posts 16 - 25 of 25
The Middle Child
Posts: 17

So many things should have happened at a time like this. There were so many opportunities for the UN, a global peacekeeping body that was created for this very purpose, to stop genocides and to uphold the promise 'never again'. But as we know that 'promise' was almost mean to be broken by global nations again, as it was. It is as if the U.S., along with everyone else in the world decided to repeat what it did in WWII and turn their backs on purpose. One of the easier things we could have done was jamn the radio. The French had such a good opportunity and they didn't seize it. Moments like this I do not understand. I understand how the people of their nations and not the radio was prioritized but when they had the chance they had no reason not go for it.

The UN peacekeeping forces should have listened to orders because that is how the military operates. But their orders should have been different. The order as to not try to escalate the violence seems to make sense to me and I understand the U.S.'s hesitation especially after Somalia, to try and avoid military troop interaction. They definitely could have limited the flow of weapons because they does not have to get involved specifically with the people who are doing the killings. They also could have used the abundance of their resources to protect the Rwandan citizens while they could. It would not have been too hard for them because they had guns and more advanced resources and technology that could have been put to use.

The soldiers of the UNAMIR forces must have so much trouble living with themselves after leaving people to die so easily. People they had worked closely with and people that were very dedicated to the other nation's organizations. I could not fathom leaving a friend who I had worked alongside with for years just knowing that they along with their children, family and everyone they loved would soon be hacked to death and I had the power to stop it but did nothing. This order frustrates me because it shows the continued white superiority and mindset of the Western and European world that they were so concerned with their citizens (as they should be), but they had the resources they didn't use them to save more lives, just because they were not white and they weren't citizens. The thing is they are all humans, just the same and this was proven when they died not so quickly by the machetes.

I am most disappointed by the actions here by the U.S. government to really avoid the use of the word because of how much they didn't want to act. "As they had done in Bosnia, American officials again shunned the g-word. They were afraid that using it would have obliged the United States to act under the terms of the 1948 genocide convention." S. Powers. This just makes me disgusted because we tried so hard to not do anything, and were willing to play the game of not having to legally or feel obligated to do something. And while they were playing the avoidance game people were dying.

The issue of the machete is one I would not know very well how to fix, due to the fact that so many people had them because they used them for farming. I was so shocked and disgusted when I first learned how people were hacked to death with machetes. This type of death makes me wish they were all shot, as they themselves also wished. Because to hack someone to death...I could never imagine being able to live with myself after witnessing or committing the crime. I don't think I would ever sleep again. I am so frustrated also by the fact that the U.N. forces had guns and could have easily stopped some of the killing with their more advanced ways of killing. As mentioned by others in their post and in class guns would win if a knife fight anytime, and the soldiers luckily for them had an abundance of guns, unlucky for those who watched them walk away to their safety as they awaited their painful death.

here's the tea.
Posts: 18

Bill Clinton, in 1998, four years after the Rwandan genocide, expressed his deep regrets for the lack of U.S and international intervention and of the mass killings, on the basis of a lack of complete understanding and knowledge. This hollow sentiment, the 3.5 hours spent at the Rwandan airport, and a small shiny plaque are fairly accurate representations of the white response to the African genocide: useless, dismissive, and disturbing. Before reading the testimonies in class and the chapter surrounding the genocide in Samantha Power´s book, the sudden plane crash and start of the genocide seemed foreign to me. I read that as early as 1991 or before, prominent Hutus and the president encouraged the discrimination against Tutsis. Their homes were looted, their women raped, and they were fleeing persecution, facing eugenic-sounding taunts from Hutu adults and children alike, called “cockroaches” and ¨worms¨. This was all before the president was killed. Such rhetoric and strategies for dehumanization and mobilization were used only decades earlier during the Holocaust.

  1. It is sickening to think that Radio Mille Collines outwardly exposed Tutsi names and personal information throughout entire towns. The fact that they had access to all of this information, which was confirmed by Samantha Powers, is that they had already been compiling lists of Tutsi citizens before the genocide even began, which signifies organized planning of the horrific killings. This must have been an immediate red flag to the stationed troops from the UN. Additionally, at this point, all these involved countries had developed extensive radio technology and abilities, which was used as early as WWII. If they had intercepted some of the radio signals, they could have stopped the spreading of information that was actively causing deaths. It would require resources but none that were military related, and I feel like because it was across entire towns it was a strong enough signal for the U.S or other countries to intercept unless I’m severely underestimating the effort it would take.
  2. It seems like a given that Dellaire was ordered to defend his own forces and not escalate any violence, as he was not in his own country and was there as a peacekeeping force. The second portion makes much less sense to me. What is a the point of having peacekeeping troops in a country if they are literally only protecting themselves? Why are they even there? Their direct orders not to help others makes me question the U.N entirely, especially at the cost—hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. Their orders should have been to protect everybody they can, they should have gotten reinforcement troops, and they should have been actively aiding the Tutsis.
  3. Having to watch the embassies clear out their superfluous supplies, their white staff, even their embassy dog, while the Tutsi staff, who worked FOR the embassy, were left to be brutally murdered. The Tutsis who sought refuge with the troops begged them to stay and explained what would happen if they didn’t. The soldiers knew that their departure would lead to their deaths, and yet they followed orders. I don’t know how effective this would be but if entire forces refused to leave, what could the U.N or their respective country do? I feel like it would at least garner attention from the public if not from their senior authorities, and it would have definitely saved lives. It was found that the Hutu killers were far less likely to attack when there were foreigners there.
  4. The genocide should have been named the instant it was recorded. The official mass killings began after the plane crash of the president on April 6th. The U.S and U.N knew about it as early as April 24th. There was so much time to save so many lives. They avoided the term, Secretary of State Christine Shelly using every other word in the dictionary just to do so. They knew. They all knew. When the Rwandan representative happened to be inside the main counsel, they said nothing. No reproach or questions, just extreme diplomacy. If they had said genocide, they would have been forced (ideally) to act. The fact that they avoided saying it just to avoid any responsibility, while so many lives were being lost, is disturbing to me.
  5. The use of machetes goes back to the previous prompt around interference with weapons. The fact that there were enough machetes for every third Hutu male shows how swift the process of weapon distribution was. There was definitely a multitude of strategic ways for U.N or other forces to interfere and decrease the access of the machetes. I do not understand not only why they did not do this, because our armies can and have, but also why they were specifically ordered not to. Additionally, Tutsi rebel forces as well as troops should have been reinforced with guns because as we have talked about in class, guns would win against a big knife.

It is saddening to think about the lack of any upstanders during this terrifyingly brutal time, although I respect both Carl Wilkins and Dellaire for their rare instances of courage. Finding out that the end of the genocide was not due to any intervention was even more disappointing. The Tutsis faced it alone. When I think about the agonizing testimonies and the superfluous journalism and footage that did absolutely nothing with absolutely zero effect on those with the power to stop it, I can’t help but feel disillusioned and disempowered, and terribly angry. I also can’t help but agree with the terrible last lines of the documentary: “Whoever believes ‘never again’ is deluding themselves dangerously.”

Posts: 23

When I asked my mom about the genocide in Rwanda she said that she had heard of it before and knew it was between the Hutus and the Tutsis, and she also remembered that Bill Clinton went there to give an apology. She has also watched the movie Hotel Rwanda, which helped her comprehend what happened in Rwanda a lot more. When I began to explain to her what we were currently learning in class, she was mortified and caught off guard. I think this speaks a lot to America’s agenda in terms of Africa and how little it is spoken of. I think it also speaks to the broader theme of the lack of information that the American public received while the genocide was occurring and simply just the lack of care. Like the post mentions, it is easy to look back and recognize that the United States and other UN members made a horrible mistake, but if we want to use the term “never again” it is important that we acknowledge what it is exactly that we are never going to allow to happen again, and how we failed to do this before.

Before I start the questions I wanted to bring up something in the book that really struck me and that I think is still relevant today, and that is also relevant within each one of my answers. Samantha Power’s quoted a US official who said, “Anytime you mentioned peacekeeping in Africa, the crucifixes and garlic would come up on every door.” This shocked me to read but at the same time it didn’t as the US, like many other countries, makes its own agenda a priority. It reminded me of all the times we have said in class how people don’t care unless the problem affects them directly and I think that was clear in the lack of action in Rwanda. This was the biggest mistake trying to separate “our people” from “their people” and failing to recognize the common humanity that we all share.

To address the five main points:

