07/14/2008, 00.00
CHINA - SUDAN
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Satellite photos, eyewitnesses reveal Beijing selling weapons to Sudan, despite embargo

An investigation by the BBC provides, for the first time, proof of Chinese jets and heavy weaponry used against civilians, sold in spite of the embargo. Beijing is not responding, while the UN is asking to examine the evidence.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China is selling arms to Sudan and training its pilots to fly the Chinese Fantan A5 jet, in violation of the United Nations embargo. The accusation is made by the authoritative British Broadcasting Corporation, at the conclusion of an investigation.

The government of Sudan has for some time been accused of using airplanes to strike civilians, but it was never possible to prove what kind of jet was being used. Now satellite photos show Chinese Fantan jets leaving the airport of Nyala in February and June, in southern Darfur, and the BBC says that these are the only jets on the base. It reports testimonies of air raids against civilian targets, with many victims.

The news agency says that two tanks with anti-aircraft weapons have also been filmed in the area, believed to be part of a group of 212 military vehicles that in 2005 the UN "suspected" China of sending to Khartoum, without being able to find proof. Eyewitnesses have reported that these vehicles were used in December in the attack on the city of Sirba, in western Darfur, to strike residences. They launch missiles that explode on impact, scattering deadly shrapnel.

There is no comment from the Chinese government, while the UN intends to examine the evidence from the BBC. The embargo is intended to prevent genocide in Darfur, where it is estimated that 300,000 have already been killed and two million displaced. Beijing has been repeatedly accused of violating the embargo, and has defended itself by first denying any arms sales, and then saying that in any case its weapons are not used in Darfur.

Experts observe that the worldwide boycott against Sudan over Darfur has allowed China to become a privileged commercial partner, obtaining oil and raw materials in exchange. For some time, international public opinion has accused China of fostering government genocide, and in recent years it has even been proposed that the Olympics should be boycotted if Beijing does not make a serious effort to exact peace from Khartoum. Beijing responds that it is promoting economic development in the country, which helps the population.

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