Imprisonment of Lubna Hussein and Detention of a World Pulse Member
UPDATED BELOW(8-9-2009) - NEW UPDATES (9-9-2009)
Today, a Sudanese court in Khartoum sentenced Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein to a fine of $200 or a one month imprisonment, in the case of non-payment.
Lubna Hussein was apprehended July 3 by a public order police raid of a restaurant in Khartoum. Among the 13 women detained with the journalist, 10 were fined and flogged, in the absence of defense and their families. Some of the accused were minors and Christians.
Worth noting, this story first emerged from World Pulse's community newswire, PulseWire. (http://www.worldpulse.com/node/11570).
Lubna who has refused to pay a (penny) in consistence with her principals, has been tried and will pass her first night in prison according to article 152 of the criminal law from 1991 that considers wearing pants in public places an indecent act that deserves flogging and fining.
According to the director of police, in 2008 the number of women arrested in Khartoum state for clothing offenses was estimated at 43,000. He could not verify the exact number of women who had been flogged or fined.
Miss Hussein, who works as spokesperson for the office of the United Nations Mission in Sudan and is a reporter of the Al Sahafa daily newspaper, has rejected immunity offered by the UN, resigned from her post and decided to face the Sudanese authorities to show the world the situation for women under this article. Hussein, who is also a politician, has received offers of political asylum from a number of countries including France. She justifies that her case isn’t an isolated one and that she will not leave Sudan before the end of the trial.
In a recent development in Khartoum, the public order police have beaten, injured and arrested 48 women journalists, activists and politicians, who have been participating in a demonstration of solidarity with the Sudanese journalist. Worth noting, Dr. Ihssan Fagiri, who has joined PulseWire recently (http://www.worldpulse.com/node/12599), is a physician and the Secretary General of the Sudanese Women's Union. She was among the women who were detained for four hours and transferred to the prison where a number of lawyers rushed in for legal procedures and released them. Among them were mothers who had recently given birth and needed to be beside their babies.
On the other hand, a famous fanatic journalist described last week in his editorial, that women and men who lead manifestations in support of Lubna’s case are "prostitutes" and "gays". Ishaq Ahmed Fadallah, editor in chief of “ Al Wifaq” Arabic daily newspaper, and one of the ardent supporters of the Islamic government, wanted to prepare the public for the rejection of Lubna’s case and deliver a message that without the public order police, the balance of the society would be disrupted.
In a recent development The Sudanese Union of Journalists has secured this evening the release of Miss Hussein, without her consent. Lubna who had spent a day in jail, refused to leave the prison, but the prison administration refused to allow her to stay after receiving the release order from the court.
Lubna is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow.
Worth mentioning the Union of Journalists which is chaired and directed by a pro government personnel, has remained silent over the past period of the trial. And it has never supported or defended journalists who had undergone frequent arrest or torture.
In a telephone call with the World Pulse this evening, Lubna expressed rejection of the fine payment and releasing her without her consent justifying that there are female prisoners in need of having their fine paid and freed immediately. “I thank the head of the Sudanese journalist Union for visiting me in prison but not for payment of the fine». She added that she knew about paying the fine upon getting outside the prison and meeting a group of journalists who were not allowed to get in with the Union of journalist.
Miss Hussein, who did not waste time to study cases of female prisoners at the Women Prison of Omdurman, reported two cases of women prisoners one of them is on her way to freedom. «There is a woman in prison with the two-week-old child deserves her fine paid and released instead of me.” She also highlighted on a case of a southerner university student who is sentenced in accordance with the Public Order Act that contradicts her religion and was serving three months detention for the same accusation as hers.
About her feeling when released, she said that she wanted to stay more time in prison “to know more about what is going on in this place.” She said. Over the night she spent in jail, she conducted 2 interviews with “Al Arabiya Satellite Channel, based in Dubhai, and “Al Ahram” daily Arabic Egyptian newspaper. Adding that jailers came at early hours in the morning sought her and her cell thoroughly . according to her story they dragged her to the yard where they conducted an intensive investigations and tried to find an explanation for the incident. “I told them that technology has greatly evolved and can be obtained anywhere”.
Hussein has told world pulse that her release isn’t the final step and that she hasn’t decided yet the next step.
On the other hand, Mohey Eldeen Titawi who responsible for freeing Hussein, told yesterday Al Sharq Al Awsat daily Arabic newspaper that The Sudanese Journalists Union, yesterday morning requested the court north of Khartoum, which issued the verdict against Hussein to clarify whether it was possible to pay the fine in return for releasing Lubna. He added that the judge told them of the possibility, and he «as head of the Union of Journalists” made the payment before the competent judge who issued the release formal letter addressed to the director of Women Prison.”We went there and met the Director prison who set Miss Hussein free”.
Titawi added that the case was over and that journalists should not be detained under any circumstances. It is to be noted that this the first time the Sudanese Journalists Union move to contain a case. This year two Sudanese journalists had been detained for a period of time.
Likewise France has praised the «battle of courage» waged by the Sudanese press woman for women's rights in the Sudan.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Valle told reporters «France deeply regrets the decision of the Court of Khartoum, which accused the journalist of acting against morality and condemned her to pay a fine or to be imprisoned for a month».
The Amnesty International called this week, the Sudanese authorities to repeal article 152 and drop the charges against Lubna Hussein.
The organization said in a statement that «the way this law is used against women is unacceptable and the punishment determined by is unreasonable». She added that «the law is drafted so that it is impossible to know what is the difference between decent and indecent» which opens the door to the police to abuse its application, and leaves to the judge the assessment of the violation.