WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts Reps. Jim McGovern and John Olver were arrested on Friday along with actor George Clooney and several others at a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.
The protesters accuse Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, of provoking a humanitarian crisis and blocking food and aid from entering the Nuba Mountains in the county’s border region with South Sudan.
Reps. McGovern and Olver, along with Clooney, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia and NAACP President Ben Jealous, were all cuffed and taken into custody after being warned three times not to cross a police line outside the embassy. They were all placed into a U.S. Secret Service van.
McGovern’s staff described the protest as an act of civil disobedience.
Olver’s office released a statement urging Members of Congress, the Administration and the international community to focus on ending the violence in Sudan.
“The world must prevent Sudan’s widespread use of its own citizens as expendable pawns in its post-South Sudan secession posturing,” the statement read.
The arrest came after Clooney met this week with Obama, testified in the Senate and attended a state dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry took to Twitter to joke about the arrests.
Clooney told The Associated Press before he was arrested that he can only hope to draw attention to the crisis in Sudan but that he doesn’t know if any progress has been made. He said he was impressed, though, with Obama’s engagement on the issue.
“It’s amazing to sit down with a world leader who knows all of the intricacies of what’s going on in Sudan,” he said.
The actor said he asked Obama to involve China more in pushing for a solution in Sudan. He said international leaders need to “follow the money” flowing to Sudan’s leaders to expose corruption.
“This is a moment where we have a chance to do something because if we don’t, in the next three to four months, there’s going to be a real humanitarian disaster,” Clooney said before his arrest.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Art Cohen reports
“It’s such a silly thought to think you’re actually succeeding in any of this,” he said. “But if it’s loud enough and you keep making it loud enough at the very least people will know about it, and you can’t say we didn’t know. That’s the first step.”
McGovern was arrested for a similar protest against the Sudanese government in 2009 over the genocide in Darfur.
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