Sudan: Artists Released From Prison - 'Fight for Justice Continues'

Khartoum — Yesterday, five members of the FEED Arts group, including film director Hajooj Kuka, were released from prison in Khartoum.

The sentence for the first five members, arrested on September 17 for public disturbance, was annulled by the Court of Appeal. The members were immediately released from prison.

Film director Hajooj Mohamed 'Kuka', artists and activists Dua Tareg, Abdelrahman Mohamed, Ayman Khalafallah, and Ahmed El Sadig belong to the first group.

After his release, Kuka told VICE News that the fight for justice would continue, so that the Sudanese people "will be able to create art, we will be able to have freedom of speech, and move on." He said there are "folks within the police, the judiciary, the prosecution office, that still believe in the old ways."

Six other artists remain in prison with the same sentence, awaiting appeal.

The artists' release follows a statement by the defence committee that members of the FEED Arts group had been subjected to "procedural deviations" by the police, including assaulting Dua Tareg, threatening others with torture, and refusing to grant them Form 8**. The statement was made on September 22.

The defence also stated that there were faults in the filing of complaints.

Noise complaints

In early August, members of the Feed Arts group were rehearsing for a theatrical performance in El Zohour in central Khartoum, leading neighbours to file a complaint which they later withdrew.

The police followed up on the complaint on August 10. During a discussion with the group, one of the police officers took pictures of Dua Tareg with his mobile phone which she objected to. After she asked him to delete the pictures, the policeman reportedly slapped her.

Other members of the group then loudly protested against the policeman's behaviour. The policeman filed a complaint against them on charges of public disturbance and violation of safety. The members were temporarily detained and assaulted by the police.

On 17 September 2020, five of the artists were sentenced to two months of imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 SDG for public disturbance and breaching public safety. On September 24, Khartoum North Criminal Court sentenced six more members of the Feed Arts group.

Dozens of activists organised a protest in front of the Central Khartoum Criminal Court that day, denouncing the members of the Feed Arts group convictions.

*USD 1 = SDG 55.0000 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). The greenback traded SDG260 at the parallel market in Khartoum on September 10.

**In Sudan, medical evidence of an assault is admitted solely via the so-called Form 8. It can be issued only by police stations, or approved hospitals and clinics. Critics state that Form 8 is "glaringly inadequate", as sufficient medical evidence is often very difficult to obtain.

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