Mia Farrow vows to defy Cambodian Darfur rally ban

Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:21pm EST
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By Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Hollywood actress Mia Farrow says she will ignore a deportation threat and pursue plans to light a symbolic Olympic torch in Cambodia's "Killing Fields," as part of a campaign to end atrocities in Sudan's Darfur.

"We will pass the flame, the flame to honor those have perished, to celebrate the courage of those who survived," Farrow, who fronts the Dream for Darfur pressure group, told Reuters in an interview.

The group has held similar events in Chad, Rwanda, Armenia, Germany and Bosnia as part of a campaign to persuade China to push Khartoum into ending the violence in Darfur.

Beijing is hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and human rights groups have targeted China in the hope of using the spotlight thrown on the country to influence Chinese foreign policy.

China, a major investor in Sudan's oil industry, has been accused of breaching international rules and fanning bloodshed by selling Sudan weapons that have been diverted to Darfur.

International experts estimate 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million others have been driven from their homes in years of fighting. The Sudanese authorities put the death toll at 9,000 and says the West has exaggerated the conflict in Darfur.

Cambodian government spokesman Khieu Khanarith said Farrow's group would face "consequences" if it continued with its plan to light another torch at Tuol Sleng, the Phnom Penh high school that became Pol Pot's main torture centre.

"What they will be doing at Tuol Sleng is not to commemorate the victims of the Khmer Rouge, but to use Khmer skulls to pressure China. This is an insult to the Cambodian people," he told Reuters.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actress Mia Farrow looks on during an interview at the Center for Social Development in Phnom Penh January 19, 2008. Cambodia has barred Farrow and a group campaigning for an end to atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region from lighting a symbolic Olympic torch at a "Killing Fields" memorial site. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea</p>