17 years ago, the world stood by as an estimated number of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were mass slaughtered by the exteremist Hutus in Rwanda. What is now known as a genocide, was very much debatable back then when the ordeal happened. The international community, who had in their disposal the power to intervene and act, unfortunately were too ignorant to do so and it inevitably led to the gruesome epilogue that we have bitterly learned today.
I was too young to learn what happened in 1994 when the Rwandan genocide happened, thus I am fortunate that my school arranged a 17 year commemoration of the Rwandan genocide, by showing the documentary titled “Ghosts of Rwanda“.
The whole room was silenced after the movie, the mood was sombre, and some were puzzled on how did the whole calamity started in the first place.
Did it start from hatred? If it did, how can human beings, whom I believe are capable of empathy and compassion, be fully consumed by it?
Did it start from a blinded belief of the Hutu Power? Hutus believed that Tutsis will enslave them if they were in power, thus they believed that what is needed to “save Rwanda” was to eliminate all the Tutsis.
If it were the combination of hatred and blinded belief, how come nobody said “stop”?
How come nobody with their sound mind stopped the spread of this hatred and illogical belief?
Much of the lead up to this puzzle is explained in the documentary and there are plenty of information out there on the Rwandan Genocide. My thought piece here is to reflect on what happens when a number of good people just stood by in the face of wrongdoings.
It’s excruciating to see people die, just because they’re different than you.
Sometimes you would worry about minuscule things in life, well, if you were a Tutsi back then you’d be happy if you were still alive.
Same thing if you’re an Ahmadi in Indonesia now. If you believe in pluralism; if you’re a moderate; if you believe that tolerance should prevail over extremism. Who’s going to protect you if such extremists are around and nobody’s there to stop them?
The spread of hatred and intolerance will stop if your acts and words show that you stand up and say that you’re against them. The state, whose job is also to protect its people, should also show their stance and prove that this is not a place for those who believes in the acts of violence. After all, there is much to pay if ignorance persists.