Darfur rebels commemorate 2008 ‘Battle of Omdurman’
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) celebrated the sixth anniversary of “Operation Long Arm” on Saturday, commemorating its invasion of Omdurman, the sister city of Khartoum, on 10 May 2008.
During the celebration JEM paid tribute to its “martyrs”, the “revolt of the marginalised”, and reiterated its demand for the unconditional release of the “political and military prisoners and hostages, as well as all prisoners of opinion and conscience”.
“The Long Arm operation broke the Sudanese people's barrier of fear from the Khartoum regime, and unveiled its ugly racist face as after the invasion it targeted the citizens on the basis of their colour, accent, and geographical background more than ever before,” Dr Jibril Ibrahim, the leader of JEM, said in an interview with Radio Dabanga on Sunday.
He affirmed that his movement is fighting against injustice and marginalisation, in order to “serve justice in Sudan, as the Khartoum regime is a corrupt gang brought together by personal interests”. The rebel leader called upon all Sudanese to unite for the “liberation and rebuilding of our country”.
Dr Ibrahim stressed his movement’s determination to battle the regime within the city of Khartoum. “We are not interested anymore to fight in deserts and valleys.”
Regarding the national dialogue called for by President Al Bashir, Ibrahim commented that JEM does not reject a dialogue, “on the condition it is well and seriously intended”. “However Al Bashir’s regime is neither willing nor serious about this dialogue, which is proven by their military dry season campaigns and attacks against unarmed civilians in Darfur, the Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains.”
Operation Long Arm
On 10 May 2008, a large group of JEM rebels from Darfur entered Omdurman, where they clashed with Sudanese security troops. Heavy fighting raged for several hours. The rebels then began to move towards the El Ingaz bridge to cross the White Nile into Khartoum in an apparent attempt to reach the Presidential Palace, while another JEM force headed towards the National Radio and Television building in Omdurman. Both attacks were repelled. Sporadic fighting continued for the next 48 hours.
Four days later JEM admitted defeat in the raid in which they said a third of their fighters took part, but promised further attacks on the capital. A number of JEM rebels were arrested, as were many Darfuri civilians living in Khartoum.
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.
File photo: JEM commander Dr Jibril Ibrahim in the field
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