Clooney Urges U.N. to Act in Darfur
- From: "Chim" <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: 15 Sep 2006 02:01:03 -0700
Clooney Urges U.N. to Act in Darfur
By LEYLA LINTON
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Actor George Clooney warned the United Nation's
most powerful body Thursday that if it did not send peacekeepers to
Sudan's Darfur region millions would die in the first genocide of the
The Oscar-winning actor used his star power to turn the spotlight on
the war-torn African region. Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel
joined his appeal for peacekeepers.
Clooney and his journalist father Nick Clooney spent five days in
Darfur in April, gathering personal stories of the death and suffering
that has ravaged the region. Both have worked since their return to
publicize the plight of the people there.
The mandate of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur expires at the end
of the month and the Sudanese government has rejected their replacement
by a U.N. force. If U.N. forces are not sent to replace them, George
Clooney warned the Security Council, all aid workers would leave and
the 2.5 million refugees who depend on them would die.
"After September 30, you won't need the U.N. You will simply need men
with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones," the actor said.
More than 200,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict and
more than 2 million have fled their homes since 2003 when ethnic
African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.
"The United States has called it genocide," Clooney told council
members. "For you, it's called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake -
it is the first genocide of the 21st century," he said.
"... This genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be
your legacy, your Rwanda, your Cambodia, your Auschwitz," Clooney said.
"We were brought up to believe that the U.N. was formed to ensure that
the Holocaust could never happen again."
Clooney was addressing the Security Council at an informal briefing
organized by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which recently
set up a Darfur Commission of Nobel laureates.
"You are the last political recourse of Darfur victims and you can stop
it," Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, said in his appeal to council
members. He echoed Clooney's plea for the council to send peacekeepers.
"Remember Rwanda," Wiesel said. "I do. Six hundred thousand to 800,000
human beings were murdered. We know then as we know now they could have
been saved and they were not."
He said it was terrible the U.N. let the 1994 killings in Rwanda happen
and urged the U.N. to "restore its honor" by taking action in Darfur.
"If the Security Council does not act, it will be blamed for history,"
Wiesel told The Associated Press in an interview earlier on Thursday.
But Wiesel stopped short of calling the killings in Darfur a genocide.
"I am usually very, very careful in using that word," he said.
A May peace agreement signed by the government and one of the major
rebel groups in Darfur was supposed to help end the conflict. Instead,
it has sparked months of fighting between rival rebel factions that
brought more death and displacement.
Sudan is resisting attempts by the U.N. to take over the 7,000-strong
African Union peacekeeping force that has been unable to stop the
violence in the western Darfur region.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has said the change in peacekeepers
would violate the country's sovereignty and has warned his army would
fight any U.N. forces sent to Darfur.
"The fact is Bashir is a war criminal... I think he should be warned
that if he does not stop, he will be accused of crimes against
humanity," Wiesel said.
Wiesel, who survived the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald
during World War II, has worked for human rights in many parts of the
world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.
"Because we went through that period of suffering and humiliation, we
must do something so that other people should not go through any
suffering and humiliation," he said.
Clooney brought both his parents to the United Nations. His father told
the AP he had been deeply affected by his trip to Darfur.
"I have been a reporter for 50 years. Maybe three or four stories in
your lifetime are life-changing and you go in as a reporter and come
out as an advocate. You don't usually like to do that but this time I
did...So yes, it was life-changing," Nick Clooney said.
On the Net:
Save Darfur Coalition: http://www.savedarfur.org;
Wiesel's foundation: http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org
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