GENOCIDE IN RWANDA?

by Malcolm Daniel

The UN Convention defines genocide as all acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national,
ethnic, racial, or religious group. Under this definition there have been three cases of genocide this century. The Armenians
were slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks in 1915, the Jews and Gypsies exterminated by the German Nazis in WW II, and the
Tutsis sere systematically killed by Hutu extremists in 1994 (Destexhe).

Carter describes the situation in Rwanda as the "worst case of genocide since WW II." Because members of both
ethnic groups were being killed, the international community did not realize genocide was occurring and the Tutsis were being
targeted (Destexhe). Destexhe feels that it was "clearly a genocide that was planned, organized and carried out by a small
group of Hutu extremists." It seems that the worlds idea of genocide is based only on WW II, and everyone said that it would
never happen again, "but when [it] occurred in a different shape and form, we didn't recognize it" (Kurtzman). During both
situations, the world didn't respond as they should have.

The US and UN refused to call the situation genocide because under the 1948 Genocide Convention and UN Charter
they would be required to take action to stop the acts of genocide and punish those responsible. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher told his staff not to call the situation genocide, but to say that "acts of genocide may have been committed" (Omaar
and de Waal). Omaar and de Waal say that "officials who knew what was happening and could have sounded the alarm were
more concerned with... their careers than with preventing slaughter in Rwanda."

Now that the situation is pretty much over, many are realizing what acutally happened. The International Tribunal was
established to try all those accused of genocide. The United States is providing two prosecutors for the Tribunal and has
offered other assistance in bringing justice. It's sad that the realization had to come when it was far too late.