Sudanese protesters are seen with their smartphones in Khartoum on April 21, 2019. CPJ has called on South African telecommunications company MTN Group to end its role in Sudan’s internet shutdowns. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

CPJ joins letter urging MTN Group to end participation in internet shutdowns in Sudan

By Justin Shilad/CPJ Middle East and North Africa Research Associate on July 11, 2019 2:40 PM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists yesterday joined 22 other organizations in signing a joint letter to executives at South African telecommunications company MTN Group, calling on them to end their roles in Sudan's internet shutdowns.

The letter, addressed to MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter and MTN Sudan CEO Melik Melamu, urged the executives to publicly disclose and push back against any demands made by Sudan's government to shut down the internet.

Internet access was severely restricted throughout Sudan from June 3 to July 9 on orders of the ruling Transitional Military Council, during which time security forces killed at least 118 anti-government protestors, according to news reports, the internet freedom organization NetBlocks, and the independent Sudanese broadcaster Radio Dabanga.

CPJ documented similar internet shutdowns in Sudan in late 2018 and early 2019, during protests leading up to the ouster of then President Omar al-Bashir. At the time, local freelance journalist Abdelgadir Mohammed Abdelgadir told CPJ that reporters in the country were in "a cat and mouse game every day to get online to do your work as a journalist."

The letter, published in the South African newspaper Mail and Guardian, can be viewed here.

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