Hotel Rwanda is a film that follows the acts of Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu man who helped his fellow Tutsi neighbors and family in the wake of the Rwandan Genocide, by housing them in his hotel, the Hotel des Mille Collines. Throughout the film Paul progresses as a person and becomes protective of not only his family, but also his neighbors. As Paul shields his family and friends within the hotel he is faced with various problems such as protecting the people from the Interahamwe militia, seeing the death of thousands of Tutsi’s, and having to manage an uncooperative hotel staff . As tensions increase the UN decides to evacuate all the non-native born vacationers in Rwanda. This comes with a new wave of refugees fleeing the crisis as it reaches its climax. In the midst of all of that , Paul takes charge and continues to supply the people of the Hotel with goods. Pauls only sort of defense are his close ties to the Hutu General, and the UN Peacekeeping forces, who can’t even fire at the troops. While he has some close encounters with the Interahamwe Militia Paul inevitably uses his skills and sleight of mouth to get a lot of the Tutsis a UN protected bus to leave the hotel safely. In attempt to save the most amount of people Paul separates from his family so that he would not have to leave all the Tutsis behind. Unfortunately the bus/van gets ambushed and is forced to turn back. From that point forward things start to go bad, as resources are getting more and more sparse at the hotel and the people are forced to drink the pool water. Paul soon finds out that the hotel will be attacked within a few days and all his help and allies have backed out from the war zone. In a desperate attempt to save everyone Paul goes to General Bizimungu and convinces him to help bring the people at the hotel to safety. With the help of the general and his forces Paul is finally able to get all the people behind Tutsi rebel lines just in the nick of time.
When looking at the Rwandan Genocide it is apparent that a lot of the material can help explain some of the key concepts in the chapter about Ethnicities. At the crux of the Rwandan Genocide is the two “major” ethnicities in Rwanda. The first and largest being the ‘Hutus’ who make up 85% of the population, and the ‘Tutsis’ who make up 14% of the population. The Tutsis are a minority group but still had control over the Rwandan government for the most part. There was also the Twa ethnicity that only made up 1% of the population. This mix of ethnicities made Rwanda one of the many Multiethnic states in Africa. I.D. cards of citizens were used to distinguish among the different races. The conflict itself is at the base an example of ethnic cleansing and genocide. The goal of the Hutus was to get back at the Tutsis for the years of suffering they endured, in part targeting one particular ethnicity. They got their revenge in the form of mass killing, hence the name the Rwandan Genocide. The whole conflict is a prominent example of the importance of how the communication of different ethnicities can prove fatal.
To understand the conflict we can look into the movie Hotel Rwanda which gives a first person point of view of the conflict. One example is the various decision that the character had to make throughout the span of the film. When Paul made the decision to stay behind while his family went away to safety was ne of valor and respect, and can for the most part be considered morally right. Paul knew that himself, being Hutu, was the only person that could help the people at the hotel.This proved to be true when Paul was able to convince the General to help the Tutsis, an act that could not have been done if there were no Hutus present at the Hotel. It could be said that in making decisions ones family and neighbors should be regarded equally. If there comes a time to make a decision, the larger populus should be valued. Hence 20 neighbors should morally be valued over 5 family members. When it happens at a larger level, such as a nation, the decision becomes a lot harder. Even if a greater population is at risk, it is important to note that one country suffering can affect that country’s allies. Thus decisions must be made strategically and with a global mindset. However, at the crux of the situation a nation has the obligation to protect its own citizens first instead of putting them at forceful harm. Throughout the film the character had to face a plethora of obstacles, especially the Colonel and his ultimatum to either help the people or maintain his title as a silent observer. If the Colonel were to have ordered his troops to fire at the Interhamwe soldiers he would have been doing the wrong thing logically and legally. It is the Colonels duty as a silent observer to just maintain the peace, unless he is directly threatened. In order to uphold this title and the job the Colonel would have to follow the job entitlements, which he did. If the Colonel had ordered his troops to fire the consequences would have been dire at the least. His somewhat 300 soldiers would not be able to defend against the whole of the ruthless Hutu Interahamwe fighters. They could of been easily overtaken and disassembled. Just the mere act of not fulfilling his duties would discourage other nations to trust the credibility of these “Peacekeepers.” In the end the impacts of his actions may have been worse the initiative to do it in the first place.
