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George Clooney writes powerful open letter about Sudanese 'torture rapes' to remind the world that Darfur is still in crisis

The actor says “the world has largely forgotten about Darfur”

Jamie Campbell
Friday 27 February 2015 15:41 GMT
George Clooney wearing a 'Je suis Charlie' badge with his wife, Amal (Getty)
George Clooney wearing a 'Je suis Charlie' badge with his wife, Amal (Getty)

George Clooney has co-authored an op-ed regarding the lasting impact of genocide on the region of Darfur and calling for peacekeepers to forego leaving the still-embattled area in Western Sudan.

The piece, titled Sudan’s Rape of Darfur, is composed by Clooney, activist and author John Prendergast and Sudan policy maker Akshaya Kumar.

Published in the New York Times, it describes how, after the spike in attention towards the region following the genocide in the early 2000s, “the world has largely forgotten about Darfur.”

They state that "mass atrocities continue to occur [in the region] with no external witnesses" as the joint peace-keeping mission of the United Nations and African Union has been “hammered” into silence by the Sudanese government.

The government has closed the UN human-rights office in Khartoum. The letter says this closure is "hampering investigations of human rights abuses and pressuring the peacekeeping force to withdraw."

The piece calls attention to a recent incident that took place in the refugee village of Tabit where Human Rights Watch documented an incident of mass rape.

Having collected more than 130 survivor and witness testimonies, the organisation's researchers concluded that at least 221 women had been raped by soldiers of the Sudanese Army over a 36-hour period last October.

The letter alleges that the Sudanese government obstructed any attempts by peacekeepers to investigate the incident.

Darfur has become particularly important to the Sudanese government as major gold reserves have been discovered in the northern part of the region, where Tabit lies.

According to the International Monetary Fund, gold sales earned Sudan around $1.17bn last year and, according to the letter, “the government has attempted to consolidate its control over the country’s gold mines in part by violent ethnic cleansing.”

Clooney and the co-authors use the letters to call for the US and “other countries” to “expand sanctions and step up enforcement to pressure Sudan to observe human rights and to negotiate for peace.”

This is not Clooney's first foray into human-rights activism in the region. He was held at gunpoint by a Sudanese child soldier in 2007 and even funds a spy satellite over the country to watch out for any possible violations.

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