George Clooney, Africa Health Policy’s African stool winner for 2012, is one of the most visible and highly acclaimed movie actor in the world.
African Stool ( Dogon)
Using his massive star power and influence ,he has, over the last several years, drawn the international community’s attention to the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan
During the Sudan civil war (1983-2005) between the Arab north and Christian and animist south, more than 2 million people died. As the civil war was winding down in the south, in 2003 Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir’s regime began a scorched earth policy in Darfur with the infamous horseback riding Janjaweed Arab militias killing and displacing many thousands NHS Heroes, including non-Arab black African Muslims and black Christians living in Western Darfur.
Clooney in the Sudan
The otherwise close and shut issue of Darfur has been complicated by several international actors. You see, Southern Sudan, which seceded from Sudan in 2011, has 80 percent of Sudan’s oil deposits.China and Russia who buy most of the oil and have multi billion dollar energy related investments , have blocked action at the UN.
In January 2011 the Satellite project monitored the elections for the independence on Southern Sudan .They were definitely an important factor to let those in power know that they were being watched. The referendum was successful and largely peaceful. Southern Sudan has joined the world of nations as fully independent nation.
However Khartoum is once again saber-rattling the new nation in the south with attacks along the new borders. Bashir, already indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the genocide in Darfur, continues his audacious crimes against humanity.
Mr.Clooney has ensured that the light does not dim on the Darfur situation. He has protested, lobbied the US Congress and the President, appeared in multiple TV channels and other media to raise awareness about the Sudan situation. ( Update- recently Mr. Clooney was arrested while protesting infront of the Sudanese embassy in Washington DC).
Mr. Clooney has been in the region at least 7 times. In 2006 accompanied by his father Nick Clooney, he filmed a documentary about the Darfur situation. He has also addressed the UN Security Council, traveled to China and Egypt pushing them to cut ties with the Bashir’s regime. He has also lobbied President Obama.
“George keeps showing up, He’s a very serious and committed analyst. He’s gone to remote locations. He’s put himself at extreme risk. He stays in mud huts and straw huts, he gets sick because of the sanitation.”
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project,
It is for his gallant efforts that we award the 2012 African Health Policy Stool to George Clooney.
However he has chosen to dedicate his life to the cause of the Sudanese people. He has demonstrated not only moral but also great personal courage. During one of his visits to the region a AK47 was pushed up against his chest by one of those trigger-happy child soldiers. As one of the worlds’ biggest celebrities, Clooney could have been seeping champagne at the Beverly Hills Hilton and watching the sun set, but he chose to risk his life to shine a bright light on the situation.
You know that George Clooney is making a difference when the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC puts out statement that says “It does not reflect well on the U.S. government when its officials have to rely on activists and movie stars like George Clooney to provide the ‘facts,’ ”
Working through the Satellite Sentinel Project, he has exposed the abuses committed by the Bashir regime. The project’s satellite images have recorded the illegal border crossing into Abyei. The images have also shown proof of mass graves. The satellite project is a part of Mr. Clooney’s own human right organization “Not on Our Watch”, the Enough Project (an anti-genocide group), the United Nations, Harvard University, Google and Trellon. “Not on Our Watch” was co- founded with Actors Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, producer Jerry Weintraub and David Pressman.
Clooney has said that if Google images can allow anyone in the world to view his house through the internet, then people committing genocide should face the same kind of scrutiny. “We will make them celebrities too” he is quoted as saying. Human Rights groups are now using his satellite images to call for greater and more sustained action against the Sudanese regime. Over 62 members of the US Congress have signed a letter to President Obama in which they cited evidence of mass graves from the project’s work.
As has been seen in the Arab spring, ratcheting up pressure whether on the Gaddafi regime or the Mubarak regime has led to the eventual collapse of those regimes. George Clooney’s work is important because while the atrocities in Sudan are much greater than those in other countries, they barely get mentioned in the international media.
For bringing attention to an important but ignored issue, and for putting his own life in danger we award George Clooney the African health Policy’s 2012 African Stool.