  1. The Radio Mille Collines was used to share information about Tutsis, such as their addresses or license plates, so that they were much easier to locate by the genocidaires. This was an important help to those that were looking to partake in the mass slaughter, although information about the Tutsis could have been found from other sources. I think the most important thing to do with the radio would have been to shut it down. There was the issue that it would be prohibiting people from their right of freedom of speech, but in some cases that right must have exceptions. When it is clear the radio is being used to spew acts of hate by describing people as cockroaches and snakes, and encouraging people to go kill innocent families there is a problem. The UN was there to keep the peace, but by allowing these hateful messages to be broadcasted to the public I think is contradictory to their entire purpose of being there. I’m not sure how shutting down the radio would have helped in the grand scheme of things, as the mass killings would have continued with or without these broadcasts of information. However, I think the radios made information more accessible quickly and encouraged groups of people to go kill others and if this was stopped than maybe more Tutsis would have been able to find safety. Powers says in her book that the “Clinton administration did not actively consider U.S. military intervention, it blocked the deployment of UN peacekeepers, and it refrained from taking softer forms of intervention.” One of these softer forms of intervention could have been shutting down the radio or at least jamming it so that these messages that were inciting hate could not be heard throughout the country. One thing that I would like to say is that the messages being heard on these radios clearly demonstrated signs of genocide as they were targeting a specific ethnic group and urging mass killing. The US knew about these things being said on the radio yet were still so reluctant to act which makes their point that they were “unaware” invalid as they were shown very clearly what was happening in Rwanda. US officials tried to make themselves seem moral but unable to intervene as the war “created no national imperative”, when in fact it was violating the genocide convention and they could have intervened if they really wanted to.
  2. How could the UN claim that troops were there for peacekeeping, yet they watched people be slaughtered and hunted in the streets. That is the exact opposite of peacekeeping. The immediate goals of the peacekeepers was to protect foreigners and evacuate them from the country, is that to say that their lives are more valuable? They were discouraged from using weapons and causing more outbreaks of violence, yet they let violence ensue all around them. As long as they were safe everything was okay to them. What was the purpose of sending these troops in if they were just going to protect themselves and their own interests? The Tutsis deserved shelter and protection, and the troops were ordered to sit by and watch. I’m not sure how them fighting back would have changed the sequence of events that followed because it surely would have caused even more mass chaos. However I think it would have been worth it to try and at least disarm the Hutus. They didn't want to fire a bullet because their intention was never to stay there and help - if they did and the Hutus/Interahamwe started attacking them they would have been pulled from Rwanda immediately. A gun will most times win over a machete as it is quicker, but they were ordered not to use their weapons. Powers explains that the U.S. and UN officials threatened to withdraw UN peacekeepers from Rwanda. She explains this point by saying that this is exactly what the killers wanted. They were less willing to kill in front of foreigners so what they wanted was for the foreigners to leave so that their killing could be more efficient. When the UN took its troops out, they made a massive mistake that was the exact opposite of what should have been done. They allowed the Hutu agenda to prevail and gave them exactly what they wanted. The UN discouraged Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire from defending the targeted civilians of Rwanda and eventually sent troops away. This made it very clear that their goal was not to keep peace within this country because by leaving it they allowed the mass killing to continue with complete disregard for human life. UN and UNAMIR had the opportunity to save lives and prevent the systematic killings occurring right before their eyes, but they failed to take that incentive. Troops had to follow the orders of the UN, they could’ve chose not to listen but that would have been extremely dangerous because they lacked the massive army that they would have needed. However the UN should have put policy aside and considered that they have an obligation to help all humans survive.
  3. Powers mentions in her book that “In the three days during which some 4000 foreigners were evacuated, about 20,000 Rwandans were killed.” That statistic is appalling and speaks a lot to the priorities of the US and that was clearly to help their own people. To watch the film and see the foreigners fleeing through crowds of pleading Tutsis made my stomach turn. To know that troops looked these suffering people in their faces and turned their backs on them is undeniably inhumane. They were told not to prioritize the help of the Tutsis over the foreigners, but the foreigners weren’t the ones being targeted. It wasn’t clear at the time that these foreigners wouldn’t be the target of many of the Hutu killings so I understand wanting to help them. But knowing that the Tutsis were being systematically killed and seeing that with their own eyes and allowing it to continue is something that I will never be able to comprehend. I can’t imagine being a Tutsi and seeing a cargo plane come with plenty of room to help people escape, and leaving empty handed besides with their own citizens. I know that not all the Tutsis could have been saved in one cargo plane, but by taking any amount of them it would have been better than taking none. The UN could have helped set up refugee camps for the Tutsis or the troops could have actually done their job of peacekeeping and protecting these people. The reason that many of these Tutsis weren’t saved is because there was no clear place for them to go, but the UN should have made it a priority to establish one. Temporary refuge would have been better than turning backs on innocent people who had their fate of death confirmed as long as they remained in Rwanda. I know the US wanted to remain diplomatic and I also understand it's hard to pick and choose who to save, but in times like that saving some is better than standing by and doing not even the bare minimum, but actually doing NOTHING to help.
  4. Avoiding calling what was happening in Rwanda a genocide is absolutely unjust. How can “acts of genocide” occur without genocide? If there is one aspect of genocide, the systematic killing of an ethnic group, then that is genocide. The US refused to acknowledge these killings as a genocide because they did not want to intervene and they made that very clear through Christine Shelly who fumbled with any words to describe genocide, except for the word itself. The US claimed “never again” would such horrible killings occur, yet they stood by as it happened in Rwanda. I will never be able to comprehend how the US could look on during the mass killings, with sufficient evidence to call it “the g-word” and not do so. After the mass killings came to an end the US was quick to call it a genocide, when there was no longer a need for them to intervene. If they were so quick to call it a genocide after it ended, that is because they clearly recognized it as a genocide all along. I think that calling these killings a genocide was necessary from the beginning because it would have forced the UN to make better decisions for the interest of the Tutsis and others affected by the mass killings. It is clear that the United States and other countries had adequate information to assume that the killings going on in Rwanda were a genocide. It is unbelievable that once again history repeated itself causing the same tragic loss of lives that the Holocaust also took. The United States as I and many have said before is so focused on its own interests that issues outside of their realm of interest do not concern them. They turn a blind eye to disgusting and inhumane actions, human rights violations, and systematic killing of groups of people - as long as it doesn't affect their “own” population. The term genocide was pushed for by Lemkin’s efforts and the United States agreed it should be defined, however when obvious characteristics of genocide were presented to them via letters and video footage, they blatantly refused to act.
  5. To know that there was one machete available for every three Hutu males in the country is unimaginable. The UN should have allowed troops to try to disarm the Hutus, which wouldn’t have been easy. I guarantee it would have caused a conflict because no killer is going to want to give up their weapon, but I feel like that was necessary for the US to do at the very least. To stop the influx of machetes, from wherever they were coming from, would have made the killings a lot less efficient or harder to do as quickly. To know that there were people literally walking down the streets with multiple weapons in hand ready to kill and the troops watched is crazy to me. How can peace be kept when killing is going around all around and no one is helping to stop it? Allowing these people to have the right to obtain weapons should have been prevented because it was clear what they are being used for. You can’t just go out and buy a gun if the person you’re buying it from knows right after you’re going to kill someone, so why was it allowed in this case? The mass production of machetes was clear as there were so many spread out around Rwanda, but confiscating some of that load would have made their killings less efficient and ultimately saved some lives.

I know this post is all over the place but it is only because all of these things are so hard to explain in words of how they could have been allowed to happen. In class watching the film and seeing clips of Hutus hacking up bodies was absolutely chilling and painful to watch. To know that UN troops saw this with their own eyes and for the most part didn’t feel compelled to act more, or demand from the UN that they be allowed to act is something I could never try to understand. Reading the testimonies in class also showed me just how horrible this genocide was. Friends turned on friends, husbands turned on wives, and even children were involved in the killings, so how could the Tutsis trust anyone? The UN once again broke their trust when it denied them help and sent peacekeepers there for no other reason than to make it look like they were doing “something.” Another interesting perspective that I gained was that of the perpetrators. To read their accounts and see a lot of them talk about how their orders were to kill, yet some chose to torture and overkill completely took me by surprise. To think that some killers enjoyed what they were doing to the point that they would impose additional pain on a person is horrifying. This genocide needs more recognition in history classes, as does the Holocaust, to stop glorifying the Western world as heroes and instead acknowledging our major shortfallings when it comes to events like this. These people have endured so much and like Rena told us we have now become witnesses to their stories and must pass them on so that we can enforce the words “never again.”

