Wednesday, September 14, 2011

English PEN: Updates on Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and Sudanese journalists





English PEN: Updates on Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and Sudanese journalists


 Dear Reader,


We wrote to you last week asking you to take urgent action on behalf of Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and her husband Bernard Batey who was due to be deported from the UK on Saturday evening.
 
Thanks to the overwhelming support from members of English PEN and the other campaigning groups we have been working with on their case, we are relieved to report that Bernard received a call from his lawyer on Friday evening stating that the injunction had been successful and the flight had been cancelled.
 
However, according to our most recent information, Bernard is still being detained in Colnbrook, whilst Lydia has gone into hiding to avoid the same fate. We are still awaiting legal clarification as to their situation, but in the meantime will continue to pressure the relevant authorities here in the UK to ensure that he is not deported.
 
TAKE ACTION:
 
For those of you that have already written to Theresa May and Nick Clegg, we would be grateful if you could send copies of your appeal to Lydia and Bernard's MP, David Nuttall MP via nuttallburynorth@aol.com and david.nuttall.mp@parliament.uk.
 
Many thanks for your support. It is much needed, much-appreciated and really does make a difference.
 
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We are also pleased to let you all know that Sudanese journalists Abu Zar Al-Amin and Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, on behalf of whom many of you sent urgent appeals back in July, were released from prison on 22 and 28 August 2011 respectively. Both men had been detained on anti-state charges since 2010. Ibrahim has reportedly been pardoned, whilst Al-Amin was released on bail.
 
However, according to our information, in the case of Al-Amin further anti-state charges were introduced shortly before he completed his prison sentenced, for which he could still face the death penalty. As such, we are calling on the authorities to drop all remaining charges against him and urge you to do the same. Guidelines, addresses, and a sample letter follow.
 
Abu Zar Al-Amin, deputy editor of the opposition daily newspaper Rai Al-Shaab, was released on bail on 22 August 2011 after spending over 15 months in prison. Arrested in May 2010, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on 15 July 2010 for allegedly 'undermining the constitutional system' and 'publishing false information'. The case reportedly stemmed from an article alleging that Iran had built a weapons factory in Sudan to supply insurgents in Africa and the Middle East . The sentence was reduced to a one year sentence on appeal, with the journalist due to be released on 3 July 2011. However, Al-Amin's release was delayed indefinitely after he was subsequently accused of attacking a security official. Al-Amin says that he was subjected to torture by the officer in question during his pre-trial detention in May 2010; however the authorities have failed to investigate these claims.

Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, Darfuri journalist with the opposition newspaper Al-Sahafa, was released on 28 August 2011 after almost 10 months in detention. Arrested on 3 November 2010, he was held incommunicado until June 2011 when he was finally charged with 'undermining the constitutional system'. His release followed an announcement by President Omar Al-Bashir on 27 August 2011 that he intended to free all journalists imprisoned in Sudan after local journalists requested pardons for their colleagues to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The charges against Ibrahim are presumed to have been dropped.

For more information, please see http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/sudantwojournalistsreleasedonestillfacesdeathpenalty/
 
TAKE ACTION

Please send appeals (NB. A sample letter follows):

- Welcoming the release of Rai Al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin and Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim on 22 and 28 August 2011 respectively;
- Expressing concern that Al-Amin, who was released on bail, still faces the death penalty if convicted on new charges introduced shortly before he completed his prison sentence;
- Calling on the Sudanese authorities to drop all remaining charges against Al-Amin;
- Calling on President Omar Al-Bashir to fulfil his recent promise to release all journalists detained in Sudan.

Appeals to:


HE President Omar Al Bashir
Office of the President
People's Palace
PO Box 281
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 249 183 782 541/ 249 183 774339
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Mr Mohammed Bushara Dousa
Ministry of Justice, PO Box 302
Al Nil Avenue
Khartoum, Sudan
Fax: 249 183 764 168
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Mohamed Atta Al-Moula Abbas
Director of the NISS
NISS Headquarters
Khartoum
Salutation: Dear Director Abbas

Please also send copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representative for Sudan in your country if possible.

His Excellency Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali Alazreg
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
London
SW1A 1DD
Fax: 020 7839 7560
Email: mtsudanembassy@yahoo.co.uk

NB. Please do let us know if you send appeals, and certainly if you receive a response by emailing cat@englishpen.org

SAMPLE LETTER

Please do write a more personal letter if you have time - the following is just an example:

His Excellency Mr Abdullahi Hamad Ali Alazreg
Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
London
SW1A 1DD
Fax: 020 7839 7560
Email: mtsudanembassy@yahoo.co.uk
[DATE]

Your Excellency,

I am writing to you as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to welcome the release of Rai Al-Shaab deputy editor Abu Zar Al-Amin and Al-Sahafa journalist Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim. However, I remain deeply concerned for Abu Zar Al-Amin who could still face the death penalty if convicted of further anti-state charges.

According to PEN's information, Abu Zar Al-Aminwas released on bail on 22 August 2011 after spending over 15 months in prison. Arrested in May 2010, Al-Amin was sentenced to five years' imprisonment on 15 July 2010 for allegedly 'undermining the constitutional system' and 'publishing false information', but the sentence was reduced to a one year sentence on appeal. I understand that Abu Zar Al-Amin is now facing further anti-state charges relating to articles written for Rai al-Shaab prior to his imprisonment and that he would face the death penalty if convicted. I am therefore writing to respectfully urge the Sudanese authorities to drop all remaining charges against him. 

Journalist for the opposition newspaper Al-Sahafa Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim was also released in August 2011, after almost 10 months in detention. Arrested on 3 November 2010, he was held incommunicado until June 2011 when he was finally charged with 'undermining the constitutional system'. The charges against Ibrahim are presumed to have been dropped.

Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim's release followed an announcement by His Excellency President Omar Al-Bashir on 27 August 2011 that he intended to free all journalists imprisoned in Sudan . Whilst I welcome the release of Jaafar Alsabki Ibrahim, I would therefore like to take this opportunity to respectfully call upon President Omar Al-Bashir to fulfil this promise by releasing all journalists currently detained in Sudan immediately and unconditionally.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[NAME, PROFESSION, ADDRESS]





Earlier post on this topic click here

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