English translation small arms newsletter of the
German Campaign against small arms
June 2007

ICC issues warrant because of G3-supplies to Janjaweed

by Roman Deckert

The International Criminal Court in the Hague has found: Heckler & Koch arms technology serves in Darfur to commit crimes against humanity. Chief-prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses the Sudanese Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs (!) Mohamed Ahmed Harun of having supplied the Janjaweed-Militia with G3 assault rifles. The judges issued a warrant in May 2007.

There is plenty of evidence on the use of G3 in the war that has left up to 400.000 people dead and forced more than two million civilians to flee their homes since 2003. The United Nations, Human rights activists and journalists have provided documentation again and again. Most photographs of fighters from the Western Sudanese region show not only the omni-present Kalashnikov but also the international bestseller from Heckler & Koch. The G3 can even be identified on drawings of traumatized children from refugee camps.

The G3 has got a long and devastating tradition in Darfur. Already in 1966 the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chad reported to Bonn that West German arms were used in armed clashes on the border with Sudan. The Sudanese army by then had received nearly 30.000 G3 through West German military aid. Chad had bought thousands of G3 from the notorious West German arms dealer Gerhard Mertins – with approval by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bonn. The Sudanese army, which traditionally recruits a large number of its soldiers and officers from Darfur, continued to receive massive stocks of G3 and other Heckler-rifles during the Seventies from Oberndorf, the seat of H&K. During the Eighties it supplied G3 from licence production in Great Britain and Saudi-Arabia to the Murahalin-Militia that fought rebels in Southern Sudan.

It is an undisputed fact that the ever increasing influx of small arms into the marginalized region was the decisive catalyst for the conflict that turned into a full scale war in 2003. The German Society for Threatend People (GfbV) already in 2004 published a detailed report that the regime in Khartoum armed the Janjaweed with G3 from Iranian licence production. However, when the conservative member of the Federal Parliament Hartwig Fischer requested more information on this issue from the federal government, Permanent Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jürgen Chrobog replied coolly, that his ministry "does not have a clear picture about the origins of G3-rifles in Sudan". His analysts should have looked up Jane´s Defence Weekly which for instance made the transfer of 50.000 Iranian G3 public in 1992.

The true dimension of this scandal is best described by what the Harvard-scholar Alex de Waal, who has specialized on Darfur for decades, writes: "Some claim that their name - the Janjawiid - derives from »G3« (a rifle) and »jawad« (horse)". The Iranian Defence Industries Organisation in the meantime proudly advertises its Heckler & Koch high quality products (www.diomil.ir/en/aig.aspx link "assault rifles") - just as the Pakistan Ordnance Factories do (www.pof.gov.pk/products.htm). POF has also stated that it maintains the Sudanese ammunition plant in Sheggera / Yarmouk which had once been set up by the then state-owned West German company Fritz-Werner.

It is therefore most unfortunate that the German press hardly ever mentions the disastrous role of the G3 in Darfur but all the more focuses on the use of the Kalashnikov. As a matter of fact, even quite a few of those are most probably of German origin. For during the Cold War the East German regime had supplied Hundreds of Thousands of AK47 and AKM from its own production to Ethiopia and Libya which in turn supported Sudanese rebels. A recent Amnesty International survey has found that the Janjaweed still use stocks of old East German ammunition for their Kalashnikovs. Therefore the German government should account for its historical responsibility and combat the proliferation of small arms through increased support for DDR programmes.


is a researcher in the Berlin Information-center for Transatlantic Security (BITS). He writes his PhD-thesis on the history of German-Sudanese Relations.