Posts: 18

Before writing this post or doing the reading, I asked my mom if she remembered anything about the Rwandan genocide. In the mid 90s, she was fresh out of graduate school and admitted to not paying that much attention to what was happening in the news. But the one thing she said dominated the airwaves? Monica Lewinsky. After thinking for a minute, she added the OJ Simpson trial and Desert Storm, but could recall nothing about Rwanda. It honestly baffled me that the biggest news story of the decade was not the systematic murder of 800,000 people, but a sex scandal. A sex scandal. If that isn’t a prime example of the absurdity of the American media, I don’t know what is. But, more on that later.

The first thing that needed to be addressed was the Radio Mille Collines, an extremist radio station that essentially gave ordinary civilians detailed instructions on how to commit genocide. If an outside government were to successfully stop the transfer of that information, especially in the first week or so of the genocide, the number of people who had died would have been drastically reduced, no question about it. It was the sheer number of people who were recruited to the Interhamwe that allowed the genocide to reach the magnitude that it did, and without that recruitment there would not have been so much violence. And what is perhaps most infuriating is that it would have been so simple to jam the airwaves so that the violent messages could not reach the people who would eventually turn into killers. One of the people interviewed in the film we watched in class (I forget his name) said that one of the arguments against jamming the airwaves was that it would be a violation of the 1st Amendment to take control of a radio station. Frankly, I think that’s total BS. First of all, the radio was government controlled, so it’s not like they’re shutting down an independent establishment. Second of all, even if it was independent, they were giving instructions on how to kill people. I don’t understand why that doesn’t fall under the “exceptions” category of when the government can break its own rules. If governments can’t at least try to stop people from killing each other, then what are they for? Aren’t they supposed to make our lives better?

Along that vein, the actions—or lack thereof—of the UN peacekeeping forces after the violence broke out were totally unacceptable. While it’s easy to want to say that they should have intervened before the outbreaks of violence, there was no way to know beforehand that the violence would escalate to the point that it did. As with other genocides and humanitarian crises, there were of course signs of the grave danger that Tutsis were facing; one of the most prominent examples being the “Ten Commandments of the Hutu” that Samantha Power writes about. (As a side note, I find it painfully ironic that they called them the “Ten Commandments,” because the actual Ten Commandments are about humility and leading an honorable life, whereas these are the complete opposite of that.) The signs were there, yes, but at this point there was no violence, so I wouldn’t necessarily blame the UN for staying true to its non-violent beliefs and not intervening.

That being said, however, once the violence erupted, there was no reason for them to think that their intervention could have made it worse, because how much worse could it have gotten? Perhaps they thought that if they intervened between the two groups, they would not have enough soldiers to be able to sustain themselves, and their efforts would have been for nothing. In that case, if they were stuck with the number of troops that they had, they should have at least tried to help people get out of the country. As we saw in the movie we watched in class, there were so many opportunities for rescues for the Tutsis of Rwanda, but rather than take them with them, the UN planes and helicopters left them there to fend for themselves, and, in many cases, be hacked to death. The entire purpose of the UN was to solve problems like these, in whatever capacity they can. It’s called the United Nations because of the belief that we all should be united with one common purpose. But if they didn’t have the willpower to save people that they absolutely could have saved, then why were they there?

Of course, the other option (i.e. the sane option) for the UN was to bring in more troops, and that is where the oh-so-lovely United States government comes in. Being the most powerful country in the world has its perks, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility, one being providing resources to the UN so that it can do its job. It is abundantly clear that the United States knew exactly what was going on, and on the off chance that they still had questions, they probably could have found out in some way or another. But they chose not to. They chose not to because they didn’t think it was in their interest to care about Rwanda. The Department of Defense even called it a “silly humanitarian issue.” Had the United States recognized the duty they had to act, it is likely that other countries would have followed their lead. But since they decided it wasn’t of any importance to them, the rest of the world did too.

And part of the inaction of the United States was their failure to recognize the genocide for what it was—a genocide. In the film in class, we watched the spokeswoman for the State Department talk in circles for what seemed like hours trying to avoid saying the word “genocide.” One of the things that bothers me the most about their refusal to acknowledge it was that the whole reason they refused to say that it was a genocide was because they knew that they would have to act on it if they did. It’s not like they were avoiding labeling it as a genocide because they didn’t know whether or not it was one. They knew it was a genocide and didn’t want to call it that because they wanted to actively ignore it.

Would the US properly identifying the Rwandan genocide have made a difference? Maybe. But Washington is very predictable: they only act on something when it’s politically convenient for them to do so. In order for it to be politically convenient, there would have to be public pressure, and in order for there to be public pressure, the public would have to know about it. And that requires the media to report on it. Now, I understand that going to Rwanda as a Western reporter would be extremely dangerous, and it would be difficult to do even with armed protection because there would be so many people trying to kill you. The only situation that would make it safe for large numbers of reporters to be there would be if there were a lot of UN troops there as well, but without reporters there were no UN troops. And without the UN troops, 800,000 people were hacked to death while the world turned their backs on them.

