Genocide in Africa
edited: Tuesday, June 13, 2006
By Veronica Hosking
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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Rwanda and Darfur Genocides
“Not since the Rwanda genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of slaughter, rape, starvation and displacement. The Sudanese government continues to flout international law with impunity.” quote
Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza, RITRO.com’s book for May, tells of Ms. Ilibagiza’s ordeal, surviving the Rwandan Holocaust in 1994, crammed into a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. They were all Tutsi women, and they were hiding from mobs of Hutus who were out to cleanse the country of the Tutsi vermin. In 100 days, the Rwandan government believes over one million Rwandans were murdered. Most of them were Tutsis; however some Hutus were also killed if they looked like Tutsis or were thought to sympathize with the Tutsis’ plight.
Nearly ten years later, in 2003, another genocide began in Africa in the state of Darfur. As with Rwanda, the fighting in Darfur has been boiling beneath the surface for several years. “Since February 2003, an estimated 300,000+ people have died in Darfur as a result of what the President and Congress recognized in 2004 to be genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government, with 3.5 million dependent on foreign aid for their survival, and 2 million people forced by violence to live in make-shift camps.” quote
Ilibagiza wrote in her book about the first time she encountered tribal discrimination in school. Her parents never told her what tribe her family belonged to. Both Ilibagiza’s parents were teachers, and they believed everyone deserved an education. It didn’t matter what tribe you were born into. One time, when Ilibagiza was in middle school, her teacher took tribal roll call. There are three tribes in Rwanda: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. Ilibagiza didn’t stand up for any, because she didn’t know which tribe was hers. Later she found out Rwanda’s population was roughly 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi, and 1% Twa. “Most jobs and school placements went to Hutus. What the plan really did was keep Tutsis out of high school, university, and well-paying jobs, ensuring their status as second-class citizens.” [ Left to Tell p.18] In Rwanda, this discrimination began in 1973, when a Hutu seized control of the government in a coup. It came to a boil in 1994, when the Hutu’s president plane crashed on its way back from peace talks with the Tutsis who were displaced after that coup.
The history of the conflict in Darfur can be found at: Save Darfur
“Open warfare erupted in Darfur in early 2003 when the two loosely allied rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), attacked military installations. This was followed closely by peace agreements brokered by the United States to end the twenty-year-old civil war in the south of Sudan which allocated government positions and oil revenue to the rebels in the south. At that time rebels in Darfur, seeking an end to the region's chronic economic and political marginalization, also took up arms to protect their communities against a twenty-year campaign by government-backed militias recruited among groups of Arab extraction in Darfur and Chad. These "Janjaweed" militias have over the past year received government support to clear civilians from areas considered disloyal to the Sudanese government. Militia attacks and a scorched-earth government offensive has led to massive displacement, indiscriminate killings, looting and mass rape, all in infringement of the 1949 Geneva Convention that prohibits attacks on civilians.
The war, which risks inflicting irreparable damage on a delicate ethnic balance of seven million people who are uniformly Muslim, is actually multiple intertwined conflicts. One is between government-aligned forces and rebels; a second entails indiscriminate attacks of the government-sponsored Janjaweed militia on civilians; and a third involves a struggle among Darfur communities themselves. Its implications go far beyond Darfur's borders. The war indirectly threatens the regimes in both Sudan and Chad and has the potential to inspire insurgencies in other parts of the country.”
On April 30, 2006 there was a rally in Washington D.C. about the current situation in Darfur. It was the last stop in the million voices campaign to end the violence in Darfur. Early that month, many people at my church signed and mailed postcards to President Bush, adding our voices to the million. Did it help? A peace agreement was signed, but the genocide still continues. To find out how you can help visit http://www.savedarfur.org.