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Life After Genocide In Rwanda
In spite of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which one million people were executed, the Rwandan community rallied to form an inclusive government, promote cultural acceptance and achieve economic prosperity.

As a product of colonial policy, the Rwandan government was constructed to advantage the minority (Tutsi) over the majority (Hutu) population. Disparities among the Rwandan population gave rise to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) that was a catalyst for the Rwandan Civil War in the early 1990s.

On April 6, 1994, the Rwandan civil war escalated when the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi died in a plane crash that the Radio Television Livres Des Mille Collines (RTLM) attributed to the RPF. Following the crash, several weeks of incommensurate fighting ensued between the Hutu lead Gendarmerie (paramilitary) and military forces against the RPF and Tutsi citizens. Meanwhile, the international community withdrew and was absent during the peak of the genocide in Rwanda.

During the final weeks of summer, the RPF gained territory and Hutu soldiers fled to the DRC, bringing with it the fragile process of recovery.

Fortunately, the Rwandan people were exceptionally apt at a post-conflict building. The first step after the genocide in Rwanda, for the Rwandan people, was to ensure internal security, primarily executed through the criminal justice system, which was filled with nearly two million people.

The Rwandan national government, led by Paul Kugame, dealt with the prosecution of those who were alleged contributors to the genocide in Rwanda or perpetrators of rape. The remainder of suspects were subject to the newly created justice system, the Gacaca. The participatory system, run by citizens, was the crux of building a long-lasting trust among all segments of society.

Once internal security was reached, the Rwandan government focused on humanitarian relief. Five years afterward, Rwanda transformed its society into a beacon of hope and prosperity. Eliminating child mortality by 50 percent, near universal health care, increased freedom of expression and economic expansion of eight percent without the revenue from natural resources was primarily completed because of the direction of the Government and collect efforts of a Rwandan identity, rather than Hutu or Tutsi.

Although the rapid transformation was the product of national efforts, the role of international aid cannot be overstated. The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), along with World Bank, and International Monetary Fund account for the bulk of international donations.

The international community has demonstrated it is observant and eager to grow as it has made earnest efforts to increase foreign aid to developing countries. Post-genocide in Rwanda is evidence of how international aid can be the missing component to eradicating barriers to development. In the words of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair “and at a time when many in western nations are questioning the use of aid budgets, we should look at Rwanda as an example of how to use aid well”.

Adam George

Photo: Flickr

Twiyubake Cooperative

Jacqueline Musabyimana is the president of the Twiyubake Banana Leaf Cooperative. Twiyubake means “to rebuild ourselves” in the Kinyarwanda language. Musabyimana is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Her family, like many in the area, struggled to survive in the aftermath of the humanitarian crisis.

Genocide survivors were faced with difficult circumstances, including the loss of many (mostly male) family members. However, women were determined to lift themselves out of poverty with dignity and confidence.

The Twiyubake Cooperative is made up of master banana leaf weavers and other master artisans who have been making and selling banana leaf products since 2008.

Musabyimana and other women in the area learned to make hand-woven banana leaf baskets and jewelry to supplement family incomes. In 2011, U.S.-based Songa Designs International came to their village. The for-profit “socially conscious” fashion start-up was fascinated with the merchandise weavers were making and decided to help sell them.

Musabyimana was able to buy a plot of land, build a home, as well as purchase a cow and goat — all with the money she made by selling her products through Songa.

The Songa Designs website states that the dynamic in many areas of the developing world is for women to be entirely dependent on their husbands.

However, the company seeks to change the status quo by offering opportunities to under-resourced women so that they can “achieve economic independence by using skills acquired through everyday life to make a living. Songa Designs provides jobs for these women who negotiate their own salaries and earn fair wages.”

The Twiyubake Cooperative is one of the groups that belong to Indego Africa, a group whose mission it is to empower women artisan in Africa. According to the Indego Africa website, a cooperative is “a legally recognized form of association in Rwanda that was promoted by the government after the 1994 genocide.”

Following the genocide, the Rwanda population was 70 percent female and the economy was a disaster. Women were left to rebuild the country, but most lacked education and knew nothing about business or export markets. Indego Africa helps the cooperatives develop business and become sustainable.