Posts: 28

I think that it’s obvious that the genocide should not have happened under any sort of circumstances when it was easily prevented. Even if the UN refused to send troops or peacekeepers into Rwanda, they could have cut the radio connections that could’ve saved more people or would have the Tutsis been able to run away or be able to hide more. However, I think that it would’ve been incredibly realistic for the UN to have sent more troops because they have even dismissed the fact that it was considered a genocide. I think that it would have been much more realistic for the UN to create a safe haven or a place to keep the Tutsi from the Hutu slaughter. In the documentary, it was clear that the French and Belgians were able to keep the Tutsis safe until they were told to evacuate on the basis of their own need for safety when clearly the Hutu weren’t willing to go in when the peacekeepers had guns. They left because the UN and their countries wanted them out for their own citizens sake instead of considering what they could have done. Power mentions that once the peacekeepers left the Tutsis from the camp, the Hutu literally came from the other entrance and slaughtered nearly 2,000. It is so clear that with more resources and more peacekeepers, many of the Tutsis would have been saved. Yes, peacekeepers would have fallen, but it’s their duty as “peace keepers” to maintain the peace. Rwanda should not have been seen as second class due to the lack of development or foreignity. The UN could have easily air dropped supplies to the UN peacekeepers and the Tutsi in a camp of some sort. I also remember reading a survivor account of how she managed to escape into a Congo camp where she worked and was provided some protection. I think that Samantha Power makes a good point about how Bill Clinton and his administration did so much to ignore the ongoing situation that was happening by evading the definition of a genocide, as he spent so much time campaigning and spending time to denounce the Balkan genocide, and how the Clinton was going to use air strikes to stop the genocide as well, or how the United States spent a lot to stop the Kosovo genocide. She also makes a good point about the US government knew that there was certain consequences of Habyarimana's plane being shot down and how they suspected that there was going to be another “flare up,” but still did not notice or acknowledged it until the “flare up,” which turned into genocide, was over. It was difficult to wrap my head around the US’s voluntary distance from the entire situation. Immediately, intervention was necessary. The Hutu onslaught was barbaric and horrific. Diplomacy would not have done anything. It was merely to kill, and nothing could have physically stopped the axes and the slaughter unless there was something or someone there to stop it. Using machetes to kill people could have been stopped. Gunfire was used to some degree, but the vast majority of the Hutus had access to only machetes and axes. Each peacekeeper had a gun.

When I think of indifference of the Rwandan genocide, I think of what’s happening in China today with the Muslims. They are sent to concentration camps and are forced to disown Islam, but many countries don’t do anything because of economic and diplomatic ties with China being severed if we acted or denounced it. It’s a shame that people are willing to forget it because of these reasons that strip away humanity from all of us. We strive for progress, but at the same time we loss pieces of human empathy to achieve that, and I think the US and the UN did that. Coming together for the sake of humanity but fails to defend it when it most needed it.

Posts: 17

I asked my parents if they knew about the Rwandan genocide while it happened and they couldn’t remember, but my dad said he probably learned about it after. He doesn’t know a whole lot about the genocide now but he does know that it was about the Hutu and Tutsi. Thinking about this genocide today, I do believe that the Americans could have done much more. Troops should have tried to save some people, although we did discuss the issues with that in class and whether countries should get involved in other countries’ issues. I think that when people are dying, the answer is yes, we must act. People in America probably didn’t take this that seriously though at the time because many people didn’t know about the Rwandan genocide or just knew very little about it. As we saw in the film in class, the United States was very hesitant to even call this a genocide, particularly seen with Christine Shelley. Shelley basically refused to call the events in Rwanda a genocide and just said a bunch of other stuff to get around using that word. The United States did not take the genocide as seriously as they should have.

Response to the 5 items in the prompt:

  1. I think it would be pretty difficult for the United States to stop the Radio Mille Collines broadcasting because I don’t know how it would go over if we tried to suppress the media/press of another country. But, very serious hate speech was broadcast so maybe that would justify it. People absolutely could have used the information broadcasted though to help protect the Tutsi and moderate Hutu whose names and other information were broadcasted. If they acted upon what they heard during these radio broadcasts, many people in Rwanda could have been saved. The radio was broadcasting the names of people to be murdered so it incites violence and tells everyone where these people to be killed can be found through the addresses being broadcasted.
  2. I understand not wanting the UN Peacekeeping Forces to escalate violence, but people were dying. This was happening very quickly, too. People were killed at a rate that exceeds the Holocaust. I think when forces know that people are dying, they must act to try to save as many people as possible. When there’s a crisis, orders shouldn’t matter as much anymore. They should do what they can to save the people that they know are in danger of being murdered.
  3. To evacuate only foreign citizens is completely ignoring what is actually happening in the genocide. The people who need to be evacuated are the Tutsi, people whose lives are at risk. Yes, foreign citizens should be evacuated but not only them. We saw in the film how people begged to be saved and these kinds of orders are why more people weren’t saved in the Rwandan genocide. There’s sort of a feeling of indifference from the world when you think about these orders the forces were given. They should have tried so much harder. They could have set up refugee camps and let the people they saved stay there until the genocide ended. They could have done something. Powers writes, "in the three days during which some 4,000 foreigners were evacuated, about 20,000 Rwandans were killed" (353). So many people could have been saved if foreigners weren't the only people evacuated.
  4. I understand maybe having some hesitation calling the events in Rwanda a genocide if it was in the beginning of the genocide and maybe not all the facts were known. But, the U.S. did know what was happening and should have addressed it as a genocide. The fact that they would not call it what it was shows again the indifference from the U.S. Not calling the situation in Rwanda a genocide because then they would have to start doing something about the genocide clearly shows how the U.S. just did not care enough. Samantha Power wrote about the ways the U.S. could have helped. In this post, students are writing about what could have been done differently. We know that the U.S. just chose not to do as much as they could have.
  5. As discussed in class, guns can definitely beat machetes. Guns are much faster and the troops could have used their guns against the Hutu. But, forces didn’t really want to get involved so, again, they did not do all they could to save lives in Rwanda. It’s insane how quickly people were murdered in Rwanda by machetes. If that many people were killed that quickly by machetes, so many people could have been saved if guns were used against the Hutu who were killing.

What we see with the U.S. and U.N.’s response to the Rwandan genocide is indifference. With atrocities there is always indifference. It always seems like people act or care way too late. People never start early enough. It’s pretty depressing to think about, but people generally don’t care about what doesn’t affect them or affect people they know. In the film from class, we saw President Clinton speaking at the Holocaust Museum and it's weird to watch him speak there knowing the Clinton administration did not act during the Rwandan genocide. Power writes, "When the massacres started not only did the Clinton administration not send troops to Rwanda to contest the slaughter, but it refused countless other options. President Clinton did not convene a single meeting of his senior foreign policy advisors to discuss U.S. options for Rwanda" (334-335). Clinton seems to have not really tried at all and that there was not one meeting to discuss what they could do for Rwanda shows the indifference.

Posts: 20
In my opinion, the quickest, and most effective way to end the Genocide as soon as it started would have been to allow the UN Peacekeeping Force to do its job. You can’t call something a “peace keeping force” and then order them not to protect civilians. The UN force was really just a figurehead, and the second the violence started they left, leaving behind the people who needed them the most. Say however, the UN did not want to use violence (which doesn’t make sense because they armed their forces). Then, I would say it would be perfectly responsible to send in troops. Rwanda is a small country (the size of Vermont), and it was bordering many countries the US and Europe had allied with (Kenya, Tanzania, etc.) This means, had a country sent in troops it would of been relatively easy to evacuate citizens into neighboring countries. In fact, many of the survivors survived because they were able to escape into other countries. I believe this would be the most effective and efficient course of action to stop the violence. I don’t think that is unrealistic either. There was increasingly documented violence against the Tutsi that had been going on for decades, and it was clear something was going to happen. There was a reason why the UN had forces in there, because they feared what might happen, yet when it did, they left. If no one wanted to get physically involved themselves, they also had options. The Tutsi (and moderate Hutu) were so desperate for any shred of help or protection, from the people who had promised to protect them, that they would have "rather a UN gun than a Hutu machete." By the US calling the acts Genocide, by condemning them, it put responsibility on itself, and the rest of the world to act. By refusing to call it genocide, it gave the US a loophole. By calling the acts what they were, by condemning them, it not only sent a message to the perpetrators that the world was watching and condemned their actions, but more importantly it would have opened the door for other countries to take action as they felt they now had support. For example, previously the UN had convinced Tanzania into chartering peace talks between the Hutu and Tutsi. Had they made the Rwandan genocide a priority, had the UN chosen to come out and say this wasn’t okay, they would of sent the message that this mattered. Because the reality was that by refusing to truly and fully acknowledge what was happening in Rwanda until it was too late, the world was telling Rwanda that they didn’t matter, that their lives didn’t matter. But this wasn’t just a political matter or something the US needed to fix. This was something the world should of taken action against, and it didn’t, and as a result the world failed Rwanda. As for the matter of cutting off the radio feed, I agree that this would have been effective in the sense that it wouldn't broadcast specific victims and their locations, but it wouldn't stop the Hutu from just killing Tutsi blindly, which is what they did after they killed everyone on their "list." Realistically I don't think this would have been anything the US or another country could have done without severe reparations about infringing on rights (although, this is being said from a 2019 perspective where freedom of speech has become a hot button topic recently, so I don't know what the climate was like in 1994.)

I could go on and on about what the world should have down during those 100 days, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change what happened-that at least 800,000 people were slaughtered, and that the world watched. For me personally, the most devastating fact about the Rwandan genocide wasn’t that 800,000 people were slaughtered, and that IS devastating, but rather that everyone seemed to know exactly what was happening, and did, in my opinion, virtually nothing. Why this happened, I don’t know. I think it comes down to a lack of caring, of indifference. Rwanda to many was just a foreign, far away land. When the genocide broke out, high up White House officials couldn’t even remember if this was about the Tutsi and the Hutu or the Hutsi and the Tutu. Leader of UNAMIR Dallaire said that if 30,000 Europeans had been murdered, the world would of lost it.
While we often refer to the Rwandan Genocide as a failure for the world because they did nothing, it’s interesting that we don’t talk about the fact that maybe they DID do something-and they choose not to act. People knew what was happening, they had security talks and meetings not over WHAT they should do, but IF they should even do anything, and if so, what. These talks even included members of the Hutu who supported the killing, and they couldn't even muster up the courage to say they didn't support what was happen. That now changes the narrative from one of compliance to direct action against the Rwandan people. Reporter Philip Gourevitch said it best, "the decision was not to act, and in that case they succeeded greatly."
Posts: 32

There is no doubt that the events that occured in Rwanda in the 1990s are considered actions of genocide. The images and depictions in the Frontline video watched in class were horrific and I will definitely never forget a lot of them. I asked my parents what they knew about the genocide and they told me that today the know a lot more then they did when it was occuring. This is likely because news of the genocide was not at the public’s attention when it was going on - something that is very disturbing and serves as a great problem to the times back then and possibly today. You have to ask yourself … If something like this happened today, would we know much about it? Are there things of this nature occuring as we speak that we know little about? Its fascinating to think about what information spreads and what doesnt. The fact that 800,000 people died in 100 days is insane. You think about how many people died in the Holocaust, a statistic that a good amount of educated people could know and then you imagine how the killings in Rwanda exceeded the rate of the killings in the Holocaust. That is crazy. The fact that in the video we watched, Christine Shelley’s discussion of how it was undetermined whether or not the events in Rwanda were considered a genocide is very disturbing. If the hacking and murders of 800,000 people in a span of only about three months is not considered a genocide then really what is a genocide? The images shown in class, especially the ones of the skulls inside the church, were really eye-opening and an important account in understanding what exactly happened there. Some of the events and information Samantha Powers addresses in the opening few pages of her chapter on the Rwandan genocide is very interesting. To me, it really does not seem like the UN is doing all they can to prevent the genocide from happening and it makes me wonder if they really even care - especially when considering Romeo Dallaire’s mission. She states that since Hutu and Tutsi populations were sometimes intermingled, the familes were forced into life-altering decisions: either to try and save their entire family or save their own self. I can only imagine how difficult and life-changing a decision like this could be. To answer the question regarding what could have been done:

1. I found it very interesting that the principle radio station of Rwanda announced the names of the victims as well as their respective specifics shamelessly. That just goes to show how extreme the genocide really was and the levels and steps the radical Hutu took to get their message and agenda across. I am honestly surprised there was not a lot of action done after hearing these messages. Powers talks about this radio station multiple times in the book and I don’t understand how there was not one UN group that seemed to take these reports extremely seriously. I find that really disturbing as their job is to maintain peace, yet they seem to almost be letting a large scale genocide occur. I believe that greater response and efforts ought to have been done after listening to these public announcements.

