Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan GenocideTen years ago, 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were systematically slaughtered in Rwanda. Survivors of the genocide buried 20 coffins today filled with the remains of victims in a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the atrocity in the central African country. Paul Martin did not attend this symbolic burial.

I use the words of Amnesty International below.

Between April and July 1994, as many as one million people were killed in a genocide organized by extremist elements within the Hutu-dominated government and armed forces, the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR). Many of these killings were carried out by the militia known as interahamwe. Most of the victims were members of the Tutsi ethnic minority, but members of the Hutu ethnic majority who were not supporting the extremists or who were viewed as political opponents were also killed. The international community must accept its responsibility in the genocide. Arms supplies from French, Chinese and South African companies as well as political support by several foreign countries to the government of President Habyarimana helped extremists gain political and military power. During the genocide, perpetrators received arms from Albania and Israel, organized by traders based in the United Kingdom. The international community failed to react to warning signals before the violence, and the UN peace-keeping force was withdrawn from Rwanda at the height of the massacres.

Our very own general Romeo Dalliare was in charge of the small UN peacekeeping forces during the genocide. His words ring true. "There exists no country today that, 10 years later, has the right to wash its hands of Rwandan blood, by simply saying 'sorry' and giving money." He went on to say "The Rwandan genocide happened because the international community - if I may be brutal, as the genocide was - didn't give one damn for Rwandans because Rwandans don't count. Rwanda is of no strategic value to anybody, and has no strategic resources".

Ten years later, decomposing bodies are still being found. Sadly, I sense people in North America simply don't care. Dalliare is right when he bluntly states that Rwandans don't count. Human rights abuses, even on a scale as large as this, are conveniently ignored when they occur in poor, distant lands such as Rwanda. There is no doubt in my mind that racism plays a huge role in this general disinterest.

More than 800,000 perished in particularly brutal fashion. May they not have died in vain.


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