• Press Release

Weapons from China, Russia and Belarus Fuel Violent Conflict Against Civilians in Darfur, Amnesty International Reports

February 9, 2012

Arms Sales to Sudan Underline Need for Effective Global Arms Treaty

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]

(New York) — Weapons from China, Russia and Belarus are fueling violent conflict against civilians in Darfur, Amnesty International reports today, in a briefing that highlights the urgent need for effective controls by the United Nations over the flow of arms.

Amnesty International's briefing, "Sudan: No End to the Conflict in Darfur," comes a week ahead of the U.N. Security Council's consideration of existing sanctions against Sudan. United  Nations members also are set to resume crucial talks next week on a future Arms Trade Treaty.

The Amnesty International briefing highlights the urgency of an effective treaty to compel governments to stop weapons transfers where there is a substantial risk the arms will be used to commit serious human rights violations or war crimes.

"Until governments agree to a strong Arms Trade Treaty with specific rules to respect human rights, U.N. arms embargoes will continue to be flouted and millions of people will continue to suffer the consequences of irresponsible arms transfers, as they do in Darfur," said Brian Wood, an expert on military and policing for Amnesty International

The briefing on Sudan documents how China, Russia and Belarus continue to supply weapons and munitions to Sudan despite compelling evidence that the arms will be used against civilians in Darfur. Exports include significant quantities of ammunition, helicopter gunships, attack aircrafts, air-to-ground rockets and armored vehicles.   

An estimated 70,000 people were displaced from eastern Darfur in 2011 in a wave of ethnically targeted attacks against the Zaghawa community by Sudanese government forces and militias.  

"China and Russia are selling arms to the government of Sudan in the full knowledge that many of them are likely to end up being used to commit human rights violations in Darfur," said Wood.

"The Darfur conflict is sustained by the constant flow of weapons from abroad. To help prevent further serious violations of human rights, all international arms transfers to Sudan should be immediately suspended and the U.N. arms embargo extended to the whole country."

Arms supplied to the government of Sudan are used in Darfur both directly by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF); and government-backed militia including the Popular Defence Force (PDF). The PDF soldiers, formally commanded and equipped by SAF, operate alongside them, including by being deployed on SAF vehicles.
Chinese-manufactured small arms ammunition is being used in Darfur by SAF, other Sudanese security agencies and SAF-backed militia groups.

In an attack last December 1 at the Zam Zam camp for people displaced by the conflict, Sudanese security forces carried out a looting raid during which one man was shot dead and six other people were seriously injured. Witnesses reported finding ammunition following the raid bearing Chinese '41' and '71' manufacture codes, and (20)06 and (20)08 manufacture dates indicating that it was transferred to Darfur after the imposition of the U.N. arms embargo.

Amnesty International has discovered that 2010-manufactured ammunition with Chinese manufacturing codes has also been observed in Southern Kordofan during 2011.

The fighting in eastern Darfur last year saw a repeated pattern of aerial attacks on both military and civilian targets using SAF Sukhoi-25 ground-attack aircraft, Mi-24 helicopter gunships, and Antonov transport aircraft used as rudimentary but effective bombers.

Amnesty International has found that Sudan received 36 new Mi-24 helicopter gunships between 2007 and 2009. The continual replacement of Mi-24s by the Russian Federation makes it possible for attacks in Darfur to continue.
A photograph taken at St. Petersburg airport in the Russian Federation in May 2011 shows a new Mi-24P helicopter gunship painted in SAF markings apparently awaiting export to Sudan.

Amnesty International has obtained evidence of the use of air-to-ground rockets in several SAF airstrikes during 2011, both attacks in Darfur, and elsewhere in Sudan. These rockets have been manufactured in a number of former Soviet Union countries and are consistent with the weapons suites of Mi-24 helicopter gunships and Su-25 ground attack aircraft.

Sudan has continued to import a significant number of armored vehicles from Belarus and the Russian Federation.  Amnesty International has documented the use of both BTR-80A armored vehicles and multiple-rocket launchers mounted on Land Cruiser-type vehicles in SAF and SAF/PDF operations in eastern Darfur in the first half of 2011.

Amnesty International is calling on the U.N. Security Council to:
·    Immediately expand the current U.N. arms embargo to cover the whole of Sudan to stop military and related supplies reaching all parties to the conflict in Darfur. This embargo should continue to be monitored by an adequately resourced U.N. Panel of Experts which reports regularly to the Security Council's Sanctions Committee. The Panel of Experts should carry out investigations internationally and should regularly monitor the main ports of entry to Sudan to help ensure that the embargo is respected;
·    Demand that the government of Sudan complies with the existing U.N. arms embargo on Darfur, including by stopping all offensive military flights and seeking prior authorization from the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee to move military equipment and supplies into Darfur.
Amnesty International is calling on governments to deliver an effective Arms Trade Treaty that includes:
·    strong human rights provisions to prevent an arms transfer of conventional arms if there is a substantial risk that those arms are likely to be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law;
·    a comprehensive scope to include all weaponry, munitions, armaments and other equipment used for military and law enforcement operations; and,
·    robust standards for implementation and enforcement including national authorization and licensing systems.
For a copy of the briefing paper, "Sudan: No End to the Conflict in Darfur," please contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #