Amnesty: Impose arms embargo now to halt Sudan killing

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The Independent Online

An immediate arms embargo should be imposed on the Sudanese government to combat murders and ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Amnesty International said yesterday.

An immediate arms embargo should be imposed on the Sudanese government to combat murders and ethnic cleansing in Darfur, Amnesty International said yesterday.

The United Nations and Western governments have failed to tackle the human rights abuse in the region, which continues despite Khartoum's pledge to rein in the Janjaweed militia, according to a report by the human rights group.

The report came on the same day that a senior British official, who has just returned from Sudan, said the government was "on the edge of an abyss". The official was speaking on condition of anonymity after the visit to the region last week by Chris Mullin, the Foreign Office minister. He said responsibility for the crisis lay with the Sudanese government, which had ruled "brutally, corruptly and incompetently".

Amnesty produced its assessment after gaining access to Darfur andministers after an agreement between President Omar al-Bashir and the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.

The UN had only eight human rights monitors in Darfur, an area the size of France, and only 44 per cent of the aid required had been delivered. There was little or no medical help for the thousands of rape victims. Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary general, said: "All this shows there should be a lot more support. The international community has gone nowhere near fulfilling its obligations. There are restrictions on transfers of arms to militias. But who else is supplying arms to the Janjaweed but the Sudanese government?"

Ms Khan said: "The Sudanese armed forces have been involved in committing atrocities. The government is in a state of denial. They deny any responsibility for the failure to protect their own people. The Sudanese minister of the interior told me, 'Muslims don't commit rape'. I was told that in Arabic the word for rape is the same as the one for robbery and thus there has been 'confusion'."

The report stated: "People are still being killed, raped and being pushed out of their homes in Darfur."

Bill Schultz, director of Amnesty International in the UK, described how Sudanese officials had used examples of US human rights abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in response to accusation of abuse in Darfur. "If you commit human rights violations yourself, you weaken your own credibility and you hand fodder to other violators to justify their own deviations," a Sudanese official said.

Amnesty said the UN should press Sudan to abandon "safe areas" they had set up, as they provided no safety and had the effect of "implying that those living elsewhere can be attacked with impunity".

The UN Security Council last week adopted a second resolution on Sudan containing the threat of sanctions unless it did more to stop the attacks on civilians. However, no time scale was adopted for this.

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