20 years since Rwanda: What did we learn?

ImageWell, nothing really. People are still killing each other, and it seems that is going to stay like that for a while. Or perhaps we did learn something: how to pass the impression that the governments and ourselves are doing something to change the problems of the world. Well my friends, the ugly truth is: we do almost nothing and the majority of people just don’t care.

For the ones that don’t know, the Rwandan genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. 20% (!) of the Rwanda’s population – yes you read it well – was killed like that. A series of crimes against humanity were perpetuated, including war rape. Until today, it still amazes me (negatively) how such a massacre could have gone without someone doing something about it. How can you/our governments watch people being killed with machetes (or whatever weapons they could find) and still be immune to it? 

And still, after 20 years, we still see people being killed in cold blood, and I am not talking about Rwanda. I am talking about Syria, Palestine, Sudan and all the countries that suffer some kind of armed conflict. And we are still doing very little. 






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34 responses to “20 years since Rwanda: What did we learn?

  1. Ge.Ma

    You make a good point. I’d also note that while Rwandan genocide was due to racial hatred on the part of Hutu towards Tutsi, in most of the Middle (and Far) East, including Syria, deadly bombings are carried out day in day out mostly because of religious hatred between Sunnis and Shiite. History repeats.

  2. Firstly, thanks for liking one of my posts. It’s interesting that you draw similarities between Rwanda and recent conflicts in the Middle-East. I agree with you and I think it shows how international organisations esp. UN Security Council still remain so inadequate and ineffective.

    You mention “war rape” too, and it is shocking. Yet for me, what is more upsetting is that similar acts occur in “peaceful” countries such as India and Pakistan too, and they are even more overlooked!

    • Hi! Thanks for coming by. I do agree with you that rape in peaceful countries is even harder to understand… It is just horrible, and I really don’t know how people can do something like it.
      I wanted to mention war rape here, because Rwanda was one of the first countries that rape was used to propagate AIDS.
      It is really hard for me to think that someone might do this in war zones or peaceful ones.

      • I absolutely understand why you mention war rape in Rwanda here, it’s terrifying and unacceptable. I do think however, that war rape and rape in other circumstances differs.

        As you mention, rape is used as a weapon in warfare, Rwanda indeed being a horrific example. I just read that a UN report in 1996 concluded that “rape was the rule and its absence the exception” and it was exactly as you put it, designed to propogate AIDS – also clearly directed largely at the Tutsi.

        But then rape in “peaceful” countries (I say peaceful with hesitance for violence exists almost everywhere in the developing world) is a business. When the justice system disadvantages the poor, perpetrators do not risk being caught or found guilty. For me, rape and sexual violence is a key driver of continuing poverty.

        Both forms need to be stopped asap for the good of the world

      • Exactly. I just find this horrifying in every sense: Rape it self is a disgusting form of violence. Add to that the intention of propagating AIDS and you get very traumatised individuals for the rest of their lives – sick and remembering the horrors that they have been trough

  3. Tânia, hi. I just noticed that you liked my post “Why Did Putin Grab Crimea?” Thank you for that. I see you are interested in the M.E. The blog where you found my post on Putin is about wisdom-based approaches for improving international relations, with a special focus on the United States and the Middle East and Christian – Muslim – Jewish narratives in that context. I’m building up to talking more about that on the blog when I finish laying a good foundation about wisdom. If you are interested in knowing more about this and the M.E., when you have time check out my main website: charlesstrohmer.com. Just saying. And thx again. I hope to hear more from you sometime. Charles

  4. Johna61

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  5. I volunteered for food, water and medicine missions to Africa and the Middle East in the nineties. Rwandan was one of may places where human life was lost in mass quantity. We (President Clinton send soldiers and medics/doctors) tried to help. I learn the value of human life is less in some places. I saw things there worst than I saw in war. What can we do? That is a very good question. Today 800,000 monthly are still dying of sickness and hunger. I believe if we spend 10% of our war budget on helping the sick, homeless and the hungry. This would be a first step. We need leaders not having the money of the lobbyist in their pocket.

