By Mahmoud A. Suleiman
Dear esteemed readers, before going into the details, it has become onus upon us to pay tributes and congratulations to our gallant released Prisoners of War (POWs) and our congratulations also go to their families, to us and to the entire Sudanese people.
In the beginning we in the People of Sudan extend our sincere congratulations to our dear comrades Prisoners Of War (POWs) in the forces of the Sudanese revolution, who have been released from the regime of the NCP prisons in Khartoum during the days of Thursday, March 9, 2017, and Sunday, March 12, 2017. Without doubt we consider this an important step that deserves our praise and welcoming, despite the fact that there are still hundreds of our compatriots in the forces both armed and civilian revolution kept behind bars, some in open prisons and others, mostly high ranked officers, in secret prisons akin to the infamous “ghost houses” which were in full operation during the period 1989-1995. They are living in extremely harsh conditions and abominable treatment at the evil merciless hands of the notorious so-called ‘National’ Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) – the torture machine. Nevertheless, generally speaking, the current move comes as a positive initiative despite the limitations referred to earlier. Furthermore, one thinks that it promotes steps in seeking good intentions towards real comprehensive national dialogue which would spare our country Sudan from the scourge of the ongoing civil and intertribal wars of attrition with further tearing of the remaining Sudan into warring cantons.
Furthermore, and in this window of opportunity, we reiterate and renew our congratulations to the released prisoners of war (POWs) belonging to the Sudanese army, who have been captured earlier by the founding members of the mother Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) before breaking apart into two factions. The Original (SRF) was formed of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM/A- N), Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM/A – MM), Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdel Wahid (SLM/A-AW) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) along with some civilians from the Sudanese political parties. The SPLM North has recently released (POWs) soldiers belonged to the Sudan government in Kampala-Uganda under the auspices of the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni on behalf of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF).
While we pay Congratulations to the Champions who have been pardoned from wrongdoing we look forward to their unconditional release. We salute their steadfastness and struggle for the Just Cause and we ask our Lord for lifting the detention of those who still remain in prison cells. We also wish for our homeland becoming free from the grip of the oppressive racist criminal NCP regime. Our sincere Heartfelt Congratulations to the champions for change! Thank God for the safety of the rebel Champions who rose up against the systematic oppression, injustice, marginalisation and deprivation of rights and Congratulations for getting out of the prison cells to the horizons of freedom. Furthermore, we thank Allah for the Cancellation of the Unjust Death Sentence and Death Penalty on the gallant hero Tom Hamed and reiterate our thanks to God for the safety of comrade Tom from the originally unjustified prison term.
Joy coincided with anger
Joy surrounding the anger is the significance accompanying the release of prisoners of war (POWs) belonging to the Movement for Justice and Equality (JEM). Mixed emotions and feelings prevailed following the news which initially hardly believed by the loved ones of the (Pows). The coexistence of the opposed duo temperaments seemed a phenomenon, though It was not something unexpected during these circumstances in which Sudanese people facing the woes from the tragedies caused by the ruling regime of the NCP. However, the release of the POWs and the accompanying jubilation highlight the desire of the Sudanese people to get out of the impasse their country has remained languishing in since the dawn of the Independence from the colonial occupation powers more than 60 years ago.
