Travel Log #7: “Global Responsibility Part 1” Kathleen Flynn.

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This political cartoon of the Rwandan Genocide is a disturbing reflection of how other nations turned a blind eye to the clearly horrific events that were occurring in Rwanda. The genocide was the result of an ongoing civil war between the Hutu-led government and the Tutsis of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Though there were attempts by the UN to create peace between the two, all failed miserably; specifically the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) led by Romeo Dallaire who was sent with little background, knowledge or briefing. Immediately upon his arrival to Rwanda, Dallaire was thrown into the task of guiding a peace agreement between the Hutus and the Tutsis. However, as a foreigner facing a language barrier no one took him seriously, and peace between two groups that so strongly wanted to continue war was nearly impossible.

In the documentary “Shake Hands With The Devil,” Dallaire returns ten years after the genocide “to be liberated from the devils that haunt him” and recounts the naivety of the UN in believing that a ceasefire would ever occur. He describes his frustration with how little support UNAMIR was given by other nations as is shown in the cartoon. A woman (labeled Rwanda) shakily lifts her hand in defeat waving goodbye as a group of people watch from afar. She is nothing more than skin and bones and this accurately depicts the torment that Tutsis and other Rwandans went through in being starved, raped, and abused. The people are asking questions such as, “Now what’s she doing?” and “Does she want something?” Sadly, it is only a worm sticking his head above the ground that realizes she is dying. The people curiously watch the woman die alone representing the ignorance of other nations for allowing close to a million Rwandans to suffer in the mass killings without stepping in to help.

The Rwandan Genocide violated many human rights as depicted in the cartoon, most obviously “subjection to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” The Tutsis were “subjected to arbitrary interference with (their) privacy, family, home or correspondence” without any protection from the law and were deprived of their right to an adequate standard of living. These rights listed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should have been protected from the UN, but fear and a lack of resources led many nations to avoid an intervention.

Today those nations, including the US, look back on the Rwandan Genocide with disappointment and shame for their lack of action. As a result, there has been much more mobilization in assisting populations in crisis. For example, beginning in 2014 at least 5,000 Yazidi people of Iraq were massacred by ISIS in a “forced conversion campaign” leading the US to airstrike against ISIS as well as make emergency airdrops to those who were able to escape to a mountain range. The attacks against ISIS continue today in an international effort to dissociate the terrorist organization.

 

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