15 years ago in Rwanda, in only three months, almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by militant Hutus and extremist.
Author Philip Gourevitch talked about why the world left Rwandans to slaughter, even after the lessons of the Holocaust: "the dead of Rwanda accumulated at nearly three times the rate of Jewish dead during the Holocaust. It was the most efficient mass killing since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And while everyone knew what was going on in Rwanda, to many it didn't matter.”
Today, April 6th, marks the event that officially sparked the bloodshed in Rwanda. On this day in 1994, the plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and its neighbor country, Burundi was shot down, killing all on board. The two presidents were coming back from a meeting on how to end the growing ethnic violence in their country and the incident sparked the 100 days of endless violence in Rwanda.
Both presidents were Hutus, and their death gave Hutu extremists ‘justification’ to begin their killing spree against Tutsis and Tutsi sympathizers. A U.S. State Department report from April 7th lists “a rogue Hutu element of the military” as responsible.
Tomorrow officially marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide and the UN will join people around the world to commemorate the day by hosting an event which includes readings of testimonies of genocide survivors and two photography exhibits. You can host your own commemoration, with a movie screening of movies like Hotel Rwanda and As We Forgive.
So is there hope for survivors of genocides like the Rwandan case—where is Rwanda fifteen years later? Below, see how Rwandans have reconciled in the years after the genocide.
What else can you do about genocide right now? Find out how you can help Darfur.