News / Africa

    Rwanda’s Genocide Not Forgotten

    A Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide prays over the bones of genocide victims at a mass grave in Nyamata, Rwanda, April 2004. (file photo)A Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide prays over the bones of genocide victims at a mass grave in Nyamata, Rwanda, April 2004. (file photo)
    x
    A Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide prays over the bones of genocide victims at a mass grave in Nyamata, Rwanda, April 2004. (file photo)
    A Rwandan survivor of the 1994 genocide prays over the bones of genocide victims at a mass grave in Nyamata, Rwanda, April 2004. (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Kim Lewis
    This past weekend marked the 19th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  On April 6th, Hutu extremists began a killing spree that started with political opponents of the government.  Over the next several days and weeks, the world stood by as the campaign spread to include door to door slaughtering of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the country’s capital, Kigali.  The atrocities continued for 100 days and left approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers dead.

    In the aftermath of the massacre, the international community cried out calling it one of the worst human tragedies in history.

    Years later, Rwandans continue to live on under the shadow of the genocide. Human rights organizations call for more  to be done to stop present atrocities occurring on the continent -- such as in Darfur and the Democratic republic of Congo.

    Carina Tertsakian, is a senior researcher for the Africa division of Human Rights Watch.  She noted that the Rwandan genocide was one of the most horrific episodes in recent history -- not only on the African continent, but worldwide.

    “You would think that this should send the influence, international responses, to other conflicts in Africa,” she said. “At the time, a lot of people were saying never again.  We can’t let this happen again, yet we have seen in a number of other countries very serious conflicts in which large numbers of civilians have been killed.”

    Tertsakian named the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur, Sudan as examples of present day crisis situations.

    The Human Rights Watch researcher said it’ll take a while before international policies are put in place to prevent large scale atrocities of this kind.  Tertsakian explained there is no blanket formula that would apply in all cases.

    “But one of the important lessons that we can draw from the Rwandan genocide is that we should heed warnings.  In the case of Rwanda, in the months leading up to the genocide in 1994, there were very clear signs that the people in power at that time were mounting a campaign of ethnic persecution of people from the Tutsi ethnic group.  There were very virulent anti-Tutsi messages going out in the media.  There were all kinds of preparations that were underway, and the warning bell was struck by several people, several organizations including our late colleague, Alison Des Forges, who tried desperately to alert not only the US  government but other member states of the UN, but despite this nothing was done until it was far too late,” said Tertsakian.

    Tertsakian said 19 years is a short period of time to even think about recovering from such horrors. 

    “When you look at other countries and the history of the last few decades, other atrocities that have taken place, not least the holocaust, it takes in my view, at least one or two generations for a country to even begin to recover.  So I think it would be entirely unrealistic to expect Rwanda in 19 years to have got over that,” explained Tersakian.

    But she said what has been remarkable in Rwanda since 1994 is that the country has pulled itself back on its feet in many respects.  Tersakian pointed out that Rwanda is a functioning country where the infrastructures have been rebuilt.  She said the country has progressed in economic development.  Tersakian cautions however, while Rwandans have made strides in moving on with their lives, the deeper scars and trauma of the genocide will take much longer to go away.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.