Global outcry as Sudanese militia abducts Communist Party journalist Haitham Dafallah

Urgent call for international condemnation, demand for immediate release of all detained civilians  

As the violence continues and spreads between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), civilians are caught in the crossfire and are terrorized by the rival military factions. This includes a recent spate of attacks targeting journalists, including arbitrary arrests and detentions.

On January 19, RSF militias abducted Haitham Dafallah, editor-in-chief of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) newspaper Al-Midan, from his home near Khartoum and placed him in detention. Haitham’s brother Omar was also arrested.

The SCP, along with other Sudanese organizations including the Sudanese Journalists Union and the Sudanese National Commission for Human Rights, have called for Dafallah’s immediate release. They are asking human rights organizations, news outlets and journalist associations around the world to take action to help secure his release and that of all civilian detainees.

On January 20, the Sudanese Journalists Union (SJU) issued a statement reiterating its “rejection of repressive practices by Rapid Support Forces and calls on the leadership of these forces to control its staff and stop arresting journalists, violating their freedoms and intimidating their families.” In appealing for international solidarity, the SJU warned that allowing the RSF to act with impunity will lead to more crimes and abuses against journalists and civilians in general.

The Communist Party of Canada released a statement on January 22, condemning Dafallah’s arrest and detention and calling for his safe return. Party leader Elizabeth Rowley said that the Trudeau government needs to act. “The Canadian government claims to be a defender and protector of universal human rights – now is the time to provide the evidence. Ottawa must call for Haitham Dafallah’s immediate release and exert pressure on the RSF and the military government of Sudan to ensure his safe return.”

Also on January 22, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said it was “shocked by reports that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a Sudanese paramilitary group, arrested journalist Haitham Dafallah and his brother Omar Dafallah, and calls for their immediate release.”

Dozens of human rights violations against journalists and other press workers have been reported in Sudan since the war began in April 2023. In August, 18 news outlets in the country issued a joint statement in which they called for action on the critical state of press freedom in Sudan.

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