What Caused the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi?


As we mark the 28th Anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi (Kwibuka 28), we republish here an extract from a reflection piece by Noam Schimmel on What Caused the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi? It is now as important as ever, to ensure that “the survivors are heard, justice is done…”

“Today over 300,000 Rwandan genocide survivors live in Rwanda and most of them lack access to their fundamental human right to reparative justice. Many struggle with inadequate healthcare, housing, and educational opportunity. Many live in extreme poverty and suffer from profound trauma, including the trauma of sexual violence and rape by men who were HIV positive and who used rape as a weapon of war with the aim of causing Tutsi women a slow, tortuous death from AIDS. For many years when these women came to testify as witnesses at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda they were objectified and instrumentalized for the cause of international justice; their testimony was taken and was necessary to ensure convictions, but they were denied access to life-saving anti-retroviral medications. The UN did, however, insist upon providing these medications to the genocide perpetrators on trial.

…after the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi it’s time that the survivors are heard, justice is done, and the rank hypocrisy and impunity come to an end. It is time to remember and educate, to commemorate and respect, and to ensure that the Kinyarwanda phrase—the language spoken by all Rwandans—Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa alike, “Imana yiriwiwe ahandi y gataha mu rwanda,” “God spends the day elsewhere but he sleeps in Rwanda,” is no longer evocative of the 100 days of inhumane moral slumber, silence, savage indifference, and inaction that characterized the response of the world’s governments and of the UN to the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.”

To read an edited version of the article, please visit the Berkeley Blog.

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