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Sudan September 26, 2005
H.E. Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir
Office of the President
Revolutionary Command Council
Republic of Sudan
One date, July 11, 2005, is of great importance to members of the Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) who follow events in your great republic. On that day, you pledged to support the building of democracy and repeal the emergency laws which had hampered the exercise of the right of free expression in your country. It is with dismay that we learn that on August 6, 2005 — less than one full month later — your government’s security forces prevented the publication of two Arabic-language daily newspapers.
The newspapers , Al Watan and Al Wan , were visited by government agents who shut down the presses and ordered the newspapers confiscated. The editor-in-chief of Al Watan, Tahir Sati, said the agents reviewed the contents of the newspaper several hours before returning and seizing 25,000 copies that had already been printed. No reason was given for the actions. But Mr. Sati said that he and his associates thought that the government’s action “was related to our criticism of the government, especially of its handling of the riots and demonstrations, according to the Reporters Without Borders organization.
Mr. President, your words in July stirred the hopes of people around the world when you pledged an end to censorship. We urge you to re-assert this principle of free expression as a way of binding together all sectors of your society in a full and frank discussion of public issues.
We respectfully request that you share our letter with your Minister of External Relations and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mustafa Osman Ismail, and with the Attorney General, Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin. We believe, as members of the OPC Freedom of the Press Committee here in New York , that your joint efforts will bring an end to the doubt and suspicion caused by censorship and that it will lead to a free society worthy of your great country.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Embassy of the Republic of Sudan
2310 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 667-2406
Ambassador El Fatih Mohamed Ahmed Erwa
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Sudan
to the United Nations
655 Third Avenue, Suite 500 – 510
New York , NY 10017
Fax: (212) 573-6160
John W. Limbert
Embassy of the United States of America
Fax: (011.249.11) 77-41-37