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Sudan releases JEM rebel leader after eight years

February 9 - 2018 KHARTOUM
JEM combatants captured by government forces, after a battle in Darfur in April 2015 (file photo)
JEM combatants captured by government forces, after a battle in Darfur in April 2015 (file photo)

Sudan released one of the leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Jibril Tiya, after eight years in detention on Friday.

Jibril was arrested by the Sudanese authorities in West Darfur in January 2010, along with six other JEM leaders – they were known as the group of JEM leader Ibrahim El Maaz.

Following his release from the infamous Kober prison today, Jibril announced in public media that three other JEM leaders who had been captured are still being held in Kober prison. Three others are in Port Sudan’s prison.

Last October, Vice-President of the JEM Ibrahim El Maaz Deng was released from Kober. Deng and six colleagues were captured in West Darfur in 2010. They were charged under the criminal and anti-terrorism law and tried in Khartoum in 2011 by a special court called Court of Terrorism Act No.1 – a process the JEM branded as unfair.

In March 2017, 258 rebel fighters who were captured during various battles with government forces were released from Kober prison, following a Presidential amnesty. The rebel fighters were captured during JEM's attack on Omdurman in 2008 (known as 'Operation Long Arm'), and other battles in Darfur, including Donki Baashim, Goz Dungo, Fanaga and Kulbus. Many of them faced the death sentence.

Operation Long Arm

According to the think thank Small Arms Survey, JEM remains the strongest and most cohesive military force in Darfur, to this day, and despite splits in the movement. On May 10, 2008, JEM fighters launched the first rebel attack on the Sudanese capital Khartoum – an event that marked JEM out as the major anti-government faction in Darfur at the time. The rebels intended to topple the government and were only defeated once they had already reached the outskirts of Omdurman – one of three towns that comprise the capital city.

 


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