Amnesty International has released photographs it says show that Sudan's government is still deploying weapons to Darfur in what the rights organization describes as "breathtaking defiance" of a United Nations arms embargo. Tendai Maphosa filed this report from London for VOA.
The Amnesty International report shows photographs of what the group says are Sudan's Russian-supplied aircraft unloading weapons at an airport in Darfur in July. The rights organization says this is proof that Sudan's government is defying the United Nations arms embargo.
Resolution 1591 passed by the United Nations Security Council in March 2005 imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the Darfur conflict, including Sudan's government. The government of Sudan has also been accused of carrying out aerial attacks on civilian targets in Darfur.
An estimated 200,000 people in Darfur have been killed since 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the government. Khartoum responded by backing Arab militias called Janjaweed in a scorched earth campaign. Another two million people have fled their homes.
Sudan's government recently agreed to a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force that will replace 7,000 African Union monitors who have not been able to stem the violence.
Amnesty International's Brian Woods tells VOA that civilians continue to die in Darfur, and looting and rape are occurring on a massive scale.
But Khalid El Mubarak, a spokesman for Sudan's embassy in London, dismisses the Amnesty report, saying the group has no proof that the aircraft in the photographs are Sudanese.
He says the rights organization is exaggerating the situation in Darfur in an effort to deflect attention from events elsewhere.
"Amnesty International is becoming an appendix to a campaign which is faltering by the Save Darfur coalition and in order also to cover up the difficulties in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places," said Mubarak.
Mubarak did say however that violence is continuing. He said Sudan's government is, in his words, "duty bound" to try and keep the peace. He denied allegations that Khartoum is arming the Janjaweed or attacking civilian targets, as alleged by Amnesty and other rights groups.
"There is still crisis in Darfur, there is fighting in Darfur, and this fighting continues despite the fact that the Sudanese government has signed the peace agreement and has also agreed to the United Nations mixed force to be deployed in Darfur as quickly as possible," said Mubarak.
"So the Sudanese government as a sovereign government has done its best in order to coordinate with the international community, but there are bandits there. Even Amnesty International has said that Darfur is awash with arms, and there are people who insists on fighting on. So what do you expect the Sudanese government to do?," he added.
Amnesty International's Woods is calling on the United Nations Security Council to put mechanisms into place to ensure the embargo is observed.