goldmourn (amberdawnpullin) wrote,
goldmourn
amberdawnpullin

my thoughts about the Rwanda massacre

Last night I watched the six o'clock news on CBC. There was a story mentioning the 10 year anniversary of the massacre in Rwanda.

Keep in mind, this was a massacre that no other nation in the world intervened to put a stop to --- hundreds of thousands of people were brutally slaughtered.

As I watched the brief story, the camera followed a sixteen year old male, one of the few survivors, when he visted the church where his family & friends were killed - I couldn't help but be moved by it. A woman has carefully placed skulls on shelves and said that at one time the U.N. had wanted to 'clean up' the church but she insisted that the bodies remain where they were, that the destruction be left as is, so that people will remember that the massacre had taken place.

Something was said by the newscaster reporting, quoting someone from Rwanda, that this was only 50 years after the Holocaust, when the world had said that nothing like that would ever happen again, yet it did. And it does.

My interest in forensics, in history, in war and political matters, of course was a factor in wanting to write this entry. But my human emotion and my thinking abilities, and trying to figure out the current situation where the U.S. is an occupying force in Iraq and soldiers are dying and civilians are dying and hostile groups are fighting one another.... I think of Rwanda. Here was a situation where no one intervened. Why? No money in it? Not wanting to get involved? Ignore it and hope that people simply kill each other off? I don't know. I'm just a factory worker (when I work).

My thoughts about what is going on with the U.S. and the numbers of soldiers coming back in body bags (not to mention the unreported wounded) ... it's disturbing to me. I believe that the the President lied to the people as to reasons for invading Iraq. I think there are factual statements coming to the surface about this. I'm seeing a growing number of websites of military families who want their loved ones home, and out of Iraq. It's not just the "hippies" protesting now. I think that it's probably too late and that the situation in Iraq is not going to improve simply by pulling out all forces. I can't even say that they shouldn't have been there in the first place because if you look at some of the atrocities that happened under Saddam's rule, well, hello? Perhaps the U.S. shouldn't have supported him or Osama with weapons and other means of power. A lot of this is easy information to find. It's contradictory and I can imagine it's quite difficult for any military personel to try to 'do their job' while at the same time holding conflicting opinions in their brain - sort of '1984' Orwell-ish, if you ask me.

I'm not writing my thoughts coherently on this. I know what I am trying to say. By showing the case of Rwanda where no one did anything, (and I'm sure there are other things going on in the world, overshadowed by our daily lives, that would shock us in their brutality, hell, even in our own countries), but, well, I'm... I'm at a loss for words.

I'm not able to write a concluding sentence that states a firm opinion about this. I just think of those bones... that woman taking care of the bones of her family, her friends, her people.... in that crumbled church...

Where was sanctuary for those people? Where was a protective force?


from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/rwanda/history.html

INDEPTH: RWANDA
History

CBC News Online | August 22, 2003

Rwanda was first colonized by Germany in the 1890s, but control passed to Belgium in 1919 after the First World War. Belgium ruled indirectly through the Rwandan king and, in 1935, introduced mandatory identification cards to Rwandans: those in possession of 10 or more cows were classified Batutsi, or Tutsi; those with fewer were called Bahutu, or Hutu. The king and the Belgians favoured the more affluent Batutsi and installed them as vassals in charge of governing the regions of Rwanda.

Unsatisfied with the balance of power, the Hutu called for more representation in government. When King Mutara III died in 1959 and his Tutsi successor, Kigeri V, was appointed, the Hutus revolted and violence erupted.

In 1962, Rwanda gained its independence, after rejecting its ties with Belgium in a referendum. That year, Grégoire Kayibanda, a Hutu, was elected the first president.

This marked the beginning of wide-spread persecution of the Tutsi. Throughout the 1960s and '70s they were systematically murdered and many fled to neighbouring countries. According to Rwanda's government Web site, two million Rwandans fled to Uganda, Congo and Tanzania to escape the violence.

In 1973, Kayibanda was overthrown in a military coup and Maj. Gen. Juvénal Habyarimana - also a Hutu - was installed as the new leader. He was officially elected five years later after drafting a new constitution, and remained in power until 1994. Among the changes made by Habyarimana during his regime was an ethnic quota for government jobs, allowing the Tutsi only nine per cent of all federal positions.

The frustrated Tutsi wanted Habyarimana pulled from power. In 1987, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), a group of Tutsi and Tutsi sympathizers, was established by supporters of the former Rwandese Alliance for National Unity.

In October 1990, the new party launched a so-called "war of liberation" on the government. Thousands of RPF fighters streamed in from neighbouring countries attacking Hutu government forces before French and Zairian troops intervened and forced a shaky ceasefire in 1991.

The bloodletting continued in the years following, as thousands more Hutu and Tutsi died in massacres around Rwanda. The bloodiest year by far was 1994. In April of that year, President Habyarimana died when his airplane was shot down outside Kigali. Although no group was officially held responsible, the killing is thought by many to have been carried out by Hutu extremists who could then shift blame to the Tutsi.

The killing of Habyarimana proved to be the opening act of the worst genocide Rwanda has seen. Hutu extremists vowed revenge for the killing and began to systematically murder Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The attacks sparked counterattacks by Tutsi.

Fearing for their lives, Tutsi, moderate Hutu, NGO workers and foreign nationals fled the country as the Red Cross reported that tens of thousands had died in the first days of killing.

By mid-May, one month after the killing began, the Red Cross estimated half a million Rwandans had been killed in the massacre. By July, the RPF took Kigali and drove Hutu extremists out of the country. That marked an end to the 100-day bloodbath that left an estimated 800,000 dead.

The RPF immediately set up an interim government and agreed to submit to UN tribunal hearings into the mass killings. The tribunal - based in Arusha, northern Tanzania - delivered its first genocide conviction in September 1998, ruling in the case of Jean-Paul Akayesu, a former mayor accused of inciting the murder of 2,000 Tutsis.

With that decision, the tribunal became the first international court to hand down a conviction for genocide.

Since then, conditions in Rwanda have stabilized somewhat. Hutus and other Rwandans scattered abroad as a result of the killing have returned. A so-called Government of National Unity was formed with the intention of including both Hutu and Tutsi elements.

Paul Kagame, a Tutsi who returned to Rwanda in 1990 after fleeing for Uganda 30 years earlier, became president in 2000.


QUICK FACTS:
Population: 7,810,056
Capital: Kigali
Government type: Republic
President: Paul Kagame
Ethnicity: 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi
Major languages: Kinyarwanda, English and French are official languages. Swahili is also used.
Major religions: Catholic (56.5%), Protestant (26%), Adventist (11.1%), Muslim (4.6%)
Location: Land-locked nation in central Africa, bordering Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Area: 26,338 km sq.
Life expectancy: 39.33 years
Median age: 18.1 years
Natural resources: Gold, tin ore, tungsten ore, methane
Canadian imports from: Coffee ($700,000)
Canadian exports to: Electrical machinery ($800,000 and worn clothing $100,000)
Sources: CIA World Factbook and Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/rwanda/history.html
Tags: rwanda
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