Just this past weekend I overheard my roommate talking to his friend about the worst tragedies in the world since we have been alive. I heard about the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, Columbine, even September 11th! What I didn’t hear was what was happening in central Africa around the time most of us were all born. Yeah I know we can’t comprehend anything right when we are born, but that doesn’t give us an excuse not to know what has been going on in the world since the day we have been breathing it’s air. I’m not sure if any of you are aware of the country Rwanda, I know my roommate and his friend sure aren’t, but you might just want to Google that and see what you find. I think you will be surprised to find out that a country the size of Maryland had 800,000 men, women, and children deliberately massacred during a 100 day genocide.
In 1994, Rwanda’s population of seven million was made up of three ethnic groups, Hutu (85%), Tutsi (14%) and Twa (1%). Although the Hutus and Tutsis shared the same language and culture for many years before, the Hutu within Rwanda’s political elite blamed the entire Tutsi minority population for the country’s increasing social, economic, and political pressures. The Hutu president used this propaganda to further the gap between the two people. Constantly bringing up the past Tutsi rules that oppressed the Hutu people.
After the president was shot down in his plane on April 6, the Hutu extremists, which were very military based, took it upon themselves to the cleanse the country of Tutsi flesh. Political leaders who might have been able to take charge of the situation and other high profile opponents of the Hutu extremist plans were killed immediately. Tutsi and people suspected of being Tutsi were killed in their homes and as they tried to flee at roadblocks set up across the country during the genocide. Entire families were killed at a time. Women were systematically and brutally raped. It is estimated that some 200,000 people participated in the Rwandan genocide, killing 800,000 civilians, 75% of the Tutsi people. By the end of the summer, a Tutsi military organization had defeated the Hutu and driven the fleers out of the country.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were hacked to death with machetes by their neighbors. Despite these heinous crimes, the observing world, especially the United States, hesitated to take any action, telling the people of their country that it was only a tribal war and that nothing could be done. Remember this when the US wants to butt their heads into other countries tickle fights. They couldn’t step in and stop the brutal assassination of nearly an entire ethnicity, but they continue to play baby sitter to the rest of the world. Now when you hear someone contemplating what has been the worst tragedy in the past two decades, you do not tell them the War on Terrorism, you do not let them think that a train bombing has left the world shattered, you tell them to Google ‘Rwanda’.