6 January 2013

Sudanese Authorities Bar Activists From Delivering Memo to the Presidency

Khartoum — Sudanese authorities prevented activists on Sunday from submitting a memorandum to President Al-Bashir against the escalating crackdown on civil society groups, less than a week since a similar protest met the same fate.

Independent civil society groups in Sudan have been complaining of increased harassments by state security and relevant regulatory bodies as well as a campaign of defamation by pro-government media ever since the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S.-funded NGO, listed the names of some of them in August last year as recipients 700 US dollars in funds.

Last month, the authorities shut down three independent civil society groups citing accusations of illegal acquiring of foreign funds and cooperation with opposition political groups seeking to overthrow the government. A number of activists were also arrested in the crackdown.

In response to the move, a coalition of civil society groups and activists attempted on 30 December to hand a memo protesting the crackdown to the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) but security authorities dispersed the assembly and briefly detained some of the participants, angering even the state-owned NCHR which slammed the conduct of security agents.

The coalition of civil society groups and the Campaign for the Defence of the Freedom of Expression and Publishing attempted to stage another sit-in in front of the Republican Palace in Khartoum on Sunday and to submit a memo to President Omer Al-Bashir.

But once again security agents and police forces blocked all roads leading to the palace and dispersed the gathering of activists who were also prevented from submitting the memo.

Eye witnesses say around 30 people had participated in the attempted protest.

The memo, as seen by Sudan Tribune, complains against the increased harassment of independent civil society groups and calls for reversal of the measures taken against them. It called for an end to the campaign of defaming and shutting down NGO saying it is unconstitutional.

The memo further demanded that the suspended NGOs be allowed to resume their activities.

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