Monday, April 07, 2003

RWANDA REMEMBERED
Today is the 9th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, which started on April 7, 1994. It is estimated that between 800,000 and 1 million people were killed in massacres that lasted approximately 100 days. There was a large push, particularly by neighboring states, for internationally sanctioned intervention to stop the slaughter (as provided for in the anti-genocide treaty). However, such intervention was blocked by France, Belgium and the United States, each for differing reasons.

This despite the fact that all were signatories of the anti-genocide convention. This despite the fact that it was East African nations themselves who were going to volunteer their own troops to do the actual intervention (they just wanted to LEASE EQUIPMENT from the US, but Washington refused). The only intervention was done by France, in an operation whose primary, if unstated, goal was to allow officials from the genocidal regime (threatened by a rebellion) to flee the country into the eastern Congo (then Zaire). This is because the genocidal regime had long been friendly with France and was one of its "client-states."

The genocide started less than a year after the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. A ceremony in which speaker after speaker, including then Pres. Bill Clinton, solemnly declared 'never again.'

For an excellent article on the topic, read Bystanders to genocide, which appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in September 2001 (a month when the massacre of 3000 people was decried as an atrocious crime against humanity; imagine one of those every 10 hours). The author of the article was Samantha Power, whose most recent, excellent, book is entitled A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

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