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Activists press China with 'Genocide Olympics' label

Actress-activist Mia Farrow is leading a 'shaming campaign' to tie Beijing's support for Sudan to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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It all started with a petite blonde in a fury. Horrified by the violence she saw on trips to Darfur, and angry with what she perceived to be China's complacency on the issue, movie-star-turned-UNICEF-goodwill-ambassador Mia Farrow sent off a fuming op-ed piece to The Wall Street Journal in March. "These are the Genocide Olympics," she protested, in reference to the upcoming 2008 Games in Beijing. "China is funding the first genocide of the third millennium."

Smith College professor Eric Reeves, an activist who, together with Farrow, spearheaded the "shaming campaign" in which the Games are being branded as the "Genocide Olympics," says the Chinese will only be pressured to act in Darfur by appealing to its sense of national pride and honor and hitting them where it hurts most this year.

"They need to choose between the lucrative relationship with Khartoum and having their coveted Games lumped in the collective consciousness with Nazi Germany's hosting of the Berlin Games in 1936," Mr. Reeves says. The idea, he adds, is not to boycott the Games – as that would only end up punishing innocent athletes and making China seem like a sympathetic victim – but rather to "hold China's feet to the fire."

Soon, Steven Spielberg, who has signed on as one of the Beijing Olympics' "artistic advisers" found himself being drawn into the fray. Mr. Spielberg could "go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games," Ms. Farrow had charged, referring to the German filmmaker considered by many a Nazi sympathizer and propagandist for those 1936 Olympics.

America's favorite director quickly flew into action, shooting off a private letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao. "I add my voice to those who ask that China change its policy toward Sudan," he stated. "China is uniquely positioned ... and has considerable influence in the region that could lead efforts by the international community to bring an end to the human suffering there."

A month later, in May, Congress jumped on the bandwagon when a group of 108 members sent a letter to the Chinese government warning that the Beijing Olympics could be endangered if China did not change its policies in Sudan.


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