Reminders Of The Rwandan Genocide In France And Central African Republic

Feb 7, 2014

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Rwanda as a former French colony.

During the Rwandan genocide, many suspected war criminals fled to Europe seeking safe haven, but now nearly two decades later, 2014 marks France’s first opening of a trial over the African country’s genocide.

In 1994, 800,000 people were killed in 100 days of systematic slaughter. Many sites around Rwanda now stand as memorials to the genocide. Here, people's personal items are collected. Glasses, pens, rosaries, collected from those who were killed.
Credit configmanager / Flickr Creative Commons

The opened trials may not reveal much new about the systematic killing of ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderated by radical Hutus in 1994. Books on the genocide have been written, rivers of tears shed, and documentary films made. A U.N. war crimes tribunal and other courts have already sent dozens to prison — some for life.

Countries like Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland quickly tried some of the suspected war criminals.

“France is on the slow end,” says Suzette Grillot, Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies.

France was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2004 for acting too slowly to prosecute one case related to the Rwanda genocide case. More than two-dozen cases linked to the Rwandan genocide are still being investigated in France.

Current events in Central African Republic, including reports of killings in the presence of peacekeeping forces, are a reminder of the atrocities committed in Rwanda twenty years ago, Grillot says. 

Joshua Landis, Director of the Center of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says Rwanda, Central African Republic, and other lesser-developed countries throughout the world face numerous barriers to peace, development, and stability.

“It makes your heart cringe when you see the incredible hurdles that a country has to go through in order to put it all together and get their citizens competing in the world,” Landis says.


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