Sunday, April 15, 2007

Darfur via China via Hollywood

It is amazing how thing can move in mysterious ways - in many respects aided by the power of harnessing the world wide web.

Enter Mia Farrow and Stephen Spielberg, and a mobilised Hollywood, who have taken a worthy and seemingly successful tentative step to seeing something happen in Darfur. Read on as the IHT reports:

"For the past two years, China has protected the Sudanese government as the United States and Britain have pushed for United Nations Security Council sanctions against Sudan for the violence in Darfur.

But in the past week, strange things have happened. A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a UN peacekeeping force. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps - a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct internal affairs.

Why? Credit goes to Hollywood - in particular, to the actress Mia Farrow and the filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about.

Farrow, a UN good-will ambassador, has played a crucial role, starting a campaign last month to label the Games in Beijing the "Genocide Olympics" and calling on corporate sponsors and even on Spielberg, who is an artistic adviser to China for the Games, to exhort China publicly to do something about Darfur."

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