Issue 3: Nov 2007

Genocide Olympics? Tarnishing the Torch? Bringing the OLYMPIC DREAM TO DARFUR

However the spokesperson, activist or actress wants to call it, we are all asking the same thing, “China, stop funding the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. You have the economic leverage with Khartoum to end this violence tomorrow.”

But why are activists pressuring China and how much leverage do they really have with the Government of Sudan?

The relationship between China and Khartoum reaches back decades and starts with one three-letter word: OIL. During the North-South Civil War in Sudan, Chinese oil companies, like PetroChina, were entering Sudan as other oil companies were leaving due to the unsafe environment. Currently, China owns 71% of the crude oil rights which translates into 65% of energy consumed in China. Consumed at a time when China hopes to surpass its past economic woes and become one of the world’s leaders of business. Along these same lines, China and Sudan are heavily involved as trading partners. China purchases 71% of Sudan’s exports, while Sudan is China’s third largest trading partner in Africa.

About the same time that China began building roads and pipelines necessary to pump out the highly prized resource, they also starting protecting it – with weapons and weapons technology. This has not stopped since the genocide in Darfur began. Neither has the infrastructure development funded by China, such as their newest project, the Merowe Dam. Other moves that favor Khartoum and the government include debt relief of over $80 million and $13 million for infrastructure projects.

What we have here is an economic relationship where both parties win if business continues as usual. China wants to protect its investments, while Khartoum wants to keep the curtain closed and the eyes of the world distracted. China has actively kept quite during past Security Council meetings in the past, but with pressure from activists to bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur, they can’t cover their ears anymore.

China, as the host of the 2008 Olympics, is hoping to recreate their reputation of human rights abuses, sweatshops, and bloodshed. Sports have always been able to bring people together and historically it has been a way to create, if only for a short period, “One World, One Dream,” the perfect motto for using sports to build relationships and humanity. Activists want China to bring this Dream to Darfur. Some have called it the Genocide Olympics, some call for a boycott, others just use Dream for Darfur, but one thing that we all agree on is that China has the most influence over Khartoum. And they have a moral obligation to humanity to not fund the killing of thousands and thousands of innocent civilians.

Grassroots activists have taken charge of this campaign and created events in over 40 cities throughout the US and abroad to ask China to bring the Olympic Dream to Darfur. And, China is listening. They met with Dream for Darfur and other Darfur activists on a regular basis and ask them to stop the Torch Relay campaign. They voted in the last UN Resolution 1769, although their vote came only with taking away the most important mandate: to protect innocent civilians.

So we ask you, our community to stand up with us and ask China to stop the killing. You can sign petitions, you can visit the torch relay in your city, and you, as an individual, can stop purchasing Chinese-made products. You have a voice, and you have economic power. Use them to end the violence.

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