The Darfur/China Olympic controversy made simple

Gengen Genocide

My good friend Villager at Electronic Village posted this video last week, but I thought it was so well done and so important that it should be posted here again for anyone who may have missed it.

Villager has been doing a phenomenal job keeping the focus on Darfur for a long, long time, and he deserves huge props for that level of dedication and commitment.

The thing I love about this cartoon is that it “makes it plain” so that anyone can understand the issue, but without dumbing it down. And it cuts like a knife. As a number of Afrospear members have been pointing out for awhile, there is a blood-drenched connection between China and the atrocities still occurring in Darfur.

However it does need to be said that there was initially a fair amount of  frantic activity surrounding the matter over the past year that seemed to cause at least some amount of backpedaling by China. Some of you may remember last year when certain high-profile types like Steven Spielberg and Mia Farrow created enough of a stir through persistent high-profile and well-covered agitation that the Chinese eventually began to make some moves like urging the Sudanese government to accept a peacekeeping force (Farrow really launched the Hollywood attack on the China Olympics and is responsible, as I understand it, for popularizing the term “Genocide Olympics”, a term which was originally coined by Eric Reeves of the Save Darfur Coalition who also produced this video [much thanks to Yobachi for getting me straight on this] ). Of course, that “urging” never quite got much further than that according to a May, 2008 post on Farrow’s own website tracking the progress – and lack thereof – of what’s happening in Darfur.

But even that little bit of activity never would have happened if the celebrity spotlight had not focused such a harsh and uncompromising light on China and its unconscionable backing of the Sudanese government. That’s one thing about celebrities, especially socially conscious celebrities, is they know how to work a set and create a memorable scene.


Mia Farrow with children in Darfur -- ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO BY NASSER NASSER

At this point an Olympic boycott simply isn’t gonna happen, and I’m not sure that would have been the best way to make the message heard anyway. As hard as these athletes have trained for so very long, I have to admit I don’t think it would have been right to punish them and hold the Olympics hostage for what China is doing or, more importantly, for the decision of the Olympics committee to even agree to hold the Olympics there in the first place. The athletes had nothing to do with that, and it would be a mistake to establish that pattern, especially since I doubt a boycott by itself would have significantly changed Chinese government behavior. I remember when the United States boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back when Jimmy Carter was still president, and it was a big mistake.

But what Farrow, Spielberg, and others started doing last year to focus consistent, relentless international pressure on China’s sore spot is much more effective than a boycott of one single two-week event could ever be. By using the Olympics as an educational platform – and a launching site – to blanket the world with ceaseless waves of damning information about China’s immorality could create a momentum that simply cannot be ignored. A momentum that elevates a murmur to the level of a scream for justice.

It’s that kind of momentum, that kind of steady drumbeat, that eventually set Mandela free and overthrew apartheid South Africa.

For those interested in learning more about the Darfur situation, check out this excellent Frontline documentary. This link – and this one from Team Darfur providing additional critical updated info about the latest in relationship to the Olympics – is also courtesy of Yobachi, who turned me onto it.



~ by Keith A. Owens on July 17, 2008.

4 Responses to “The Darfur/China Olympic controversy made simple”

  1. Mia Farrow didn’t start the use of the term “Genocide Olympics”, Eric Reeves of the Save Darfur Coalition(who produced this video) did; but she picked it up from them and is largely responsible for popularizing it.

    You can watch about it in the documentary On Our Watch. You can go here: and go to chapters 7 and 8 for that part.

    Anyway, there’s a Black blogger led effort by the Afrosphere Action Coaliton, teaming up with an olympic athlete group called Team Darfur to bring attention to Darfur through these olympics. We did a confrence call with Olympic Gold Medalist Joey Cheek last week, and will release it soon.

    The AAC is also pushing the switch over campaign:

    Since you’re intersted in this, please emial me so that i can send you the press release and podcast from the call with Cheek, @


  2. Yobachi,

    Thanks very much for the clarification/education on that matter. I’ll make the appropriate change to the post before the end of the day.

  3. cool…except your good old democratic Russia supply 90% of the arms used by Sudanese government. China only comes to the 2nd place of 8%.

    Or at least, there is no Chinese Liberation Army’s JinJin in Dafur to kill 1000s of civilians everyday like the might US Marines did in Iraq.

    So let’s call it even? well, not even close. Yankees is by far the champion in killing innocent civilians to get access to oil and oil contracts for the lovely grandpa Cheney.

    China has a lot to catch up!

  4. I agree that there are other countries, including, possibly, our own, who’s refusal to address human rights violations like China’s is as heinous as an overtly oppressive government, but to hold a peace keeping event in a country that has failed to meet a basic standard for human rights? Horrid.
    Check out this video.

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