Travel Log 7: “Global Responsibility-Part 1” By Jim Webb: Perugia, Italy

The Rwanda genocide occurred over approximately one hundred days where an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 people were killed.  Members of the Tutsi population were openly attacked by the Hutu population in an effort to exterminate them.  This conflict, following a civil war, resulted in the deaths of more than twenty percent of Rwanda’s total population.  The world stood idly by as the genocide engulfed the country and blame was cast in all directions.  The United Nations (UN) made little effort to supply the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) with adequate supplies, people, and support.  As a result, the UNAMIR, lead by Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dalaire, did as much as it could but was fighting against unsurmountable odds.  The fault does not solely lie on the UN but also on France, who allegedly supported the Hutu-led government during the genocide, and Belgium who left Rwanda in a state of disarray after ravaging the country of its resources during the colonization period.  I personally think Belgium should take much of the blame because it was them who divided the population into Hutu and Tutsi and indirectly created a void between the population.

The political comic I chose is called “She’s Waving Goodbye.”  This comic portrays Rwanda as a starved, husk of a human, whose hand is reaching into the air seeming to be begging for assistance.  In the distance a group of people in business attire are saying, “What’s she doing? Oh must just be waving. Hello!”  I think this portrays the stance that the majority of the world took during the Rwanda genocide.  Instead of looking at the problem closer they turned a blind eye and saw only what they wanted to see in it.  People in the United States were more concerned with the O. J. Simpson trial and the news focused heavily on that.  France was “allegedly” supporting the Hutu-led government and in my opinion the blame lays heavily with them.  Its one thing to not get involved in another nations affairs in order to protect the lives of your own citizens but France was knowingly supporting a genocide.  Another nation that I believe is at fault is Belgium who created the two political parties based off of arbitrary medical examinations.  The Belgium government in Rwanda ruled from 1922 until 1945, after WWII, and in 1935 Belgium introduced identity cards.  These cards were used to label members of the population as Tutsi, Hutu, Twa, or Naturalised.  The identity cards created a class system and a void between the populations, which lead to racism and the eventual genocide.

I think genocides are still occurring today but the way the media portrays it and how governments alter the details change how we see it.  Sometimes its very hard to tell a civil war from a genocide when your news is biased and you do not know what to believe.  I also think there is still a problem of nations shirking their responsibilities and pushing the blame to someone else.  The bottom line is that I don’t believe most Nations are doing enough to intervene in genocides and prevent them from occurring.  We can look back at history and see we haven’t learned much because genocides are still occurring.

The Holocaust 1941, Bangladesh 1971, Cambodia 1975, Guatemala 1981, Bosnia 1992, Rwanda 1994, Darfur, Sudan… When will we change?



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