Reporters Without Borders is deeply relieved to learn that Somaia Ibrahim Ismail, a young woman journalist and activist who was kidnapped and tortured last week by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), was able to flee the country late yesterday evening.
Also known as "Hundosa," Ismail was detained and mistreated because of her opposition to President Omar al Bashir’s government. Her jailers shaved her hair. She was told it was because "it looked like the hair of Arabs and she belonged to the slaves in Darfur.”
Reporters Without Borders has posted photos testifying to the mistreatment she received while held.
06.11.2012 - Intelligence services guilty of newspaper censorship and torture of journalists
In the early hours yesterday, agents of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) seized the print run of the newspaper Alwan without lawful reason. The copies were returned later that day but the newspaper was not available on newsstands since the distributors were no longer operating when the circulation manager was given verbal permission to publish.
A week earlier, a Sudanese journalist living in Egypt was arrested in Khartoum, where she had gone to spend the Eid festival. She was held for several days and remains under close surveillance by the NISS.
“This latest case of censorship, the 24th recorded by Reporters Without Borders since the start of 2012, is symptomatic of a country whose authorities do all they can to gag bothersome media organizations,” the press freedom organization said.
“During the same period, at least 20 journalists have been arrested or have been targets of threats and administrative pressure. For Alwan and other newspapers subjected to similar measures, censorship and print run seizures can cause serious financial losses. Media pluralism in Sudan is put at jeopardy by practices of this sort.”
Although the authorities rarely give any explanation for their use of censorship, it is mostly aimed against articles that criticise the foreign or security policies of the Khartoum government. The armed forces, the presence of Iranian visitors and recent Israeli attacks on a Khartoum arms plant are subjects on which the government tolerates no objections or criticism. For example, publication of the newspaper Al-Midan, linked to the Sudanese Communist Party, has been suspended for more than 182 days by the security and intelligence services.
More seriously still, the journalist and activist Somaia Ibrahim Ismail "Hundosa" was subjected to personal violence by the NISS. She was abducted on 29 October and tortured for three days by its officers who accused her of opposition to the government of President Omar al Bashir.
Hundosa has now taken refuge at her family home where she is kept under intense surveillance, which prevents her from returning to Cairo where she normally lives. She has received warnings and threats, saying it was only a matter of time before she is formally arrested, on the pretext of belonging to the “Armed Movement of Darfur”.
Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned for this young woman and calls on the authorities to stop its intimidation of her immediately and allow her freedom of movement.
Photo : Somaia Ibrahim Ismail "Hundosa"