Movie star, actor, and activist George Clooney uses his own money to fund a hi-tech project that is tracking troops in Sudan and warning civilians of attacks.
Nathaniel Raymond, a Massachusetts native and an employee of the film star, explained his job while sitting in front of a map of the Sudanese region of South Kordofan at a daily meeting with his team members. “I count tanks from space for George Clooney.”
Raymond is director of the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), which its objective is to use advanced satellite technology to monitor potential human rights abuses in Sudan. Actor George Clooney is 100% credited for the idea. The film star came up with the plan, and spoke to Google and the satellite company DigitalGlobe, which helped him set it up. Clooney donates large sums of money to keep the project funded. The SSP has been up and running now for 15 months.
According to a source, the map details several markings of the positions of Sudanese army forces and refugee populations in a certain area of the country where the Sudanese army is carrying out a bloody crackdown. At the conference, as Raymond clicked the computer’s mouse, tiny images of tanks and military vehicles were displayed, caught by a satellite hundreds of miles above.
The situation in Sudan is very violent. There has been a bloody war ever since the mostly-black African South Sudan gained independence from the Arab-dominated north last year. The two sides are battling over the region’s oil resources, along with other things. The powerful and forceful authorities in the north fear that provinces along the southern border may also seek to break free of Khartoum and begin to fight. The army’s crackdown is aimed at intimidating and discouraging other black southerners from uprising.
Putting his money and his life where his mouth is, the Hollywood star teamed up with John Prendergast, another campaigner, and went into the bloody southern regions of Sudan several times to document the random bombing of civilians and other human rights atrocities.
After the actor’s trip their last month, he spoke on having to dodge rockets and returned with footage of corpses, children with missing hands, and entire villages forced to live in caves. Upon his return, Clooney went directly to Washington and showed the film to the Senate foreign relations committee – to great respect from the politicians.
George Clooney was recently arrested at the Sudan Embassy in Washingston D.C. while protesting against what the Sudanese army is doing to its civilians.
Raymond mentioned that his team and the actor were no longer just observers, but are able to have an impact.
“No one is doing what we are doing right now. It is a splitting the atom moment for the human rights community,” said Raymond. “What if we get the direction the force is going wrong? You could have walked the civilian population right into them. It is no longer enough just to stand at the graveside snapping pictures; that doesn’t cut it any more.”
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