The Twiyubake Cooperative employs female genocide survivors as well as the wives of genocide perpetrators. All the steps involved in making products for sale in the Twiyubake artisan line are done by hand — specifically, the metal working, beading, embroidery and sewing. In addition, the natural banana leaf and other fibers are grown locally.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

Cambodia Killings FieldsForty years ago, a massacre took place in Cambodia that, while not very known, proved to be one of the most violent in history. The Cambodian genocide took place over four years and killed more than one million people. This led to the formation of killing fields in Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge regime, led by Pol Pot, took over Cambodia in 1975. During its four-year rule, over one-quarter of the country’s entire population was killed in the regime’s ruthless pursuit of totalitarian control. In 1979, the Vietnamese ended the corruption by invading Cambodia and seizing power from the regime.

The largest pieces of evidence from this time in history are the remains of the killing fields of Cambodia. These were the places where those who did not cooperate were sent to work to their death. The fields exist today as a museum of sorts, with 20,000 people buried underground. The fields also hold displays, such as 8,000 human skulls placed in glass shrines.

The experiences that the Cambodian people underwent were deeply inhumane. Men, women and children were starved, worked to their death or were murdered in these fields. The fields are not just one inclusive area; there are 343 fields that have been discovered. Especially gruesome is that when it rains on the fields, bone and teeth fragments often wash up.

Cambodia coordinated with the U.N. General Assembly almost three decades after the Khmer Rouge were driven out. On Jun. 6, 2003, the Cambodian government agreed to prosecute the crimes committed during the genocide, which established the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Though many perpetrators had already passed away by this time, the ECCC did prosecute five men involved.

Although they hold a dark past, the killing fields of Cambodia have actually become a positive asset to the country. According to National Geographic, tourism in Cambodia has increased by 40 percent every year since 1998 as curiosity about the genocide has grown. The fields have created many tour guide jobs for hundreds of Cambodians and the large rise in tourists has helped boost the country’s economy.

When people visit this site, however, they are most importantly paying their respects to Cambodia’s history and those who have passed. The fields will continue to exist as a reminder of the horror that comes when tyranny and genocide take hold.

Kerri Whelan

Sources: World Without Genocide, National Geographic, University of Rochester, MTVU, CyberCambodia
Photo: Reuters Media

Genocide
Genocide related to ISIS violence and funding gaps were the focus during the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations hearing on Dec. 9, 2015.

The subcommittee received testimony regarding why the plight faced by persecuted religious minorities, specifically Christians and Yezidis, in Syria and Iraq by ISIS should be defined as genocide by the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. has not formally declared the violence towards Christians and Yezidis as genocide. As a result Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities have not been given priority when filing as refugees for resettlement with the U.S.

“The term genocide makes members of such groups more likely to receive the preferential treatment as bonafide refugees that they should receive under the U.N. Convention and protocols on the status of refugees,” Genocide Watch’s President Gregory H. Stanton said. “To which the U.S. is a state-party, and also under the refugee laws of the U.S.”

The inabilities to ensure humanitarian resources get to those in need as well as funding gaps in the 2015 Syria Regional Refugee & Resilience Plan were attributed to ISIS’s successful perpetration of violence against religious minorities in the region.

Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International Founder and Chairman Mirza Ismail testified that the humanitarian aid is necessary, but not sufficient.

“Much humanitarian aid distributed by the Kurdish Regional authorities and the Iraqi government never gets into the hands of those who need it, those for whom it was intended — due to skimming, corruption, and politics,” Ismail said.

Ismail stated that there are more than 40,000 impoverished Yezidi refugees suffering in Turkey and Syria, some of whom have been denied food, medicine and have been abused by the authorities in charge. Ismail also testified that there are Yezidi refugees who cannot get into U.N. refugee camps, and as a result are not certified as refugees.

Chairman Christopher Smith recalled testimony from Shelly Pitterman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Oct. 20, 2015 where the main trigger of flight from refugee camps or shelter was the humanitarian funding shortfall.

“In support of the Syrian Response Plan (SRP) and the Regional Refugee Resilience Plan (3RP) international donors pledged $3.68 billion,” Smith said. “However, according to the financial tracking service at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs only $1.17 billion of the $2.89 billion has been received by Dec. 7, 2015. That constitutes only about 41 percent of what was considered necessary by that agency.”

The most recent report from the UNHCR shows that the Syrian Response Plan has been funded $132 million or 43 percent, leaving a gap of $176 million from their requirement of $309 million; the Regional Refugee Resilience Plan has been funded $778 million or 58 percent, leaving a gap of $566 million from their requirement of $1.34 billion.

