Our Newry friend John Cully, working in Darfur, emailed us this news bulletin. We should read it!
A report released from Amnesty International found "the bulk" of arms transferred to Sudan is from Chinese and Russian sources, despite a UN arms embargo on Sudan.
The report was immediately rejected by both China and Russia; the latter flatly denied Russian weapons were being sold to Sudan. While the US State Department said each country was responsible for the characterization of its own relationship with Sudan, he advised an "abundance of caution" with regard to any trade relationship with Sudan that might involve the sale of weapons. The UN criticized the government of Sudan for its recent increase of "indiscriminate" aerial bombing campaigns in north Darfur, although the report neglected to mention the specific numbers of bombings that have occurred within the past few weeks.
The Sudanese government rejected handing over two suspects for whom the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants, believing the court has no jurisdiction over the matter. In an attempt to further obstruct ICC trials, the government sentenced two soldiers, both age 16, to death by hanging for their involvement in alleged war crimes. The ICC is prevented by its charter from sending prosecutors unless the country has proven unwilling or unable to conduct its own trials. ICC officials recently toured refugee camps in eastern Chad in efforts to encourage the victims to participate in the impending trials. Sudan and Chad signed a fifth reconciliation deal in Saudi-brokered peace talks, promising to stop arming and supporting rebel factions in each other’s territory. The agreement is nearly identical to one signed in Libya last month that has yielded no results.
Several US senators issued a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging China to utilize its leverage to pressure Khartoum to honor its commitments to accept additional peacekeeping contingents and to withdraw its troops from Darfur. This was followed by a resolution demanding China "be held accountable" for its actions, but stopping short of calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. China has responded to pressure from human rights groups by appointing a Special Envoy to Africa, Liu Guijin, whose first priority will be to address the Darfur crisis.
US TO LEAD UN SECURITY COUNCIL: MUST PRESSURE CHINA
As we approach the end of week three since the United States has held the presidency of the Security Council of the United Nations, there has yet to be any significant movement towards the protection of the people of
Darfur. Last week, China appointed an envoy for African Affairs.
Tell President Bush that now is the most strategic moment to convince China to stop supporting Sudan’s oil industry.
E-Mail President Bush Now: http://tinyurl.com/yoakar
SITUATION ON THE GROUND
The UN High Commission for Refugees condemned Khartoum for a series of aerial bombing campaigns that have been conducted in north Darfur. "The bombardments appear to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate, failing to distinguish between military and civilian targets," said UN spokesperson Michele Montas. "The disproportionate use of force constitutes violations of international humanitarian and human rights law."
On the one-year anniversary of the Darfur Peace Agreement, Oxfam workers say that security has not improved since the agreement, in fact, it has gotten worse. Trucks bring new loads of Darfurians looking to escape the conflict near their home villages on nearly a daily basis. "I turn around and go straight back," said the driver of a cattle car who regularly transports civilians to nearby camps for internally displaced persons. "There are another 3,000 people who want to come here, so I will be driving backwards and forwards for the rest of the year."
Distributing aid is still an enormous challenge, as security for the aid workers is increasingly poor. Hijacking of vehicles and the kidnapping of workers occur on a regular basis. Despite having signed a Joint Communiqu