Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, where close to one million Rwandans – mostly ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates – were murdered in a three-month genocidal onslaught that began on April 7, 1994.
The Canadian Parliament, in a unanimous motion, has designated April 7th as a national day of reflection on the prevention of genocide. Indeed, April has been designated in the United States as Genocide Prevention Month—as the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Srebrenica, and Rwanda – in an eerie convergence – all began in what T.S. Eliot has called “the cruelest month.”
And so, this day – this month – invites us not only to remember the horrors of genocide, but to reflect and act upon their lessons. For the while the world vowed “Never Again” after the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust – and once again after the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide – “Never Again” has happened again and again, symbolized most recently by our entering upon the sixth anniversary of the genocide by attrition in Darfur. In Darfur – where some 400,000 people have died, 3 million have been displaced, and 4 million have been left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance – all the warning signs were present—yet we failed to act to prevent it.
As Kofi Annan lamented on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, “Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So what can we do?”
The answer is that the international community will only prevent the killing fields of the future by heeding the lessons from past tragedies. What are these lessons, and as Annan asks, what can we do?
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda's Tutsis and Hutu political moderates by Hutus under the Hutu Power ideology. Over the course of approximately 100 days, from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April up until mid July, at least 500,000 people were killed. Most estimates indicate a death toll between 800,000 and 1,000,000,which could be as high as 20% of the total Rwanda population.
There was a massive ethnic divide in rwanda that had mostly been created by imperialists; the hutus and tutsis. The country was divided between the RGF/Hutu controlled west and RPF controlled east. they were in the midst of a fragile ceasefire in early april 1994 when the president's plane was shot down. At that point, radical elements within the RGF began to slaughter tutsi minorities in and around Kigali.
The putrid smell of decaying bodies in the huts along the route not only entered your nose and mouth but made you feel slimy and greasy. This was more than smell, this was an atmosphere you had to push your way through…. With no real protection and amongst a population that had epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS… our hands became more covered in dried blood, in pieces of flesh. It seemed that traces of this blood stayed on my hands for months.
another chapel was burned with hundreds of people inside. Children between the ages of 10 to 12 years old killed children. Mothers with babies on their backs killed mothers with babies on their backs. They threw babies into the air and mashed them on the ground. At Rsumbura, 3 Belgian teachers, 2 males and 1 female, and 3 local priests were killed.
The priests and officers were seized at the church doors and slammed up against the wall with rifle barrels at their throats. They were forced to watch at gunpoint as the gendarmes collected the adults' identity cards and burned them. Then the gendarmes welcomed in a large number of civilian militiamen with machetes and handed over the victims to their killers.
Methodically and with much bravado ad laughter, the militia moved from bench to bench, hacking with machetes. Some people died immediately, while others with terrible wounds begged for their lives or the lives of their children. No one was spared. A pregnant woman was disemboweled and her fetus severed. Women suffered horrible mutilation. Men were struck on the head and died immediately or lingered in agony. Children begged for their lives and received the same treatment as their parents. Genitalia were a favourite target, the victims left to bleed to death. There was no mercy, no hesitation and no compassion.
france and the united states had full knowledge of what was happening (us sources kept sending tips to the UNAMIR FC that he was going to get assassinated) and turned a blind eye.
fug you clinton, fug you mogadishu, fug you kofi annan