George Clooney & Members of Congress Arrested Calling for Human Rights in Sudan

March 16, 2012
george clooney arrested at sudan rally
George Clooney arrested at Sudan rally on March 16th (c) Amnesty International

Just now, in an effort to raise awareness and capture media attention for the critical human rights crisis in Sudan, celebrity actor and activist George Clooney, Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), Representative Jim Moran (D-VA), Ben Jealous (head of the NAACP), Tom Andrews (President of UEG) and John Prendergast (ENOUGH), and others were arrested for civil disobedience, in protest against the Sudanese governments’ actions against innocent civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Over a hundred activists turned out to join Amnesty International and others — including congressional human rights champions and partner organizations United to End Genocide (UEG), ENOUGH, Humanity United, American Jewish World Service, TransAfrica Forum — to protest the escalating humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In both states (including the Nuba mountains), Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are conducting a campaign of indiscriminate bombing against civilians. The resulting destruction of livelihoods combined with the blockade of humanitarian aid is putting nearly half a million people on the brink of starvation.

Amnesty International is urging the Security Council to act on the recommendations made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding South Kordofan, including: demanding the Government of Sudan grant access to human rights monitors; mandate an independent inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law; and expand the current arms embargo to include the whole of Sudan–not just Darfur.

“Stop the Antonovs!”

Following an energizing rally at Sheridan Circle in Washington DC, where members of the Sudanese diaspora warmed up the crowd, George Clooney took to the mike to share his recent trip to a village in the Nuba mountains, which was bombed the day before their arrival. Clooney also testified earlier this week before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at a packed committee hearing on “Sudan and South Sudan – Independence and Insecurity”.

One of the most powerful observations that Clooney brought with him from Nuba was the activism that the people themselves are taking – under threat of immediate and further bombings, by holding up signs calling on the military to “Stop the Antonovs!” and calling for the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir to be arrested and taken to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

sudan protest
Amnesty activists and others rally at the Sudanese Embassy

As many readers may already know, Al-Bashir is a fugitive, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur. Al-Bashir, along with three other senior officials are charged with similar offenses, continues to roam free and the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile are paying the price for the ongoing impunity.

This week’s historic verdict against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo by the ICC shows us that justice for international crimes is possible. While the impetus should be on governments to bring those responsible for offenses to account, the UN has also a critical role to play by providing political, diplomatic, and logistical support for efforts to arrest individuals named in ICC arrest warrants and to protect civilians in countries where the ICC is investigating crimes.

Take action now to let the perpetrators know we are watching what is happening in Sudan. And we will not sit idly by.

Check out more photos from today’s rally