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KIGALI, Rwanda — Mia Farrow joined genocide survivors in a torch-lighting ceremony Wednesday at a Rwandan school where thousands died in a 100-day frenzy of killings in 1994.
The 62-year-old actress, whose screen credits include “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” is leading an Olympic-style torch relay through countries that have suffered genocide to press China, host of the 2008 games, to help end abuses in its ally Sudan’s Darfur region.
More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been chased from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when tribes of ethnic African farmers rebelled against the Arab-dominated central government, accusing it of neglect and discrimination.
“We welcome China’s recent U.N. vote to allow a peacekeeping force into Sudan,” said Jill Savitt, director of Dream for Darfur, the group that organized the ceremony. “However, China now must continue to press Sudan to ensure that the words on paper translate into action. That means adequate and verifiable security on the ground in Darfur.”
The U.N. Security Council has authorized a joint U.N.-African Union operation of 20,000 peacekeepers and 6,000 civilian police for Darfur. Sudan at first resisted the proposal, but backed down. The new force will absorb a 7,000-member African peacekeeping force now in Darfur, and was to be in place by year’s end.
The school where Farrow appeared Wednesday is Ecole Technique Officielle, where 2,000 Rwandans were executed during the country’s genocide.
The killing started within hours after the president’s plane was mysteriously shot down over Kigali late on April 6, 1994. Hutu militiamen, known as interahamwe, set up roadblocks across Kigali and on April 7 began hunting down Tutsis and moderate Hutus and killing them.
The Darfur torch relay will also go to Armenia, Bosnia, Germany, Cambodia and finally in December to Hong Kong.
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