The license for the Sudanese Writers Union (SWU) was revoked on 29th January by the ministry of culture of that country. The revocation has been described as a wider crackdown by authorities on centers believed to be pro-opposition. This means that the organisation registered in 2006 to hold cultural and intellectual seminars, film screenings and musical nights cannot continue doing their activities.
In its statement the SWU stated; “The SWU would like to state clearly that it does not approve or accept this ban, and condemn the way it has been carried out. The SWU would like to assure its members, associates, partners and friends nationally, international and regionally that it would pursue all possible means to regain the rightful status the Union deserves. With your support and solidarity, we would prevail; we would triumph over oppression; we would eventually celebrate the third rebirth of the Sudanese Writers Union.”
This is not the first time the organisation has been shut down as happened before following the 1989 coup led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and authorities. They were not allowed to resume their activities until 2006, a year after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
This time round however the move has seen solidarity from people outside the borders of Sudan. The Association of Nigerian Authors, the largest writers body on the continent, has through its publicity secretary Richard Ali released a statement in support of their colleagues to the East.
It read in part, “The Association of Nigerian Authors states that the actions of the Government of Sudan are entirely unacceptable and we condemn the persecution of our brothers and sisters in the Sudan categorically.”
The statement acknowledges the work of the great contributions of Sudanese writers, including voices like Tayeb Salih, Taban lo Liyong and Leila Aboulela, to the literary and cultural heritage of Sudan and African peoples.
It goes on to state; “The Association of Nigerian Authors stands firmly in solidarity with the Sudanese Writers Union in this time of censorship and oppression. The pen is mightier than the sword; the story is greater than the violence of State..”
Also coming in support of the Sudan writers union is the International Authors Forum. In their own statement they said; “The International Authors Forum expresses solidarity with the Sudanese Writers Union at this difficult time. The Sudanese Writers Union joined IAF in March last year and has been an active member, connecting its network of writers with writers in the rest of the world.”
The writing community world wide has come to support their brothers. They include The Writers’ Union of Canada Offers Solidarity with Sudanese Partners. Arab lit contributor mlynxqualey also has an excellent piece in against the Writers Union Shutdown, Read Stories and Poems from Sudan
As we follow these proceedings we here at JamesMurua.com also lend our voice to support our Sudanese authors against this attack on their freedom of speech and association.