Actress-Activist Weighs In On Darfur Genocide Actress Mia Farrow first read about the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region in 2004. Since then, she has become a major activist for change there. She calls Tuesday's announcement that the United States is tightening economic sanctions against Sudan "too little, too late."
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Actress-Activist Weighs In On Darfur Genocide

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Actress-Activist Weighs In On Darfur Genocide

Actress-Activist Weighs In On Darfur Genocide

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Actress Mia Farrow has been speaking out on the Darfur genocide for years. She's recently returned from her fourth trip to the region, and she co-wrote a column about Darfur last week in the Wall Street Journal. She joins me now by phone in Connecticut. And welcome to the program.

Ms. MIA FARROW (Actress; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to Darfur): Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BRAND: Well, what is your reaction to the president's announcement this morning?

Ms. FARROW: First off, I think too little, too late. I think the sanctions will be little more than an inconvenience to a relative few. Surely, in the face of what the president himself has declared genocide, surely stronger measures are appropriate.

BRAND: What would you like to see him do?

Ms. FARROW: Well, you know, I'm not an expert on precisely what sort of sanctions should occur, but I can see that sanctions on 31 companies will not bring about an end to the suffering of the people in the camps. What I would like to see President Bush do right away, and what should have happened back in 2003, is there should be a full-time envoy, a team dedicated to securing a peace agreement in Darfur and one that is deemed to be just by Darfur's people.

And what we have here is a part-time envoy. And, you know, it's a series of diplomats that come and go out of Khartoum. Nobody's working on it, you know, 24/7, as the situation warrants.

BRAND: What about sending troops? Do you think U.S. troops should be sent to the region?

Ms. FARROW: One can wish. One will speculate in years to come what should have been done, but we know that that's a reality that is never going to happen. That's just not going to happen for lots of reasons. I mean, we all know we're bound in Iraq and we have no stomach for any further military engagement. It would be viewed as an invasion and it's debatable what the results would be. I mean, the U.N. peacekeeping force as outlined in Resolution 1706 last August, late in August, drafted by Kofi Annan, recommended 22,500 troops be sent to the region. But it requested the consent of the government of Sudan. That was a resolution that was, needless to say, stillborn. But it should have happened. One would wish that Khartoum would give that consent.

BRAND: You have called repeatedly for U.S. companies to end their dealings with Sudan, most notably Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway to sever ties with Chinese oil companies.

Ms. FARROW: Yeah. But, you know, these are very specific companies that are underwriting the violence in Darfur, if you want to call it the genocide. I don't want to battle people over names. Yes, I would call upon those companies. They had many, many millions. They have billions, actually, combined invested in PetroChina and Sudapet. The parent companies in China set these companies up so that U.S. companies could indirectly carry on trade in Sudan. And these two particular oil companies, it has been determined that 70 to 80 percent of their oil revenues are used to attack the people of Darfur.

BRAND: And have you gotten any response from Warren Buffett and others?

Ms. FARROW: Well, Warren Buffett's position is that it wouldn't make any difference if he withdrew his money, the money of his shareholders, from PetroChina, because if he did that, then the business would be taken over by somebody else. That's deeply flawed morally. That's no way to go. And anyway, it doesn't serve China to make any other arrangements. More likely the result of Warren Buffett withdrawing or even threatening to withdraw his billions would be that China would use its unique point of leverage to obtain from Khartoum those things that are necessary.

BRAND: Earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal, you published an op-ed calling director Steven Spielberg a, quote, "collaborator" for staging the opening ceremonies for next year's Olympics in Beijing. What kind of response did you get from him?

Ms. FARROW: You know, I would be careful with the wording here. The actual, I think, if I recall exactly what I wrote was, does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games? Do the various sponsors around the world want to share in that shame, because they will unless, of course, all of them add their singularly well-positioned voices to the growing call for Chinese action to end the slaughter in Darfur.

I must say, over all my years in filmmaking, I've never heard anyone say anything less than wonderful about Steven Spielberg as a human being. And we revere him for his foundation, the Shoah Foundation, to document the testimony of survivors. And it was a surprise to me to see that he had signed on to stage the Beijing Olympics, given the fact that Chinese oil companies are underwriting another genocide.

He was quoted in the New York Times, a spokesperson for him said he did not know of China's entanglement with Sudan. And I believe him, but I believe he will ultimately have to do more. I mean, I think there's a point where, you know, he's called upon China to do the very things that we are talking about and then I would expect Mr. Spielberg would sever his artistic cooperation.

BRAND: He has not said he will yet.

Ms. FARROW: No, he hasn't yet. I suppose he's waiting to see precisely what China might do.

BRAND: Well, what kind of response have you gotten from Chinese officials? Have you been successful at all in pressuring them to pressure the Sudanese?

Ms. FARROW: I don't know. You know, there have been some token things. I mean, certainly there is, you know, they have been viciously guarding the games and saying, you know, it's unfair to taint the games. But, you know, to that I say the games are already tainted as long as you're involved in underwriting genocide.

They did send an envoy; I don't know if that is coincidental. They have made some statements about wanting that peacekeeping force, but it has to be more than words. It can't be just PR. These are very real people experiencing very real suffering, and they need very real results.

BRAND: Mia Farrow, thank you.

Ms. FARROW: Thank you.

BRAND: Mia Farrow is an actress and activist. She is fighting to stop the Darfur genocide.

And as we just heard, Mia Farrow had sharp words for both Warren Buffett and Steven Spielberg. We tried to contact both of them. Mr. Buffett's office declined an interview request. We are still seeking comment from Mr. Spielberg.

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