Friday, February 14, 2014

The Horror of History Repeating

This morning, an article came across my email with the headline 11 year old girl found amongst bodies of massacre victims. 11. That's a child, like my Easton, found traumatized amongst the bodies of her neighbours and family. A child.

Ethnic cleansing.
Civil War.

When we think back 20 years ago to Rwanda, we think of Hutus and Tutsis and the incredibly horrific stories that came out of that region. And we thought, "Never again."

I remember watching "Hotel Rwanda" and reading Romeo Daillaire's accounts of what happened and feeling accountable for not having known or acted. How could our lives in North America and Europe be so detached from the lives of those in Africa? We have the technology to learn and intervene. But we also have choices. And like the most personally convicting line in the movie, "Hotel Rwanda", if they put it on television, "we would forget about it before we finished our dinners". We can change the channel. Here, it's hardly making the news. Now, it's Christians. Muslims. And there is nothing civil about this war. Nor does it have anything to do with religion.

When's the last time you heard of lynchings? I've been following reporters from Human Rights Watch ( on Twitter and their dispatches are unnerving and stomach churning. A young boy falls off a transport truck and is lynched by a mob and dismembered while his father and brother are forced to look on in horror. If this was the only story, wouldn't it be enough to act? Peter Boukaert (@boukap) and Marcus Bleasdale (@markusbleasdale) are risking their lives to tell the story and photograph the truth. We can surely pick up the phone or send an email to our government representatives.

As Romeo Dallaire says:

“How do we pick and choose where to get involved? Canada and other peacekeeping nations have become accustomed to acting if, and only if, international public opinion will support them - a dangerous path that leads to a moral relativism in which a country risks losing sight of the difference between good and evil, a concept that some players on the international stage view as outmoded. Some governments regard the use of force itself as the greatest evil. Others define "good" as the pursuit of human rights and will opt to employ force when human rights are violated. As the nineties drew to a close and the new millennium dawned with no sign of an end to these ugly little wars, it was as if each troubling conflict we were faced with had to pass the test of whether we could "care" about it or "identify" with the victims before we'd get involved.” 
― Roméo Dallaire

Let's tell Canada that we are the force of public opinion. Call your MP or MLA and have your voice heard.

Amnesty Internation reporting from Central African Republic

I know this isn't my usual story telling side...but this is a story that's unfolding regardless of who will or will not read it. I can't apologize for that. I, for one, listened to tales of the Holocaust and of Rwanda, and I said I would not stand by and let it happen again.