2. It is known that the radical Hutu did not specificallyt target the white population, which a lot of the UN forces were … instead they went after Tutsi and other moderate Hutu. The UN had the ability and power I believe to quickly stop and halt any escalation that was going on in Rwanda. Isnt that their job? To keep peace? Why were they there in the first place? These thoughts are all just so frustrating because its easy to sit here and know that the UN could have done so much more to prevent this huge genocide.

3. Honestly, I am not surprised that the UN’s first and only job they took during the Rwandan genocide was to move forgein citizens out of the country. I still can’t get over the fact that there was a genocide that was made pretty public and known about going on in the small country they were located in, yet they still didnt do anything about it. It shows how the UN forces were helping others and not focusing their attention on the adults and children being brutally murdered. I also assume a lot of these ‘foreign citizens’ were white which just begs a lot more questions and reliability of the UN.

4. I think the United States avoided calling the events in Rwanda a genocide because Bill Clinton and his presidency did not want to go down with this legacy. It is quite obvious that the events the unfolded in Rwanda were considered a genocide. Christine Shelley’s discussion on such a topic was pretty difficult to watch as you know what happened there and you know what you could have done as a country to prevent it, yet you arent quite giving it the recognition and attention it deserves. Powers gave a lengthy detail of this in her book and I believe she gave good suggestions and opinions myself. It is clear that the US and other forces could have done so much more to help the Rwandan people and give them the full respect they deserved and needed.

5. The first day we talked about this genocide, I was very much disturbed at the fact that the murderers used machetes as their choice of weapon. A machete is a very heavy tool and the thought of one person raising the machete and hacking at a victim several times until they died was one of the most disturbing aspects of this genocide. The UN had tools, such as guns and longer range weapons, that could have easily stopped the killings by machetes to happen. But they used no such force. So much more could have been done.

When talking about the genocide as a whole and the aftermath and legacy it leaves behind … the biggest question I have and will always have is why didnt any country, especially the United States, do something about it? Why was this genocide ignored? Why did they allow 800,000 people to die in a span of about 100 days? These questions will likely never get the desired responses and I honestly dont know if there is a ‘desired response’. This is not ancient history - this only happened a couple decades ago. The world needs to be better prepared to intervene if such an event was to occur again.

Posts: 18

I asked my mother if she was aware of the Rwandan Genocide and she said that she is aware of it now, but had absolutely no knowledge of it when they events had actually occurred. She said that the only reason she knew about it was watching shows such as Oprah Winfrey who interviewed survivors years after. I had to explain to her what happened, because she really didn’t know the full extent of this genocide. It makes me wonder how many people in the world have no knowledge of these events whatsoever. How could such atrocities have continued with such little coverage and how could there still be such little awareness?

  1. The UN was obviously aware of what Radio Mille Collines was attempting to do through the public radio broadcasts and yet they still chose to do nothing. The broadcasts were exposing Tutsi citizens, encouraging Hutus to find and murder them. Obviously the UN forces were told not to intervene, but their main goal was to keep the peace. If they could have somehow interrupted the broadcast, that could have been a simple solution to saving hundreds, even thousands of lives. Without the broadcast it's possible that certain people wouldn’t have been exposed for their Tutsi heritage and they could have survived.
  2. The UN forces hands were tired, unable to act on what they thought was right. From what we know, they did their best job to convince the UN that they needed to intervene and that they needed more support, yet the people in New York wouldn’t budge. Could they have disobeyed orders? What would the consequences have been? Did they have enough supplies and ammunition to actually do anything? These are some questions we must think about before we rush to any judgements about the UN forces. Even if they couldn’t do anything substantial, they could have stayed put and protected the men, women and children that they abandoned. Their presence was enough to keep people safe for the time being and it's tragic that New York forced their hand. Why couldn’t they have simply supplied weapons? Leaving them with nothing was simply a death warrant. Obviously they could argue that they didn’t want to start an all out war, but how could you argue that genocide was better?
  3. The UN forces were the only obstacles blockading the interhamwe from killing the Tutsis so New York essentially ordered these people to be murdered. Because of the people in New York, the Peacekeeping forces would have had to disobey orders. It's tragic that the UN only focused on evacuating foreign citizens, because it's obvious now that the Hutus only cared about one people.
  4. What could their argument have been to say that these events were not genocides? It was abundantly clear that the Hutus were systematically murdering Tutsis and yet people like Christine Shelly did everything in their power to avoid using the actual term and because of that, the rest of the world remained silent. How could you expect the general population to care about when the media and government continuously down play it. I wonder what could have happened if news outlets spoke out against the government’s silence. Would people have actually done something?
  5. We discussed in class about how machetes were common to many Rwandans and in order to train them they would tell them to hack like they normally would (I believe they were familiar with this weapon because it was a common farming tool but I forget the exact purpose that we discussed). Considering the lack of training and the use of such a basic weapon, could the UN have not just sent in more guns and some more soldiers into Rwanda. A gun will obviously beat a machete and I doubt people with any common sense would attack a large group of soldiers equipped with guns, so the UN could have simply sent in more troops and avoided any conflict. Their main argument is that they didn’t want to start conflict and I believe that this could have been a simple solution.

