Darfuri tribesman who wrote about genocide visits Vail Valley
Special to the Vail Daily
Vail Valley, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Daoud Hari, who will speak in the Vail Valley Friday, buried his brother, was twice imprisoned and tortured and watched the destruction of his home village in the Darfur region of Sudan.
With no home to return to and his family scattered across thousands of miles, Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, felt a need to go back so he could try to help stop the genocide taking place in Darfur. Many times, he helped foreign journalists sneak across borders into Darfur so they could photograph and document the unfolding tragedy.
He risked his life by offering his services as a translator and guide to The New York Times, NBC and the BBC, as well as the United Nations and other aid groups.
The Sudanese government outlawed journalists in the region, and aiding the “foreign spies” was punishable by death. Hari was captured and held for a time.
Hari will share his experiences, which he wrote about in “The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur,” this year’s Colorado Mountain College Common Reader. He will talk about his book at 7 p.m., Friday in Battle Mountain High School cafeteria, 151 Miller Ranch Rd., Edwards.
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Hari will talk about his book and experiences escaping genocide and surviving torture, as well as why he returned to help save the lives of others. The author’s talk is free, but a $5 donation is encouraged to help support Reporters Without Borders, an organization that fights for press freedom and human rights all over the world.
Hari said he wrote the book to share the story of Darfur and to try to get help for his family, friends and fellow citizens still suffering.
“People are still homeless and living in Chad and other countries in Africa,” he said. “They also live in the mountains because their villages were destroyed.”
Over the years since the genocide started in Darfur, Hari said mainstream news media outlets have stopped producing stories because “it’s become an old story everywhere.”
However, Hari said it is heartening to hear from readers of his book who got involved to try to improve things in Darfur.
He has twice been in Colorado and has visited about 10 European countries as well as Latin America. He said people in some of those countries were not aware of the depth of the atrocities and the millions of people affected in Darfur.
“Some of them have their own problems with very high crime rates and very poor citizens, and they just don’t have many services to help,” Hari said. Europe and the United States have been the most active in helping humanitarian groups in Darfur, he said.
He said he doesn’t know when, or if, the situation in his homeland will settle down and things will start to improve.
Colorado Mountain College faculty and staff chose “The Translator” as this year’s Common Reader book, said Jane Szucs, instructional supervisor for developmental education and college success at the Roaring Fork Campus. By more than a two-to-one margin, they voted for “The Translator,” she said.
“One main goal was to try to get people outside their day-to-day reality and move them to parts of the world where people have to struggle for their lives,” she added. “We wanted to get them involved and try to ease the situation. I think it was amazing we could get six campuses across 12,000 square miles to agree on one book.”