I'd had little sleep yesterday morning when I spied a lone copy of The Washington Times in a street vending machine. I plugged in a quarter then realized I'd bought a day-old paper. The editorial page carried a column by Nat Hentoff. The wind tried to rip the flimsy pages from my hands as I read. Something wet splashed on the newsprint; I looked up at the sky for rain then I realized it was my tears.
Khartoum's enablers in Beijing by Nat Hentoff
[...] The minuet of resolutions and meetings to end the mass murders and rapes in Darfur continues -- as does the genocide. For yet another example, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges the United States and Britain to postpone stronger sanctions on the Sudan government so that he can arrange more time to convince President Omar Bashir to permit U.N. troops into his sovereign nation. But President Bush, reports Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post, has sharply told his envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, to conceive of stronger sanctions.
Economic sanctions -- or travel curbs on Sudanese dignitaries -- have not and will not work so long as the Khartoum regime has Big Brother China as its vital economic partner -- sitting with veto power in the U.N. Security Council. China imports more than 60 percent of Sudan's bountiful oil output and has otherwise heavily invested in that nation's genocidal economy.
China, a ceaseless violator of the human rights of so many of its own citizens, is not going to be moved by a mere holocaust of black Africans in Darfur. And its complicity in these crimes against so much humanity has hardly blighted China's increasingly influential economic presence in other African countries and in Latin America while the corpses mount in Darfur.
However, as China moves steadily to replace the United States as the world's most powerful nation, China also desires worldwide respect as an eminently civilized nation with so long and rich a cultural history.
Savoring its delight in being selected as host of the 2008 Olympics, China created a slogan -- "One World, One Dream" -- for these ennobling events that will attract intense international attention on glistening Beijing. Memories of blood-soaked Tiananmen Square have faded around the world. But for those who remember, the Chinese government's massacre of thousands of students in June 1989 -- horrifying as it was -- pales in comparison with the more than 400,000 black Africans obliterated by China's close partner, Sudan, in Darfur -- along with the mass rapes of so many painfully surviving black African women.
I expect the present Chinese leaders -- as the glories of the 2008 Olympics approach -- would not want any references to their complicity in the ongoing holocaust in Darfur. It is because these horrors are unabated that Francois Bayrou, a leading candidate for the presidency of France, declares (Associated Press, March 22): "if this drama does not stop, France would do itself credit by not coming to the Olympic Games [in Beijing]."
This is not the only call for shaming the host of the 2008 Olympics. In an article in the March 28 Wall Street Journal, "The Genocide Olympics," human-rights activists Mia Farrow and Yale law student Ronan Farrow (both of whom have traveled to Darfur) call for corporate sponsors of the 2008 Olympics to recognize that: "... one thing that China may hold more dear than their unfettered access to Sudanese oil [is] their successful staging of the 2008 Summer Olympics. That desire may provide a lone point of leverage with a country that has otherwise been impervious to all criticism."
Mia and Ronan Farrow are appalled that "so many corporate sponsors [of the Olympic games] want the world to look away from that [genocide] atrocity during the games." The Farrows also cite "Steven Spielberg [who is preparing] to help stage the Olympic ceremonies to sanitize Beijing's image."
It astonishes me that the same Mr. Spielberg so admirably founded the Shoah foundation that records the testimony of the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. How can he fail to make any connection with Shoah and the holocaust in Darfur?
The Farrows also ask whether "the various television sponsors [of the Beijing Olympics] want to share in that shame" of the host's complicity in genocide -- along with such American corporate sponsors of the games as Johnson and Johnson, Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald's.
Some of their customers might want to question their partnership with genocidal China.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and many other humanitarian organizations, religious groups and deeply concerned people around the world have been working insistently, without success, to stop this genocide. Focusing on the forthcoming Beijing Olympics, they can organize a last-chance rescue of the Darfur survivors by an international shaming of China. And I hope there will be nations who boycott the summer Olympics.
Only China can compel Lt. Gen. Bashir's National Islamic Front government of Sudan to stop the mass murders and rapes because only China has the economic force -- including its involvement in supplying holocaust-enabling weapons to the murderous Sudanese army and its barbaric janjaweed militia.
Whether this shaming propels China into recognizing its own humanity, organizing that focuses on the Olympics can be a transforming awakening of the world's conscience so that at last there can be a realistic "One World, One Dream" that never again will the nations of the world, to their own shame, have to say "never again" after the next genocide.