Actor George Clooney, along with NAACP head Benjamin Jealous, Martin Luther King III and several members of Congress were arrested in a protest outside of the Sudanese embassy recently. The demonstration was organized to protest the Sudanese government’s treatment of civilian refugees in the ongoing conflict with the newly independent government in Southern Sudan.
The refugees have been driven into the Nuba Mountains and have been denied food aid. “”We need immediate humanitarian aid into Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” said Clooney, according to the Afro American newspaper. Clooney was joined by his father during the protest and arrest.
Clooney met with President Obama earlier last week to discuss the crisis in Sudan. Clooney “pressed the president on the need to open a humanitarian corridor to allow aid to reach the south before the rainy season begins.”
Obama indicated he took up the issue with the leadership of China in recent meetings. Both China and U.S. have oil interests in Sudan. Part of the conflict between the northern and southern regions of the country involve oil rights.
In a meeting on Capitol Hill Clooney called for sanctions against the Khartoum regime. Clooney appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The conflict according to Clooney has resulted in South Sudan shutting down its oil production. “Six weeks ago the South shut down their oil production. They just stopped. And overnight China lost 6% of its overall oil imports, which means they have to go elsewhere, and that raises the price of oil.”
At the demonstration outside of the Sudanese Embassy Ben Jealous spoke to the need to bring pressure to bear on Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. “We need to stop using rape and food as weapons in Sudan,” he said.
South Sudan became an independent country on July 9, 2011.
Photo: Actor George Clooney is arrested and led to a police vehicle during a protest at the Sudan Embassy in Washington, March 16. The demonstrators were protesting the escalating humanitarian emergency in Sudan that threatens the lives of 500,000 people. Cliff Owen/AP