Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Sudan
People gather to look at vehicles and weapons of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels put on displayReuters/Stringer

A Sudanese rebel group has written an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, asking him not to sit near Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), an armed rebel group of the Western region of Darfur, published the letter on Tuesday (1 September), two days before UN's Ban Ki-Moon and al-Bashir are expected to attend a military parade commemorating the end of World War II in Beijing, China.

Wanted by the International Criminal Court on ten counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity since his indictment in 2009 for alleged atrocities in Darfur, al-Bashir is on a state visit to China, after defying calls by international human rights organisations for his arrest.

"The United Nations has come under criticism from the Chief Prosecutor of the (International Criminal Court) for not doing enough to help achieve the arrest of Bashir," Gibril Ibrahim Fideil, JEM chairman wrote in the open letter. "As the survivors of the Genocide perpetrated by Bashir in Sudan, we at the Justice and Equality Movement Sudan openly call on you not to share a public stage with a murderer."

Fideil added: "His actions were declared a Genocide by the United States Government in 2003. Millions of Sudanese have been killed on his orders since he took power in a military coup in 1989. It sends the wrong message for the leader of the United Nations to socialise at events with him while arrest warrants remain outstanding".

JEM: 'Arrest al-Bashir'

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir gestures as he leads victory celebrations after his forces defeated JEM rebels during his visit to a battle area in South Darfur on 28 April, 2015Reuters/Stringer

In his letter, the chairman highlighted the "violent response to civil war with the south that led to the deaths of millions of Sudanese and resulted in the separation of South Sudan from Sudan", and alleged that al-Bashir used a "scorched earth tactic".

"As survivors of Bashir's genocide we at the Justice and Equality Movement Sudan beseech you to show your support for the good work of the ICC by not attending the parade in Beijing on September 3rd and instead calling on the Chinese Government to arrest Bashir so that he can be brought to trial.

"It is not responsible to grant Bashir your tacit acceptance by sitting side-by-side with him in the public view."

While China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, that referred the situation in Sudan's Darfur region to the ICC in 2005, it is not a signatory of the Rome statute that established the court.

Al-Bashir's previous trip to South Africa last June for an African Union summit sparked controversy when a South African court ordered his arrest. The authorities, however, protected him and whisked him off.

The Darfur conflict, which erupted in 2003 when ethnic insurgents rebelled against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, complaining of marginalisation, has left 300,000 dead and some 2.5 million displaced, according to UN figures.

A United Nations panel of experts recently told the Security Council violence would likely "remain a feature of South Sudanese life for the foreseeable future", even if warring parties agreed to end their conflict.

What is the JEM?

JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim
JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim (R) after peace talks in Doha February 17, 2009, during which Sudan's government and JEM signed a deal with concessions from both sidesReuters/Osama Faisal

The Justice and Equality Movement, an armed opposition group, was founded in 2000 by Khalil Ibrahim, who was killed in December 2011. His brother, Gibril Ibrahim Fideil, took over in January 2012.

The largest military presence, which claims to have some 35,000 supporters, is part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of groups opposed to the Khartoum government. The front also includes the Sudan Liberation Movement (Abdul Wahed), the Sudan Liberation Movement (Minnawi), and the Sudan Liberation Movement - North.

JEM has announced itself by its attacks in a campaign against the Sudanese government, during which it attacked the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in 2008 as well as the Defra oilfield in the Kordofan region of Sudan in 2007.

Issues on JEM's political agenda include replacing Omar al-Bashir and the ruling Congress Party with a civil, democratic state that respects the rights of Sudan's various ethnic groups, women, and youth.

The group advocates radical and comprehensive constitutional reform to grant Sudan's regions a greater share of power in ruling the country, the replacement of social injustice and political tyranny with justice and equality, and basic services for every Sudanese.