FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, April 4, 2014

11 Things You May Not Know About the Genocide in Rwanda

20 years ago this Sunday the genocide in Rwanda began.  Read more below to find out what you may not know and what you should know. 

Eleven Things You Should Know about the Genocide in Rwanda (and which I didn't know either until I wrote a paper about it):

1. In 100 days, Hutu extremists killed 800,000 men, women and children--507,000 of them Tutsis (77% of the registered Tutsi population).  That's about 11% of their population.  That would be the equivalent of 26 million people being killed in the US over a 3 month period.

2. The U.S. government (USG) acknowledged early on (on 28 April to be exact, when there were at least 100,00 already dead) that people were being slaughtered, but instructed its UN Ambassador to remain in "listening mode" and "not commit the USG to anything."

3. The best and most complete account of the genocide is the Alison Des Forges' (of HRW) Leave None to Tell the Story.

4. A shorter but equally excellent read is Samantha Powers' damning condemnation of the U.S. government's silence (i.e., inaction) in "Bystanders to Genocide" from the Atlantic Monthly.

5.The USG's belated humanitarian response (after the genocide was over) actual enabled many of the killers to escape the country through the refugee camps.

6.  Hutu hate radio broadcasts were used to incite and organize the killings--the USG had the capability to jam these broadcasts but deemed it too expensive.

7.  The NSA archive is a non-profit group run through George Washington University that archives thousands of previously classified documents (obtained through FOIA) that lend a primary source look into look at hundreds of events in our nation's history.

8.  Never again?  It could happen in Syria.

9.  What constitutes "justice" and reconciliation after the genocide is a lot different than you might imagine (See Gourevitch's top-notch New Yorker Article)

10. In 2001, there was a backlog of 100,000 perpetrators waiting to be tried--this is one reason Kagame instituted the gacaca "grass courts."

11.  President Clinton's March 1998 apology in Rwanda may have been technically accurate: "we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred," however, in reality the U.S. didn't just not do as much as it should have, instead official in the U.S. government willfully and aggressively pressured the international community to not only withdraw peace-keeeping forces but also prevented others from intervening.

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