The Naked Truth

Stopping the world’s spin.

China Supplying Arms in the Darfur Conflict

Chinese sales of assault rifles and other weapons to Sudan have grown rapidly during the conflict in the Darfur region despite a UN arms embargo, according to a US-based rights group.

Human Rights First said on Thursday that a study of Sudanese and UN trade data showed that China was virtually the only supplier of small arms to Sudan.

Khartoum pays for the weapons it buys from Beijing with its growing oil revenues, the rights group said.

“The people of Sudan’s Darfur region will endure more death, disease and dislocation, and this will be due in no small part to China’s callousness,” the report said.

The group called on Beijing to stop all arms sales to Sudan and urged the world to link that campaign to the Beijing Olympics.

“We believe that China is particularly vulnerable in the lead up to the Olympics, Betsy Apple, a spokeswoman for Human Rights First, said.

“We want to see China’s concrete action that matches its rhetoric.”

The report came as Britain’s Channel 4 television’s Unreported World programme interviewed Mohammed Hamdan, a commander of the Arab Janjiwid militia accused of carrying out attacks on Darfur’s black African population.

Hamdan said that his men had received orders and weapons from the Khartoum government, including heavy artillery which appeared to have Chinese markings.

The Human Rights First report said that Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles, grenade launchers and ammunition for rifles and heavy machine guns have all flowed into Darfur.

China sold Sudan $55 million worth of small arms from 2003-2006 and has provided 90 per cent of Sudan’s small arms since 2004 when a UN arms embargo took effect, according to the report.

China’s embassy in Washington said, in a response to the Channel 4 programme, that China, “in line with relevant UN resolutions and China’s own policies regarding arms sales, requires normal defensive usage by the buyer country”.

Khartoum has previously denied any connection to the Janjiwid groups who are accused of abuses and crimes across the region.

Peacekeeping mission

Meanwhile, the commander of the international peacekeeping force in Darfur has admitted they may have to stay in the region for up to 10 years before they will see a resolution to the conflict.

“There are so many factors that have to come into play. We have to have a peace deal. We have to go through a period of disarmament,” General Martin Luther Agwai, a Nigerian army officer, said.

“If all these things happen quickly and everyone is committed to it, it could be a matter of two or three years. But if people don’t want a peace deal and people are not committed, we could be here for many years.”

Officials with the joint United Nations-African Union mission on Thursday said that there had been two confrontations with Darfur’s warring parties in the past week.

On Saturday, Sudanese soldiers opened fire for more than 15 minutes when a Unamid vehicle approached a government checkpoint close to South Darfur’s capital Nyala, Adrian Edwards, a Unamid official, told the Reuters news agency in Khartoum.

“It was dark so it was unclear whether they were firing into the air or targeting anyone,” he added.

“No one was injured and we received an apology from the local authorities.”

A day later, Unamid officers had to cut short a meeting with rebels in the Jabel Moun area of west Darfur, when they received reports of nearby fighting.

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March 16, 2008 - Posted by | Africa, china | , , , , , , , , , ,

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