16 January 2016
I worked at the hospital yesterday. It was very quiet.
I think in four hours I gave directions to two people. The difference
between working in the hospital and working at Logos is that on a slow day
at Logos, I can count on having customer interaction at least a few times
throughout the day.
But sitting all alone at the desk with absolutely nothing to
do gave me chance to read my book and I haven't quite finished it but I
should finish it by the end of today.
The book is called "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we
will be killed with our families." The subtitle is "Stories from
Rwanda" and it is written by Philip Gourevitch, who spent several years in
Rwanda following the genocide there and has written a shocking expose of
what happened and how the world reacted
After World War II and the liberation of the concentration
camps the world promised "never again." I have heard that over and
over again throughout my life. Never again will we allow the mass
murder of a whole group of people happen. The world will be there.
We will protect the innocent.
And that's a good thing. Should someone decide to kill
all the Finnish people in the world, for example, you know that all the
nations of the world will gather together and wipe out those who wish to
exterminate the Finns.
Where they in 1994 when genocide was taking place in Rwanda?
I remember being vaguely aware of what was happening.
Something about Hutus and Tutsis and a war going on. I remember
wondering, innocently, why black people were killing black people and how
could you tell who was Hutu and who was Tutsi and what it was all about
anyway. I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda and I took on
sponsorship of a young girl in Rwanda, but I still was not really aware of
what happened in Rwanda.
I learned, in this book, that the Tutsi people supposedly
are descended from Abel (you know--Adam and Eve's kid). Abel was a
rancher and that was why he was hated by his brother Cain, who was a farmer
from whom the Hutus descended. Apparently the enmity between tillers
of the soil and those who raise cattle has existed...forever (remember that
song in Oklahoma where they talk about how the farmer and the rancher
should be friends?)
In the 1990s, about 85% of the population of Rwanda was Hutu
and the rest Tutsi. Everyone had to have ethnic cards which identified
to which group they belonged (sound familiar, Mr. Trump?) In 1959 there was
a Hutu revolution which drove as many as 300,000 Tutsis out of Rwanda,
making them an even smaller minority in the country.
In 1990, a bunch of Tutsi refugees in Uganda invaded Rwanda
and the hostilities lead to negotiations between the two sides and an
agreement calling for a transitional government, sharing power between Hutus
and Tutsis. which angered the Hutu extremists.
In 1992 the extremists began to stockpile weapons. The
economic situation in the country left tens of thousands of young men
without any prospect of a job, resentful of their idleness, which made them
ripe for recruitment. The goal was to wipe out the Tutsis. "The people
were the weapon and that meant everybody the entire Hutu population had to
kill the entire Tutsi population...If everybody is implicated, then
implication becomes meaningless. A Hutu who thought there was anything to be
implicated in would have to be an accomplice of the enemy 'we the
people are obliged to take responsibility ourselves and wipe out this scum'"
(sound familiar, Mr. Trump?)
In April of 1994 a plane carrying Major General Juvenal
Habyarimana, a Hutu and leader of the Rwandan government for 2 decades,
along with the president of Burundi, was shot down. It was never
proven who shot down the plane, but Hutu militia groups were suspected.
Within an hour of the plane crash militia groups began setting up roadblocks
and barricades and slaughtering Tutsis.
Over the next several months over 800,000 people were
slaughtered while local officials called on Hutus to kill their Tutsi
neighbors. Men, women and children were killed, many by machete
lopping off their heads.
The international community mostly remained on the sidelines
during the genocide. UN troops in the country offered little
resistance and foreign governments shutdown their embassies and evacuated
their nationals. Rwandans who pleaded for rescue were abandoned. A radio
broadcaster gloated "You cockroaches must know you are made of flesh.
We won't let you kill. We will kill you."
People frantically reached out to anyone they could.
Though telephones were cut off, there was a fax machine in the Hotel des
Mille Collines, where many Tutsis took refuge (this is the hotel in Hotel
Rwanda, where the manager managed to save more than a thousand lives). Hutus
didn't know the phone number so were unable to disable it. They called
the King of Belgium and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France. They sent
faxes to Bill Clinton, They sat up through the night sending
faxes, calling, and ringing the whole world. But those who vowed to
never let something like this happen again remained silent and let it happen
The UN finally sent in troops, several months after the
genocide was over. The French sent in troops, but after the slaughter
and only to provide humanitarian aid.
Take the best estimate: eight hundred thousand
killed in a hundred days. That's three hundred and thirty-three
and a third murders an hour--or five and a half lives terminated every
minute. Consider also that most of these killings actually
occurred in he first three or four weeks, and add to the death toll the
uncounted legions who were maimed but did not die of their wounds, and
the systematic and serial rape of Tutsi women--and then you can grasp
what it meant that the Hotel des Mille Collines was the only place in
Rwanda whereas many as a thousand people who were supposed to be killed
gathered in concentration and, as Paul [the manager] said,
'Nobody was killed. Nobody was taken away. Nobody was
The church was of no help. One bishop, who could have
sheltered people, refused, carried a gun himself and when soldiers came to
slaughter his flock, served them drinks. "59 bishops have been killed.
I don't want to be #60." After it was over, a strong case could have been
made for his arrest, but "the Vatican is too strong and too unapologetic for
us to go taking on bishops. Haven't you heard of infallibility?"
Ironically, the UN came in to help when they learned that in
the death camps in Rwanda there were dogs who were eating the dead.
"They never used their excellent weapons to stop the extermination of
civilians, but it turned out that the peacekeepers were very good shots.
The genocide had been tolerated by the so-called international community but
the corpse-eating dogs were a health problem."
On July 12, the head of the International Committee of the
Red Cross pronounced that a million people had been killed in the genocide.
Who the hell cared about Rwanda? I mean, face
it. Essentially, how many people really still remember the genocide in
Rwanda? We know the genocide of the Second World War because the
whole outfit was involved. But who really is involved in the