Even though the former Rwandan Commander, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora says he had no authority over the Rwandan Military, the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal, have found him guilty of genocide. He has been jailed for life.
He had taken control of the country’s military in 1994 in a coup, that triggered events that ended in a multitude of crimes, that have not been seen since World War II. The trail took place over 6 six years at a court in Arusha, Tanzania in Africa.
You may have heard about Colonel Théoneste Bagosora because of his association with Canadian senator Mr Roméo Dallaire. Who was a General with the United Nations Peace Keeping forces, once was inroduced to the leader of a death squad by Colonel Théoneste Bagosora. The man who he was introduced to had blood on his shirt and hands at the time of the encounter. Mr Dallaire wrote a book titled ‘Shaking hands with the Devil.’ The book has also been made into a film about the harrowing events.
In the last 15 years Rwanda has seen some of the worst humanitarian crisis’s the world has ever seen. One moment in Rwanda’s recent history particularly sticks in the mind. I was living in the UK at the time when it was aired on BBC News. In 1994 Rwanda saw a bloody genoside as The Tutsi and Hutu tribes clashed. In a matter of days 800,000 men, women and children lay murdered. The majority of those dead were from the nations minority Tutsi’s.
The killing was at the time planned by the extremist leaders of Rwanda’s Hutu majority. Who then ordered the killings. There was no intervention by the international community at the time. Bodies of people where piled up in the streets, on the hills. In homes, floating in lakes, and clogging up rivers. No place in Rwanda was spared the bloodshed.
Rwanda is a small country in central Africa. The country’s name translates as “The land of a thousand hills.” After the the genocide had subsided, over a million people fled over the country’s borders, into neighboring Congo. Made up mainly of Hutu’s who were escaping a possible uprising by the Tutsi rebels, known as Rwanda Patriotic Front. (RPF) In among all the people flooding over the borders of Rwanda were tens of thousands of the murderers from the Hutu tribes. Hidden to protect themselves from certain death at the hands of the RPV.
What happened next was a decade of war in the Congo because of the presence of the Hutu murderers. As the Rwandan government that was newly formed, began to hunt down those responsible for the genocide.
That same war has directly led to over 5 million deaths, from preventable disease, malnutrition and violence. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from there homes. There is also the fact of thousands of women suffering from violent sexual abuse.
The economies of both countries have suffered, which in turn continues the cycle of suffering in both Rwanda and the Congo. There is still daily violence, even though there is a supposed truce between the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s, as old wounds are just too difficult to heal for some. Although the economy of Rwanda and it’s neighbors is fairing better these days after the genocide, it is still quite far from being thriving. But it is in a stage of rehabilitation, like it’s people. The RPF have been working hard to keep the economy in growth, as it states, to help the people of the nation heal. Boasting apparently high growth figures, but yet still hundreds of thousands suffer.
Oprah Winfrey has also recently been highlighting the urgent need for aid to the Rwandan people. She has been campaigning for the various charities set up to help Rwanda. She has a commemorative bracelet collection for sale, the ‘O’ Bracelet, made by Rwandan women. Ten percent of the purchase price of the braclets go towards ‘Hope Shines’ a mentoring program for orphaned girls. You can also find the ‘O’ Bracelet at the Oprah Store online.
With so much war and violence going on in the world, it brings the question… Will there ever be peace? Trails like the one held finding one ring leader guilty is a short step in a cycle that hopefully one day, will bring about that peace. It is a shame that the world has so many people that are full of hate for others. When will this nonsense ever end? I hope I will be alive to see the news on tv saying… “Today we have global peace!”
Sources: Wiki, Oprah Store, Macy’s, Guardian UK, Hope Shines, My own knowledge of events, Rwanda Tourism.