Worldwide challenge to China over support for Sudan

By staff writers
February 14, 2008

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is amongst Nobel Peace Prize laureates, politicians, artists, writers, and sportsmen and women from across the world who have added their voices to the calls for China to abandon its support for Sudan.

They are demanding that this year's Olympic hosts cease to trade with a regime which is held responsible by the world for the carnage in Darfur.

In a letter emblazoned on the front page of the Independent newspaper today more than 80 public figures have followed the lead of director Steven Spielberg in voicing their protest.

"As the primary economic, military and political partner of the government of Sudan, and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China has both the opportunity and the responsibility to contribute to a just peace in Darfur.

"Ongoing failure to rise to this responsibility amounts, in our view, to support for a government that continues to carry out atrocities against its own people," the letter says.

Signatories included eight Nobel Peace Prize winners including archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ireland's Betty Williams, Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo of East Timor, Elie Wiesel of the United States and Catholic Peer Lord Alton of Liverpool.

Some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in more than four years of conflict in Sudan's western region of Darfur, according to estimates by international experts. Khartoum puts the death toll at 9,000.

China, which has a major trading relationship with Sudan including arms and oil, has so far refused to use its influence to support international efforts to force Khartoum, accused by many of supporting the killings, to bring peace.

"As host of the 2008 Olympic Games, China has a special role to play in ensuring that its actions this year are commensurate with the Olympic ideals of peace and international co-operation." the letter said.

"As the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games approach, we will continue to call on the Chinese government for action. We are aware of the tremendous potential for China to help bring an end to the conflict in Darfur.

"We will continue to watch for concerted and consistent Chinese action to ensure rapid deployment of UN-AU peacekeepers, progress in the peace talks, and an end to the use of rape as a weapon of war," it said.

Keywords:Sudan | darfur
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