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TEDxKhartoum event shut down, organizers say

From Isma'il Kushkush for CNN
May 12, 2013 -- Updated 1813 GMT (0213 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • TEDxKhartoum event included international speakers on the theme "knowledge into action"
  • Security forces demanded permit, organizers say, and then said the event was canceled
  • Human Rights Watch has accused Sudan government of "crackdown on civil society"

Khartoum, Sudan (CNN) -- An event organized by TEDxKhartoum in Sudan was canceled by security authorities, organizers say.

"We are not a political group, we are neutral," Anwar Dafa-Allah, the event's organizer, said Saturday. "We promote positive thinking."

Earlier in the day, members of Sudan's National Security and Intelligence Service interrupted the event, held at a luxury hotel in Khartoum, and asked for a permit, organizers said. Even though they already had one, the organizers said, they went and got a new one.

"But a security officer returned and said the event was canceled," said Dafa-Allah.

TEDx is a global series of conferences, based on the U.S.-based group TED, which promotes "ideas worth spreading." TEDxKhartoum came into being in 2011 and has held 11 events since, organizers say.

"I don't understand (the cancellation); there is nothing new," Dafa-Allah said.

This year's TEDxKhartoum speakers included several local and international speakers including John Hall of Linux International. TEDxKhartoum's events are attended by hundreds of college students and young professionals. This year's event's theme was "knowledge into action."

Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch called on the government of Sudan to "end its crackdown on civil society."

"The Sudanese government should respect and protect space for independent civil society to operate fully and freely," said Daniel Bekele of Human Rights Watch.

CNN's Waffa Munayyer contributed to this report.

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