Radio Dabanga has been reporting non-stop since anti-government demonstrations swept through the country in December. Today, the role of Radio Dabanga proves to be more important than ever. With all media in the country under attack and even social media sites being blocked, the exiled radio station is the only source of independent news from Sudan for the people of Sudan.
Based in Amsterdam, Radio Dabanga relies on information from all corners of Sudan. “We receive information from all regions, from Port Sudan in the north to the border with South Sudan and the Darfur region. We are the only medium that can spread news across all parts of the country,” says editor in chief Kamal el-Sadig.
He adds: “Our reports in recent months have always shown that the uprising has certainly not been a matter for the residents of capital Khartoum, but has been carried out nationally.”
Sit-in for regime change
Clashes between peaceful demonstrators and security forces reached a boiling point last weekend when "the largest demonstrations in living memory" took place across Sudan. Security forces attacked thousands of people demanding President Omar al-Bashir step down during a peaceful sit-in outside Sudan’s defence ministry which started on Saturday. According to Radio Dabanga’s sources, 21 people were killed and at least 150 injured in the first four days of the sit-in. The Sudanese Doctors Central Committee told Dabanga that security forces used live bullets and a number of heavy and light weapons against protesters.
According to the radio station the Sudanese security forces have arrested, injured and killed hundreds of civilians since December in an attempt to shut down the protests. During this turbulent period the role of Radio Dabanga has become increasingly important, especially since the Sudanese government has cracked down on all media and has blocked social media sites in an effort to suppress all information on the protests.
Attack on the press
While press freedom was already limited in Sudan, the government increased its censorship even more since the start of the demonstrations in December. In order to suppress all information about the ongoing demonstrations, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) banned the publication of multiple newspapers, withdrew work-permits and arrested at least 79 journalists and editors in the course of four months. International journalists also weren’t safe: security forces stormed an Al Jazeera office and arrested correspondents and confiscated their cameras.
Radio Dabanga is the sole provider of independent news for people in Sudan listening via shortwave radio. Its broadcasts reach 2.3 million shortwave radio listeners in Sudan each day. Dabanga staff are based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, because Sudan’s repressive media climate does not allow for independent reporting. They receive information from a wide variety of sources ranging from citizen journalists, to local stringers, trade unions and even the organisers of the protests. This results in phones ringing non-stop as the editors work day and night to report on all the horrific events happening in their home country.