Central Darfur security raids Tearfund’s office in Nierteti

Nierteti, December 15, 2015 (SSNA) — Security agents closed the office of the UK-based Tearfund organisation in Nierteti, Central Darfur, on Monday.

A source reported to Radio Dabanga from Nierteti that a force of security agents, led by a colonel, stormed the organisation’s office at 1 pm.

“They seized all the materials, equipment, and devices, including the cash in the treasurer’s safe, amounting to more than SDG250, 000 ($39,220), and personal belongings of the staff members,” he said. “They then took the foreign and Sudanese staff to the office of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Nierteti.”

A Sudanese staff member of Tearfund in Central Darfur told Radio Dabanga that the organisation in the state is providing aid to people in Tour, Guldo, Golo, Gurnei, and Ardeba, as well as in the camps for the displaced in Nierteti, Um Dukhun, Garsila, and the capital Zalingei.

“We can confirm that our offices in Sudan are currently closed,” Jude Mackenzie, Tearfund interim Head of Media informed Radio Dabanga today.

“We will continue to operate closely with the Sudanese government about our work in the country. We are unable to answer any further questions at this time.”

Tearfund provides health and nutrition services in Central Darfur’s Um Dukhum and Nierteti, in Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur, and in Kass in South Darfur. It has support bases in Nyala (South Darfur), Zalingei (Central Darfur), and Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Tearfund’s work in Darfur is funded by donors including the governments of UK (DFID), Canada (CIDA-HAPS through partner World Relief Canada), Australia (AusAid through Partner TEAR Australia), the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the Development and Cooperation-Europe Aid Office, United States (OFDA), the United Nations, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Tearfund supporters.

Sudanese civil society barred from holding press conference

[A day ago], Security agents prevented a number of Sudanese civil society organisations from holding a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday.

Tarig El Amin, founder and director of the Beit El Funoun (the House of Arts), told Radio Dabanga that a force of heavily armed security agents arrived at the Teiba Press Centre in downtown Khartoum in six Land Cruisers.”

“They surrounded the place and barred any one from entering the centre. We were all surprised by these arbitrary measures. We just wanted to explain to the Sudanese public to what extent we are suffering since our organisations were closed three years ago, without any good reason,” he said.
In a joint statement later on Sunday, the organisations stated that they will adhere to their “constitutional rights of free expression and gathering”.

They said that they will continue to organise a series of meetings in which they will express their views on “the current cultural state of affairs in the country, and the government legislations and practices that shackle any cultural and artistic activity”.

During the past years, the Sudanese authorities closed a number of civil society organisations, among them the Sudan Social Development Organisation (Sudo), operating in Darfur, in 2009.

In 2012, the Sudanese Studies Centre, El Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment and Human Development, and the Cultural Forum for Literary Criticism in Khartoum were closed. The Nuba Mountains-based Organisation for Human Rights and Development was banned too.

The following year witnessed the closure of Beit El Funoun and the Aslan English Language Teaching Centre. In 2014, the Centre for Civil Society Development, Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, and the Sudan Human Rights Monitor, founded by Dr Amin Mekki Madani, were shut down.

In January this year, the Ministry of Culture cancelled the registration of the Mahmoud Mohamed Taha Centre in Omdurman, the National Civil Forum, and the Sudanese Writers’ Union, without citing reasons or relevant legislation.

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