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Sudan Tribune

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Darfur JEM denounce ‘racist’ statements by Arab league

May 24, 2008 (LONDON) — The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) slammed the Arab League over statements labeling them as terrorists.

JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein told the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Arab League “is segregating Sudanese on the basis of race”.

“The Arab League is branding us as terrorists but the truth is that Khartoum’s representatives in the organization are the real terrorists” he said.

Hussein noted that Ali Karti, Sudanese Minister of State at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, was involved in the 1995 assassination attempt of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

The Sudanese government has been actively seeking an international designation of JEM as a terrorist group but appeared to have achieved little success.

But the Arab League heeded to Khartoum’s request describing JEM as terrorists and demanded that the rebel group be excluded from any peace talks.

However the regional body’s position on JEM is largely symbolic. The Egyptian government, which exercises dominance over the Arab League, allowed senior JEM figures to leave the country despite demands by Sudan to extradite them.

JEM fighters mounted an assault on the Sudanese capital that took the government and international community by surprise. However the Sudanese government repulsed the attack and accused Chad of backing JEM in its attempt.

The JEM official said that the Arab League has “isolated itself from the Sudanese people and the Darfurians.

“They [Arab League] have not visited the IDP camps in Darfur because they have their own classifications of Sudanese on the basis of color and race” he said.

But Zein Al-Saban, adviser to the Arab League Secretary General for African affairs, rejected JEM accusations “shows that there is a flaw in their ideology”.

“The movement [JEM] always played with the racial and ethnicity card…..Many armed movements in Darfur are based on narrow minded tribal views which pushed the international community to refuse dealing with them” he added.

Al-Saban also said that the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa made several visit to refugee camps in Darfur.

But Hussein challenged the Arab League saying “they cannot exclude us from peace talks and they have no right to because we represent the conscience of our people”.

“They need to condemn the ongoing killing of Darfuris in the capital and in Darfur if they [Arab League] in combating terrorism” he added.

Many Darfuris and Darfur advocacy groups view the Arab League with suspicion saying the latter is supportive of Khartoum’s war in the region.

In 2006 US lawmakers signed separate letters to Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa urging him to employ all diplomatic means available to urge Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to halt a Sudanese government military offensive and admit UN peacekeepers in Darfur.

Last year the US Congress called on the Arab League to classify the conflict in Darfur as genocide.

International experts also say more than 300,000 were killed and 2 million have been driven from their homes by the conflict in Darfur, a region that is roughly the size of France.