- (Photo: AP/Alfred de Montesquiou, File)
- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
A group of activists, including religious groups and famous actors, concerned about the genocide in Sudan, are asking President Barack Obama to stop Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from entering the United States.
"Our immigration laws prohibit admitting perpetrators of genocide and extrajudicial killings into our country and it is unprecedented for someone wanted by the International Criminal Court for the crime of genocide to travel to the United States," the Thursday letter states.
Actors George Clooney, Don Cheadle and Mia Farrow are among the 22 signers. Clooney and Cheadle signed as representatives of Not on Our Watch. Farrow added her name as the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
Bashir is expected to arrive in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
The letter notes that the U.S. is obligated to allow Bashir into the country under the U.N. Headquarters Agreement, but urges Obama to "do everything in your power to prevent the trip."
To prevent Bashir's arrival, the letter suggests that Obama announce that he will be prosecuted for genocide if he travels to the U.N. meeting. U.S. law, the letter claims, allows anyone in the United States to be prosecuted for genocide, even if those crimes did not occur in the United States.
"By publicly raising the threat of such a prosecution and the specter that President Bashir's privileges and immunities may not extend to genocidal acts, your administration would make an important statement about the U.S. government's commitment to atrocity prevention and accountability," the authors wrote.
Alternatively, the letter suggests making Bashir's travel too difficult to make the trip by limiting the number of visas for his security detail, or asking nations along Bashir's flight path to deny airspace and landing rights for refueling.
Faith McDonnell, religious liberty program director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy and one of the letter's signers, argued that the U.S. government should do everything in its power to stop Bashir's visit.
"Hundreds of thousands have been killed and displaced by the current actions of Bashir's government, and millions are at risk from starvation and disease," she said. "Under no circumstances should the United States government allow this war criminal to enter the country.
"It is unthinkable that our government would not do whatever it needs to do to stop Bashir - who has referred to the black, African people of the Nuba Mountains as 'rubbish' and 'insects' and whose terrorism against his own people is one and the same with jihadists that attacked America - from entering the United States."