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Exclusive: George Clooney urges end to ‘war crimes’ in Sudan

In an interview with FRANCE 24, film star George Clooney said the Sudanese government was targeting civilian populations near its southern border in a repeat of tactics used in the war in Darfur.

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US movie star George Clooney and activist John Prendergast have accused the Sudanese government of committing war crimes on civilian populations in the southern Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions. Speaking to FRANCE 24 from Washington, DC, on Wednesday, the co-founders of the Satellite Sentinel Project warned that the situation was dangerously similar to the genocide in Darfur.

Speaking over video images he recently helped capture in the war-torn area, Clooney insisted the violence was not limited to combat between Sudan’s army and insurgent rebels. “We were there as they were firing rockets into villages. These are not military positions. There was no military there. This is a programme designed to get these populations to leave,” Clooney said.

Sudanese security forces and militias loyal to Khartoum have been battling SPLA-N rebels who previously fought alongside fighters of the SPLM party – the group that since January has ruled over the newly independent South Sudan. Clooney and Prendergast said the situation was fast turning into a new Darfur – a conflict that resulted in mass killings, starvation and the displacement of huge swaths of the population.

“All the same factors that existed in Darfur are unfolding today in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile,” Prendergast said. “It’s just a different region with the same issues with the central government, and the same targeting on the base of people’s identity that we saw in Darfur.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Clooney testified before a US Senate committee on what he had seen in southern Sudan. The activist film star is scheduled to speak to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later this week. Clooney, who has previously called attention to violence in the region, said he would urge the leaders to put pressure on China with the goal of ending the violence.

“China is the one that has the investments in Sudan, with 20 billion dollars in oil infrastructure to produce 6 percent of their oil imports,” Clooney argued. “For once in our lives we can go to China and ask them to do something not for humanitarian purposes but actually for their own economic good, and for ours, quite honestly.”

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