Foundational documents are foundational for a reason, they are necessary for sustainable life and sets the conditions under which individuals are generally allowed to conduct themselves. Most individuals are aware of their native countries founding documents, rules, regulations and pillars it was founded on. However, the Bill of Human Rights, a document pertaining to all humans, is often unheard of or blatantly ignored. Personally, I was not aware that actual documentation existed until reviewing it with my peers during a workshop. In the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” under the very first article it states “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.” While this seems obvious, there are countless examples throughout history that prove this sentiment untrue. Particularly through the lens of the film: Shake Hands with the Devil: Journey of Romeo Dallarie , the complete and utter disregard for human dignity, rights and even the abonnement of a moral conscience altogether are more than obvious. Through this film, viewers are taken through the history and repercussions of the Rwandan Genocide, just one of the many instances where freedom and equality of dignity and rights were ignored between individuals.
One of the great things about mass media these days is the many different forms of expression. This political cartoon depicts not only one of the most serious aspects from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide but also depicts a similar phenomenon that is occurring, nearly 20 years later in Syria. The artist’s objective is to display the repetition in history of neglect for human rights from the international community and how little progress has been made in preserving lives and basic human rights. Particularly for the Rwandan Genocide, it highlights one of the biggest problems, that was also highlighted in the film Shake Hands with the Devil: Journey of Romeo Dallarie, abandonment from it’s allies and protecting forces. During the Rwandan Genocide, many in the international community either turned in fear (specifically, Belgium) or watched from a far in sorrow—regardless, action being taken to preserve human dignity and equality was slim to none. One of the quotes from the video that emphasizes this cartoon is “Simply if only, it had been operationalized, the whole thing could’ve been stopped”. If only the international community watching from a far in sorrow would have stepped in and acted towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood, acting on the Bill of Human Rights the death count would have been significantly less and lives would have been preserved.
However, the artist brings this view point to light in more recent and similar events. The Rwandan Genocide began as a civil war that progressed excessively, leaving many victims and collateral damage. Just as of February 1st peace talks were arranged on behalf of the Syrian Civil War, that is presently occurring. As an international community, there is to a degree responsibility on us in order to preserve the Human Bill of Rights. One of the most debated issues in politics at the moment deals with Syrian refugees are looking for safety from persecution. It’s evident through the mixed view points of allowing these refugees into foreign countries that it is an innate disposition to put our safety among our neighbors. While this fact may stand through history, the global community should keep in mind the effects of the past such as the Rwandan Genocide and the impacts that has upon various human rights. It is arguable though, that the international community has not changed their viewpoint and proactivity towards protecting collective human rights through the events occurring in Syria. In reference to the repercussions of these global violations during Rwanda’s Genocides, we have to put into question our methods today and if we are doing enough? It’s always easier to look in retrospect and criticize than look in the moment and notice our own faults.