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Actor and activist George Clooney was arrested Friday morning in Washington D.C. as he alongside other activists and members of Congress stood up against the atrocities and massacre of Sudanese citizens by their own government.
Clooney and 17 other people were arrested by the uniformed division of the U.S. Secret Service on misdemeanor charges of crossing a police line following a peaceful protest on the steps of the Sudanese Embassy, Secret Service spokesperson George Ogilvie said. He said the embassy is private property and security protection is provided by the Secret Service.
The civil disobedience act also led to the arrest of Clooney’s father Nick Clooney, Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast, Martin L. King III, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, President of United to End Genocide and former Congressman Tom Andrews, Jewish Council for Public Affairs President Rabbi Steve Gutow, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism Director Rabbi David Saperstein, Jewish World Watch Executive Director Fred Kramer, American Jewish World Service Associate Director of Policy Ian Schwab, Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA), Al Green (D-TX), Jim Moran (D-VA) and John Olver (D-MA).
All were later released after paying a fine and waving their right to a hearing. The protest was organized by the Enough Project and United to End Genocide, two non-profit organizations working to end humanitarian crimes worldwide.
Prior to the arrests Clooney, among others, spoke to the hundreds of protesters demanding humanitarian aid immediately be available to the Sudanese people living in Nuba Mountains, the Sudanese government stop killing, raping and starving its own citizens.
“We are just trying to bring attention to a government attacking its own people – innocent women and children. It is not a war when you are bombing innocent women and children,” Clooney said. He told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that he did not want to be arrested, but was proud to be standing on the right side of history.
The arrests came after police ordered the protesters to leave the premise and they did not. The protest continued as George Clooney and Prendergast formed a blockade about 10:45 a.m. in front of the embassy, symbolizing Sudan’s blockade of humanitarian organizations trying to provide support, food and medical supplies to the Sudanese people.
Six minutes later, Clooney and the other protesters were arrested.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government began bombing and raiding villages in the Nuba Mountains last June. Enough Project spokesperson Matt Brown said the locals are targeted as part of an ethnic cleansing because they are Christian, dark-skinned Africans and are sympathetic to the South Sudanese government, which borders their region.
US-Aid projects a famine affecting 500,000 women, men and children could begin this month in the region as international food supplies are blocked and crops have been destroyed by al-Bashir’s military forces.
Al-Bashir is a war-criminal who has terrorized and killed millions of his own people during his 20 years in power. He killed millions of Sudanese living in Darfur from 2003 through 2009. A peace agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement, was later reached.
“It is unacceptable and inexcusable that Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir—an internationally criminal wanted for war crimes and genocide—is getting away with bombing, starving and displacing hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State,” says United to End Genocide President Tom Andrews.
Twitter exploded when Clooney’s arrest was announced. Several people applauded his efforts to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis.
Other people joked about his arrest. Some called it a publicity stunt.
Ambassador Susan E. Rice, the permanent Representative of the U.S. to the United Nations, said she stands with Clooney on the crisis occurring in Sudan.
“I share George Clooney’s outrage at continued bombings, missile attacks & impending famine in Southern Kordofan. It must stop,” Rice tweeted.
European media personalities quickly also tweeted showing support for Clooney. Showbiz journalist, commentator and broadcaster Dan Wootton based in London wrote:
“I think you have to salute George Clooney. Finally a celebrity who’s been arrested because of a cause that he believes in.”
Ordinary American citizens also chipped in. Ohio resident Joshua White tweeted, “Love or hate George Clooney or his politics, but at least he backs it up. Dude got arrested today =)”
People who want to get involved in forcing the arrest of al-Bashir and alleviate the horrors being afflicted on the Sudanese people are encouraged to put pressure on national and international leaders.
Brown said western governments need to “…enact policies that would force the hand of the Sudanese government… Deal with him as a war criminal. Not a sovereign head of state. We want sanctions.”
Image Courtesey of United to End Genocide