9 April 2011

Sudan: Two Khartoum Newspapers Halt Publication Over Censorship

Khartoum — Two pro-opposition newspapers in north Sudan on Saturday said they are suspending publication over government censorship which increased dramatically in recent days following news of a mysterious airstrike that killed two people in eastern Sudan.

Sudan censors and blocks the distribution of newspapers, especially those affiliated with the opposition, in order to preempt coverage of sensitive issues despite guarantees of press freedom enshrined in the country's constitution.

Al-Maydan newspaper, the bi-weekly mouthpiece of the Sudanese Communist Party, and the daily Ajrass Al-Hurriyah, which is linked to the ruling party in south Sudan, said they were suspending publication on Saturday "as a complaint against the actions of the security authorities," the head of Al-Maidan's board of directors, Ali Kinein, told reporters, according to AFP.

Ajrass Al-Hurriyah's distribution has been blocked since Wednesday whereas Al-Maydan was barred from circulation three times this month, according to Kinein.

Sudan stepped up censorship in the run-up to and after small anti-government protests which erupted on 30 January in response to a campaign organized via the internet by youth groups attempting to emulate their counterparts in neighboring Egypt and Libya.

Fayez Al-Silaiyk, the deputy editor-in-chief of Ajrass al-Hurriya, told Reuters this week that barring the publication of his paper could be linked to its coverage of an airstrike that killed two people in the country's eastern town of Port Sudan earlier this month.

In November 2008, Sudan arrested over 70 journalists who protested outside the national parliament against censorship.

Sudan is ranked as 172 out of 178 in (Reporters Without Borders) RWB's world press freedom index.

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