Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Paying to Have Your Children Shot Was Merciful.

"The vicious cycle of political violence in Rwanda is due to a lack of a system for a peaceful competition for and transfers of power between the political elites."
Genocide update:  
2010 October - UN report into 1993-2003 conflict in DR Congo says Rwandan forces took part in attacks on Hutu civilians which - if proven in court - could amount to genocide.

Rwandan Forgives Aggressors, Builds Community Center:
Rwandan native Frederick Ndabaramiye (below) was only 15-years old, when in 1998, four years after the the 100-day genocide in 1994, Hutu rebels dragged him from a bus, killed his 18 fellow passengers, cut off his hands, and left him for dead".
The Hutus who pulled him from the bus were from a paramilitary group called the Interahamwe, armed with machetes and nail-spiked bats. They demanded he kill the other passengers to save his own life, and he refused. “Kill me first,” he said.

Frederick watched as the rebels slaughtered the 18 passengers before his eyes. “They killed them one by one by machete,” he said.

The rebels told him they were going to give him a message. He thought they would give him a letter or something, he said, but they pinned his arms to a log and cut off his hands.

He pleaded for just two fingers, he said. The rebels ignored his wish. They left him there to die.

But Frederick, blood gushing from his arms, managed to stumble from the scene. He was discovered by two girls who, despite their fear, bandaged him and helped him to a hospital, he said. His recovery took a full year.

Most of Frederick’s family had been killed in the genocide. It was in an orphanage that Frederick befriended a young teacher, Zachary Dusingizimana. Together, the two shed themselves of their hate, embraced forgiveness, and wanted to help other survivors do the same.

In 2005, the two founded the Ubumwe Community Center for maimed and disabled survivors. The center takes in orphans off the streets, provides wheelchairs for the crippled, offers personal counseling to coping survivors, and teaches job skills, like craft-making.
From original post 12/2008:

(Left)human remains at Nyamata, scene of many massacres that occurred in 1994, leaving between 800,000 and 1,071,00 Tutsis, including some Hutus,  slaughtered to death, and many more, mutilated, maimed or physically scarred for life,  

Incomprehensible as it may seem, in 1994 -  at a time when gutters along side the only functioning hospital in Kigali, Rwanda, literally ran red with blood, and ravaged bodies and body parts littered the streets -  paying to have your children shot in open pit latrines was considered merciful. Why? In order to spare them the horror and torture of being hacked to death by machete, and or watching your family hacked to death.

Sparing no one, Hutu killing squads went on a rampage - the Interahamwe (those who attack together) and the Impuzamugambi (those with a single purpose) - butchering as many civilians as they could find, leaving a massacred humanity in their wake. Babies and children were literally snatched from their mother's arms, and ripped to shreds for all to see. The reverse was also true.

*A nine-year old Tutsi girl, through an interpreter, told Dr. James Orbinski - former President of Doctors Without Borders and author of An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century.
"My mother hid me in the latrine. I saw through the hole. I watched them hit her with machetes. I watched my mother's arm fall into my father's blood on the floor and I cried without noise in the toilet". -- 9-year old Tutsi girl explaining how she stayed alive, as her family was massacred at the hands of the killing squads.
Rwandan genocide was not the result of ancient tribal hatreds, or as Ed Koch, explained at the time, “tribal warfare involving those without the veneer of Western civilization” further justifying the apathy of developed nations by confirming the stereotype of African savages. Rather it was the confluence of many factors, including the silence and inaction of the international community, in particular, France, (the main culprit), Belgium and America, who paralyzed the United Nations, who ended up abandoning the U.N. peacekeeping force already on the ground. The aforementioned nations knowingly pursued their foreign policies through genocide. The U.S. (on record), deliberately chose not to use the word “genocide” because that would have obliged us to intervene.
"Perhaps there is no better case than Rwanda of state killing in which colonial history and global economic integration combined to produce genocide. It is also a case where the causes of the killing were carefully obscured by Western governmental and journalistic sources, blamed instead on the victims and ancient tribal hatreds.

