Mia Farrow and Bernard-Henri Levy Urge Hope, Action, Olympic Boycott for Darfur

At one of the kickoff events for New York City’s PEN World Voices festival,actress Mia Farrow, critic Bernard-Henri Levy and novelist Dinaw Mengestu met tonight at the Alliance Francais to discuss the ongoing genocidal situation in Darfur, which has gotten no better after five years of worldwide apathy. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in squalid, barren refugee camps after their villages were bombed and destroyed by the Sudanese government (the conflict — no big surprise — originated in ethnic battles over Sudan’s oil wealth).

Brushing aside the literary nature of the event’s setting, both Farrow and Levy spoke plainly and forcefully about the need for immediate action to change this situation. Levy spoke first, pointing out that he has seen several genocides in his life, and always called for action (to little effect), but that he has never before seen people wiped out so facelessly, erased from existence, “without even a number”. Levy is a powerful speaker with a classic French accent, bringing the best out of words like “passive” and “invisible”.

Farrow’s presentation was much more pointed and polished than Levy’s, and she hammered the point home with one heartbreaking photo after another. We saw an aerial shot of a peaceful Darfur village, with winding fences, farm animals, huts and gardens. Then we saw the same village after it was destroyed by aerial bombardment — the Sudan Air Force bombing its own citizens. Farrow urged a variety of prescriptions: economic pressure, diplomatic pressure and, most importantly, pressure on China (Sudan’s primary trading partner) to force change in Sudan. China, Mia Farrow explained, has vast influence with the Sudanese government, and if China urged a peaceful settlement with the displaced people of Darfur, the situation could significantly improve and, as Farrow put it, the healing could begin. Throughout the talk, both Farrow and Levy urged hopeful, positive-minded approaches to peacemaking in this obviously difficult conflict.

They also urged the United States and French governments to threaten a boycott of China’s Olympic ceremonies over this issue, and urged both countries as well to intervene forcefully in the situation immediately. More information about how anyone can participate in the actions to help Darfur can be found at Mia Farrow’s website.

PEN World Voices is where global politics meets the artistic mind, but Tuesday night’s kickoff event was all politics, and not much art. That seemed to be exactly the message Mia Farrow and Bernard-Henri Levy were trying to send, and the crowd’s appreciative applause showed that the message was received.

6 Responses

  1. As much as I admire Mia
    As much as I admire Mia Farrow and company, I feel that boycotting the olympics would be counter-productive. China knows full well how many people in the world feel about their current policies in regard to Tibet and Sudan.
    We would be better served diplomatically if we had a Secretary of State talk to them about it.
    Autonomy for Tibet is well in the range of discussion.

  2. Just to clarify, though,
    Just to clarify, though, Steve, I do think the suggestion was to hopefully use the threat of a boycott to enlist China’s influence on Sudan — the hope is that the boycott would not actually take place because China would respond positively.

    Obviously a lot of things have to go right for this to work, but I do agree with Farrow and Levy that every avenue should be attempted.

  3. What is the problem? Are you
    What is the problem? Are you telling me that the rich have no concern for the poor. Are you telling me that corporate America wants Cheney-Rice-Bush in power to serve their interests. And that non-corporate America is too stupid to do anything about it. Are you saying that American Idol is more compelling than Darful Idol. Or that literature should be a pleasant diversion from these little problems like dying children (hell they aint our kids).

    The first step is always to identify exactly what is the problem. I suppose the next step is to figure out a solution. Then there’d be, how to enact that solution. I’m thinking the Frenchies got it right in 1789. Y’know, they hired Madame Tussaud to identify the heads.

  4. Nobody has much interest in
    Nobody has much interest in Darfur. There is no oil to keep the world interested, there is no hip Dali Lama to bring attention. What does China actually care about Darfur other then it’s own self interest? It’s not like most of the world hasn’t turn away from disasters because of self interest during most of history. We don’t need to mention America’s lack of attention to people we do business with. Africa is a disaster in many many places, check out the business of obtaining Coltan from the Congo for our needed cell phones and how it relates to Africa and it’s peoples. If you asked Americans where Darfur was, how many would know? Dark dark days. Now I gotta go listen to some music so I won’t be depressed for the rest of the day.

  5. This is horrible stuff. It
    This is horrible stuff. It is not going to be stopped unless someone goes and stops the perpetrators. These are murderous violent people actively using force to kill weaker people. The only way to end it is to use force to stop them from doing it.

    But that would be war and war mongering and imperialism and extending the cycle of violence and proof that the USA is evil.

    So don’t complain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What We're Up To ...

Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!