    • I completely agree with you.
      But it depends on the people too, not only governments. A lot of people still thinks that these problems are far away and they just ignore it. I’ve lost the count to the amount of people that told me “why do you care about something that is so far away?”
      Well, we are the ones that can change these situations…

  6. I remember talking to a man in Oslo 20 years ago. He had fled from the war in Rwanda and didn’t know whether he had any family left at all. That’s awful. It’s hard to understand how it’s possible for the world to sit back and watch. It seems like we didn’t need to understand Rwanda; we just needed to act. But in other conflicts, such as Syria and Iraq, I think it’s important to understand the conflict between the sunnis and shiites, that I believe started when the prophet Mohammad died. This may seem to be a religious conflict, but I think all conflicts has to do with power. I wonder if the USA and its allies ever understood this because the corruption, violence and instability never stopped in Iraq. In that case I’m not sure we chose the best possible strategy.

  7. It’s all international politics, I would say. The new reason for unrest would be oil.


  8. I’ve been struggling with this lately. Specifically, at what point does an atrocity merit action? Like in Libya, it was getting pretty bad so the US intervened, but in Syria, not so much. NATO did get involved in Bosnia, yet it was too late to avert the worst. So how do we know when we have a responsibility? At what point does the world decide to help?

    • Indeed. I really don’t know where we should draw the line… At this moment it is pretty obvious that there should be an intervention in Syria. There wasn’t one from the beginning, because of the veto of Russia. It passes by changing the way the UN functions and defining exactly when should the IOs intervene.

      • Too true. It was pretty obvious about the time Assad started massacring people that intervention was best, although I bet the first and second Gulf Wars would make the US nervous about getting involved. You remove a dictator and…hope for the best?

        Regardless of the technical details of intervention, it would really help if Russia wasn’t on the Security Council promoting conflict so they can sell weapons to autocratic regimes (among their other purposes, whatever they may be, for supporting Assad et al).

  9. Sadly you are right, most people do not know or care and neither do our governments. If they do intervene they do so selectively to further their own agendas. Blogs like yours help to increase awareness; maybe one day things will change or is that too optimistic.

  10. CarolinaCowboy

    You should consider all the deception that the alarmist propagate. There is an agenda, and that is to limit man’s footprint on the earth by limiting our energy use, forcing us to live in cities, and limit our ability to travel. It is all spelled out in the UN Agenda 21.


  11. First things first: Have your thought of a carreer in Journalism? For a second language your English quite exceptional. More importantly your writing reveals a curious intellectect coupled with an idealistic moral & ethical sense of social justice (moi aussi)!

    Second: Maybe upgrand your blog into a zine format. I, for one, would be interested in being a regular contributor. As an undutchably unamerican ex-patriot & former resisent of the BENELUX (I actually prefer South to North Holland) I have long had the dream of starting such a global zine dedicated to global issues ad to nationalistic ones but have yet to find synergy with the right person to catalyze such a venture! Reading the Haarlem’s Dagsbald reminds me that I am have to take my biased USA goggles off daily: The social pressure to slide back into moral apathy is continuous. Verlaat dingen alleen, ze zijn al erg genoeg zoals ze zijn, nay dank uw wel! Dat ist niet mijn zin! 🙂

    Third: Some examples: 1) The US commits genocide daily, we use DRONES to further our capitalistic interests instead of ‘boots on the ground’; 2) The US calls natural migrations of starving peoples ‘illegal immigration’ & deports the economically disenfrancised and destitute; 3) The US has done little or nothing to stop the unneceassry use of toxic plastics and/or stimulate recyling of aluminuum, glass, paper & plastics! 4) Climate Change is still considered an unimportant issue when not a myth! 😦

    I do not even know your name but I recognize a kindred idealistic spirit when I encounter one! At the least you have a dedicated follower for now. We build the stream of moral force into river one reader at a time. 🙂



  12. rura88

    Human nature, thus behaviour can be virtuous or the total opposite. What happened in Africa is not that much different from what happened in Europe during the Middle Ages.

    When certain conditions are met, people can do terrible things to others that are unimaginably cruel. The human mind can be influenced in many ways and in history that has happened numerous times. Read the older religious and political works with the us-versus-them group-think message.

    People who read such works and take them literally are not far from doing terrible things. Scepticism and rationality based on empiricism are not always appreciated in the media though, not appealing enough for the average audience.

    I like your blog. It is now in my reader.

  13. spookchristian

    check out the link below if you want to..

    The Jesuits was essentially behind what happened in Rwanda..


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