Remembering the Rwanda Genocide, by Angeline Bandon-Bibum

April is a very meaningful month for me. The Easter season occurs in April and provides Christians with renewed faith. I was born in April, as was my father and his mother, both of whom have passed away. My mother died in April. So, April is also a month of loss. As I glance out the window, admiring the bright, sunny sky, green grass, and trees swaying on this windy day, this feeling of loss becomes stronger. I’m contemplating the Rwandan genocide, and those 100 days of murder, which started in April of 1994.

Today, the international community is asked to remember that nightmarish episode in human history. On April 7, 1994, a mass murder had started in a small country in Africa, named Rwanda. It's a country slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. In this small Africa nation, which shares a border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Tanzania, something unimaginably evil was happening. One segment of the Rwandan population, which was the majority, was in the process of brutally murdering the minority portion of the population. When these one hundred days of terror, rape, and murder had ended, it is estimated that 800,000 men, women, and children had been murdered. When we read this in the newspapers, we were shocked and horrified. We had many questions. The main question was why? Why did this happen? What were the root causes of this tragedy?

It's so important for people to know about this atrocity, so that steps can be taken to ensure this does not happen again in Rwanda or anywhere also. This is because it can happen somewhere else. That's the horror, a horror that most people do not want to give a second of thought to. The Rwanda genocide, as we know, was not the first genocide, or massacre. There have been numerous massacres and genocides throughout human history, from ancient times to modern times. For example, there was the Holocaust which took place during World War II, in which six million people were systematically killed. There was also a massacre that took place in Nanking, China, also during that World War II period. A religion-based massacre, St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, took place four centuries ago in France. Massacres have occurred all over the world.

What I find completely unnerving is that the Rwandan genocide was one in which civilians largely participated in actively. People were persuaded to turn against each other because of perceived ethnic differences, even people who knew each other, neighbors and other community, familiar faces. The victims of these, and all other, human tragedies, should not be forgotten, nor should those who risked their lives to save them in the midst of the bloodshed. Let’s not forget the heroes, who bravely refused to be a part of the madness. Those who followed their faith, in spite of the danger faced. To find ways to prevent these evil occurrences from repeating themselves would greatly benefit all of humanity.

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