"Maybe it seems that you have no real power to change anything in Koloy, Chad, but, frankly, right now you're the only hope that the people in Koloy have."Kristof provides a link below, enabling you to send a postcard to President Bush, urging him to do more, as well as a link to a site listing "10 things you can do right now."
I urge each of you to read the column and watch the op-ed video report "The Genocide Spreads" (below), follow your conscience, and do what you can to help.
(Don't miss the Bill O'Reilly update at the end of the column. Be sure to click on the O'Reilly link below for a chuckle.)
A Village Waiting for Rape and Murder
By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
Politely but insistently, the people in this town explained that they were about to be massacred.
"The janjaweed militias have already destroyed all the villages east of Koloy," Adam Omar, a local sheik, explained somberly. "Any moment, they will attack us here.
This remote market town of thatch-roof mud huts near the Chad-Sudan border is on the front line of the genocidal fury that Sudan has unleashed on several black African tribes. After killing several hundred thousand people in its own Darfur region, Sudan's government is now sending its brutal janjaweed militias to kill the same tribes here in Chad.
President Bush is showing signs that he may be ready to stand up to the thugs in Sudan, but China is protecting Sudan, Europe is inert, and the African Union can't even muster the courage to call for immediate U.N. peacekeepers. So the people here are probably right to resign themselves to be slaughtered — if not sooner, then later.
Koloy has no electricity and no phones, so the people could not call for help. But even if they could, no one could help them. Chad's small army had sent a few trucks of troops the previous day, but after learning that they faced more than 500 janjaweed armed with heavy machine guns, the Chadian soldiers had dashed away again. As I drove into town, the town's police force was fleeing on horseback.
I visited the "hospital" — an open-sided tent that lacked any medical personnel but was filled with gunshot victims. Local leaders told me that the janjaweed were only three miles away and had sent word that they would attack Koloy that day.
"When they see you, they shoot you," said Adam Zakaria, the sheik of a nearby village, Gindeiza, that had been attacked the day before. Mr. Adam had one bullet wound in his foot and another in his thigh.
"I know the man who shot me," Mr. Adam said. "He used to be my friend." That man, Hussein al-Beheri, is an Arab neighbor. But last year, according to Mr. Adam's account, Mr. Hussein joined the janjaweed and now regularly attacks non-Arabs.
"I told him, 'Don't shoot me!' " Mr. Adam recalled. "Three or four times, I pleaded, 'Don't shoot me.' And then he shot me."
Ten people are known dead in his village, Mr. Adam said, but many others are missing — and no one has been able to look for dead bodies because the janjaweed still occupy the village. Among those missing, he said, are his two wives and four children.
"I have not seen them since yesterday, when they were in the village," he said. "In my heart, I think they are dead."
This entire area gets no visits from diplomats and no help from the U.N. or aid groups, because it is too risky. Only one organization, Doctors Without Borders, sticks it out, sending in a convoy of intrepid doctors three days a week to pull bullets out of victims.
It was nerve-racking to be in Koloy, and my local interpreter kept insisting that we rush away. But I've never felt more helpless than the moment I pulled away in my Toyota Land Cruiser, waving goodbye to people convinced that they would soon be murdered.
In the end, there was no janjaweed attack that day. Perhaps that's because the janjaweed have found that it is inconvenient to drive away absolutely all Africans; now the janjaweed sometimes leave market towns alone so that their own families can still have places to shop.
The people of Koloy are still waiting to be massacred. Think for a moment what it would be like to huddle with your family every day, paralyzed by fear, waiting for the end.
And then remember that all this can be stopped. You can go to www.millionvoicesfordarfur.org and send a postcard to President Bush, encouraging him to do more. At www.genocideintervention.net, you can find a list of "10 things you can do right now."
Maybe it seems that you have no real power to change anything in Koloy, but, frankly, right now you're the only hope that the people in Koloy have.
Bill O'Reilly refused to join me on this trip, passing up the $727,000 that my readers had pledged to sponsor his trip to Darfur. But Ann Curry of the "Today" show and a top-notch NBC crew did travel with me on this trip. Unlike Bill, Ann didn't flinch at traveling in janjaweed-infested areas or at staying in a primitive $4-a-night "hotel" with no plumbing. (O.K., she did shudder just a little at the wildlife in the hotel's outhouse.) If you want to break your heart, watch her reports beginning tomorrow — and ABC and CBS, where are you?
In the meantime, watch my Op-Ed special report from this trip, "The Genocide Spreads."
Photo credit: The villagers of Koloy, Chad, were surrounded by the janjaweed militia. (Naka Nathaniel/NYTimes.com)