Amnesty International has released photographs that it says prove Sudan is violating the UN arms embargo for Darfur. The Khartoum government describes the photos as fake.
Brian Wood is Amnesty’s arms control research manager. From London, he told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua that Sudan is deploying weapons -- in what he calls –“ breathtaking defiance of the UN embargo.”
He says, “The photographs show the military equipment that the government of Sudan has been deploying in the region of Darfur of Sudan. And there are attack helicopters; there are utility helicopters that ferry arms into places where the militia, these janjaweed militia, are based. And there’s a cargo plane. Soldiers are unloading it onto Chinese military trucks. And that plane is run by a company that’s been trafficking in arms to Darfur in the last months.”
Wood says the photos were taken at the El Geneina airport in western Darfur, near the Chad border. He won’t reveal who took the photos or when.
“This just has to stop. These are violations of the United Nations arms embargo. The government of Sudan is not allowed to move that gear in without getting permission from the United Nations Sanctions Committee and they haven’t done that,” he says.
Wood says Amnesty knows where the military equipment comes from. “These aircraft are delivered to Sudan from the Russian Federation. The helicopters come from Russia…China is also sending weaponry in. And at the moment, the Security Council embargo says that they can carry on sending arms to the government of Sudan as long as they don’t say that the end use is going to be in Darfur. But of course there’s no one there to stop that end use. The whole design of the embargo is flawed,” he says.
Reacting to the Khartoum government that the photos are fake, the Amnesty International officials says, “I don’t know where they get that from. They’re definitely not fake. We have the eyewitness accounts and the details that go with them. And if the terrible atrocities and the human rights abuses that are being committed there in Darfur against the people are to stop, the flow of arms that is inflaming that conflict has to stop.”