The Rwandan genocide was one of the most savage, brutal, and barbaric moments in human history, as well as the quickest killing spree to date. Within two weeks, an estimated 100,000 Rwandans had been killed, then, a few weeks later, 200,000 more. Over the course of 100 days, at least 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus were slaughtered in the fight for control.
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For years, tensions between the two ethnic groups were becoming more apparent over time. In 1993, the United Nations began a peacekeeping mission between the Tutsi minority and Hutu majority in order to negotiate and achieve a harmonious outcome. However, after the Hutu president’s plane shot down, a spark was ignited and widespread violence across the country began.
Genocide is an issue in and of itself; however, the central problem and theme in which was consistently unfolding within the film was neglect. The Clinton Administration ordered an immediate evacuation of the American community merely a few days after the conflict began, and then, one thousand French and Belgian paratroopers arrived within the country, solely there for the evacuation of their people. When Tutsis were emerging from their hiding places, begging for help, all western troops and UN peacekeepers were under orders not to evacuate ordinary Rwandans, but to instead neglect and abandon them within their time of need. Basically, anyone with white skin was able to live, while anyone with black skin got to stay in Rwanda to die. Deaths were piling high, and even then, no government dared to intervene. What was stopping them? Maybe they were afraid that the breach of state sovereignty would lead to something bigger, but here, hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were being taken away in the blink of an eye, nonintervention should have been the least of one’s worries.
After the Holocaust ended in 1945, the world said, never again. The United Nations was established with the hope for a just and peaceful international community, and from that point, the UN made it a requirement for future genocides to be stopped; however, when genocide happened in Rwanda, the United States, along with most other governments, simply turned away and did almost nothing to stop it. The Rwandan genocide never became a serious enough issue for the rest of the world. In regard to international relations, which is the interaction of countries on a global scale, within the film, the United Nations was a key factor. When established, it was given four purposes: 1) to uphold worldwide peace and security, 2) to progress friendly relations among states, 3) to collaborate in solving worldwide problems and encouraging respect for human rights, and 4) to be a focus for harmonizing the actions of states. UN peacekeepers and soldiers were placed within Rwanda, unarmed, before and during the genocide in hopes they could efficiently negotiate with the conflicting groups. Simply put, international relations are the product of the UN.
Throughout the film, the importance of the Rwandan genocide became clear. Although encompassed around negativity, such atrocious crimes made a significant impact on the state, the neighbor states, as well as the international community. Prior to the genocide, ethnic differences ruled the country; and whether Tutsi or Hutu, conflict was ever-rising. Rwanda struggled for peace on a daily basis, and when the genocide began, peace was the one thing they could ever wish for. After the genocide, Rwandans, their neighboring states, and the international community were hit with a wave of emotions, thoughts, and questions. The lack of protection and the increased procrastination of the international community significantly impacted everyone’s lives; because not only did the Rwandans lose at least 800,000 of their people, but they lost their trust in the world.
The world basically slammed the door In Rwanda’s face and told them to fight their own battle. And eventually they did, but the extremely high number of casualties in which resulted could have been avoided. All things positive, the war gave reason for a newly improved constitution within the Rwandan government. This constitution safeguards human rights, promotes equality among men and women, and prohibits political organizations from basing their foundations on any division that may give rise to discrimination. Along with Rwanda, surrounding states were impacted by the genocide through refugees. Before, during, and after the genocide, refugees interrupted the outside community economically, environmentally, and socially. Through the fight, Tutsis and Hutus fled to the neighboring countries: Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. As soon as refugees arrive, competition arises between exiles and native residents for the infrequent resources, such as: land, water, housing, food, fuel, and even medical services. Internationally, the importance of the genocide has everyone questioning their trust and their reliance on the one thing that is supposed to end it: the UN. So, we must put into question, if there was another genocide happening around the world, would international help be received? Can we trust and rely on the international community to help and protect?
Within the documentary, I believe the central characters, as well as the outside community, are rightfully portrayed. Prejudice is described as a fixed opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience; the documentary, however, efficiently weighs each side and supports each detail with real-time facts, especially with interviews from people with first-hand experiences. The Tutsis and the Hutus both played an aggressive hand within the conflict, from day one to day one hundred; and I do not think one ethnic group is presented in a more positive/negative light than the other, unless given reason. For years, the Tutsis and the Hutus conflicted with one another as ethnic tensions were at an all-time high, and mainly because each felt it as necessary to obtain power. The Hutus were the majority and an estimated 85% of the population fell into this category, while the Tutsis, on the other hand, made up the remaining 15%. Although greatly outnumbered, the Tutsis were deemed superior and elite, but the Hutus were determined to hold onto their obtained power by exterminating the Tutsi population.
Nothing dramatically arose until the Hutu president’s plane was shot down in April of 1994. This act of violence, ignited the flame, but as the documentary sufficiently explains, it is still a mystery as to who shot the plane downsome blame Hutu extremists and others point to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Within hours after the plane crash, the slaughtering of both Tutsi and moderate Hutu civilians began. Bias can be present, not only in the central characters, but the outside community as well. The documentary seemed to hold the United States responsible for a vast majority of the procrastination regarding the international community. In this situation, some may consider it bias; however, as a world power, the United States significantly lacked in their role, and I, too, hold them just as responsible. The U.S. has great influence on surrounding powers; for example, once the Clinton Administration evacuated the American community, the French and Belgians followed suit. With how the U.S. reacted, the documentary had reason and well-stated facts to hold them just as accountable, if not more. Although different opinions and conclusions have considered one group, or one country, guiltier than the other, in terms of ethnic groups, I believe the documentary was unbiased, and only presented the story with facts and reason, in both positive and negative manners.
Although only by a few years, the Rwandan genocide happened before my time, and prior to watching the film, I was unaware of the situation in which unfolded. In my opinion, it was despicable. Not the film itself, but the reasons, the outcomes, as well as the inaction of the rest of the world. Within 100 days, at least 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered. Innocent men, women, and children were attacked with machetes, knives, scythes, sharpened sticks, and probably anything else the culprits could use as killing-machines. As they prayed, cried out, and hid, Rwandans were living in constant fear of the future and what was yet to come. In their eyes, no one but themselves could be trusted because the whole world knew what was unfolding, and instead, they turned their backs.
I am personally saddened with how inconsiderate the world, and especially the United States, was. Towards the end of the film, the only American who voluntarily stayed in Rwanda, Carl Wilkins, mimicked, America, the beautiful. America, the great, as tears filled his eyes. We tried our best, is an excuse in which can’t be used, because no one tried anything. President Clinton describes this catastrophe as an international failure, and simply, it was. This film described the atrocious crimes in which were conducted within Rwanda, and I enjoyed it in terms of being unprejudiced, honest, and true. I would recommend this film to everyone because many people, like me, do not fully know the truth of our global history, until now. Are international relations as good as it they are thought out to be? Can we trust the UN to protect and intervene during such situations? Supposedly, the UN was established with hopes for a just and peaceful international community, and time and time again, they have said “never again,” but when are they going to start living by their word?
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