Stanton commended the members of congress that supported H.Con.Res 75, which recognizes the collective persecution of religious minorities as genocide. He also commended members of Congress that introduced House Resolution 447 (supporting the establishment of a Syrian war crimes tribunal to try ISIS, especially for its mass rape of women and girls) and Congressman Rohrabacher for introducing House Resolution 2014, which proposed that Christians and Yezidi’s should have priority when filing for refugee status with the U.S.

Summer Jackson

Sources: Foreign Affairs, House.gov 1, House.gov 2, UNHCR
Photo: Notey

progress_in_rwanda
Two decades after one of the fastest and most brutal genocides in history, Rwandans are healthier and wealthier than ever before. Education is at an all-time high, corruption at a low and investors are flocking to the country. Despite this amazing progress in Rwanda, some experts are hesitant to call the country a total development success just yet.

The Rwandan genocide of the 90s shook the country to its core. The population, especially the Tutsi minority, is still dealing with the aftershocks of the violence. In particular, concepts like political competition and unregulated free speech are regarded warily at best. Many feel that allowing these would open a back door into the country for the génocidaires who fled Rwanda and have yet to repent. The memory of the genocide is fresh enough in many minds to keep the political discourse severely stilted.

Still, despite the hesitance Rwandan politics show in internal discussion, nobody could argue that Rwanda has trouble standing up for itself to aid providers. In 2011, 20 percent of gross national income was foreign aid, mostly aimed at the still significant portion of Rwanda’s population that lives on less than $1.25 a day.

Richard Manning, the former head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s development assistance committee, says that’s no bad thing. “My thesis for a long time has been that no country will develop successfully unless it is prepared to say no to donors,” Manning said. “Just because you are dependent on aid doesn’t mean you have to have a dependent mentality. I think that’s the crucial thing. It’s very clear that the Rwandan government, whether you like it or not, has a very clear view on how Rwanda should develop, and it expects donors to fit into that.”

A major driving force behind Rwanda’s rapid progress is the current president, Paul Kagame. His ethnically Tutsi militia put a stop to the genocide of Tutsis at the hands of the Hutu majority in 1994. He established a democratic government while avoiding many of the pitfalls recovering democracies stumble into and he oversaw the trials of guilty parties mostly without creating new injustices.

However, Mr. Kagame is not perfect. Despite a decades-long career, he has not come up with a clear successor. Instead, he seems to have driven away or removed every candidate for office that is not him. He “won” his last election with 93 percent of the vote and will not be up for re-election until 2017. According to the constitution he helped draft, he is not eligible to run in the 2017 election, but his administration is already starting to make a path for the removal of term limits.

Rwanda’s recovery has made it a role model for other developing nations, especially those recovering from violent conflict. Unfortunately, it would be very easy to look at Rwanda’s experience and see that tight political control is a key part of development. At best, a less-than-capable leader could hold back a country’s development with this interpretation. At worst, it leads war-torn countries right back to where they started.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: USAID, African Economic Outlook, Forbes, The Guardian, The Economist 1, The Economist 2
Photo: Flickr

bosnian genocide
In the mid 90’s, the newly independent Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided by conflict and genocide. Led by Slobodan Milosevic, Bosnian Serbs wanted to create a Serbian state. When an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina was established, the Bosnian Serbs used their goal to commit widespread human rights violations. By 1995, Bosnian Serbs killed over 100,000 Bosnian Muslims and Croatians.

From July 11 to July 13, 1995, during the Bosnian Genocide, the Serbian nationalists killed nearly 10,000 Bosnian Muslims in the Srebrenica Massacre. During the massacre, Dutch peacekeepers, Dutchbat, who were supposed to guard the town, turned the targeted population away and, as the Daily Mail states, “handed them over to Bosnian Serb forces.”

The Srebrenica Massacre is often considered the worst massacre since World War II.

The Telegraph notes that after the Dutch failed to protect thousands of Bosnian Muslims, the Serbian nationalists divided them by gender, executed them and buried them in mass graves. These actions amassed to a genocide.

Mothers of Srebrenica, a group representing 6,000 survivors of the massacre, and families of 10 victims testified in the case Mothers of Srebrenica vs. The Netherlands and the U.N. that the Netherlands and the U.N. are responsible for failing to prevent the killings. However, The Hague upheld that the U.N. is immune to prosecution.

