Darfur rebels praise Spielberg for Olympic pull-out
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Darfur's splintered rebel groups on Wednesday united in praising U.S. film director Steven Spielberg for quitting as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics, and called for athletes to follow his lead.
Spielberg withdrew on Tuesday, saying the competition's hosts China should do more to persuade Sudan to end attacks and other humanitarian atrocities in Darfur.
Activists accuse Beijing of arming the Khartoum regime and funding it through oil revenues.
Lobby groups and celebrities led by Hollywood's Mia Farrow have used this summer's Olympics as a platform for their campaign to persuade Beijing to step up political pressure on Sudan.
No one was immediately available for comment from the Sudanese government.
But rebel groups welcomed Spielberg's decision, saying it could shame Beijing into changing its stance on Darfur.
"It means a lot for someone like him to be doing this," said spokesman for the insurgent Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Ahmed Hussein Adam.
"This will send a message to other countries, other individuals and athletes, who haven't taken a strong stance on Darfur up to now. We are calling on all countries to boycott the Olympics, athletes as well." Continued...