A cargo plane unloading goods at El Geneina airport [Amnesty International]

Amnesty International has accused Sudan of sending weapons to Darfur, in violation of a United Nations arms embargo and a peace deal in the region.

In report released on Friday, the London-based human rights group referred to photographs it said were obtained from credible witnesses supporting the claim of arms embargo violations.

The human rights groups urged the UN to give its planned peacekeeping force in the region the authority to confiscate weapons from armed groups.

The photographs were taken in July and purportedly show military shipments at the Sudanese army airport in El Geneina, capital of the West Darfur state.

One photograph shows Sudanese soldiers moving containers from an Antonov cargo plane on to military trucks, while two others show Russian-supplied Mi-7 and Mi-24 attack helicopters at the airport, Amnesty said.

A Sudanese official responded by saying there was a pattern of fake photos and that they were designed to deflect attention from other international issues like Iraq and Gaza.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Khalid al-Mubarak, from the Sudanese embassy in London, rejected Amnesty's claims. 

He told Al Jazeera that the timing of the claims was "suspicious", coming "at a time in which the 'Save Darfur' coalition, which is leading the campaign against the Sudanese government, is weakening".

Indiscriminate attacks

A Mi-17 military transport helicopter at
El Geneina airport [Amnesty International]
Brian Wood, Amnesty International's arms control research manager, told Al Jazeera that the weapons transfers were damaging stability in Sudan.

"The issue here is arms are going in, arms are being used for indiscriminate attacks. Arms are being proliferated, small arms and light weapons to militias, and also the armed groups, who are splintering.

"Civilians are getting attacked, raped, looted, displaced and the terror, the horror of Darfur is continuing. Fighting has erupted again in the last days."

But al-Mubarak said: "Sudan is not the party which will benefit from the continuation of the crisis in Darfur. Sudan's stake is in stopping the crisis."

"Sudan has agreed to peace in the Abuja agreement last year," he said. "This is the proof of Sudan's good intentions."

Embargo

In 2005, the UN Security Council imposed a wide arms embargo on all parties in the conflict in Darfur, including the Sudanese government.

It was a follow-up on a previous 2004 embargo that included the janjawid militia.

Amnesty has already accused Sudan of violating the embargo in a report in May and said the Sudanese government was launching air raids on civilians in Darfur.

On July 31, the UN Security Council authorised the deployment of 20,000 peacekeepers and 6,000 civilian police in a joint UN-African Union operation for Darfur, which the Sudanese government had long resisted.

The peacekeeping mission is authorised to use force to protect and ensure freedom of movement for its own personnel and aid workers, and to prevent armed attacks and protect civilians in Darfur.

"But the mandate for that peacekeeping force does not include the disarming and the demobilising of the militia and the armed groups," Wood said.

"That has to be addressed urgently if the human rights of the people of Darfur are going to be respected."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies