In the documentary Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general, Romeo Dallaire, recounts his experience in Rwanda. He was sent there by the United Nations following the signing of a peace agreement between the two ethnic groups. His mission was to enforce this agreement and maintain peace within the region. However, he recalls he was sent on this mission with little supplies and even littler knowledge. He was not briefed and it was not until he arrived that he realized how severe the situation he had entered was. The conflict between these ethnic groups stemmed from the deep hatred of the Tutsi that was instilled into the Hutus as young children. Tensions between the two ethnic groups continued to grow despite the peace agreement. Dallaire warned the United Nations of the growing conflict but was denied the resources to stop it. This hatred and lack of global intervention led the Hutu to inflict a mass genocide of the Tutsi and those who protected them in 1994.
The human rights cartoon shown above such issues discussed in Dallaire’s documentary. The rapid wolf representing the Hutu vs Tutsi conflict aggressively attacks the man who represents Rwanda. The world sits in the background sleeping, oblivious to the situation. The cartoonist is drawing a reference on how the world sat idly by as the conflict in Rwanda grew and eventually led to genocide. The Belgium troops that were sent there to aid in the enforcement of the peace agreement eventually left as the murdering of innocent civilians began. The United Nations also pulled out most of their troops leaving Rwanda stranded at a time where it needed the most help. Africa was seen as a place that did not have anything to “offer” the world; they had nothing to sell and little money to spend.
The genocide in Rwanda violates many of the human rights each person is subject to. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. However, liberty, security, and often life were stripped from those in Rwanda. Article 2 states that one should not be judged on religion, race, ethnicity, etc. However, the target of the genocide was an ethnic group, the Tutsi. Rwanda was clearly not able to protect their people’s human rights, so the rest of the world should have stepped in to help. The rest of the world was reluctant to send help, as the situation possessed a great danger to their troops. Sadly, Africa has seen another violation of these human rights with genocide inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony in 2012. Kony led an army and began abducting children in order to fill his ranks. The world responded in a much quicker and efficient manner to this conflict helping to end the genocide and abduction of children. The conflict was also present within the media alerting the public to help the situation by donating or sharing the story. My study abroad experience has taught me that in order to be an active member in the global community one cannot simply sit by as the human rights of others are being stripped away. Even if this it isn’t happening in the country I am physically in it is still my responsibility to help in any way I can. In the future as a physician assistant I hope I am able to help provide healthcare to those who cannot readily access it.