» 03/14/2008, 00.00
CHINA - SUDAN
90% of the weapons for Darfur come from China
Beijing, in violation of the UN veto, sells weapons and receives oil in exchange. Human Rights First insists that, to stop the genocide, these sales must be stopped above all.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - 90% of the light weapons bought by Sudan - and used also in the war in Darfur - are sold by China, in violation of the UN embargo. This is the claim of a report from the NGO Human Rights First (HRF), providing exact figures and sources.
According to HRF, in the period from 2004-2006, weapons suppliers greatly decreased their sales, while Beijing has sold 55 million dollars worth of weapons since the violence began escalating in Darfur, and it is now practically the only weapons supplier for Sudan, which pays in oil.
In recent years, Beijing initially denied selling any weapons to the African country. When it could no longer do this, it insisted that it sold less than other countries and that, in any case, its weapons are not used for the genocide in Darfur. But, says Betsy Apple of HRF, "the rhetoric simply doesn’t match the reality", since China is practically the only supplier of weapons to Khartoum.
China's activities in Sudan serve above all to develop the necessary infrastructure for the extraction and transportation of petroleum: wells, pipelines, refineries, but also streets and port structures. In 2000, before the crisis in Darfur, Sudan produced 1.2 billion dollars worth of oil, and 4.7 billion dollars (+291%) in 2006. A former Sudanese finance minister says that at least 70% percent of the profits go to the army, seen as one of the main culprits of the massacre. By selling more oil, the country can buy more weapons: from 1999 to 2005, weapons purchases increased 680-fold.
China also makes military experts available to Sudan, and HRF notes that their visits to the country coincide with "periods of greater violence in Darfur". Beijing also helps to develop the production of weapons and military vehicles, through specialised companies and the sending of engineers and specialists.
HRF concludes that "If China is serious about helping bring peace to Darfur, it must first cut off arms supplies to Sudan". Beijing says that it is doing everything that it can for peace in Darfur, but HRF maintains that this is "fallacious so long as it is the chief supplier of small arms to the government of Sudan”.
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