Day of Reflection: 1994 Rwanda Genocide
April 7, 1994 marks the start of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda that lasted 100 days and killed nearly a million people.
This is a collection of resources and information to commemorate the Rwanda Genocide and maintain the memory of the event and who fell victim to it. This list was created by the staff of the Democracy Resource Center.
Summary: Twenty-five years after the Rwanda genocide, there is still much to learn about the role the media played as similar tragedies continue to unfold today. When human beings are at their worst — as they most certainly were in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide — the world needs the institutions of journalism and the media to be at their best. Sadly, in Rwanda, the media fell short. Media and Mass Atrocity revisits the case of Rwanda, but also examines how the nexus between media and mass atrocity has been shaped by the dramatic rise of social media. It has been twenty-five years since Rwanda slid into the abyss. The killings happened in broad daylight, but many of us turned away. A quarter century later, there is still much to learn about the relationship between the media and genocide, an issue laid bare by the Rwanda tragedy. Media and Mass Atrocity revisits the debate over the role of traditional news media in Rwanda, where, confronted by the horrors taking place, international news media, for the most part, turned away, and at times muddled the story when they did pay attention. Hate-media outlets in Rwanda played a role in laying the groundwork for genocide, and then actively encouraged the extermination campaign. The news media not only failed to fully grasp and communicate the genocide, but mostly overlooked the war crimes committed during the genocide and in its aftermath by the Rwandan Patriotic Front. The global media landscape has been transformed since Rwanda. We are now saturated with social media, generated as often as not by non-journalists. Mobile phones are everywhere. And in many quarters, the traditional news media business model continues to recede. Against that backdrop, it is more important than ever to examine the nexus between media and mass atrocity. The book includes an extensive section on the echoes of Rwanda, which looks at the cases of Darfur, the Central African Republic, Myanmar, and South Sudan, while the impact of social media as a new actor is examined through chapters on social media use by the Islamic State and in Syria and in other contexts across the developing world. It also looks at the aftermath of the genocide: the shifting narrative of the genocide itself, the evolving debate over the role and impact of hate media in Rwanda, the challenge of digitizing archival records of the genocide, and the fostering of free and independent media in atrocity’s wake. The volume also probes how journalists themselves confront mass atrocity and examines the preventive function of media through the use of advanced digital technology as well as radio programming in the Lake Chad Basin and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Media and Mass Atrocity questions what the lessons of Rwanda mean now, in an age of communications so dramatically influenced by social media and the relative decline of traditional news media.
Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa by Scott Straus
Summary: In Making and Unmaking Nations, Scott Straus seeks to explain why and how genocide takes place–and, perhaps more important, how it has been avoided in places where it may have seemed likely or even inevitable. To solve that puzzle, he examines postcolonial Africa, analyzing countries in which genocide occurred and where it could have but did not. Why have there not been other Rwandas– Straus finds that deep-rooted ideologies–how leaders make their nations–shape strategies of violence and are central to what leads to or away from genocide. Other critical factors include the dynamics of war, the role of restraint, and the interaction between national and local actors in the staging of campaigns of large-scale violence. Grounded in Straus’s extensive fieldwork in contemporary Africa, the study of major twentieth-century cases of genocide, and the literature on genocide and political violence, Making and Unmaking Nations centers on cogent analyses of three nongenocide cases (Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal) and two in which genocide took place (Rwanda and Sudan). Straus’s empirical analysis is based in part on an original database of presidential speeches from 1960 to 2005. The book also includes a broad-gauge analysis of all major cases of large-scale violence in Africa since decolonization. Straus’s insights into the causes of genocide will inform the study of political violence as well as giving policymakers and nongovernmental organizations valuable tools for the future.
Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda by Timothy Paul Longman
Summary: Although Rwanda is among the most Christian countries in Africa, in the 1994 genocide, church buildings became the primary killing grounds. To explain why so many Christians participated in the violence, this book looks at the history of Christian engagement in Rwanda and then turns to a rich body of original national and local-level research to argue that Rwanda’s churches have consistently allied themselves with the state and played ethnic politics. Comparing two local Presbyterian parishes in Kibuye prior to the genocide demonstrates that progressive forces were seeking to democratize the churches. Just as Hutu politicians used the genocide of Tutsi to assert political power and crush democratic reform, church leaders supported the genocide to secure their own power. The fact that Christianity inspired some Rwandans to oppose the genocide demonstrates that opposition by the churches was possible and might have hindered the violence.
The Antelope’s Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide by Jean Hatzfeld
Summary: In two previous works, journalist Hatzfeld offered a profound, harrowing witness to the pain and horror in the mass killings of one group of people by another. Combining his own analysis of the events with interviews from both Hutu killers and Tutsi survivors, he explored the psychology of evil, and of survival, in unprecedented depth. Now he returns to Rwanda seven years later to talk with both the Hutus and Tutsis he’d come to know–some of the killers who had been released from prison or returned from Congolese exile, and the Tutsi escapees who must now tolerate them as neighbors. How are they managing with the process of reconciliation? Do they think in their hearts it is possible? This is an astonishing exploration of the pain of memory, the nature of stoic hope, and the ineradicability of grief.
Summary: Michael Barnett, who worked at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 1993 to 1994, covered Rwanda for much of the genocide. Based on his first-hand experiences, archival work, and interviews with many key participants, he reconstructs the history of the UN’s involvement in Rwanda. In the weeks leading up to the genocide, the author documents, the UN was increasingly aware or had good reason to suspect that Rwanda was a site of crimes against humanity. Yet it failed to act. Barnett argues that its indifference was driven not by incompetence or cynicism but rather by reasoned choices cradled by moral considerations. Employing a novel approach to ethics in practice and in relationship to international organizations, Barnett offers an unsettling possibility: the UN culture recast the ethical commitments of well-intentioned individuals, arresting any duty to aid at the outset of the genocide. Barnett argues that the UN bears some moral responsibility for the genocide. Particularly disturbing is his observation that not only did the UN violate its moral responsibilities, but also that many in New York believed that they were “doing the right thing” as they did so. Barnett addresses the ways in which the Rwandan genocide raises a warning about this age of humanitarianism and concludes by asking whether it is possible to build moral institutions.
The New Africa: Dispatches From a Changing Continent by Robert M Press
Summary: In this text former “”Christian Science Monitor”” correspondent Robert Press tells his first-hand story of triumph and tragedy in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. Featuring 90 photographs by Betty Press – whose work has appeared in the “”Christian Science Monitor””, “”New York Times””, “”Time”” and “”Newsweek”” – the book offers a compelling account of the continent’s emerging movements toward democracy. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Press also explores the causes of the extraordinary human tragedies of civil war in Somalia and genocide in Rwanda and offers explanations for the West’s failure to curb them. While providing broad, in-depth coverage of sweeping social and cultural upheaval, “”The New Africa”” also introduces readers to some of the many individual Africans struggling for greater personal freedom. We meet the “”Mercedes Benz”” women of West Africa who made small fortunes in the wholesale cloth business; Peter, once a homeless Kenyan, who took up tailoring lessons until he was stricken with the AIDS virus; and Nike Davis, a Nigerian artist who escaped polygamy and abuse to establish a tuition-free art school. Both general readers and students of African politics should finish “”The New Africa”” better informed about the intricate diplomatic and political problems surrounding the struggle for human rights in Africa today, while bearing witness to vivid and moving portraits of individual Africans who, often in the face of danger, stand for greater freedom.