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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.