US actress and activist Mia Farrow yesterday accused sponsors of the Beijing Olympics of bowing to “greed and fear” in failing to pressure China on its role in the conflict in Darfur.
Of the 19 major corporate Games sponsors, only three had responded to her call to use their influence to persuade the Chinese government to help bring an end to violence and suffering in Darfur.
The remaining 16 — who she said included Coca-Cola, Visa, General Electric, Volkswagen and Samsung — had “flunked” a report card issued by the pressure group she leads called Dream for Darfur.
“History will note their silence,” she said. “I’m disgusted.”
“It’s about fear and greed of the sponsors,” she said, adding that only three companies came in for praise — McDonald’s, Adidas and Kodak — for writing to the UN, urging it to enforce Resolution 1769 authorizing a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force for the region.
The resolution has yet to be implemented.
Farrow, star of Rosemary’s Baby and The Great Gatsby, was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong as part of an international tour to highlight what she calls “genocide” in Darfur, where the UN estimates 300,000 people have died in five years of war, famine and disease.
She accused Beijing of underwriting the violence through oil purchases from Sudan, money then used to purchase Chinese arms deployed in attacks on Darfur.
“I said they should take their business elsewhere,” she said of the “flunked” corporations.
“They all said it’s something for the UN to do, not us. We said OK, why not then get together and write a letter to the UN? They couldn’t even do that. Cowards,” she said. “It’s about fear and greed of the sponsors.”
Describing Darfur as “low-hanging fruit for China compared to other issues,” Farrow said her organization wanted Beijing to pressure the Sudanese authorities to “stop attacking civilians” and accept the peacekeeping force mandated by the UN resolution.
Earlier, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, Farrow said that the campaign to end violence in Darfur had been the “most important endeavor” of her life.
“It has eclipsed everything in my life except for my children,” she said. “I wasn’t there when two of my grandchildren were born. That was an immense personal sacrifice for me and immense sacrifice for my sons.”
But Farrow said she had no regrets about the undertaking.
“There is so much head-banging, it is hard to call it rewarding,” she said. “But it is certainly my most important endeavour.”
“Whether it succeeds or not, I know the effort is the most important thing I have ever undertaken,” she said.
“It isn’t a pretty way to say this, but China is underwriting the atrocities in Darfur through the oil revenues which now top US$4 billion a year,” she said. “Some 70 percent of that money has been used to attack the population of Darfur.”
“I don’t believe for a second that Sudan could have continued this level of destruction against its own people for more than five years without the backing of a giant, and that giant is China,” she added.