Mia Farrow told to behave for torch relay

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 May, 2008, 12:00am

Immigration allows pair to enter city, but with a warning

Outspoken China critic Mia Farrow was allowed into the city yesterday after assuring immigration officials she had no intention of disrupting the Olympic torch relay today.

But despite a cordial interview, Farrow, 63, said she and her travelling companion were issued with a notice warning them that inappropriate conduct would affect their future entry into the city.

Farrow arrived at Chek Lap Kok airport from New York at about 1.45pm with Jill Savitt, a director of Dream for Darfur, an organisation that aims to stop atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region. China has major economic links with Sudan. The pair were escorted into an interview room after arriving at passport control.

Farrow said that before embarking on their trip, they had contacted the United States consulate and been provided with numbers to call should they strike immigration problems.

She said she never felt the need to call for assistance: 'They were very nice. They were very polite. They wanted some reassurance that we were not here to disrupt the torch relay, which of course we are not.'

Officials issued the pair with a 'notice to passenger', reminding them that visitors under the visa-free arrangement are expected to conduct themselves 'in a manner consistent with a person who is visiting Hong Kong'. The notice concluded: 'Participating in conduct ... which poses a threat to law and order here will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong and taken into account should you wish to visit Hong Kong in the future.'

Farrow said she told officials she never intended to disrupt the torch relay since it was not part of her campaign's philosophy or style. But she said her presentation today at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, about the crisis in Darfur, was intended to coincide with the Olympic torch's presence in Hong Kong.

She criticised Beijing for turning a blind eye to atrocities committed against civilians in Sudan and said China should use its leverage with its business partners in the region, as well as its status in the United Nations Security Council, to help stop atrocities and admit more UN peacekeepers into the area.

She caused uproar in Beijing in March last year when The Wall Street Journal published an article she wrote with her son Ronan entitled 'The Genocide Olympics' linking China to atrocities in Darfur. The article convinced film director Steven Spielberg to withdraw as artistic director of the opening ceremony.

'The Olympics has long been politicised and commercialised. But in any case, this is a moral issue, not a political issue,' she said, referring to Beijing inaction over Darfur.

Beijing has rejected criticism of its approach to the Darfur crisis. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said this week she did not know Farrow planned to visit Hong Kong, but she should 'deepen her understanding' of China's role in Darfur.

Farrow said yesterday she was aware officials had turned away eight visitors in the run-up to the Olympic torch relay, but she stressed her motive was to raise awareness about Darfur. Despite Farrow's activism, it was her fame as the star of Woody Allen films and as a pioneer of 1960s 'Manhattan chic' that had most visitors at the airport scrambling for their cameras as she arrived.

However, Canto-pop star and torch-bearer Andy Lau Tak-wah walked straight past her in the airport without recognising her. When informed of her presence and purpose, Lau declined to have his photograph taken with Farrow.