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During a recent visiting professorship at Stanford University, Enough’s John Prendergast brought a special guest with him to class: actor/activist George Clooney. Fresh off of their week-long tour of southern Sudan and the accompanying media blitz, Clooney and Prendergast told students that they have an opportunity to prevent a war in southern Sudan.
“We have a chance now to change this and do something,” a leather jacket-clad Clooney told a packed lecture hall at Stanford. “Your voice in particular can save lives. And that’s what’s important and that’s why we’re here.”
The Stanford chapter of STAND organized the event. The capacity crowd of 390 students came to hear the activists’ message that a return to war in Sudan is likely unless the international community exerts its influence to prevent it. Video highlights from the event is now available, courtesy of Stanford University:
“On Facebook, many of my friends have posted the website www.sudanactionnow.org on their walls,” wrote STAND advocacy director Mia Tanabe in a blog post after the event. “During dinner I heard a debate at the table next to me about the U.S.’s role in Sudan’s referendum. Students at Stanford are now aware of the upcoming referendum and they are ready to raise their voices,” she said.
Oil-rich southern Sudan will vote on January 9 whether to secede from the North. Some analysts fear that this could spark a devastating new conflict in Africa’s largest country. The North and South fought a 20-year civil war that ended with a 2005 peace deal after two million people died.
“Studying genocide allows us to understand how far these perpetrators are willing to go to maintain power by any means necessary,” said Prendergast, the author of The Enough Moment: Fighting to end Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes. “When you understand how far the Sudanese government is willing to go in the way it has prosecuted the war in Darfur, in the way it has prosecuted the war in southern Sudan prior to the peace agreement, then it’s sobering.”
But there is hope for the people of southern Sudan, Clooney and Prendergast told the students at Stanford. The U.S. government is playing a major role in negotiations between the two parties. By speaking up and telling the Obama administration that peace in Sudan is an important issue, we can ensure that the U.S. uses the kind of robust diplomacy that can avert a war before a single shot is fired.
To sign the petition calling for concrete U.S. incentives and consequences to prevent a return to conflict in Sudan, visit www.sudanactionnow.org.