WASHINGTON -- Hollywood actor George Clooney, using his star power to shine attention on the ongoing strife in Sudan, was arrested today with Bay State Representatives Jim McGovern and John Olver during a demonstration outside Sudan’s embassy.
“We need immediate humanitarian aid into Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” said Clooney before the Oscar-winning actor, his father, and at least a dozen others had their hands bound with plastic ties and escorted into Secret Service vans.
“I admire his courage and guts,” McGovern said of Clooney. “I’m proud to share a cell with him.”
Earlier this week, McGovern introduced legislation that sought to toughen sanctions against Sudan for what he said was ongoing human rights violations in the troubled African nation. His mostly symbolic legislation is intended to press the Obama administration to intensify its efforts to bring Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir before an international tribunal.
Of particular concern is an ongoing blockade put in place by the Sudanese government that is preventing food and other humanitarian aid from reaching thousands of Sudanese -- perhaps as many as half a million -- who are at risk of starving to death in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions.
For years, violence has run rampant in Sudan with hundreds of thousands of people killed and millions more displaced by two decades of civil war. A peace deal was reached in 2005, but the violence has hardly subsided, according to activists.
“We need to hear the outrage from President Obama and see robust international leadership. The United States would immediately do everything in its power to get food to the region before people starve,” said Tom Andrews, a former Maine congressman, who now leads United to End Genocide, which helped organize today’s demonstration. Andrews was also among those taken into custody after not heeding orders to disperse.
Democratic Representatives Al Green of Texas and Jim Moran of Virginia were also arrested. They were joined by Martin Luther King III, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and other activists.
Clooney was arrested along with his father, Nick Clooney. They were all released within a few hours after each paying a $100 fine for crossing a police line.
It was the third time McGovern was arrested, the last time three years ago after a similar demonstration. Today, his wife and two young children watched from a crowded sidewalk as he was escorted away.
Throngs of people crowded along Massachusetts Avenue, many curious about Clooney’s appearance.
The actor demanded that the Sudanese government “stop randomly killing its own innocent men, women and children. That’s all we ask. Stop raping them, and stop starving them.”