China, Russia in ‘weapons breach’

 

China, Russia in ‘weapons breach’

Antonov 26. Photo: Amnesty International

Amnesty says a white Antonov 26 was spotted at Nyala in March

Rights watchdog Amnesty International has accused China and Russia of supplying arms to Sudan for use in Darfur, in breach of a UN arms embargo.

A report by Amnesty says the weapons end up in the hands of the government-backed Janjaweed militia.

It includes apparent photographic evidence of the Sudanese air force using military aircraft in Darfur.

But the Sudanese ambassador to the UN, Abdel Mahmood Abdel Haleem, said the allegations were a lie.

"Our reaction to the Amnesty International allegations is very easy – it is a total rejection as it is baseless and unfounded," he told the BBC.

The use of all-white aircraft and helicopters… in Darfur is in violation of applicable norms of international humanitarian law
Amnesty International

"These photos may be a plane in the Central African Republic or maybe for one in south Sudan, but it is not in Darfur at all. We are not on combat missions in Darfur at all."

The four-year conflict in Darfur has seen more than 200,000 deaths, and the Janjaweed militia are accused of displacing and killing tens of thousands of people.

Photographs

In its report, the human rights group calls on the UN Security Council to strengthen the arms embargo on Darfur, which was extended in March 2005 to cover all parties.

Amnesty says it is "dismayed that certain governments, including two permanent Security Council members, are allowing ongoing flows of arms to parties in Sudan".

map

The report provides photographs of what it says was an Mi-24 attack helicopter at Nyala in Darfur and says its registration markings show it was a replacement for another.

The images were reportedly taken between January and March, during which time Amnesty says Chinese Fanfan jets were also seen at Nyala.

And Amnesty provides photos of an all-white, Russian-built Antonov 26 military plane, with the registration code ST-ZZZ.

It says it appears there are "three planes with this registration number" and links them to "unconfirmed bombing raids in Darfur".

"The use of all-white aircraft and helicopters… in Darfur is in violation of applicable norms of international humanitarian law."

Sudan denies using any white aircraft for military purposes, but says it has some white helicopters to transfer officials.

Amnesty says its report is based on eyewitness accounts from Darfur and "confidential sources".

‘Lies’

The Amnesty report backs UN findings leaked this month that Sudan is flying weapons into Darfur in breach of UN Security Council resolutions.

Janjaweed fighter on horseback (File pic, 2004)

Janjaweed fighters on horseback have rampaged through Darfur

Sudan denied those accusations, saying it was just moving material.

Amnesty says Sudan is "continuing to divert and deploy imported attack and other military aircraft… as well as firearms and ammunition… to target civilians directly".

Sudan is "routinely failing to seek [UN] approval to move weapons… into Darfur", it says.

The human rights group says Russia and China have transferred arms and ammunition to Sudan "aware that many such arms are being deployed… for direct attacks on civilians".

It cites 2005 trade figures as showing China sold $24m and Russia $21m of military material to Sudan.

Amnesty has also accused Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Belarus of supplying arms.

China has a close relationship with Sudan, increasing its military co-operation with Khartoum earlier this year.

The relationship is based around Khartoum’s plentiful supply of oil, which China needs to fuel its booming economy, says the BBC’s Daniel Griffiths in Beijing.

We are not using these aircraft for any military function in Darfur
Abdel Mahmood Abdel Haleem
Sudanese UN ambassador

However, Amnesty now says it wants a list made of all items prohibited for transfer and for UN personnel to be stationed at all ports of entry in Sudan.

Amnesty also wants all UN states to suspend the transfer of any arms and ammunitions likely to be used by the parties in Darfur.

The UN report, a leaked copy of which reached the New York Times this month, said Sudan was painting aircraft white to make them look like UN planes.

But Mr Haleem said that military assets were simply being moved around the country.

Mr Haleem told the BBC: "We are moving these military assets to their respective places. We are not using these aircraft for any military function in Darfur."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS

The photos that Amnesty has provided


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