It took me two days to really comprehend that you were really arrested. Minutes after your arrest, a friend posted the news on Facebook, he only wrote “Hassan Ishaq was arrested”.I asked if it is Hassan the journalist.
I did what any person not in their right mind would do, I called both of your numbers, it is a stupid move I reckon , but something many of us do when we hear that someone was arrested. It is almost our way of trying to confirm that the arrest didn’t take place or that you managed to escape.
A few days later, by coincidence, I found a notebook while organizing my writing notebooks. I flipped the pages to see what I was writing in 2012 and found two pages full of notes about you. It was an attempt at documenting that you were summoned by the NISS in mid 2012 for your articles and the threats you received. To the bottom right, I had asked you for your family’s numbers …just in case!
I called your sister , telling her I am Hassan’s friend and I just wanted to see how they are doing. She did not know about your arrest Hassan. She told me that you had a work mission in Al-Nuhud then vanished, your phone has been off for days. I just could not tell her , I told her yes you have been MIA and I would contact her if I find out something.
Someone must have told her and I am glad it didn’t have to be me, she called me the next day and told me the news and asked if you will be released soon and if you will be tortured. I told her that you are okay, even though I knew about the torture and that you were taken to the hospital.
I met Hasan in 2012, I worked at Al-Jareeda newspaper for a few months, supervising a weekly file in the English language and Hassan was collaborating with the newspaper at the time. Ishaq was very disciplined in his work, he was a real journalist and produced exceptional work with the little resources he had. The newspaper paid very low salaries, barely enough to cover transportation and breakfast money, but Hassan went out of his way to cover sensitive human rights cases. When no one was writing about the detention of the University of Khartoum students or the detention of Dr. Bushra Gamar or the crackdown on the media, Ishaq was contacting families, lawyers and activists and pushing very strong pieces to get published.
Hassan would write his article in his notebook then type them when a laptop or a computer becomes available at the newspaper as he did not have a personal laptop.
He was born to be a journalist, always chasing news that mattered to him, talking to people and researching stories on the internet.
Hassan resigned from Al-Jareeda newspaper after he was summoned by NISS in April 2012. He was asked by the editor to “water-down his daring writings” and he just couldn’t get himself to do it.
As a colleague working in the newspaper field, my advise was to keep working at the newspaper to keep a stable income and do freelance work for websites that respected his daring writings. He continued working as a journalist, sending his writings to Sudanese websites which published his work for no pay at all. To make ends meet, he worked all kinds of jobs, in an oven in the market in his neighborhood, brick-laying in construction sites…everything to continue writing.
In July 2012, during the trial of his friend, Rudwan Dawood, Hassan was arrested while covering the controversial trial. He was beaten, robbed of his phone and precious press card.
He returned to Al-Hasahisa to stay with his family. I once told him over the phone, just work as a farmer Hassan, if they don’t publish your work, then they don’t deserve to have you as a writer. In Al-Hasahisa, Hassan worked different jobs to make it day-to-day, his most precious possession was his notepads and pens, he would write op-ed and articles that he would email me, eventually, he was getting published in Sudanese websites, again, he was not getting paid. If only they knew how you struggled to write at the end of a long day after working in the hot sun to support your family.
You were getting stressed and sad, once you told me, I am embrassed from my family, I can not defend my profession anymore.
Hassan was arrested on Tuesday 10 June 2014 at Al-Nuhud while on assignment for Al-Jareeda newspaper, he was tortured and had to go to the hospital for medications as stated by a lawyer working on his case.
Hassan and others were arrested under the Emergency Laws of West Kordofan state which gives the authorities the right to keep someone for up to six months without charges. The lawyer said that he does not even have a copy of the emergency laws to understand what it entails.
I miss you Hassan. Freedom to Hassan and freedom to his daring writings.