Violent clashes between the opposition and the regime forces in Syria haven’t made U.S. activists forget the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Actor George Clooney, his father, Nick Clooney, and Jewish community leaders Rabbi David Saperstein and Rabbi Steve Gutow, were among the high-profile protesters arrested on Friday for blocking the way to the Sudan Embassy building in Washington, D.C.
The protest participants stated Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir shouldn't be welcome anywhere, until the regime stops the starvation of its own people. The protesters accused al-Bashir of provoking a humanitarian crisis and blocking humanitarian aid from reaching people in need.
Among the protesters were three congressmen, human rights advocate Martin Luther King III who spoke of his father's legacy, co-founder of the Enough Project John Prendergast, president of the NAACP Ben Jealous, Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail who is the Anglican Bishop of Kadugli, South Kordofan, and several Jewish leaders, including Fred Kramer, executive director of the Jewish World Watch.
Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, wore a T-shirt saying, "Stop genocide in Darfur". He told the crowd he was arrested at the same place for the same protest six years ago - and hopes that six years from now, there will be no need for such protests.
George Clooney warned that if the crisis is ignored, in several months it might result in a "real humanitarian disaster."
When a policewoman warned the protesters against blocking the embassy, saying that if they continue to do so they will be arrested, a woman in the crowd laughed and said loudly, "If I were you, I wouldn't want to be the one arresting all these people."
The crowd reacted to the arrest of the activists with cheers, saluting them as they were taken by police.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, while taken handcuffed to the police car, told "Haaretz" the goal was to draw attention to the crisis, and that the protesters were aware they might be arrested. "We know better than anyone what happens when people stand by when innocents die," he said.
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