Today, April 7, is a day of remembrance in Rwanda of the genocide that ravaged that country twenty years ago. 800.000 souls were slaughtered, including 300,000 innocent children.
It is an ugly, evil chapter in the history of humanity, and a topic that most want to avoid discussing. We want to bury the hideous – the evidence of barbarianism of that which humans are capable – and the shame. We want to silence and we want to forget.
However, we must remember, and we must be courageous in our efforts to protect and defend; to speak out and rage against senseless, systematic murders. It continues.
LGen Romeo Dallaire, now a Canadian Senator, was Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the Rwandan genocide. These are his words:
“Rwanda will never ever leave me. It’s in the pores of my body. My soul is in those hills, my spirit is with the spirits of all those people who were slaughtered and killed.
Still, at its heart, the Rwandan story is the story of the failure of humanity to heed a call for help from an endangered people. The international community, of which the UN is only a symbol, failed to move beyond self-interest for the sake of Rwanda. While most nations agreed that something should be done, they all had an excuse why they should not be the ones to do it. As a result, the UN was denied the political will and material means to prevent tragedy.
No matter how idealistic the aim sounds, this new century must become the Century of Humanity, when we as human beings rise above race, creed, colour, religion, and national self-interest and put the good of humanity above the good of our own tribe. For the sake of the children and our future.”
- LGen Romeo Dallaire