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Mia Farrow Presses China On Darfur As Games Near

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Mia Farrow Presses China On Darfur As Games Near


Mia Farrow Presses China On Darfur As Games Near

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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One person who's been paying close attention to the Olympics in China is the actress and activist Mia Farrow. Mia Farrow's a leading voice in the campaign to hold China accountable for the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Darfur. That's because it buys oil from Sudan and, in turn, sells weapons back to that warring country.

The actress has helped publicize an effort to shame Beijing through the Olympics into pressuring Sudan to stop what has been called a genocide. Farrow is in Chad this week at the Oure Cassoni Refugee Camp, just a few miles from the border of Darfur, and joined us on the line there earlier this morning. Good morning.

Ms. MIA FARROW (Actor, Activist): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Could you please give us a snapshot, if you will, of what it looks like around you?

Ms. FARROW: Oh, it's like the edge of the earth. It's the desert. I'm seeing not a tree nor a blade of grass. I'm at the edge of the refugee camp. I should mention that we are literally on the Darfur border. We can see Darfur from here. People can cross in and cross out.

MONTAGNE: And the people around you, clearly, they're refugees.

Ms. FARROW: There are 27,000 refugees who are here in this camp at the edge of the desert, fled from their varying villages. Bombs fell upon them, and then they were attacked by Janjaweed Arab militia on horseback. Many were killed, and people came here in terror, and they live in terror.

Just last month, there were three bombings. People saw the planes circling slowly above, and they saw the bombs falling, and aid agencies have provided what they thought and hoped would be just temporary shelter. But nearly five years have gone by, and the people here - I think rations of hope are pretty meager.

MONTAGNE: You have been working on behalf of Darfur for a long time, and in particular, targeting China. For a while, there with a fair amount of negative publicity as regards to China and the Olympics, but it seems as if the Olympics are going off more or less without a hitch come this Friday.

Ms. FARROW: I wouldn't say it was without a hitch. I think the Olympics have been tainted. We knew that they would go forward no matter what happened, but they had hoped - China had hoped to have an untarnished Olympic games, you know, a full celebration. And I think that coming-out party for Beijing, there were plenty of spoilers for that, and with good reason.

Really, for Beijing, we have two things to persuade their close business partner, President al-Bashir and his regime, to cease the bombing and attacks upon civilians and to cease obstructing the full deployment of the joint hybrid mission, peace-keeping protection mission for Darfur.

You know, we want to see two things happening in Darfur: a legitimate peace process, and in the meantime, protection, protection, protection for this vulnerable population. And the one with the greatest power to persuade Khartoum has been China, but China has rendered toothless every single U.N. resolution to provide adequate protection for the people. So we're still asking China to use its considerable influence to persuade Khartoum to do these things.

MONTAGNE: Where will you be on Friday when the opening ceremony for the Olympics happens?

Ms. FARROW: I will be in one of the camps - for the security of the people in the camps and my own security, I'm not going to say which camp. But I will be there because I think the people who have been most profoundly affected should, at this moment, be heard from.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Ms. FARROW: Thank you very much.

MONTAGNE: Mia Farrow is an actor and an advocate, and she's the chair of the organization Dream for Darfur. She spoke to us from Chad, on the border with Darfur.

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