8,000+ Tell Bush To Ask China To Stop Arms Transfers To Sudan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Human rights advocates sent President Bush a clear message today when they delivered a letter to the White House, signed by more than 8,000 people, calling for the President to speak out against China’s transfer of arms to the government of Sudan, a leading international human rights organization said.
The letter, initiated by Human Rights First, calls on President Bush to use his upcoming visit to the Olympic Games as an opportunity to publicly urge China to end the transfer of arms to Khartoum. China is the largest provider of small arms to Sudan.
“President Bush has stated on many occasions that Darfur is a high priority for his administration, and we hope he will demonstrate this commitment while he’s in Beijing,” said Betsy Apple, director of Human Rights First’s Crimes Against Humanity program. “China’s arms transfers provide Sudanese government forces, proxy militias and rebel soldiers alike with the tools to prolong the conflict. The flow of arms threatens the security of the civilian population in Darfur and impedes the successful deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force.”
The Chinese government says it is doing everything possible to address the crisis in Darfur, which has left at least 200,000 people dead and more than 2.5 million people homeless. But this claim rings hollow as long as Beijing continues to provide weapons to the Sudanese government.
According to Sudan’s own reported figures, from 2004 to 2006, ninety percent of its small arms come from China, and from 2003 to 2006, this amounted to more than $55 million worth of small arms. Moreover, Chinese arms sales continued after the United Nations imposed an embargo on arms transfers to Darfur in 2005. Human Rights First, Amnesty International and most recently the BBC have documented the fact that these weapons are finding their way into Darfur.
With the International Criminal Court’s consideration of genocide charges against President al-Bashir, the “need to stop arms transfers to Sudan becomes even more urgent,” the letter reads, adding, “genocide may, indeed, be occurring in Darfur, and that knowledge legally obligates all countries to do everything in their power to prevent and stop that genocide. Ceasing arms sales is one of those necessary actions.”