The problem with genocide II

Liberal Education 3010

A topics course

Instructor: Dr. Bruce McKay

“This course will consider the problem of genocide from a number of perspectives through a number of theoretical frameworks. We shall ask such questions as: Can we more fully define genocide? Why, in particular, is genocide a problem? Is it a solely modern phenomenon or do other aggressive acts in history constitute genocide? Why is it so difficult to take action when we know that it is occurring? What can we do about it? How can people bring themselves to enact such crimes against fellow humans? What should the role of the arts be in understanding genocide? How can we remember genocide while at the same time reconciling the events of the past with the necessities of the present and future?”

Today’s class: Discussion on Romeo Dellaire’s Shaking Hands with the Devil.

I neglected to post after last class. Not fully able to explain why. Typically I find writing very cathartic, ordering my thoughts and providing self discovered answers to the very many questions I always seem to have spinning around.

Last class, a time line of the events was hashed out. Confused, unsure and overwhelmed, the timeline did well to sort out some historical detail but little to sort out the bigger questions.

Belgian occupation, rising the Tutsi’s to a sociological class above the Hutu; Independence in 1962, Hutu left in charge, civil war follows suit. Tutsi’s flee to Uganda and feeling as if their nation and their land had been stolen, react by creating a revolutionary army; Majory General Habyarimana stages coup, the beginning of a 20 year dictatorship and the start of Rwandense Patriotic Front engagement with Rwandan armed forces; Arusha Peace talks begin 1991; peace talks conclude and the process of reclaiming peace and ending civil war begins in 1993, or so the world believe.

April of 1994: Habyarimana’s plane is shot down and the code is put out across the radio for all Hutu to “cut down the tall trees”. Tutsi slaughter across the country and for the next 100 days one of the worst acts of genocide occurs while countries deny calling it genocide and the UN proves to be ineffectual. the RPF ‘work’ to reclaim Rwandan land and the French come back to establish safe zones to take wounded and displaced Tutsi and Hutu too.

I left class with question I cannot answer. Not really sure if anyone can.

I read through Roméo Dellaire personal account of his experiences and I am floored by the accounts. He gives a bureaucratic account, using language I understand and am comforted by but no amount of technical jargon covers the horror of recounting hundreds of thousands of deaths, lives taken merciless using rough and violent means.

“Only hero’s can intervene in genocide. If he is an everyman, shouldn’t we all be able to do this?”

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