"I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded…"

Go beyond lip service to genocide victims.

Published in the Daily Bruin

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tonight, Theodore Simburudali, the president of Ibuka, will speak at UCLA. The organization of Ibuka addresses the needs of the victims of the Rwanda genocide, its name meaning “remember.” As a survivor, Simburudali has not forgotten, and neither should we.

“Never again” – this phrase has been the perennial vow adopted by those remembering the victims of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and now the Rwanda genocide. These once powerful words now ring hollow, betraying a history of broken promises.

“Never again” has become nothing more than a sound bite, designed to assuage the hearts of those who feel the guilt of inaction.

However, mere words cannot mend the lives torn apart by genocide. Mere words cannot bring back the dead. Mere words do nothing to help those who continue to feel the sting of indifference.

In mid-1994, over a period of 100 days, 800,000 innocent lives were taken as we, the world, stood by.

Hutu extremists slaughtered tens of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Trapped in their own homes, the victims of the Rwanda genocide could do nothing as their attackers proceeded to murder their family and friends.

Neighbors were forced to kill neighbors under threat of death.

Families were torn apart.

Women were raped, and their children, hacked to pieces.

And we, the world, did nothing.

But the Rwanda genocide has passed, and though it seems as if the world has moved on, neither the survivors nor we as the international community can forget Rwanda.

Rwanda and its once-targeted Tutsi and moderate Hutu population still exist, and the effects of the genocide are ever-present.

These continued effects include the injustice of the judicial system installed to handle the tens of thousands of Rwandans accused of perpetrating acts of genocide.

The under-budgeted, overburdened courts attempting to effect reconciliation sacrifice justice for expediency, leaving survivors without closure and the accused with little remorse.

For the world to understand what really happened in Rwanda, for the victims to receive closure, for the accused to feel remorse and truly pay for their crimes, justice must be served. The truth must come out.

While reconciliation and rebuilding in Rwanda is important, it must be secondary to understanding. An understanding of the events that took place and the people who were involved must manifest itself in these trials.

And we must be a part of that.

By accepting responsibility for its inaction during the Rwanda genocide, the international community also accepts responsibility to aid its victims. Although the genocide happened over a decade ago, the international community can still take action.

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparations for Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law in December 2005.

Thus, the U.N. recognized reparation to be the right of victims of genocide and not simply an act of charity nor a punishment to the perpetrators.

But, again, these are mere words – words that will remain as hollow as any sound bite unless we remember, understand, and take action.

Only in understanding what it means for genocide to be a crime against humanity, can we understand what it means to be a part of humanity itself.

One Response

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  1. Hieneunlive said, on January 2, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Truthful words, some authentic words dude. You made my day.

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