April 25 was a characteristically murderous day in Darfur. Rwandan Harry Soko, an officer stationed in Sudan with the African Union—whose small, underequipped “peacekeeping force” is increasingly endangered—made a complaint to António Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. Soko charged that, as usual, the Arab Janjaweed (which translates as “devils on horseback”) were murdering and raping black Africans while Sudanese police merely looked on.
Many of the more than 400,000 black Africans who have died were killed by the Janjaweed—the militia hired by Sudan’s National Islamic Front government in Khartoum.
Also that day, according to the Sudan Tribune, in Darfur’s Krindig refugee camp—thronged with more than 30,000 displaced black Africans—a 38-year-old father of seven, desperately fearful of what the Janjaweed could do to his children, said: “The world does not look at us as human beings.”
Added another refugee: “No one chases or arrests the attackers. We want U.N. forces.”
General Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s maximum leader and chief orchestrator of the genocide, utterly opposes any meaningful involvement of the U.N. troops. He is convinced of his continued impunity from the mounds of corpses and the 2.5 million displaced survivors.
Recently, for example, he was visited by Dr. Jendayi Frazier, our assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She told National Public Radio (April 26): “President Bashir blamed everybody else for the problems of Darfur and didn’t own up to the government of Sudan continuing . . . to bomb civilian villages in northern Darfur.”
General Bashir has broken every pledge he has made to the United Nations and the African Union, including his promise to disarm the Janjaweed. He shows no indication of feeling threatened by the campaigns by various human-rights and American student groups to organize divestment campaigns from pension funds, business connections, and other financial support from the Sudan.
So long as General Bashir has China as his chief protector, investor, and arms supplier, the genocide will flourish. Whatever truly punitive resolution the U.N. Security Council may pass will be vetoed by China, a permanent member of the council.
China buys at least 70 percent of Sudan’s most important export—oil. And, as Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, now with the Heritage Foundation, notes: In Sudan, “China is building roads, bridges, an oil refinery, and a hydroelectric dam [along with] government offices and a new $20 million presidential palace” for the thriving General Bashir.
It is now clear that the only way to stop the mass murders and rapes in Darfur—and now of the refugees in neighboring Chad—is to compel China to force Sudan to end the genocide.
China’s only acute vulnerability—as it becomes the most powerful nation in the world economically and politically—is the tarnishing of its coming glorification as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Despite its reputation for mercilessly repressing dissent among its own people, China has chosen the slogan “One World, One Dream” for the games, hoping, apparently, that few remember the blood-soaked nightmare of China’s 1989 massacre of student protesters in Tiananmen Square—but many do remember.
Smith College professor Eric Reeves, the leading historian of the Darfur genocide, calls the Beijing Olympics “China’s post–Tiananmen Square coming-out party. They are counting on the international community having forgiven and forgotten.”
Now, however, faced with evidence of the beginning of an international campaign to shame it for its deep complicity in the holocaust in Darfur, China in all its might is deeply worried by the organizing of boycotts of the games.
What ignited the start of this worldwide shaming was an op-ed article tucked into the bottom of page A17 in the March 28 Wall Street Journal. The writers were Mia Farrow and her son, Ronan, who is a student at Yale Law School.
Mia Farrow, in recent years, has been a human rights activist for UNICEF, and has twice been in Darfur and twice in Chad, where the genocide has spread.
“There is now,” they write, “one thing that China may hold more dear than their unfettered access to Sudanese oil: their successful staging of the 2008 Olympics.”
The Farrows name such corporate sponsors of the games as Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric, and McDonald’s; and ask whether these global businesses “want the world to look away” from the “flaming villages” and rotting corpses in Darfur.
They add: “Do the various television 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 calls for Chinese action to end the slaughter in Darfur.”
Until I read that article—which has since led to demands that nations and athletes boycott the 2008 Olympics (or, while the world is watching, unfurl indictments during the games)—I did not know about the involvement of Steven Spielberg in the Genocide Olympics. The Farrows note that “he quietly visited China [in March] as he prepared to help stage the Olympic ceremonies—to sanitize Beijing’s image.”
It was Steven Spielberg who instituted and funded the invaluable Shoah Foundation to record the testimonies of the survivors of the Holocaust. Does he see no connection between the mass slaughters of Jews and the Janjaweed’s bonfires of razed villages into which some have thrown black African children? Elie Wiesel, who has spoken at “Save Darfur” rallies, might want to give Mr. Spielberg a copy of his book Night, the most deeply penetrating memoir I have ever read. The original manuscript, written in Yiddish, was titled: And the World Remained Silent.
However silent much of the world remains about Darfur, few can say they never knew what is happening there. Next week: The reactions to the “Genocide Olympics,” Steven Spielberg, the International Olympic Committee, and other complicit sources of the Janjaweed’s instruments of destruction.