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Sudanese paper halts production in censorship protest


Sudanese newspaper Ajras al-Huriya said on Sunday it would suspend publication for one week to protest against censorship by government and security authorities. Several other papers reported they were directly or indirectly censored over the course of last weekend in Africa's largest country, particularly with regard to news about a doctor's strike or the International Criminal Court.


Ajras al-Huriya, which is aligned with the opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement, announced its intention to strike after being unable to go to press for the third day in a row.

"We will suspend our newspaper for a week in protest," said Faiz al-Silaik, acting editor-in-chief of the paper.

Press freedom monitoring groups say the newspaper has been under pressure for some time.

"This paper has faced difficulties for months now," said Ambroise Pierre, head of the Africa desk of Reporters Without Borders in Paris, in an interview with Radio France Internationale.

"It's a paper that almost intended to be published from abroad before the election because of the pressure it faces in Sudan," he said. "It is now censored quite openly by the authorities."

Ajras al-Juriya is one of several media sources facing increasing crackdowns since the end of the electoral process that kept president Omar al-Beshir in power earlier this year.

"Last September, President al-Beshir decided to stop this censorship," said Pierre. "We are very concerned now because it seems that for the last two weeks, prior censorship is coming back."

Journalists from six different opposition and independent newspapers told the Reuters news agency they were directly censored by security forces over the weekend.

Others said they were warned not to write about several specific topics.

These include a doctor's strike over pay and working conditions or about the ICC, which in March 2009 issued a warrant for the arrest of Beshir to be tried for war crimes.

Some of the push has been particularly brutal.

"An opposition daily, Rai al-Shaab, was even closed, and some of its journalists were imprisoned and tortured in prison," he said.


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