A country the size of Belgium, with a population of 7 million people (overpopulated according to most reports but Belgium supports over 10 million people), Rwanda experienced in 1994 one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century. Some 800,000 people, mostly but not exclusively Tutsis, were slaughtered by the Hutu-run state. Contrary to media and many government reports, the genocide was the result of Rwanda’s political and economic position in the capitalist world system. It involved such monetary factors as its colonial history, the price of coffee, World Bank and International Monetary Fund policies, the global interests of Western nations, particularly France, the interests of international aid agencies, and Western attitudes towards Africa" — Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, p.269
Statements such as "Genocide is irrelevant in such places" spoken by President Mitterrand of France at the time of Rwandan genocide, is symbolic of western civilization's attitude toward more than half of the world's population, who live on less than $2 per day (3.8 billion). As long as those of us who are "more equal" continue to think and feel this way about those who are "less equal", genocide will occur now, and in the future.

Humanitarian efforts and charity, while extremely important, as they directly and immediately relieve suffering, are not enough to attain true equity. We need to change the mindset and the policies that clearly oppress and seize opportunity and possibility from those who we are content to let live in conditions we would not allow for our pets. In other words, cutting a check for less than 1% of our GDP and uttering platitudes about the "plight" of the poor does very little but clear our collective conscience about the people who live without the basics necessities central to any notion of human dignity.

*True equity requires that people in comparable situations be treated equally with no distinctions made based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or class. The lack of equity we see today is a result of learned stereotypical thinking, and subtle, nuanced policy decisions made centuries ago that we continue to "improve" upon as our technology advances that conspires to keep half the world without. In other words, lack of equity is a politically determined choice.
"We are not born equal. Equality and equity are the result of choice and of human organization." -- Hannah Arendt
This year, the World Food Programme asked for additional money to accommodate an additional 100 million people who are being pushed into hunger by rising food prices, adding to the 840 million people worldwide who went to bed hungry every single night last year. They have collect only $2 billion of the $22 billion it needs to feed 967 million people.

Concurrently, at the G 20 summit, over $8 trillion taxpayer dollars, globally, has been activated to bankroll the fundamental underlying design of an international economy that is not working, mostly due to the corruption embedded throughout its structure...this same structure that contributes to keeping half the world living in relatively inhumane conditions.

Not only that, through no fault of their own, the "less equal", excluded from financial "boom" times, end up suffering the most profound of consequences as a result of this current global financial crisis.

For those who fail to see the injustice of the way the world is divided, perhaps the instability, violence, terrorism, disease, etc that such dire circumstances tend to produce, which when placed in a continuously shrinking world, threatens the "more equal" part of the population, evermore, will provide the impetus to change the way we currently accept half the world

Three days ago marked the 60th anniversary of the 1948 Convention on Prevention of Genocide. The Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Madeline Albright, urged president-elect Barack Obama to make the prevention of genocide a national priority, pressuring him to create, in particular, the "Inter-Agency Atrocities Prevention Committee" based on the 34 recommendations put forward in the paper presented to the United Nations entitled: "Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for US Policy-makers".

The genocide alarm is ringing loud and clear, right now. It's warning us that the mass murder of civilians is occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 5.4 million people have already lost their lives since 1998...and that the level of violence could possibly escalate to what we saw in 1994.
Evidence is strong that Rwandan and Congolese governments, including many who played a role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, are supporting and provoking Tutsi and Hutu ethnic militias fighting in eastern Congo. The battle has driven 250,000 civilians from their homes in the past three months. Meanwhile the 17,000 "strong" United Nations peacekeeping missions are doing very little to alleviate the suffering and plunder in Congo.
* If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because I was inspired to blog this topic by the speech - marking World Aids Day - given by Dr. James Orbinski at the City Club of Cleveland 

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