DAILY BEAST: The 50-year-old movie star, who for the past decade has taken up the suffering of the Sudanese people as his personal cause, reported that the situation is as bad and bloody as ever during a panel discussion Tuesday night at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There’s a difference between two armies fighting and what the Geneva Convention calls war crimes—the indiscriminate bombing of innocent civilians,” Clooney told a packed house at the council’s Manhattan headquarters. “It’s all the same people who were involved in Darfur,” Clooney went on, mentioning President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, and former interior minister Ahmad Haroun, three of the north Sudanese officials charged with Darfur-related war crimes by the International Criminal Court. “They’re scaring the hell out of these people”—the men, women and children of the Nuba Mountains—“and they’re killing them and trying to get them just to leave.”
Clooney has just returned from the conflict zone with fellow peace activist John Prendergast, who warned of “a coming cataclysm” in East Africa. They were scheduled to press their case today and tomorrow in meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arguing that the United States should work with China, the biggest customer for Sudan’s recently halted oil production, to get the oil flowing again by prevailing on al-Bashir to stop the violence. [He] gave compelling testimony about the 22-year-old Khartoum dictatorship’s campaign of house-to-house “ethnic cleansing,” mass rape, and murder (tossing the bodies into mass graves), dropping bombs from high-flying Antonov planes, firing 300mm rockets into villages, and generally wielding instruments of terror against the Nuba civilians.
Clooney and Prendergast are cofounders of the Satellite Sentinel Project, through which they are amassing photographic evidence of the Sudanese government’s crimes against humanity using a satellite hovering over the region. On Monday, Clooney said, they were able to document an Antonov bombing run, and, using corroborating testimony on the ground, have also collected evidence of mass-grave sites. Clooney also suggested the U.S. make a concerted effort to track down the Khartoum government’s foreign bank accounts—which they’re using to purchase weapons and ammunition. “We should track that down—find it, freeze it, and make it harder and harder for these guys to spend their money,” Clooney said. “Tighten this noose and make Khartoum a very small place to live.” MORE