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Darfur JEM calls for release of detained rebel fighters

December 5 - 2016 DARFUR
Two JEM combatants attend their trial session in Omdurman, 20 August 2008 (AFP).
Two JEM combatants attend their trial session in Omdurman, 20 August 2008 (AFP).

On Thursday, the Darfuri rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) called upon the actors who facilitated the release of government forces held by the rebel movement, to make a similar effort for the rebel fighters detained in various Sudanese prisons.

Last week, JEM released 22 members of Sudan’s regular forces and four JEM dissidents, following appeals from Sufi sheikhs, prominent national figures, and civil society organisations.

“The forces were released unconditionally, for humanitarian reasons,” JEM spokesman Jibril Bilal told Radio Dabanga on Sunday.

He said that the movement “now appealed to those who were so kind to facilitate the release of the regular forces, to exert all efforts for the release of the rebel combatants languishing in shackles in solitary confinement in the regime’s prisons for nearly a decade.

“These prisoners also have children, wives, mothers, fathers who are longing to see their relatives again,” he added.

Early in September, the movement announced its intention to release a number of government forces captured in Darfur.

Omdurman attack

On 10 May 2008, a large group of JEM rebels from Darfur entered Omdurman, where they clashed with Sudanese security troops. The rebels then began to move towards the El Ingaz bridge to cross the White Nile into Khartoum in an attempt to reach the Presidential Palace, while another JEM force headed towards the National Radio and Television building in Omdurman. Both attacks were repelled.

A number of JEM rebels were arrested, as were many Darfuri civilians living in the Sudanese capital.

By April 2009, the Sudanese government had sentenced 82 JEM fighters, including senior commanders, to death by hanging, as guilty of terrorism and illegal possession of weapons. By November 2009, the number of JEM members sentenced for death had crossed 100.

The JEM has protested the “inhumane treatment” of the prisoners more than once.

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