275 Rabbis Urge Secretary Rice to Expand Sudan Arms Embargo

China’s Supply of 90% of Sudans’s Small Amrs Highlighted as China Assumes Presidency of UN Security Council Oct 1

September 22, 2008; New York, NY — Almost 300 U.S. rabbis representing thousands of congregants sent a letter today calling on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to press all countries to voluntarily suspend arms sales to Sudan.  The letter also urged the U.S. to use its seat on the United Nations Security Council to introduce a resolution to expand the current U.N. arms embargo on Sudan this October when China assumes the Council’s presidency October 1. China currently supplies 90% of Sudan’s small arms.

“Despite two U.N. Security Council resolutions intended to halt the movement of weapons to Darfur, the region is awash with arms,” says the letter, initiated by the American Jewish World Service. “Member states are failing to live up to their obligations to prevent the sale or supply of arms to all parties to the conflict.  The well-documented proliferation of arms in the region illustrates only too clearly the ineffectiveness of the current embargo.”

The rabbis urged particular focus on the government of China due to its trade relationship and close diplomatic ties to Sudan, and they call for urgent action when China assumes the presidency of the U.N. Security Council this October.  “China bears the distinction of providing an estimated 90 percent of Sudan’s small arms imports since 2004,” the letter says. “It is critical that the U.S. engage in robust diplomacy to ensure that China does not block passage of a resolution to expand the arms embargo.”

Recent events demonstrate that violence against Darfur’s civilians, United Nations-African Union peacekeepers and humanitarian workers in the region continues unabated, including an August 25 attack that killed more than 30 residents of the Kalma displacement camp and record numbers of hijackings, kidnappings and assaults on humanitarian workers.

Finally, the letter invokes the Bush administration’s legacy, calling for it to honor broken promises by standing firm against China: “We urge you to make good on your promise to the people of Darfur.”

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