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Relay planned to protest China's ties with Sudan

Event to mimic the carrying of the Olympic torch

Mia Farrow protested in against violence in Darfur in Washington, D.C., in April. Mia Farrow protested in against violence in Darfur in Washington, D.C., in April. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

NEW YORK -- Actress Mia Farrow unveiled plans yesterday for an Olympic-style torch relay beginning this summer as part of a campaign aimed at shaming China into cutting support for Sudan over its role in the Darfur conflict.

Farrow, a UN goodwill ambassador, and a new activist group called Dream for Darfur are hoping to use the spotlight of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to draw attention to China's economic and diplomatic support for Sudan. China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil and has close commercial ties with Khartoum.

Farrow and the group are asking China to suspend debt relief for Sudan, end arms transfers to the regime, and increase diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government.

Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur, said the organization hopes China will act before the Games, reaffirming the Olympics as a symbol of "world peace through sporting."

"It's irreconcilable for the host of the Olympics to also be complicit in an ongoing genocide," Savitt said on a telephone press conference yesterday.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless in Darfur during four years of attacks by Arab militias known as the janjaweed and allegedly backed by President Omar al-Bashir's government. The government denies the charge.

The torch relay will begin Aug. 8 in Chad near the Sudan border and make its way through countries associated with genocide: Rwanda, Armenia, Bosnia, Germany, and Cambodia, before ending up in December in Hong Kong. Farrow will attend the launch in Chad and will travel to Rwanda.

"It's apparent now that there's one thing that China holds more dear than its unfettered access to Sudanese oil," Farrow said. "And that is their successful staging of the 2008 Olympic Games."