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Fighting broke out in June 2011 between Sudan’s government and Nuban rebels. Nuba Reports was founded by people living in the region after journalists and NGOs were banned. Our goal is to provide Sudan and the International community with credible and compelling dispatches from the front lines of this conflict and to illuminate the war’s impact on civilians. more

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Warring parties release prisoners in goodwill gestures

What happened…

The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on March 5 repatriated 127 people captured in fighting back to Khartoum with logistical help from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and political assistance from the governments of Uganda and South Sudan.

Those released included 109 government soldiers and 18 civilians, according to a statement by Sudan’s army spokesman, Brigadier Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami.

Three days later, President Omar al-Bashir released 193 fighters from a different rebel movement – the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – and waived the death penalty against 66 others.

The decree dropped death sentences against 44 JEM prisoners for an attack carried out on May 2008 in Khartoum’s sister city, Omdurman. JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim commended the release, saying the government’s move reciprocates JEM’s release of 264 prisoners of war in October 2016.

An earlier attempt by the SPLM-N to transfer 22 prisoners of war failed for unclear reasons in June last year.

What it means…

No prisoners from the SPLM-N’s army (the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North or SPLA-N) were released in this exchange, prompting the SPLM-N to question whether Sudan armed forces have not detained their fighters but directly assassinated them in defiance of humanitarian law, SPLM-N Spokesperson Mubarak Ardol said.

The government does not hold a positive track record in terms of prisoners of war. The SPLM-N prison transfer was issued in commemoration of SPLM-N Brigadier Ahmed Bahar Hajana – a prisoner of war allegedly killed by Sudan’s security personnel while in government custody, a SPLM-N statement said. In 2012, Nuba Reports interviewed an escaped detainee accused of being a soldier for the SPLA-N, Abdu Rahman, who claimed an estimated 68 fellow detainees had died of hunger, illness or torture.

JEM Leader Gibril Ibrahim said a large number of JEM prisoners and other Darfur movements remain incarcerated, especially from two groups led by Ibrahim Almaz and Hamid Tuto.

Nevertheless, the prisoner releases from both warring parties represent a significant peace gesture and is the first of its kind since the conflict in the Nuba Mountains began in 2011.


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