One of the foundations of this class, which we learned about from the start, was this idea of human rights. We discussed this in depth during our seminars, watching a video about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What was very interesting was that not many of us, including me, knew prior to that seminar that an actual piece of paper existed that listed the rights that all people are entitled to simply by being human. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the most fundamental of all human rights: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” The people who were unnecessarily slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide were denied all of these rights. Watching the video Shake Hands with the Devil was a very somber experience.
This cartoon shows the massive casualties caused by the genocide in Sudan, which is very similar to that in Rwanda. There is a man, a representative from the UN, that, looking at the pile of bodies, says, “Call us back when you have some Europeans.” This artist definitely means to show that because the people being murdered weren’t European, the UN didn’t find it necessary to protect them. They were less of a priority than citizens of UN countries in the eyes of the UN, which is a blatant disregard of human rights as well. During the Rwandan genocide, the UN pulled away its support. This left Rwandans armed and against each other, with no support from neutral countries. This allowed the genocide to rage and get much worse because the UN decided that they didn’t need to keep their resources in Rwanda. There is one main violation of human rights depicted in this cartoon, and that is the very first article, which states that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The UN completely disregarded this right when they removed their support. They are the United Nations, and they left a nation abandoned in its time of need. The UN should not have pulled its support away. In this case, they were responsible for protecting the lives of the Rwandans. However, in reality, these rights shouldn’t need protecting. If everyone is endowed with these universal human rights, everyone should follow and respect them. It is very sad that this is not the case in the world.
Recently, there have been similar violations of human rights in a lot of the cases in the US that started the “Black Lives Matter” movement. These violations are treated a lot differently by the media than the Rwandan genocide was. Hardly anyone knew of the genocide in Rwanda, but everyone knows the Black Lives Matter movement and every event that sparked it. It was very well covered in the news, which the Rwandan genocide was not. Something that I want to know is what makes these events different from the Rwandan genocide? Is it that too many of these genocides have happened in the past, and people don’t want to seem like they’re ignoring it anymore? Regardless, I hope that as time goes on, more people will start paying attention to violations of human rights, and, sometime in the future, everyone’s rights will be valued the same.