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Thursday, September 14, 2006


Clooney: U.N. choice in Darfur is troops or death

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Actor George Clooney on Thursday told the U.N.'s most powerful body that if it did not send peacekeepers to Sudan's Darfur region millions of people would die in what he called the first genocide of the 21st century.

"After September 30 you won't need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones," the actor warned.

The mandate of African Union peacekeepers in the region expires at the end of the month and the Sudanese government has refused to approve their replacement by a U.N. force.

The Oscar-winner said if U.N. forces were not sent to replace them, all aid workers would leave and the 2.5 million refugees who depend on them would die.

"The United States has called it genocide," Clooney told council members. "For you it's called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake -- it is the first genocide of the 21st century. And if it continues unchecked it will not be the last."

Clooney was addressing Security Council members at an informal briefing organized by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which recently set up a Darfur Commission of Nobel Laureates.

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, also appealed to council members: "You are the last political recourse of Darfur victims and you can stop it."

He urged them to send peacekeepers.

"Remember Rwanda," Wiesel said. "I do. Six hundred thousand to 800,000 human beings were murdered. We know then as we know now they could have been saved and they were not."

He said it was terrible that the U.N. let the 1994 killings in Rwanda happen and urged the U.N. to "restore its honor" by taking action in Darfur.

Earlier Thursday, Wiesel told The Associated Press: "If the Security Council does not act it will be blamed for history."

Clooney and his journalist father, Nick Clooney, spent five days in Darfur in April, gathering personal stories of the death and suffering that has ravaged the African region. Both Clooneys have continued working since their return to publicize the plight of refugees.

More than 200,000 [400,000] people have been killed and more than 2[.5] million have fled their homes since 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.

A May peace agreement signed by the government and one of the major rebel groups was supposed to help end the conflict in Darfur. Instead, it has sparked months of fighting between rival rebel factions that has added to the toll of the dead and displaced.

Editor's Note: The group that signed the so-called agreed only holds 4% of the Darfur region. The Janjaweed (Islamists backed by Bashir's government) have continued their rape, enslaving, torture, burning down of villages, and slaughter of the black Muslims in the Darfur area. Come on, CNN. I know you don't like to tell the truth, but get with it, will ya? Don't talk about things which other people do know. Liars.

Category: Darfur, Sudan and The UN.

Sudan is resisting attempts by the U.N. to take over a 7,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force that has been unable to stop the violence in the western Darfur region.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has said the change in peacekeepers would violate the country's sovereignty and has warned that his army would fight any U.N. forces sent to Darfur.

"The fact is Bashir is a war criminal... I think he should be warned that if he does not stop he will be accused of crimes against humanity," Wiesel said.

The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 170 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations, has organized a rally in New York's Central Park on Sunday. There will also be dozens of other events across the United States and around the world.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council will meet on Monday in New York, just before this year's U.N. General Assembly speeches, to discuss breaking the deadlock in Darfur.

Wiesel, who survived the Nazi death camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald during World War II, has worked for human rights in many parts of the world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

"Because we went through that period of suffering and humiliation we must do something so that other people should not go through any suffering and humiliation," he said.

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