Opinions & Features

Sudanese journalists can only move up in their defense of media freedom

On August 28, 2022, forty members of the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate were elected into office. The team is tasked with defending the freedom of the press in Sudan. Since the 2021 coup, press freedom has declined. The military junta stifled private media reporting. Several journalists were detained and tortured. The new journalists need to form a strong network with other pro-democracy groups to stand up to the government backlash. 

Press freedom is a fundamental human right in every society. The Syndicate needs to create a strong network with fellow liberty fighters. The network stands a risk of defeat if they fight alone. This strong network can be built by journalists working with other pro-democracy unions in Sudan, like the Local Resistance Committees (LRCs). The LRCs are effective against the military junta. Due to their stand against the junta, the LRCs have gained the people’s trust, especially the youth. Such trust in the resistance committees fuels the people’s drive to seek a democratic government.

Sudanese journalists will contribute to the ongoing activism by fine-tuning the LRCs’ political watchdog narrative through their news coverage. The publication of their message is vital because the LRCs need to be independent of the junta. Partnership with Sudanese journalists will bring clear-cut coverage of the LRCs’ struggle. It will be without contamination from the people they seek to unseat from power. In addition, factual reporting on the LRCs’ activities will keep the group in check and see that they do not become autocratic. 

The Syndicate must tell the stories of the Sudanese. Stories could be deployed in fighting military oppression. Interviewing underrepresented people will highlight the perils of the military’s authoritarian government. When the damage brought on the people by the junta is properly broadcast, ideas for solutions will come up. The best ideas will morph into movements that awaken people to challenge tyranny. In this way, a voice is given to those that the military junta wants to stay quiet.  

The Sudanese press has to remind the youth that a government that respects and upholds all human rights is best. A Sudanese press that educates young people on the tenets of democracy and the doctrines of the rule of law will build a citizenry that thinks and speaks freely. Sensitization of democracy is the way to ensure the fight for press and civil freedoms continue. The press can carry it out by publishing editorials that clearly state the need for and benefits of freedom. These editorials should be published in local newspapers that will reach everyone.

The leadership election for the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate is a good sign, but that is only what it will be if there is no following action. These journalists must take a more attacking posture in their defense of media freedoms. The contribution of the press to the general freedom of the Sudanese people will come from speaking for the people with a pro-democratic strategy.

Arinze Nwafor is a writing fellow at the African Liberty 


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