Rwandan Genocide on Film

Shooting DogsToday I watched ‘Shooting Dogs‘, a film depicting the tragic story of the Rwandan genocide from the L’Ecole Technique Officielle. There are similarities between this and another film, ‘Hotel Rwanda‘, which also depicts the same tragic story of the Rwandan genocide only set in a hotel compound rather than a school. 

Both locations became a safe-haven for fleeing Tutsi refugees, primarily due to a small presence of UN ‘monitors of the peace’. According to UN mandate, intervention in internal country politics is forbidden unless the crime of genocide is being committed. So while those within the Security Council were debating the definition of ‘genocide’ and whether crimes of genocide were or were not being committed, thousands of Rwandans were murdered, neighbour turning on neighbour, friend becoming foe. When the last of the UN peace-keeping force was withdrawn, those within the safe-havens became victims too.

It is truly tragic that 800,000 Tutsis lost their lives during the three months of 1994, but the real story comes from the survivors, without whom Hotel Rwanda and Shooting Dogs would never have been made.

Reconciliation and the Future

The Rwandan genocide belongs to history – never to be forgotten; forever remembered. Instead, fifteen years on, the survivors look not to revenge, but reconciliation; and with it, hope that there never again will be a genocide.

It is this reconciliation combined with the country’s economic and political progress over the past fifteen years that means Rwanda now has a bright future ahead of itself

Recommended Links

ushmm.org ALERT – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Responding to Threats of Genocide Today

The Enough Project – Project helping to build a permanent constituency to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity

The Graves Are Not Yet Full; Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa – Fascinating book by journalist Bill Berkeley who dispels myths of tribal hatred and instead holds to account the ‘Big Men’ who have orchestrated some of the worst wars and crimes, including the Rwandan genocide

The Devil Came on Horseback – Hard-hitting film portraying the Darfur tragedy through the eye-witness account and photographs of US Marine Brian Steidle

Genocide aside

The term ‘genocide’ did not exist until 1944, sixty-five years ago, towards the end of World War II, when a Polish lawyer sought to describe the Nazi policies of systematic murder of the European Jews:

Genocide: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

(Source: US Holocaust Memorial Museum)

It was hoped then, that genocide would never again happen. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, first in Rwanda, then also the Balkans, Chechnya, and most recently the Darfur region of Sudan.