First, I want to start by saying that clearly humanity’s compassion is lacking and has been for a very long time. The saddest thing about the Rwandan genocide was the fact that it had been allowed to happen when something like this had happened many times before throughout history. The fact that mass genocide of a people was allowed after what happened in Nanking, Ukraine, Armenia, Cambodia, The Holocaust, in Bosnia and in each case sworn by the governing powers all across the globe that something like that would never happen again, is disgusting. This cartoon represents the broken promises, the forgotten horrific tragedies, and the place for new ones to be buried in. Rwanda sadly was not the first genocide to happen, but it is the fact that even 10 years after the horrendous tragedy, only two of the standing “super-powers” of the world came to the memorial of the event, and none of the survivors or Rwandan people were surprised. After everything we haven’t done for them, there were no expectations therefore there was no one to be let down.
The standing truth is that as horrible as this genocide was it was allowed to happen, it could have been prevented and even thwarted, but the world chose to let it happen. Here’s how it happened, in 1994 Rwanda was divided into 3 separate groups the Tutsi, the Hutu, and Twa. The Hutu extremists, within the higher powers of government, blamed the Tutsi people, whom were the minority, for the increased strain on their economy, politics, and social pressures. They Hutu also accused the entirety of the Tutsi people of supporting a Tutsi rebel group, which added to the already rising tensions. In the spring of 1994, a plane was shot down; it was carrying the president of Rwanda who was a Hutu. This sparked the bloody civil war leading to the genocide of almost ¾ of population of innocent Tutsi people. Men, women, and children were slaughtered if they were suspected of being Tutsi, women were brutally raped, and even thousands Hutu were slaughtered for opposing the killing of Tutsi. There was no regard for life whatsoever. What was the world doing? Well while we were aware of the preparations for this massacre we did nothing to prevent it. Knowing that the minority group was being targeted for complete genocide, we refused to acknowledge it. We refused to send aid to the Tutsi or to intervene to stop the Hutu. Finally when the damage had been done we had a voice again and we voiced our disapproval of the Hutu actions, but the damage was already done. France, Belgium, the United States, and The United Nations the collective “We”, did nothing and allowed 800,000 Rwandan citizens be slaughtered in a one-sided civil war that they helped create.
I can stand here and point fingers, but that won’t change the past. A lot of innocent people died, the world heard their cries and ignored them. I think that a lot of people have this attitude where if the situation doesn’t involve them directly, then they don’t care. The human race has grown selfish and self-destructive. Humanity has lost it’s compassion and accepted the role of either bully, bystander, or victim. The role of the hero or savior is few and far less taken. We have this assumption that someone else will take on the burden of playing hero and the situation will be resolved, we also assume that if we were the victims we would be saved. It’s this ignorance, pride, and naivety that because we are from one of these “supreme” governing powers (USA, UN, UK, etc.) that somehow if the roles were reversed we would be saved. It’s absolutely disgusting that people think themselves superior to minorities or people of any kind. I’d like to sit here and say that since the events in Rwanda 1994 things have changed and the world would never allow something like that again, but I can’t. In 2004 we saw a similar scene in Darfur and today we are seeing it happen in Sudan. If you notice on all of the tombstones after the date of incident it says “never again”, but after Darfur it doesn’t say it anymore foreshadowing that another event such as the ones before will happen again. The artist is illustrating that history has and will repeat itself, and that although horrendous events have occurred and at the moment had some impact, they are like the forgotten tombstones in a cemetery.
I don’t know if it’s funny or absolutely discouraging that the UN, who collectively created The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, just stood by and let the Tutsi people’s rights be violated in the most perverse way possible. If one reads through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, almost all of the Tutsi people’s rights were violated. The artist of this cartoon chose to represent these events in this way because it shows how they were not only abandoned when alive and suffering, but even in death they have been forgotten as well. The fact that the world allowed more people to be stripped of their rights and slaughtered is a dishonored to those that have died. The world has allowed these people’s basic human rights to be violated. The people of Rwanda were violated in many to name a few article 1, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” (UN The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A.1). What brotherhood? The Hutu feared the minority Tutsi and decided that they should be eradicated and the world did nothing. Article 5, “ No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment” (UN The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A.5). The world watched as the Tutsi were slaughtered in their homes, on the street, gathered in churches. Children and infants were killed, their mothers subjected to horrendous and brutal acts of rape and then killed. My personal favorite, “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group, or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform an act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein”(Universal Declaration of Human Rights, A.30). If this were true then none of these genocides and massacres show in the cartoon would have happened. The world watched and did nothing, it’s as if the world collectively chooses who these rights are appointed to when by default it’s meant for all the people of the world. Sadly we know that after watching Shaking Hands with the Devil that the world will never admit its mistakes, but rather blame it on some other scapegoat they have lined up. We can only hope that one day these horrors will actually stop, but until then we can only wait and try to be the change we want to see in the world . Do something, don’t just stand by and watch.