This article comes against the backdrop of the presidential Decree No. 165 dated March 8, 2017, which called off the death penalty and a general amnesty and partial release of the prisoners of war (POWs) who belonged to the rebel Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The number of released prisoners of war had reached 259 fighters. The total number 259 of the POWs who were included in the Decree can be divided according to their categories as follows:
44 Prisoners of the Operation Long Arm (OLA) on 10 May 2008 when (JEM) entered the three Town Capital of Sudan Khartoum through the Omdurman Town
18 Prisoners of Donkey Baashim Battle
4 Prisoners of the Battle of the Tais locality
12 Prisoners of the Battle of Fanga
181 Prisoners of the Battle of Goz Dongo on Tuesday 28 April 2015
The ruling regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) previously issued unjust sentences against the brave gallant members of (JEM) forces that reached to the death penalties from the Inquisition Courts. They have been subjected to grim living conditions against all the international norms and humanitarian rights. The majority of the captives suffered from negligence which led to the martyrdom of a number of them inside the regime’s prisons. While according to the International Law prisoners of wars (POWs) should not be brought to trial in the first place and should be treated with dignity and in accordance with the norms of international law. On the other hand, the presidency of the ruling regime of the NCP tried to decorate the decision by the words (to foster a spirit of national reconciliation and create a climate for sustainable peace in the country) with the knowledge that this is not the first time that the regime issues a decree to pardon for JEM POWs. This was preceded by the (JEM) decision in 2010 of a general amnesty for all prisoners belonged to the (NCP) regime and released them to show goodwill during the peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar. As expected, the NCP) security services did not implement a reciprocal action towards the JEM (POW). The Movement for Justice and Equality for its part has released all the (POWs) belonging to the government forces again and again and those are the principles of the movement toward war prisoners. The recent remarks made by the previous POW who belonged to the government of Sudan (GoS) force Colonel Ihab Abdel Moneim, who has been released from captivity by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) stands out as a good model. Furthermore, there are a number of Prisoners of War (POWs) who were not covered by the presidential decree. They include the Revolutionary Ibrahim Al-maz group and Lt. Col. Tom Hamed Tutu as well as the Senior (JEM) Officers who were captured and removed from the battle of Goz Dongo and put them in secret prisons and held incommunicado. We call on the government of the (NCP) in Khartoum to release those senior officers who until this moment we do not know their fate. And of course, the rest of those belonging to the Revolutionary political forces and detained politicians and civilians taking into account the rights guaranteed to them by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international covenant of human rights. It needs not reiterating that obvious fact that Prisoners of war (POWs) are not subject to trial and should be treated with dignity and in accordance with the norms of international law. The last 14 years of the Darfur conflict have shown that the National Congress Party (NCP) regime led by Omer al-Bashir is no stranger for continuing to negotiate in bad faith to bamboozle the parties in the dispute. To the misfortune of the regime of the NCP that its parties in the dispute, in particular, the archenemy (JEM), have learned those intrigues the hard way.
Some political analysts have indicated that the manifest meanings and values of the revolution and the revolutionaries who knew in advance the price to be paid for the goals that they believed in them. And these sacrifices will be in the forefront of drafting the modern history of Sudan side by side with the lights of our martyrs and the lights that illuminate the darkness of the way down to the desired hope.
At this juncture, the political opposition components, both civilian and armed rebels should not let the opportunity and the door open for those who want to justify the release of prisoners of war (POWs) as a grant and a step towards a dialogue with the National Congress Party (NCP) regime. This is because the ruling (NCP) government now perhaps thinking that the release of (POWs) of JEM paving the way to the so-called soft landing across Thabo Mbeki’s Addis Ababa debacle and other international community intersecting interests driven failed initiatives. Nevertheless, the latter statement by no means indicates outright refusal of peace which JEM longed for it over the 14 odd years since forced to resort to taking up arms due to the absence of a genuine partner who calls and agrees for sustainable peace with paid dues and entitlements.
The vicious cycle through which the Darfur crisis gone through shouldn’t have occurred had it not for the intransigence and the prevarication of the (NCP) regime which thought by so doing would succeed in gaining more time for staying on the helm of Sudan and shielding its genocidal leader Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir from the grip by the hand of the international criminal court (ICC) for trial at The Hague in the Netherlands for the crimes he has perpetrated against the civilian Sudanese people in Darfur.
Despite our utmost joy and delight and the right of the released (POWs) for the decision of the cancellation of the sentences, but many political observers believe that the direct purpose for the decision of Omar al-Bashir at this particular time is to satisfy the new administration of the United States of America in order that it does not seek to cancel the decision of the President Barack Obama’s administration which lifted partially the decades-long economic sanctions on Sudan. This thesis seems to have been based on President Donald Trump’s quest in bypassing or annulling the Executive Orders (EO) and decisions of his predecessor Barak Obama - Obamacare is an example par excellence.
And whatever the motives behind the release of prisoners of war (POWs) belonging to the Movement for Justice and Equality (JEM) and other captives whether Government affiliated or rebel movement groups all of whom are Sudanese citizen, now or at any other time, it is our duty to warmly welcome and congratulate the released prisoners and their families and the Sudanese people as a whole. All of us the people of Sudan need to seek all the means and ways to stop these never-ending civil wars of attrition and go ahead to sustainable peace and build a state of citizenship identity, freedom, decent life and establish the rule of law and good governance.
Idowu Koyenikan, the highly quoted author and internationally recognized consultant has been quoted as saying “Your pride for your country should not come after your country becomes great; your country becomes great because of your pride in it.” There is no denying that there is evil in this world but the light will always conquer the darkness”.http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/nation-building.
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is http://thussudan.wordpress.com/