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Mia Farrow and Bernard-Henri Levy issue joint demands on their governments at a Guernica lunch

May 2, 2008

Mia Farrow and Bernard-Henri Levy had never met. One of the first things they said when Guernica‘s editors introduced them before their Tuesday PEN World Voices event, Crisis Darfur, was to remark how strange it was they hadn’t. And before parting for radio appearances and dentist appointments, the two had resolved to focus on something concrete and simple to break through the impunity that has met the Sudanese government’s rampant killing of civilians in Darfur. On the spot, with Mike and me there to take notes and tweak the phrasing, they wrote out a joint demand on their governments. They proved themselves an effective team, with Levy asking Farrow if she had ideas and Farrow enthusiastically pulling folded notes out of her bag.

Here’s a write-up of the beginning of that process, which continued through the afternoon. Then onto the event, where a filled Alliance Francaise was moved to tears at the pair’s pictures from their dozen or so collective visits to the region and pushed intellectually by Dinaw Mengestu’s challenging questions. To listen to the whole hour and a half program go here. (The joint demand can be found at the bottom of this note.)

Meanwhile, new magazine content went up in April, two newsletters went out, other sites picked up Guernica features en mass, resulting in the magazine’s best month in terms of readers. So thanks!

Among those readers were an NPR reporter (who invited one of our feature writers onto his Boston/NPR radio show), an Australian radio producer (who invited the same writer onto her equivalent of an NPR program there), and an Indian conservationist (who wrote us that “high-level government bureaucrats” in India were holding up a printout of Mark Dowie’s Guernica essay, “Eviction Slip,” trying to leverage their opposition with it). Guernica features were featured on AL Daily, and Akshay Ahuja’s “Death Metal and Indian Identity” started a dialog about culture and the Indian diaspora, and was lauded on Salon.com.

May promises more great features, interviews, art, poetry and fiction. More on that shortly. Meanwhile, thanks for coming to our PEN events. Below is the text of the Farrow-Levy joint demand (write to this address to sign) followed by a few pictures.

    “Given the paralysis of the international community in the face of mass atrocities ongoing in the Darfur region of Sudan for more than five years…

    “Given the egregious impunity of the Khartoum regime and its allies on the Security Council—which have rendered toothless all resolutions to protect the people of Darfur and end the killing,

    “Given the most recent ploy of Khartoum to place every possible obstacle in the path of an effective deployment of peacekeepers, including the perverse twisting of the words and intentions of last July’s UN resolution, which stated that the UN protection force should be “predominantly” of African origin, not “exclusively,” as Khartoum would have it,

    “Finally, given the fact that the African countries providing the protection battalions lack, by their own admission, the technical and logistical capacity to ensure the success of their mission to protect the defenseless civilians of Darfur,

    “In the face of all these, we implore our governments – that is, the current French and American administrations – to act without delay and to partner with those African battalions needing assistance and to provide them with the essential training, the logistical support, the trucks, helicopters, weapons, etc., without which their mission will only be a terrible farce.

    “We call on respective governments to hear this appeal and take responsibility without, once again, hiding behind the mysteries and bureaucratic inertia of the UN.

    “This is undoubtedly the last chance to put an end to the bloodshed in Darfur.”

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