Tomorrow, or today, depending upon when you are reading this article , will mark the 18TH year since the genocide in Rwanda. On April 6, 1994, a terrible series of events began to unfold that would last more than three months and claim the lives of more than 750,000 men, women and children. The small country of Rwanda would be transformed into a killing field, one in which between 10 and 20% of the population would be butchered. The ethnic Hutu majority would turn on their neighbors the Tutsi minority with machetes, guns, knives and carry out atrocities which to this day are to horrendous to describe. Entire villages, towns, neighborhoods and districts would be "ethnically cleansed" of their population in the most disturbing of ways. Violence so savage and disgusting it is difficult to imagine. The killers were combinations of both the military, militias and ordinary civilians. Hutu people, who often grew up with, and went to the same schools, attended the same churches, often lived next to their Tutsi neighbors, would turn them and begin the slaughter.
To be fair I must mention that not all the killing was done by the Hutu's. Some was done by the Tutsi, especially as the Hutu dominated regime fell some three months later. In many instances Hutu and Tutsi were slaughtered together. Some bonds were strong between the two ethnically different groups. In one instance, some 20,000 people, both Hutu and Tutsi would meet their end together, mercilessly slaughtered in a Catholic church in the district of Nyarubuye, where they attempted to seek sanctuary. They were hacked to death, shot and subjected to hand grenade attacks.
I remember reading at the time about the methods that were used. For those who have read enough I warn you that the next description that I give is absolutely barbaric and terrifying. There was a report of a woman who had been brutalized and beaten, she had a baby tied to each arm and leg and was thrown into a river or lake. Her and the children drowned.* It was 18 years ago, but I remember reading that like it was yesterday. I don't have a reference for this, I believe it was in the NY Times.
The reason why I'm writing this is to remind us to remember the victims. Not to forget the horrible events of yesterday, which by the way resurface anew in today's world. Different countries, different faces and names, but these things still happen. The world watched back then for more than three months and did nothing to stop it. One year later it would happen again in a place called Srebrenica. I'm not sure that we have learned anything since the Holocaust, I'm not sure the world has changed at all. Today it is Syria, where it has not been 90 days, but we have watched for more than 365 days. So remember the victims of yesteryear's genocides on April 6. Never Forget, and thank our stars for what we have and often take for granted.