Hotel Rwanda

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I decided to surf the internet in search of inspiration, and I found it on the mediate.com website. Robert Benjamin’s article “Hotel Rwanda and the Guerrilla Negotiator” definitely caught my eye…particularly since I had checked the DVD out from the library last Friday but hadn’t yet watched it. Benjamin’s article piqued my interest enough to do some additional research on Rwanda, and passion was born. While a colony of Belgium, Rwanda was separated into two tribal groups which many say was based on physical characteristics such as the wideness of the nose: the common Tutsi (majority), and the upper-class Hutu (minority). For many years, the Tutsis were powerful and mistreated the Hutus. In 1962, Rwanda gained its independence from Belgium, the power shifted to the Hutus, many of whom wanted to exact their revenge on the enemy Tutsis. In 1993, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire was put in charge of the United Nations Mission to Rwanda to facilitate implementation of the Arusha peace accords after they were signed by the Hutus and the Tutsis. That mission was derailed when the Hutu president’s plane was shot down by Tutsi rebels. The president’s assassination was the precipitating event of what would become known as the genocide in Rwanda. “When people ask me, good listeners, why do I hate all the Tutsi, I say: read our history. The Tutsi were collaborators for the Belgian colonists, they stole our Hutu land, they whipped us. Now they have come back. We will squash the infestation.” -- ITLM Hutu Power Radio Then, I watched the movie. In a recreation of actual events, we are taken to Kigali, Rwanda’s capitol, shortly before the 100-day genocide began. Ultimately, at least 800,000 – some say over 1,000,000 – were killed. Paul Rusesabagina is the central figure of the story and Benjamin’s designated Guerrilla Negotiator. Rusesabagina managed the exclusive Hotel Des Milles Collines (owned by a Belgian company) and developed a network of powerful allies (including a crooked Hutu army general) – plying them with bribes with the hope they would be available should he ever need a favor. A Hutu married to a Tutsi, and the father of three young children, Rusesabagina initially refused to believe the rumors of increasing hostility and brutality against the Tutsis (routinely called cockroaches by the Hutu rebels). When Rusesabagina can no longe... ... middle of paper ... ...ion has vanished. “We need the international community to intervene and help us (to do) justice, and then after doing justice, dialogue.” Lobbying the group to invest and volunteer in Africa, Rusesabagina added “What Africans need as a whole is not only someone who will come and pay their education but it is also to change the systems in Africa. To help us to change, to find lasting solutions. Africa is ruled by dictators. And those dictators should know that one day they also can be brought to justice.” On July 15-17, 2005, the Save Darfur Coalition is promoting a national weekend of prayer and reflection for the people of Darfur to coincide with legislation being introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. Noting that many delayed intervening in Rwanda in 1994 because they weren’t sure the killing was genocide, Rusesabagina has stated “What is happening in Darfur according to the definition is genocide.” Citing the cry initially associated with the Holocaust and now also with Rwanda of “never again” as the most abused words, Rusesabagina charges “When they were saying that in 1994, it was happening again and again and again and again. So, ‘never again’ to me is not enough.”

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