", which the WiPC 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.
HE President Omar al-Bashir
Office of the President
PO Box 281
Fax: +249 183 774339
Salutation: Your Excellency
Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
Salutation: Dear Director Abbas
And copies to:
Dr Priscilla Joseph
Chair of the Human Rights Committee
Fax: +249 187 560 980
Salutation: Dear Dr Joseph
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible. Details of some Sudanese embassies around the world can be seen here: http://www.africaguide.com/country/sudan/offices.htm
Please send appeals as soon as possible. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 29 June 2010.