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George Clooney condemns Sudan seizure of Abyei (VIDEO)


George Clooney in South Sudan in October 2010.


Tim Freccia

George Clooney called on the United States and the United Nations to take punitive measures against Sudan President Omar al-Bashir's regime in retaliation for its seizure of the disputed Abyei region.

Bashir's Sudan army sent tanks and troops in to occupy the Abyei region, about the size of Connecticut, which is on the border between North and South Sudan.

Bashir's military occupation of the territory threatens the peace process between North and South. South Sudan is set to become independent from the North on July 9.

"How long is the international community willing to tolerate this deadly dictator?" asked Clooney, in an opinion piece he co-wrote with John Prendergast of Enough Project and which was published in the Washington Post.

"President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, is escalating bombing and food aid obstruction in Darfur, and he now threatens the entire north-south peace process," said Clooney and Prendergast in the piece, titled "Dancing with a dictator."

The two urged the U.S. and the international community to take harsh measures against Bashir's Khartoum-based regime.

"We are not advocating military intervention. But the evidence shows that incentives alone are insufficient to change Khartoum’s calculations," wrote Clooney and Prendergast.

They called for the international community to:

1) Deny debt relief to the Bashir regime;

2) Expand the International Criminal Court indictments against Bashir's officials;

3) Isolate the Khartoum regime diplomatically;

4) Suspend all non-humanitarian aid; and

5) Obstruct state-controlled bank transactions and freeze all bank accounts holding oil wealth diverted by senior regime officials.

The U.S. and the U.N. should take these actions quickly to discourage the Bashir regime from increasing its violence, wrote Clooney and Prendergast. 

"We must proceed before Abyei ignites the next Darfur," they concluded. 

In recent years George Clooney has become a credible, persuasive voice on Sudan and he has championed the independence of South Sudan.

Clooney astutely warned that the disputed Abyei region, on the border between North and South Sudan, could derail the peace proces.

To help South Sudan reach independence in peace, Clooney helped design and fund the Satellite Sentinel Project to monitor military activity on the troubled border between the North and South.

Now with the Bashir regime's seizure of Abyei, Clooney has spoken out. He has worked with Prendergast, director ofthe anti-genocide group, the Enough Project, so it is not surprising they would collaborate on the outspoken opinion piece.