A Modern Holocaust to Remember: Rwanda, 1994
While the Jewish holocaust was like 70-years ago, the monuments and other historical books have brought back to memory for all those never born or too young to recall. It was never suppose to happen again on that scale. But it has and the more recent Rwanda holocaust in Africa was only in 1994. Email was barely around or used by many, web browsers were new with few websites to visit, 90210 was a smash hit TV show that would run another six years. But, it was 20 years ago.
Since then, many have grown up not knowing much about this modern holocaust. It started on April 6, 1994, when a simple act to effect political change happened: the airplane carrying Rwanda's president, Habyarimana, was shot down when trying to land in Kigali. The president was wildly popular and fully supported by the Hutu tribe. The other tribe in the country are the Tutsis. Almost immediately, the Hutus blamed the Tutsis and sought revenge on them wherever encountered. It did not matter if the person had nothing to do with it or lived miles away, the two tribes declared war on one another using all methods of war.
The war would last three months and killed 800,000. Bloated bodies were all over the country, in rivers, floating into Lake Victoria and over Rizumu Falls. The Hutus were like the Nazis, while the Tutsis, the Jews. The Hutus were not happy with only a few thousand murders, they wanted to erase the Tutsis tribe from Rwanda. If you were a woman or girl, woe upon you, as you would be gang raped and then killed or kept to be used as a sex slave for the Hutu warriors. The Hutus hunted down the Tutsis, the Tutsis raced through the jungles trying to get to UN refugee camps. It was not uncommon that some of these "safe havens" had 200,000 in them. The camps had thousands of children with no parents.
By July, much of the ethnic cleansing and retribution had ended. Rwanda was in total ruin. Bodies were all over the landscape. Disease was setting in on the decaying corpses. AS UN workers collected the bodies, the higher the stack, the more it resembled those Jews found in Auschwitz or Birkenau when allied troops found them.
At the time, President Clinton, was simply afraid or apprehensive of what to do with Rwanda. The fast moving killings of the Rwanda genocide outpaced what the international community could do or agree what to do. They were afraid of intervention with troops to halt the budding holocaust. There was a lot of talk and no action. While that happened, thousands more were murdered or hacked. To this day, Clinton regrets not acting with conviction and decisiveness. He admitted it is his greatest failure in his life and US presidency. Clinton could have stemmed the murders and stopped it from becoming a modern holocaust by intervention. American or a combined African-American military presence of only a few thousand probably would have stopped the fanatical desire of the Hutus to kill. It would allow tempers to chill.
The UN troops are powerless creatures then and now as are their resolutions. The International Criminal Court has no power to enforce its own warrants. Today, thousands have been killed in the Sudan under President Omar al-Bashir. Yet, nothing has been done.
It seems even when the world knows of a genocide and has recent experience of what to do, they fail to act.