10 Year Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

Not sure how much press this one is going to get in the short-attention span world we live in, but this week marks the 10 year anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

This one will really cheer you up. If you will recall it took Hutu death squads three months to murder an estimated 800,000 Rwandans. Newly released declassified materials offer more proof that the Clinton administration, which claimed ignorance of the extent of atrocities, and which only acted when it was too late, knew perfectly well what was going on. Indeed at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington's top policymakers.

I think not all humans are human in the international context; I'm sure there would have been more reaction if someone had tried to exterminate Rwanda's 300 mountain gorillas.

It gets worse. Rwanda's courts have a different problem: the nation's prisons are filled with tens of thousands of people who took part in the genocide. Many will be released (around 40,000) because there are no resources to properly prosecute the cases, the state can't afford to maintain such a large prison population if the sentencing is carried out, and because the civilian participation in the killings was so widespread. They will move back into communities alongside the survivors of the killings and the rapes .

U.S. troops and aid committed to the much more "strategically" important region of the Middle East, it's unlikely that Africa's famines, civil wars, and AIDS crises will become top foreign policy priorities any time soon. There is a commemoration ceremony this week to mark the 10 anniversary in Rwanda. Dubya (as well as most of the Western leaders) won't attend; it is one more confirmation of their indifference to Rwanda's -- and Africa's -- tragedies. The absences are appropriate; they remind how, ten years ago, the U.N. reduced its skeleton peace-keeping force at a time when many believe that just several thousand armed troops could have stopped what would become one of the worst human rights atrocities since the Holocaust. The Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., for its part, is commemorating the anniversary with a "Remembering Rwanda 1994-2004" exhibit.

I remember an interview between ABC's Sam Donaldson and W during the 2000 presidential campaign. Donaldson asked him what he would do if "God forbid, another Rwanda should take place," W replied: "We should not send our troops to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide outside our strategic interests ... I would not send the United States troops into Rwanda."

... makes you put your crappy day in perspective, doesn't it?