Blocking Websites… Is Censorship Back?

Al-Sammani Awadallah

On midday of Wednesday 30th June 2021, and without warning, the owners of at least 15 websites, Facebook pages, and web pages in Sudan were surprised by their blocking of publication, amid official government silence and timid denials of the official authorities’ link to this step.

Officials of these news sites – most of them – say that since last June 29 they have been receiving related inquiries about the severe slowness of browsing without finding an explanation, especially since the Communications Authority rushed on the same day to deny news that talked about cutting off Internet service and blocking websites In conjunction with popular protests on June 30.

Social networking sites were buzzing with statements quoted by a source at the Informatics Prosecution, in which he said that the decision to block these sites was taken by direct order from the Public Prosecutor for the Informatics Prosecution.

However, the Public Prosecutor in charge, Mubarak Mahmoud Othman, denied issuing directives in this regard and stressed that he had not directed the blocking of any website or personal pages on social media.

The Public Prosecutor’s media office also denied – in a brief statement – his connection to the blocking process.

However, the followers of those websites were suffering a lot in opening and browsing those websites, so they send messages asking about the reasons for not being able to access to follow up the events. On the other hand, the owners of the websites started communications here and there in search of the reasons.

After a long search and contacts with the operating telecommunications companies, they came to know that the Public Prosecutor’s office has issued directives to block some electronic websites; but immediately after that the acting Attorney General Mubarak Mahmoud denied issuing any directives to block websites, affirming that he is the party that is supposed to defend the freedom of expressing.

Before the 30th June protests, the same blocked websites received statements from the National Telecommunication Corporation that it will not block any electronic websites. And confirming that it supports the freedom of expressing and press freedom

But the operators of the websites in their search for the party that blocked their websites were airing all the events in complete professionalism and neutrality.

It is to be noted that the international community has been monitoring the situation in Sudan considering that Sudan is taking its first steps towards the democratic transition. The blocking of the websites might lead the international community to reconsider its support to the transition especially if we consider that the globe is now under the rule of the civil society organizations which will not accept any retract in the press freedoms in Sudan after the December revolution.

It is high time for the Ministry of Information which is supposed to protect the freedom of expression to come out of its silence and issue a statement to explain the reasons behind the blocking of those websites, besides revealing the parties that blocked websites to achieve the slogans of the revolution (Freedom, Peace, and Justice).

Shock amid the Public:

The Sudanese public was shocked considering that the blocking of the websites is a retract from the December revolution course and tearing up its slogans.

The websites are the mirror that reflects the government the realities to enable it to take the appropriate decisions.

As evidence, the crisis with Ethiopia was covered professionally to coincide with the government’s vision besides the promotion for Paris Conference.

Those websites were covering all the activities of the government officials besides its following up the Juba Peace talks urging the parties to sign the agreement to stop war and conflicts.

Those websites will never betray the homeland but were the happiest when the freedoms of expression.

To speak frankly, the party that ordered the blocking is intending to create confusion, hence subjecting the transitional government in tension with the international community which is monitoring the situation.

The owners of the blocked websites affirm that they will never retract and will continue till Sudan crosses to the safe shores.

They want to know who wants to shake up the transitional period with these practices.

The owners of the suspended sites intend to move in the direction of a strong escalation against the decision to stop and indicates that silence on what happened means that it can always be repeated, which requires reaching decisive points that prevent government interference in Websites work this way.

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