Group says arms embargo violated

Published May 9, 2007

CAIRO - A top human rights group accused China and Russia on Tuesday of violating a U.N. arms embargo by supplying Sudan with weapons and equipment that were used to fuel deadly violence against civilians in Darfur and neighboring Chad.

Moscow and Beijing, which have balked at U.S. and British efforts to put new pressure on their trade ally Sudan, rejected Amnesty International's allegations. Sudan said the report was false.

"The report is totally incorrect. ... It is the sort of claim that has no material proof, " Sudanese government spokesman Bakri Mulah said in Khartoum.

The report said "the bulk" of the arms used in Darfur and Chad were transferred from China and Russia, with Sudan importing $83-million in arms from Beijing and $34.7-million in military equipment from Moscow in 2005, the latest available figures.

"The irresponsible transfer of arms to Sudan and its neighbors are a significant factor in the massive human rights catastrophe in Darfur and its spread into eastern Chad, " London-based Amnesty said in a statement.

The rights group said China and Russia should have been aware that their military equipment was "deployed by the Sudanese armed forces and militia for direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks in Darfur."

Amnesty said it was particularly concerned about Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunships acquired by the Sudan air force that were allegedly being used to launch attacks in Darfur.

The report included a photo, allegedly from March, of three Chinese "Fantan" fighter jets at an airport in southern Darfur.