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Human Rights Watch Urges Turkey to Press Sudan's Leader on Darfur

A U.S. based rights group is urging Turkey to press Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is in Ankara for a three-day visit Monday, to end atrocities in the Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.

In a statement Sunday, Human Rights Watch expressed surprise that Turkey had invited Mr. Bashir. The organization blames the Sudanese leader for "massive human rights violations" in Darfur.

The rights group said Turkey should affirm its commitment to human rights by calling on Mr. Bashir to put an end to the atrocities.

Human Rights Watch also condemned Mr. Bashir's decision to give a government appointment to the leader of the so-called Janjaweed militia. Authorities say that Musa Hilal, the reported Hilal's appointment is a "slap in the face to Darfur victims and to the UN Security Council."

Rights groups accuse Sudan of arming the Janjaweed militias blamed for killing civilians and burning down villages in Darfur. Sudan denies the charges.

Mr. Bashir's government is facing strong international pressure to end the five-year-old Darfur conflict. Aid agencies estimate the conflict has killed 200,000 people and displaced more than two million others.

U.N. and African Union efforts to arrange peace talks between the government and Darfur rebel groups have been unsuccessful.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.