Sudan’s security forces released four journalists on Friday, who work for the Qatari-funded television network, after arresting them and detaining them for hours.
Sudan’s security forces raided Al-Araby Television’s office in the country’s capital, Khartoum, arresting four journalists including office supervisor Islam Saleh, reporter Wael Al-Hassan, camera operator Mazen Oono and his assistant Abu Baker Ali. Al-Hassan claims they were brutally attacked and beaten after being forced out of their office by security forces.
Their release came after long hours of interrogation and calls for the journalists’ freedom by the news channel. The country’s security forces later issued a statement officially apologising for the arrests.
Al-Araby is a Qatari television network based in London, UK. The channel was launched in early 2015 and focusses its content on the Arab region.
The team was arrested after reporting the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations which oppose the military coup that took place in October; demonstrations have been calling for civilian rule in Sudan ever since. Al-Araby stated on their Twitter account their distress over the arrest of its journalists and called for their immediate release.
“Al-Araby Television’s coverage of the ongoing events in Sudan is objective and professional, and the team operates with all required licenses and permits to carry out its journalism.”
The network added, “The actions of the Sudanese Security Forces are a serious attack on the rights of journalists to work freely and without intimidation. The network calls upon all international human rights organisations to condemn the targeting of journalists and journalism.”
Crackdown on Journalists
These latest arrests by Sudan’s security apparatus are not an exception, there have been several worrying incidents like this in recent months, including the detention of El Musalmi El Kabbashi, Al Jazeera’s Khartoum bureau chief, who was held after security forces raided his home on November 14, 2021.
Human rights organisations and journalist unions have condemned the attacks on media professionals and journalists. Anthony Bellanger, General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), stated through his organisation’s website that, “What happened on 13 January is another unacceptable attack on the press in Sudan. The Sudanese army must stop immediately its ongoing crackdown on media workers. We demand the unconditional release of our four Al-Araby colleagues and urge the army to respect freedom of the press and provide the media corps with all the security they need to carry out their duties.”
Sudan’s civil society has been actively resisting the military coup which overthrew the country’s transitional government in October last year. That government had come to power after a popular uprising ousted former army General and long-time ruler Omar Al-Bashir, in August 2019.
The recent protests erupting across Sudan have been met with violence from Sudan’s military and security apparatus. Almost 60 people have been killed in the pro-democracy protests. Journalists and activists have been detained in the past months and freedom of information has also been severely restricted through a country-wide internet blackout for prolonged periods of time.