[Vision2020] Mia's Olympic Mettle (Rick Reilly)
thansen at moscow.com
Fri May 11 13:42:54 PDT 2007
>From the "Life of Reilly" (by Rick Reilly) column in today's (May 11, 2007)
Sports Illustrated -
Mia's Olympic Mettle
By Rick Reilly
The first hero of the 2008 Beijing Olympics stands 5'4" and weighs 108
pounds, including purse. She's 62, runs the 100-meter dash in about a day
and has 14 kids. She speaks in a weak voice, yet her words are shaking the
She's Mia Farrow. Remember? Woody Allen's ex-girlfriend? "Rosemary's
Baby"? UNICEF goodwill ambassador?
On TV and in newspapers, Farrow has been pressuring China to face up to its
role in the genocide being carried out by Arab militia groups in the Darfur
region of Sudan, where an estimated 400,000 non-Arab Africans have been
slaughtered and another two million have been made refugees. "These are the
Genocide Olympics," says Farrow, who has made two trips to Darfur, and three
to camps in neighboring countries. "China is funding the first genocide of
the third millennium.'
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, China buys about two thirds
of Sudan's oil. The Sudanese government then uses the majority of its oil
profits to buy weapons and aircraft, most of them made by China. The arms
are turned over to a proxy militia, the Janjaweed, which burns, dismembers,
rapes, and kills Darfur's villagers and destroys their land. China
maintains that it doesn't interfere with the internal politics of other
nations, and using that policy it has blocked U.N. efforts to send a
peacekeeping force into Darfur by insisting that Sudan first invite the
Farrow has also tried to get at China by taking on Steven Spielberg. The
King Kong of directors is one of the Beijing Games' "artistic advisers,"
helping to orchestrate the opening and closing ceremonies. But how can a
man who decried one holocaust in his finest film - "Schindler's List" - be
in bed with a country that is helping to bankroll another?
Spielberg could "go down in history as the Leni Reifenstahl of the Beijing
Games," Farro wrote in a Wall street Journal op-ed piece in late March,
referring to the German woman whose film about the 1936 Berlin Olympics is
viewed as Nazi propaganda.
Spielberg's face must have fallen like E.T.'s when he read that. He
immediately wrote a letter to China's president, Hu Jintao, asking him to
intercede in Darfur. China sent a high-ranking official to Khartoum to try
to persuade the Sudanese government to allow in the 20,000 peacekeeping
troops who stand ready to enter Darfur under U.N. Security Council
Resolution 1706. That envoy returned to pronounce the situation
"That visit meant nothing," says Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor who
is a leading Darfur activist. "He toured the camps with the most food and
the most control. This was airbrushed genocide."
Spielberg declined to comment to SI, but his spokesman, Marvin Levy, said,
"This is a step-by-step process. We think there was some movement. We'll
"At what cost?" asks Farrow. "Ten thousand a month are dying, minimum."
Forget Private Ryan, Mr. Spielberg. Save Darfur!
Before the world arrives, Beijing has instituted a campaign to get residents
to stop spitting and rushing into buses and trains without waiting for
people to get off. But if the Chinese have to clean up for company, why
shouldn't their government?
The last thing anybody wants, including Farrow, is an Olympic boycott. It
would make China a sympathetic victim, and innocent athletes would suffer.
But China's feet must be held to the fire, even if that fire is an Olympic
torch. And activists are lighting the flame any way they can by:
- Organizing an alternative torch relay, which will go from Darfur to Hong
Kong, linking the bloodshed to its biggest banker (dreamfordarfur.org).
- Insisting Olympic sponsors (go to www.miafarrow.org for a list) lean on
China to pressure Sudan to let the peacekeepers in.
- Writing protest letters to the Chinese government, such as the one just
signed by 12 Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Convincing athletes, if nothing changes by 2008, to compete in Beijing
wearing Dream for Darfur's Chinese character tattoo (translation: China,
please) on the side of their wrists, a reminder of the way Germany's
holocaust victims were tattooed.
"I wish I could take China's president to Darfur, take Mr. Spielberg there,
every Olympic official," Farrow says. "Because once you've seen it, you
can't turn away."
Do you remember Tiananmen Square, 1989? The guy who stood all alone, in
front of a column of tanks? Today, that lone figure is tiny Mia Farrow.
Who will line up behind her?
Seeya round town, Moscow.
"If not us, who?
If not now, when?"
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