Looking back on the genocide it’s obvious that the world had failed the Tutsi people when they needed them the most. It seems as though people only care about tragedies when it shows up at their front door. I would hope that in this day and age of mass communication and media at the tips of our fingers that something of this magnitude would never happen again.

Posts: 21

Do you respect Rwanda?

"To a victim their assailant and a bystander who does nothing are no different. That bystander would be no better than the assailant if they didn't try to help." This quote was recently in a show I watched (Naruto) and I feel like it addresses the issue of the genocide from the standpoint of America being the bystander.

I didn't know one thing about the Rwandan genocide until this class. I had heard it come up here and there but like World Wars, and the Holocaust I hadn't really done research for more information. But it was worse than shock and utter disbelief. How could to people of the same country hate each other to the point of genocide? I don't know but civil war isn't uncommon in history, this seemed to me more of a one-sided slaughter. But also what was unbelievable was that no one could call it a genocide until it was too late. I am going to analyze the five elements of the genocide so that I can see if there was something that could have been changed.

The Radio Mille Collines was extremely effective because radio waves travel very quickly and could easily be reached by any of the Hutu murders. This definitely benefited the genocidaires because they could get there targets without looking too hard. Also since it was blasted on loudspeakers people were forced to listen and like we read learned from Hutu testimonies that they didn't know what else to do or thought the Tutsi might kill them. I believe the Tutsi and UN also could have used this to their advantage or at least to save more people because the areas where the Hutu were being called to could have been more heavily protected. Having the Hutu spread out would have made it easier for the UN to protect the Tutsi because if the Hutu did attack the separated UN could handle a couple men. But huddling together while being surrounded by Hutu was less helpful because the UN soldiers wouldn't do anything but separated they would have to act. But since the Hutu knew where the Tutsi lived if the Tutsi got out of those areas there is also a chance more would have survived.

First of all the UN Peacekeepers did not break their mandate, which was good and bad. I believed it was primarily bad since they could have most likely saved a lot more Tutsi if they had chosen to fight. But also they technically did protect the Tutsi from the enemy Hutu for a good couple of weeks which wasn't their protocol but it did raise hope for the Tutsi which was short-lived. But why would The UN be given the order to not attack at all? As Peacekeepers it makes sense that they should be more composed and safe but what the Hutu were doing was clearly genocide and I feel like to keep the peace fighting back would be appropriate. Also the fact that weapons were still flowing in and aiding the Hutu was not good for anyone so by trying to stop that would definitely help in less killing. And if there was more publicity or more people knew what was going on there could have been more assistance and many lives could have been saved.

Samantha Power said "Ahead of the April 6 plane crash, the United States ignored extensive early warnings about imminent mass violence. It denied Belgian requests to reinforce the peacekeeping mission. When the massacres started, not only did the Clinton administration not send troops to Rwanda to contest the slaughter, but it refused countless other options. President Clinton did not convene a single meeting of his senior foreign policy advisers to discuss U.S. options for Rwanda." This proves the little help the U.S. gave to Rwanda and how bad they failed in their peacekeeping mission. New York is not very close to Rwanda and the people in New York only knew what the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda were telling them. A liar is definitely seen as a traitor in the army if it comes down to following orders but these men could definitely have tried to do a little more to help the situation. If the reason they didn't do more was because they didn't want to hurt their pride than they chose to be helpless and unhelpful bystanders. It is also understandable that they evacuated people but they only evacuated not-Africans. They may have been the priority but that didn't mean they were the only ones that mattered. It was extremely cruel how the french came and picked up the Belgian and white civilians but not a single African old, sick, new-born, injured, nothing. And the Tutsi were the ones that needed to evacuate the most. They were in the most danger and the people in New York should have understood that, especially if they thought it wasn't safe to live there. The soldiers were doing what they were told by authority so they don't deserve the whole blame but the New York authority definitely failed in it's ability to protect and help the Rwandan Tutsis.

I believe this was one of the biggest mistakes the United States Government could have made regarding this situation as a whole. Anyone could have seen based on the reports and status of Rwanda that something was mortally wrong and it needed to be addressed. But like Samantha Power said, "When Woods of the Defense Department's African affairs bureau suggested that the Pentagon add Rwanda-Burundi to its list of potential trouble spots, his bosses told him, in his words, 'Look, if something happens in Rwanda-Burundi, we don't care. Take it off the list. U.S. national interest is not involved and we can't put all these silly humanitarian issues on lists.... Just make it go away.'" Despicable as it may seem unfortunately it was exactly what the U.S. thought and did about the Rwandan genocide. Oops "Rwandan incident" rather since the U.S. government couldn't even call it a GENOCIDE. A good recorded example is when Christine Shelly gives her "response" to the Rwanda crisis, but instead of a clear straight-forward answer she beets around the bush and basically creates word vomit with no meaning. Also what was stated in the video and mentioned often regarding the genocide was how America tried its best to make sure other countries along with itself didn't use the word "genocide" because of there fear to take action. But what was wrong with that was America could have taken action! Who knows if it would cause worse consequences, but most likely nothing as severe as 800,000 Rwandans being slaughtered. And in one of the films it is said that the word genocide was used as early as April but not publicly like it SHOULD have been. If the word genocide was taken seriously I am positive Rwanda could have avoided a lot of violence.

First of all that is not unreasonable for so many Hutu to have access to machete since they were stereotypically the ones to need them for agriculture. But when the weapons became necessary for the Hutu to use for killing Tutsi, that is when the weapons should have stopped being available and shouldn't have continued to flow into the hands of the killers. But once again nothing was done about this aspect to prevent more death. But as I said earlier if the UN or the U.S. government could have slowed and/or stopped the weapon supply to the Hutu killers which might have allowed more Tutsi to live. Of course there are no guarantees but the fact that The U.S. didn't allow or try anything is disgusting.

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