Over the weekend, I went to see Hotel Rwanda. It educates us of a time of genocide in Africa, as recently as 1994. It is also unfortunate that if we look back over the last hundred years it is shocking to discover and recollect what evil humankind is capable of. For example:
Armenians in Turkey: 1915-1918 – 1,500,000 Deaths
2 million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportations and massacres
Soviets forced famine 1932-1933 – 7,000,000 Deaths
A Soviet Union leader, facilitated famine in the Ukraine – to destroy the people there seeking independence. This resulted in an estimated 7,000,000 persons perishing in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe.
Rape of Nanking: 1937-1938 – 300,000 Deaths
In December of 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army marched into China’s capital city of Nanking and proceeded to murder 300,000 out of 600,000 civilians and soldiers in the city.
Nazi Holocaust: 1938-1945 – 6,000,000 Deaths
Starting with a boycott of Jewish shops, it ended in the creation of many horrific gas chambers. Auschwitz was just one of the many death camps.
Pol Pot in Cambodia: 1975-1979 – 2,000,000 Deaths
An attempt by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions.
Anti-Sikh riots in India: 1984 20,000+ deaths + countless missing
Post the assignation of Indira Gandhi in 1984, a policy of no-rule for days resulted in what many describe as co-ordinated anti-communal violence against the Sikh population in New Delhi and many other Indian cities.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1992-1995 – 200,000 Deaths
In the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, conflict between the three main ethnic groups, the Serbs, Croats, and Muslims, resulted in genocide committed by the Serbs against the Muslims in Bosnia.
Rwanda: 1994 – 800,000 DeathsBeginning on April 6, 1994, and for the next hundred days, up to 800,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutu militia using clubs and machetes, with as many as 10,000 killed each day.
Hotel Rwanda is certainly a moving story and recollects the efforts of Paul Rusesabagina, at the time. Beginning on April 7, hundreds of people-most of them Tutsi or Hutu threatened by Hutu Power supporters took shelter at the Mille Collines, a luxury hotel in central Kigali. Paul and his staff worked hard to protect those that took refuse at the hotel once the world had abandoned Rwanda.I wondered at the end of the film what we can do to help develop preventative strategies, especially in an era where misunderstanding regarding race, ethnicity and cultural diversity appears to be on the rise. It is almost as if paranoia is invading the roots of keeping our core civil liberties in place. Interestingly, a curriculum on genocide has begun to appear in school systems across Canada. Universally, there is a need to develop a sense of human rights consciousness to ensure that we never again bare witness to crimes against humanity. Perhaps there is room for including such themes in national curriculum syllabuses.
Education of past mistakes can certainly open our eyes. However, more needs to be done to ensure that we are one world and should never abandon each other. Scarily, the deaths in Rwanda only took place over the last decade. Darkness is around the corner, it is up to us to stay in the light of day and ensure that we are not manipulated towards any evil.