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Rights group: China arms sales fuel violence in Darfur

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 Free Headline Alerts

BEIJING China is the 'largest provider of small arms to Sudan' and is responsible for worsening the violence in the tragic Darfur region, a U.S.-based rights group charged.

"While other countries were decreasing their arms sales to Khartoum, China stepped in to fill the void by providing Sudan with some 90 percent of its small arms during 2004-2006," Human Rights First said.

"This makes China the single largest provider of small arms to Sudan."

The U.S. characterized the violence in Darfur as genocide.

Between 2004 and 2006, China provided $55 million worth of small arms to the Sudan regime, which in turn supplied them to Arab militias blamed for mass killing and privation in Darfur, the group stated in a report made public on March 13.

Human Rights First reported that Sudan paid for the arms from the proceeds of oil sales to China according to Agence France Presse.

"So long as it continues to sell massive quantities of small arms to Khartoum, the government of China has created a virtual supply line from the small arms factories in China to the Sudanese government-sponsored militias killing civilians in Darfur," Betsy Apple, a director at Human Rights First said.

The United Nations has reported that the Darfur conflict has killed some 200,000 people and displaced 2.2 million, since 2003, when rebel groups fought for greater access to the regions's natural resources.

China's special envoy on Darfur, Liu Giujin, has been on the defensive as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach. Liu, for example, says China has been only one of many weapons suppliers to the government in Khartoum.

"In addition, Sudan is Africa's third arms producer behind Egypt and South Africa and is self-sufficient in conventional arms and ammunition," Liu told reporters in Paris.

"The country will always find a way to obtain arms. It is unfair to accuse China."

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