Monday, June 16, 2008

Lakers' Newble aware, on and off the floor

By Marc J. Spears Globe Staff / June 16, 2008

Boston Globe: LOS ANGELES - While a trip to China during the Olympics could be risky for Lakers forward Ira Newble, he's willing to go if needed to help bring awareness to China's involvement in the conflict in Darfur.

Newble has been collecting signatures from NBA players, including from injured Celtics center Scot Pollard, to add to a letter that will be presented to the Chinese government and the president of the Olympic Committee. Newble also is trying to come up with a way to get Olympians to speak out on Darfur without disrupting the Games.

The Chinese government is a trading partner and weapons supplier to the Sudanese government. In Darfur, in Western Sudan, government-backed militias warring with rebels have killed an estimated 400,000 civilians, with more than 2.5 million others displaced in the last five years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"I'm not sure if I'm going," Newble said of a trip to China. "I would go, if need be. But at this time I'm not. Security might be an issue because China really doesn't look at this too kindly.

"They are already fabricating stories over there about me. The fans and the people actually wouldn't mind. It's the government.

"But I would do it. I don't have a problem with it. If there was a situation where I needed to be there, I would."

Newble, who became aware of the situation in Darfur in January 2007, visited two refugee camps in Chad last August and heard stories from victims of the deadly conflict.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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