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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid