Sudan Journalists Syndicate Demand RSF Leaves Broadcasting HQ
Khartoum / Omdurman — As Sudan entered its 34th day of war on Friday, the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate (SJS) released a statement condemning the Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) use of “media and press institutions as a field of military battles.”
“The Radio and Television Corporation has been suspended from working and broadcasting since April 15,” when clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF, a powerful paramilitary group, spiralled into war.
On April 17, the organisation reported that 17 employees of the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) were “stranded” inside buildings on Republic Street in Omdurman, Khartoum state. A number of them were reported to have been evacuated on April 19.
In its latest statement, the SJS called on the RSF to immediately leave radio and television headquarters so that journalists can continue to do their work. “Their adoption of military bases puts the historical national legacy inside the two organs at risk of destruction and sabotage.”
The SJS also appealed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) “to intervene with the warring parties in Sudan” in order to save radio and television libraries. “We call on the organisation, out of its responsibility to preserve human heritage… to save this legacy from being lost.”
Since fighting erupted in Sudan last month, supporters from both sides have threatened journalists for criticising human rights violations by both sides, according to the SJS.
On May 16, Al Jazeera reported that six people have been told that they will be hurt or killed if they continue reporting abuses in Sudan.
The SJS expressed its concerns about “new threats against men and women journalists” in a statement on May 11, after lists began circulating on social media calling out journalists for betraying the SAF and inciting violence against them. According to journalists who spoke to Al Jazeera, members of the National Congress Party claim “anyone who appears neutral is against the army and with the RSF.”
Earlier this month, a group of paramilitaries of the RSF raided the office of El Hirak El Siyasi newspaper in Khartoum and a Sudanese photojournalist was shot in the back.
Following its reformation last year, the SJS said that the press and media in Sudan have faced unprecedented targeting since the October 2021 coup.
Before April 15, Sudan was already ranked 151 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, and 29 out of 100 (i.e. ‘Not Free’) in Freedom House’s Internet Freedom Index. “Anti-journalist predators enjoy total impunity and are protected by the authorities” in Sudan, states Reporters Without Borders on its website.