Last week, nearly 20 years after the massacre, The Hague found the Dutch liable for the deaths of 300 of the nearly 10,000 Bosnian Muslims killed. The Netherlands must now compensate those 300 families. The court argued that many of the Bosnian Muslims fled the Dutch compound for the woods, so the Dutch cannot be considered liable for all the deaths. The compensation amount is unknown. Though partial liability represents a partial victory for the victims and survivors, Mothers of Srebenica is currently considering appealing the decision.

According to The Guardian, the president of Mothers of Srebenica reacted by stating, “Obviously the court has no sense of justice. How is it possible to divide victims and tell one mother that the Dutch state is responsible for the death of her son on one side of the wire and not for the son on the other side?”

The ruling does establish a connection between the Dutch’s failure to peacekeep and the massacre, which has not been previously officially recognized as a cause of some of the deaths. The courts ruling places accountability on the peacekeeping missions and proves that the peacekeepers should have known that sending the Bosnian Muslims away would result in their execution.

However, the inability to try the U.N. highlights the inability of the U.N. to be held liable. This translates into an inability for national courts to challenge the U.N.’s actions. Further, this ruling could have significant implications for future peacekeeping missions and the accountability of those missions in war zones. While the ruling only represents a partial success for the families of victims and survivors, the ruling could motivate the U.N. and other nations to pay closer attention to their actions in other conflict regions, such as Syria and the Central African Republic.

– Tara Wilson 

Sources: History Channel, International Business Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Telegraph, International Crimes Databse, Vice, Deutsche Wells
Photo: Wikimedia

stages of genocide
Raphael Lemkin first conceived the term “genocide” in 1944 in reaction to the Holocaust during World War II. The term was first used in a legal setting during the charter of the International Military Tribunal in 1945. In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly made genocide a crime punishable under international law. According to the U.N., Dr. George Stanton of the Department of State first outlined the stages of genocide in 1996.

Recognizing and being aware of stages of genocide are imperative for its prevention. The first six stages are considered the warning signs, and if governments wish to successfully prevent genocide, they must act during the first six stages.

 

8 Disturbing Stages of Genocide

 

1. Classification
Classification refers to a division of the population into racial, religious and ethnic divisions. In Rwanda, the population was divided into Tutsi and Hutu, an ethnic divide in which the Tutsi were considered nobility. The stark divide between culture and ethnicity in Rwanda created an environment prone to conflict. According to Genocide Watch, recognizing this, finding and closing the divide is a successful preventative to genocide.

2. Symbolization
Symbolization refers to labeling the classified group. The groups dividing society are identified by a certain name, language, type of dress, uniforms or religious symbol. In Cambodia‘s Khmer Rouge, people from the Eastern Zone were required to wear blue scarfs. Similarly, Nazi Germany required Jews to wear a yellow star. The symbolization of a certain ethnicity, race or religion easily and visibly differentiates that group, and the gap between two groups widens.

3. Dehumanization
Dehumanization, as the word suggests, is a process by which a particular group is marked as sub-human. This includes describing them as animals or disease. The process of dehumanization often involves negative propaganda campaigns. The U.N. provides the example that a Rwandan newspaper labeled the Tutsis as “cockroaches.” Currently, the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar are referred to as illegal immigrants, and many government leaders refuse to recognize even the existence of the Rohingya. The process of dehumanization allows the government to violate the human rights of the targeted group without the widespread criticism of the country’s people, just as long as the propaganda efforts are successful.

4. Organization
Organization refers to the planning of action, as genocide requires both collective action and group identification. In the case of Nazi Germany, the Nazi’s created a “final solution.” However, the level of organization differs by group. For Nazi Germany, the genocide was highly bureaucratic. Genocide also argues that states employ militias, such as the Janjaweed in Darfur and Interahamwe in Rwanda, in order to avoid blame.

5. Polarization
In the polarization stage, groups are further driven apart by extremists. Those who did not participate in the previous stages are forced to separate themselves by the targeted group through intimidation by extremists. The U.N. cites Kristalnacht, when hundreds of synagogues were burned in 1938, as an example. In this stage, Dr. Stanton argues, moderates are key to preventing the furtherance of genocide. Involvement of outside groups would include providing security for these moderates and combating the extremists.