Just as important as the movie is the real life conflict. When taking a closer look it is prevalent that there were 5 major actors in the Rwandan Genocide; each must be carefully examined to see how the conflict started and how such a tragedy was ignored. Rwanda has had a troubled racial climate since even before Europeans swooped in and made things worse. The Tutsis were the ruling elite beforehand and the lower class were the Hutus, but there was no clear differentiation between the two. The origin of the different statuses is unknown, though a few theories exist. When the Germans took over the territory and the Belgians after World War one, they cemented the Hutus and the Tutsis as a race. They used ideas of phrenology and other pseudo-scientific things to designate the entire population as either Hutu Tutsi. The Tutsis are a pygmy tribe of the region and make up only a sliver the population they’re the Hutus are a much larger group population wise making up more than 80 percent of the population today but the Tutsis continued to hold power under Europeans even after World War Two where the monarchy tried to solidify power by having independence granted. The Hutus after having been controlled by the Tutsis for so long now stood the Tutsi monarchy and violence spread focusing on Tutsi houses hundreds of thousands of Tootsie homes were burnt in the ensuing couple of years of strife the country became fully independent in 1962 with a Hutu led government over 300,000 Tutsis fled in Rwanda after the 1959 revolution some setting up tutsi-led regimes in neighboring countries throughout the African Great Lakes region. The refugees had become well-organized so they made their biggest attempt at retaking Rwanda from the Hutus, a large Tutsi force called the Rwandan Patriotic Front (or RPF for short) invaded from Uganda. After three years of fighting foreign countries managed to convince both sides to negotiate with each other. In 1993 a transitional government was established that was supposed to give some representation to the Tutsis in a forthcoming coalition government. These Accords happened in a neutral Arusha Tanzania and were abided by for one meager year. The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were travelling by plane in April of 1994 when the plane was shot down. No one knows who shot down the plane but all passengers including the two presidents were killed. Juvenal Habyarimana had been president of Rwanda for 21 years and at such a crucial time in Rwandan history his presidency was helping to maintain stability in the wake of the Arusha Accords. The Rwandan Civil War started up immediately right after he was killed but with a new component. Now the enemy of the Hutu majority wasn’t just seen as Tutsi refugees or insurgents, but those who were full citizens. Shooting down the president’s plane radicalized the Hutu military establishment. Hutus in distinct positions of power called for the extermination of what they called Inyenzi which means cockroaches and was originally a term for Tutsi insurgents, but now was being used more broadly to refer to all Tutsis. While the Rwandan army continued the civil war on the frontier Rwanda as a whole fell into the abyss of genocide they killed indiscriminately on a scale never seen before or since in the entire continent of Africa with mass media broadcasting the explicit call to kill. The United Nations despite having blue helmeted troops stationed throughout the country to maintain peace after the Arusha Accords who were powerless to do anything. While the genocide erupted nothing was done to bring the killing to an end. Though, many people campaigned for intervention but that would mean becoming involved in the Rwandan Civil War as a whole and taking a side. This state of affairs continued until the RPF fought its way through the world wanted an army who was preoccupied with the genocide. The RPF took over Rwanda on July 15 1994 instituting rulership by an RPF party that continues to this day. Four months of genocide ended by the insurgents winning the civil war the killing had taken around 800,000 lives almost a third of the Rwandan Tutsi population.
What most people would take from the most in this conflict is the reaction of the world to the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of people. Though many fingers were pointed no one really took action until after the fact. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest hidden instigators in the Rwandan Crisis was the French government. After the conflict had been resolved a lot of countries pointed fingers at France for a few reasons. The first being the fact that the nation was accused of training the Hutu military and providing them with weapons in the wake of the conflict. Furthermore, when the crisis was unfolding the French government turned its back on the nation for the most part. If these allegations were true than the French government would make France more culpable for the genocide. That doesn’t, however, leave the rest of the international community clear of blame. Though the Security Council did send some 5,000 troops to the place of battle, action was taken too late. Belgium had warned of this type of incident occurring, and even sent its own troops to protect the people, but when the Security Council had met they were afraid to recognize the situation as what it was. In official documents they did not even use the terms genocide, in fear that they would be obligated to respond to the situation. The International Community had been aware of the conflict ever since Late-April, but did not respond until the most harm had been done. The United States nearly eradicated the word genocide form their vocabulary and took upon the motto, “see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil.” After the fact the international community rallied together to make sure that such a situation would never occur again.
The Ministry of Health, and the UN Consolidated Appeals have addressed the situation by sending aid to Rwanda. Though many nations try to lend a helping hand after the fact, it is obvious that the blame is one shared by the whole international community. The UN Colonel brought up an strong point that the main reason for the ignorance of the Rwandan people was their race. The idea that racism was a major player in this situation, however, is not alien;the time was the early 90’s and racial barriers were still in the process of being completely brought down all around the globe. However, racism only played a little part in this equation as, many countries were unwilling to send their own troops to go fight in a war that wasn’t their own. Thought racism was prevalent in the 90’s it wasn’t as strong as most people started to pass down the ideologies of equality. The U.S. itself even sent troops to Somalia to aid in conflicts, but they got dealt a bad hand that lead to the deaths of innocent U.S. soldiers. This was probably a poster-child of what would come if these countries blindly sent their troops to fight in a war that was not their own. Though race cannot be completely thrown out of the window its effects were at best minimal.
What can be said is that Rwandan Genocide has impacted the globe and how nations approach situations like these. Almost everyone agrees that the situation was mishandled and that more could have been done to prevent it. THough nothing can be done to change the past the future is looking more bright because of new legislation that is crucial to stopping genocides. 10 years after the fact world leaders adopted the Responsibility to Protect in order to address situations like that in Rwanda. In extreme cases where the government is clearly at fault, it can be said that R2P (abbreviation for Responsibility to Protect) should override sovereignty. This would be most justified in situations where immorale acts are taking place, or places where the government is doing nothing to aid a situation. A situation that would follow the criteria of such an act would be the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Burma. The extreme amount of deaths occuring and utter lack of governmental protection of citizens would make this a prime example of where R2P could come in play. Another example could be Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. These groups have been targeted and killed in mass numbers and the international community is doing little about it because of ISIS’s hidden rule in the middle east. These situations are still prevalent today and the longer these conflicts remain unresolved, the more people die. Though it may not be a fix-all solution to genocides, the Tutsis can rest assured knowing that the lives lost will not be in vain.
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