Dabanga Sudan — The independent Radio Afia Darfur stopped its broadcasts on Saturday, after 10 years of daily media work in Sudan, because of funding problems. Various Sudanese groups have expressed their support to Radio Dabanga Sudan.
Listeners could enjoy the broadcasts of Radio Afia Darfur, established in September 2008, for the last time on Saturday.
The independent radio institution, which shed light on the plight of displaced people in Sudan's conflict-torn western region and Darfuri refugees in Chad and other countries, said that lack of funding forced the station to stop its work.
In a statement on Saturday, the radio said that "We regret that this decision [of the US donor] will deprive millions of Sudanese, and Darfuris in particular, of receiving news and programmes from a neutral and free media outlet that is not under the control of anyone other than the people of Darfur.
"Everyone knows that the media [in Sudan] are entirely controlled by the government, while the radio constitutes the best refuge for millions of people, especially the displaced and refugees, to express their problems and seek solutions."
Radio Afia Darfur further said that "Now, after the suspension of Radio Dabanga by Nilesat and the stopping of Afia Darfur completely, it is time for the Sudanese to establish their free media at a time when media is the cornerstone of change, at a time in which everyone seeks the establishment of a state of citizenship where everyone is equal, in rights and duties, and rights and justice are restored to all oppressed".
"Everyone knows that the media [in Sudan] are entirely controlled by the government" - Radio Afia Darfur
On February 18, the Egyptian satellite service company Nilesat shut-down the uplink of the 24/7 Dabanga Sudan satellite programme without prior notice. The channel went dark until a new frequency at Eutelsat allowed transmission to resume the next day at 1 pm.
The Sudanese Minister of Information confirmed at the time that the Sudanese government issued a complaint about the Dabanga Sudan satellite programme to the Egyptian authorities, which resulted in the suspension of news channel.
Many Sudanese groups in the country and abroad expressed their support for Radio Dabanga. The Sudanese Journalists' Network called the suspension "a clear violation of freedom of expression and a desperate attempt by the Sudanese regime to stifle voices in the media abroad as it has been doing with the media at home."
The Communist Party of Sudan pointed to the "cooperation between the security services in Sudan and Egypt which is a desperate attempt to silence this free democratic voice by the enemies of truth and the cowards who fear their people, whether in Sudan or Egypt".
In separate statements over the weekend, the Sudanese Teachers Committee, the Greater Kordofan Alliance, the Darfur Civil Society Forum, and various opposition parties announced their solidarity with Radio Dabanga as well.
According to the Federal Truth Party, Radio Dabanga "is the true voice representing the marginalised".
The Greater Kordofan Alliance described Dabanga as "an independent and credible radio station which distressed Khartoum regime to such a degree that it sought to suspend its broadcasts via Nilesat".
"Radio Dabanga presents an inspiring broadcasting model that has given the Sudanese media a new means of communication" - Dr Abdallah Adam Khatir
The Teachers Committee strongly condemned the suspension, pointing to "the [Sudanese government's] refusal to listen the voice of the other".
The Darfur Civil Society Forum stated that Radio Dabanga, funded by Free Press Unlimited, "has become one of the most popular radio stations in all of Sudan, widely and truthfully covering all human rights violations and crimes against humanity, committed by the Khartoum government and its agents in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile state and eastern Sudan".
The Forum called for worldwide support for Radio Dabanga "against the conspiracy led by the Khartoum regime to silence its voice".
Faroug Abu Eisa, chairman of the National Consensus Forces (a coalition of Sudanese opposition forces) and Mohamed Malik, head of El Tagamu El Wasat Party, also condemned the suspension. They lauded Dabanga for representing the cultural and political diversity in the country "contrary to the Sudanese government".
Media expert Dr Abdallah Adam Khatir said that "Radio Dabanga presents an inspiring broadcasting model that has given the Sudanese media a new means of communication" by offering news by Whatsapp messages, and setting up discussion fora through its Facebook site.