Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Arming Khartoum: China’s Complicity in the Darfur Genocide

by Eric Reeves

On July 8, 2008, at approximately 2:45pm local time, heavily armed Janjaweed militia attacked a joint police and military patrol of the UN/African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNAMID) ( ). The point of assault was approximately 60 miles southeast of el-Fasher, near the village of Umm Hakibah (North Darfur). In a firefight that lasted approximately three hours, seven UNAMID troops and police were killed and twenty-two were injured, seven of them critically. Ten vehicles were destroyed or taken during the attack. Shortly after the assault, then-UN Undersecretary for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno offered a compelling briefing to the UN Security Council in closed session, making clear that those responsible were indeed Khartoum’s Janjaweed militia forces.

Guéhenno told the Security Council that the attack on UN-authorized peacekeepers “took place in an area under Sudanese government control and that some of the assailants were dressed in clothing similar to Sudanese army uniforms. He also said the ambush was ‘pre-meditated and well-organized’ and was intended to inflict casualties rather than to steal equipment or vehicles” ( ). The peacekeepers attacked reported seeing approximately 200 fighters, many on horses—a signature feature of the Janjaweed (Arabic for “devil [or spirit] on horseback”).

Guéhenno declared that the ambush was designed “to inflict casualties” ( ) and was carried out with “equipment usually not used by (rebel) militias” ( ). Separately and confidentially, a UN official went further in confirming to me that some of the arms used, including large-caliber recoilless rifles, had never been seen in the arsenals of the rebel groups. This official said that Guéhenno, who would soon retire, had rarely been so explicit in assigning responsibility for attacks in Darfur.

The weaponry and ammunition in this and many other subsequent attacks on the UN peacekeeping force were in all likelihood manufactured in China and imported into Darfur by Khartoum’s armed forces—in direct violation of a UN Security Council embargo on all such movement of arms or ammunition. This is confirmed in a new, unpublished report from the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, created by UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005). According to the Washington Post ( ), the UN panel reports “finding recently manufactured shell casings from Chinese ammunition at the site of numerous attacks launched by unidentified assailants against peacekeepers from the joint UN-Union Mission.” This finding clearly implicates Khartoum and its proxies in the attacks on peacekeepers.

As the Post’s Colum Lynch also reports from the UN, China’s response to the report has been “a strenuous diplomatic campaign to block publication.” For the Chinese are well aware of what the report will contain: “at a briefing this month, a UN panel responsible for implementing the [arms] embargo told the Security Council that Sudanese forces have used more than a dozen types of Chinese ammunition against Darfurian rebels over the past two years.” China’s angry response to these factual findings, by an independent UN investigating body, has been to insist that it will “block the public release of the report unless the findings were rewritten.” Chinese UN diplomat Yang Tao urged “the panel of experts to conduct its work under the principles of objectivity and responsibility.” Given the meticulous and comprehensive nature of previous reports from the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur, all fully in the public domain, this demand is preposterous. It reflects nothing more than Chinese embarrassment and anger at being so fully caught out in violating an arms embargo adopted by the Security Council. It also explains why China alone on the Security Council did not vote to renew the mandate of the UN panel ( ).

This mandate obliges the panel not only to monitor the arms embargo on Darfur, but to “make recommendations to the [UN Security Council’s Darfur Sanctions Committee] on actions the Security Council may want to consider,” and to identify parties who “impede the peace process” in Darfur; who “constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region”; and “who commit violations of international humanitarian law or human rights law.” Perhaps most importantly, the panel is charged with assigning “responsibil[ity] for offensive military overflights” in Darfur—which are categorically prohibited by Resolution 1591 ( ).

And yet despite this mandate, the Security Council has refused to act in any meaningful way, largely because of Chinese obstructionism and a disgracefully acquiescent Western response. The UN Security Council Darfur Sanctions Committee has ceased to function; it considers neither names, nor actions, nor reforms. Indeed, Lynch reports that the former head of the Panel of Experts, Enrico Carisch, “testified before Congress that the Security Council had failed to act on more than 100 panel recommendations aimed at strengthening sanctions.” There are now almost daily reports of aerial military assaults by Khartoum (which alone among the combatants in Darfur has air assets) on civilian targets, especially in the Jebel Marra region. Every such flight is a violation of Resolution 1591, and yet the Security Council does nothing. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

1 comment:

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