Locked door. © ThePalmer
Working on development, human rights and peace has become increasingly difficult in Sudan. In the last month, at least three NGOs have been closed and their staff harassed and questioned by the National Security Service (NSS). Worryingly, this crackdown is expected to continue in the coming weeks.
Since August 2012, Sudanese officials and pro-government media have engaged in a smear campaign against independent civil society organizations, particularly those receiving foreign funding, accusing them of threatening national security.
On 19 December 2012, the NSS subjected four members of Arry, an NGO focusing on human rights in the conflict areas of Sudan, to a 10 hour interrogation. They were told that the organization was prohibited from operating in Sudan, and agents reportedly threatened to detain their relatives.
The crackdown continued on 24 December 2012 when the Sudanese Ministry of Culture shut down the Sudanese Studies Center, which promotes tolerance and a democratic culture in Sudan through events and scholarly publications. Its executive director has since been repeatedly summoned by the NSS.
The Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment (KACE), a research and advocacy center focused on democracy in multiculturalism was shut down and its assets seized on 26 December 2012 by the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) without providing any reason. NSS agents have since kept the centre's staff under surveillance to stop KACE from continuing its activities elsewhere.
On 30 December 2012, police and security forces beat up NGO representatives who had gathered in front of the government human rights body to deliver a petition protesting the crackdown. Now other NGOs are at risk of being targeted. Take action to stop the crackdown.