December 4, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has asked the national figures and bodies who facilitated the release of the government Prisoners of War (POWs) to exert similar efforts to secure the release of the movement’s prisoners.
Last week, JEM released twenty two POWs from the government army and regular forces following appeals from religious leaders, civil society organizations and prestigious national figures.
On 3 November, the movement also released four commanders from the former rebel Justice and Equality Movement - Dabajo (JEM-Dabajo).
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, JEM spokesperson Gibril Adam Bilal asked those who played major role in the release of the government POWs to seek to release the movement’s prisoners who spent about 10 years in the government jails.
“Those POWs have children, wives, mothers, fathers and families who have long been waiting to celebrate their return and we would love these bodies to make similar effort with the regime to release them,” he said.
He said the return of the government POWs was delayed for three months due to “administrative complications” that prevented the International Committee of the Red Cross from carrying out the mission, saying the movement resorted to other options to transfer them to Khartoum.
Bilal said the release of the government POWs came in response to appeals from Sufi leaders, Sai’hoon group, native administration, civil society organizations, national figures and the families of the prisoners.
JEM spokesperson pointed the movement was pleased to see the POWs warmly welcomed in Khartoum, saying they dealt with the issue as “purely humanitarian issue” after they were convinced that the regime no longer cares for their fate.
He stressed the POWs were released without any bargaining and the movement has not asked for political or financial return.
Bilal further said the JEM in the past had released hundreds of government prisoners and pardoned several convicts, adding the movement fights ferociously in the battlefield but doesn’t kill POWs.
It is noteworthy that President Omer al-Bashir last September announced the release of twenty one children allegedly detained during the Gouz Dango battle with the JEM in April 2014.
However the rebel group denied that these children were part of its fighters reiterating its commitment to international conventions banning the use of child soldiers.