Rwanda: 15 Years Later

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Katie BuiOn Oct. 5, 2009 one of Rwanda’s most wanted men, former Hutu intelligence chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana, was finally captured and arrested.This infamous individual has been suspected of instigating many of the violent crimes that took place in the 1994 genocide. Nizeyimana abused his power as an official and had supposedly conducted violent attacks which included raids on universities aimed at academics, widespread rape and sexual abuse, and mutilation by soldiers under his commands.

Students and teachers at AHS are deeply affected and aware of the genocides that took place not only in Rwanda, but throughout all of Africa as well. Social studies teacher John Hawes annually plays the movie Hotel Rwanda during his classes to expose his students to an example of a genocides that has taken place in Africa. “The issue of genocide is obviously an important moral question in the world. Rwanda is one of the worst examples of our recent failure to deal with this issue,” said Hawes.

Junior Katie Bui wears a t-shirt that has the continent of Africa shaped as a hand positioned as a peace sign. This shirt is a form of expression in which Bui is letting other students know that she wants peace in Africa. She said, “I wear this T-shirt to raise awareness to my peers about the genocides in Africa because I don’t think a lot of people understand or know about it. I think people should need to know more about countries other than the US.”

The STAND for Conscience club,  a network of student groups at AHS dedicated to putting an end to genocide in Darfur and elsewhere in Africa recently played the movie God Grew Tired of Us and also plans on going to see genocide survivor John Bul Dau give a speech at Glasgow Middle School. He will talk about how the genocides in Africa have affected him. Many students join this club to raise awareness in AHS about the genocides in Africa.

On April 19, 1994 Rwanda’s vicious political war between the Tutsi and Hutu ethnic groups erupted in a 100 day killing “rampage” in Rwanda, that killed approximately ten percent of Rwanda’s population.
What started out as a social dispute between the minority Tutsi and the majority Hutus society ended in a bloody, deadly, and historical genocide. The victims included thousands of mothers, fathers, and children and such acts most people feel are undeniably vile, atrocious, and unforgivable.

However, Nizeyimana’s arrest proves that the efforts by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to seek justice and to hold those  convicted accountable in Rwanda are effective.

Despite the negative impact the genocide had on Rwanda, it is considered to be one of today’s most stable nations in Africa. Everything that was destroyed in the genocide, such as education, health care, tourism, and trade have noticeably improved since the genocide.
Though the arrest of Idelphonse Neziyimana reveals a huge improvement in Rwanda’s efforts to carry out justice, the genocide that took place in Rwanda will never be forgotten.

Many AHS students seem to care about the conflicts that plague Africa. Even though it’s been 15 years,  Mr. Hawes still feels it’s important for kids to learn about Rwanda. “I’ve known kids from stand for a couple of years and it’s a good activity for getting people to continue to think about the genocides. You want high school students to think beyond the boundaries of AHS.”

Additional Reporting By Jayran Moridzadeh