6. Preparation
In preparation, further planning takes place. For instance, “death lists” are created or people are segregated into camps. At these camps, the targeted groups are subjected to starvation and disease, mimicking the consequences of extreme poverty. Weapons are stored and, as the U.N. states, death camps are built. In this stage, Stanton recommends international military intervention but notes this only occurs if there is significant political will. In many instances, intervention, if any, only occurs during the extermination stage.

7. Extermination
The extermination stage is genocide. In Rwanda, almost 1 million moderate Hutus and Tutsis were killed in 100 days. During the Holocaust, five to six million Jews were killed. The Khmer Rouge killed nearly 2 million people in Cambodia. According to the UN, there have been over 70 million deaths due to genocide and politicides since its founding. These numbers evidence the importance of prevention in the first six stages of genocide. The willingness to intervene and political will must overcome doubts or fear of political costs.

8. Denial
In the final stage, the perpetrators attempt to cover up their crimes or refer to reports of genocide as overstated. In some cases, those who violated the human rights of another group refer to the conflict as a “civil war.” The failure of international crime tribunals or individual nations to refuse to recognize the denial perpetuates future genocides. Hitler justified his extermination of the Jews by referring to the unpunished Armenian genocide.

In many cases, those who are not subjected to direct violence by the perpetrators of violence are victims of extreme poverty, as their economic prospects are extremely limited by government abuses and bias. The key to preventing further genocides is to both punish perpetrators after they occur and intervene as the initial stages are occurring. However, this requires the political will to combat human rights abuses before violence and “extermination.”

– Tara Wilson

Sources: History Channel, UNITAR, Genocide Watch 1, Genocide Watch 2, New York Times, SURF Survivors Fund, World Without Genocide
Photo: Modern History Project 2012

central african republic
Although a new United Nations (U.N.) report claims it is too early for the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic to be considered an ethnic cleansing or genocide, the international community needs to act soon before this violent conflict develops into something more serious.

This report seems to clash with a previous U.N. human rights report that claimed ethnic cleansing transpired in the months of fighting between Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic.

Since the fighting began in December, the death toll has reached into the thousands and hordes of Muslims have left the country in fear. Children have been beheaded and entire villages have been burned to the ground. Unfortunately, the Central African Republic, one of the world’s most poverty-stricken countries, has been abandoned by its seemingly powerless transitional government.

The new U.N. report also denounces Chad and Sudan for contributing to the violence.

Muslim rebel forces, known as Seleka, have been blamed for atrocities against civilians during their 10-month rule. Violence by Christians ensued after the rule ended in January.

The report states, “The fact that there is an anti-Muslim propaganda from certain non-Muslim quarters does not mean that genocide is being planned or that there is any conspiracy to commit genocide or even a specific intent to commit genocide.”

Amnesty International objected to this statement: “I would say that … the report is ignoring the fact that the massive displacement of the Muslim population in the Central African Republic is not simply a consequence of the violence there, but its goal,” senior crisis response adviser Joanne Mariner states. Christian militia fighters “have made no secret of their intent to kill or forcibly expel all Muslims from the areas under their control.”

The report warns that if the international community does not react quickly, the situation will worsen and could potentially lead to genocide and ethnic cleansing.

There is a significant inadequacy of peacekeepers in the Central African Republic and the 2,000 French troops and 5,800 African Union peacekeepers lack the ability to subdue the violence.

If the international community wants to prevent this tragedy from worsening, protection on the ground needs to be enhanced. Forces would have to defend sites and shield displaced persons more diligently. A.U. and French forces would need to use “all necessary means” to protect civilians.

The U.N. Security Council aims to deploy 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers to the Central African Republic. But this action will not happen until Sept. 15, 2014, and the troops will only be on the ground through April 2015. Additional African countries would have to join the A.U. force, and the U.S. and E.U. countries would also have to increase their involvement.

The transitional government is not adequate and it needs immediate support from donors and international experts to restore it. Only 31 percent of the U.N.’s appeal for humanitarian aid has been matched. It is essential for donors to pay their outstanding pledges as the conflict worsens.

 — Colleen Moore

Sources: ABC News, Time
Photo: Freestock

Women_in_Rwanda_Majority_of_Parliment_seats
As Rwanda remembered the 20th anniversary of the horrifying genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda’s first lady—Jeanette Kagame—wrote a moving piece stating that women bore the heaviest burden of Rwanda’s history. However, modern Rwanda now leads the world’s revolution for female political representation.

