WASHINGTON: Actor George Clooney and his father have been arrested at a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.
The protesters accuse Sudan’s president, Omar Al-Bashir, of provoking a humanitarian crisis and blocking food and aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the county’s border region with South Sudan.
Clooney, his father, Nick and others, including Democratic US Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia and civil rights leader Ben Jealous, were arrested after being warned three times not to cross a police line outside the embassy. They were handcuffed and placed into a US Secret Service van.
Clooney said earlier that he hopes to draw more attention to the issue and that if action is not taken in the next three to four months “we’re going to have a real humanitarian disaster.”
Clooney, a longtime activist for human rights in Sudan, met Thursday with US President Barack Obama after paying a clandestine visit to South Kordofan, where aid groups say 250,000 people are at risk of imminent food shortages.
“We need humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — immediately,” Clooney said to cheering supporters shortly before his arrest.
“The second thing we are here to ask is a very simple thing —it’s for the government in Khartoum to stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children,” Clooney said.
“Stop raping them, and stop starving them. That’s all we ask,” he said.
Clooney, speaking earlier before the US Congress and a think-tank, said that he saw hundreds of people fleeing in terror to the hills and into caves in South Kordofan due to the constant buzzing of bomb-dropping cargo planes.
Four members of the House of Representatives — Moran, Al Green, Jim McGovern and John Olver — were also arrested at the protest, along with human rights activists and religious leaders.
South Sudan became independent in July under a peace deal that ended two decades of war, initially raising hopes overseas for a peaceful resolution to the country’s long-running conflicts.
But fresh violence broke out soon afterward in South Kordofan as the government fights insurgents tied to the former rebels who now rule South Sudan.