Friday, March 2, 2012

Sunthesizing Genocides and Understanding Them

          It seems that whenever there has been mass murders of groups of people throughout history, all seem to follow the same patterns or steps. The core of why these genocides happen in the first place seems to be after years of disputes and tensions between two or multiple groups. The differences could be about nationality, religious beliefs, political stipulations, or social backgrounds. Genocides that have happened in Darfur, Serbia, China, and various other places around the world are strikingly similar to the underlying causes of the Holocaust during World War II. Like the Nazis, the governments who were in power post Holocaust genocides used strikingly similar methods and propaganda to build support for their causes. I think it's safe to say that humanity has not learned enough from the Holocaust to prevent future genocides or even stop them before it's too late.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Rwandan Genocide

          Despite the harsh lessons humanity has learned from the Holocaust, the world has remained an excessively dangerous place to live. The mass murder of an entire ethnic group has continued in various places such as Serbia, Darfur, Rwanda, and other chaotic nations. The catastrophe began in 1994 and revolved around the never ending strife between Rwanda's Hutu majority and Tutsi minority. Once the killings came to an end, 800,000 Rwandans had been killed in the span of 100 days.

          Years before the Rwandan genocide took place, tensions between the Hutus and Tutsi had been building up for decades. During Rwanda's time as a colony for Belgium,  the Belgians used identity cards to separate the different ethnic groups and considered the Tutsis superior over the Hutus. Under Belgium's colonization, the Tutsis were favored for better education, living standards, and more lucrative job opportunities. Rwanda's society would remain in this state until 1962 when Rwanda claimed its independence from Belgium and leaving a Tutsi minority ruling over the Hutu majority. With all the years of resentment and disdain towards the Tutsis built up, the Hutus immediately took power and blamed the Tutsi for all the misfortunes that would plague Rwanda in the years to follow. In a way, this situation is similar to the Nazis using the Jews as scapegoats for the Germany's humiliation and woes after World War I.

          The event that finally triggered the widespread of violence was assassination of former Rwandan president Habyarimana who was a Hutu. As always in Rwanada, the Tutsi were blamed for the incident. The current presdient of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was blamed for the killing due to his previous involvement in the rebel Tutsi group known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Immediately after the assassination, much of the Hutu began to hunt down the Tutsi who they felt were responsible for the death of president Habyarimana. The Hutus in political power used the radio to broadcast anti-Tutsi propoganda and encouraged the Hutu majority to participate in genocide. Much like the Nazis, the Hutu run government used hatred and fear to manipulate the majority of Rwandans into serving their own agenda.

          During the genocide in Rwanda, the international community was completely aware of the slaughter, but failed to take action to end the bloodshed. The more powerful nations of the world refused to acknowledge that there was a genocide happening in Rwanda and stalled for weeks in fear of having to intervene. Even though footage of the carnage had been leaked all over the world, the major powers of the world still chose not to help the dwindling Tutsi.  Particularly, American politicians refused to even use the "g-word" and avoided any talks involving the genocide in Rwanda. This is strangely similar to how countries outside of Europe during World War II knew about the Nazis' extermination of the Jews, but chose not to help at first.

          In a few ways, the genocide in Rwanda is comparable to the Holocaust. Both genocides involved the extermination of minorities and political parties that used fear and propaganda to win the majority over to their agendas. At the same time, while 800,000 is a staggering number of victims, but not as atrocious as over six million victims. Regardless of the numbers, humanity has obviously not learned enough from the Holocaust to prevent the genocides that have happened after its legacy.