Aloysia Inyumba, Rwanda’s former minister of gender reveals that “there is a general understanding and appreciation that if things are going to be better in Africa, women are going to have a key role.” Rwandan women played a crucial role in rebuilding the country after the war—many women were obligated to step up to assume the roles formerly occupied by men. Out of necessity, women found a venue to demonstrate their capabilities.

Women hold 51 out of 80 seats in the Rwandan Chamber of Deputies; that is 64 percent. Not only that, 24 seats in the Chamber are also reserved exclusively for women. The country now has more women in the parliament than any other country in the world. Furthermore, the Rwandan constitution also guarantees both genders no less than 30 percent representation in all decision-making bodies of the country.

What does a female majority parliament mean? It means that gender parity and women’s empowerment are prioritized on the national agenda. Rwanda legislated many laws aiming at empowering women and protecting their rights and interests. Gender violence, women’s health and choice, gender imparity and imbalance are all highly prioritized issues. Furthermore, the Rwandan political culture also favors female representation; as can be seen from the fact that the even more women have been elected than what the quota system guarantees.

Nevertheless, for many Rwandans there are still many areas that could still use some improvement. In public sectors, women hold only 15.7 percent of positions, 54.5 percent of all civil servants are still male and 36.8 percent of ministers are women. Furthermore, more girls and women in Rwanda still need to be enrolled in school. However, Connie Bwiza Sekamma, one of Rwanda’s female MPs, believes that female empowerment and equality can be brought about via the quantitative expansion of female representation. She believes that gender equality can then be attained once enough women have a chance to show their potential.

Nonetheless, Rwanda’s success in moving from the state in which it found itself in the 90s to a leading country in gender equality is an admirable achievement. The seriousness with which they endeavor to make this issue a national priority is certainly worth emulating.

-Peewara Sapsuwan

Sources: Voice of America, Thomson Reuters Foundation , The New Times, Institue for Security Studies, NTV Kenya, The New York Times, Republic of Rwanda
Photo: Lateline 

rwandan_genocide_20_years_later_child_opt
It was only twenty years ago that the now infamous “Genocide Fax” was sent, a detailed letter to the United Nations headquarters in New York explaining the brewing events leading up to the mass slaughter that we now know as the Rwandan Genocide.

The letter, sent by the then-Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), General Romeo Dallaire, explained that ethnic Hutu extremists were stockpiling weapons and distributing them to the militias. An informant had also revealed to him that “he has been ordered to register all Tutsi in Kigali” in preparation “for their extermination.” These harrowing discoveries prompted Dallaire to contact UN headquarters, convinced that it was necessary to act. The final line of the letter read, ‘Peux ce que veux. Allons-y,’ translating to ‘Where there is a will there is a way. Let’s go.’

The UN however, decided against acting. Then-Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Kofi Annan, instructed Dallaire to essentially do nothing, as “unanticipated repercussions” could ensue.

The repercussions that Dallaire anticipated did ensue, following the tragic plane attack that killed then-President Habyarimana just three months later.

Then came the horrifying Rwandan genocide that claimed nearly one million lives in less than 100 days.

Twenty years later the nation has far surpassed anyone’s expectations. Due to an onslaught of foreign aid and a revitalized Rwandan pride, the country has built itself back and shows no signs of stopping.

Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, more than one million Rwandans have lifted themselves out of poverty and nearly all children attend school. Investment has nearly tripled since 2005 and economic opportunities abound. Malaria deaths have fallen more than 85 percent, and nine out of every 10 Rwandans claim that they “trust in the leadership of their country.” The transformations that Rwanda has made are far from over, as the country aims to be a middle-income nation by 2020.

These achievements prove just how much can be accomplished in the face of adversity. The Rwandan people have lifted their country out of despair and created a beacon of hope to all of those who still suffer under the dark cloud of genocide.

Not only that, but they have taught us a valuable lesson.

We have a responsibility as human beings to protect each other from such mass atrocities. Unfortunately, the United Nations learned this in a painful way. However, they have now been at the forefront of putting a stop to genocides in countries such as Libya, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Twenty years later we remember all of those who lost their lives in the Rwandan genocide, and we thank them for the valuable lesson that we now must put into practice.

Mollie O’Brien

Sources: The Guardian, The Huffington Post
Photo: Global Solutions