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November 10, 2010

the silence is eerie

With the Sudanese government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir routinely denying foreign journalists access to the conflict-ridden region of Darfur, and Sudan-based media being subject to government censorship, Radio Dabanga is now the only media outlet routinely providing uncensored information.

But on Oct. 30, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services raided the Khartoum office shared by Darfuri human rights activists and Radio Dabanga, arresting 13 people, of whom six were women. According to Radio Dabanga's Dutch-based director, Hildebrand Bijleveld, the detainees are being held incommunicado in unknown locations.

The first official acknowledgment of the arrests came last weekend with an intelligence official telling the state-run Sudanese media that "Radio Dabanga was working against Sudan, focused on inciting hatred among the people and aborting the peace process." Amnesty International has issued an alert, warning that the detainees are at risk of torture. "I think they have done this to intimidate those bringing out the story of what is really happening on the ground in Darfur," Bijleveld said.-

With no eyes and ears and in many cases no hands on the ground, the silence is eerie," said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director at Physicians for Human Rights.

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