December 3, 2007
60, Number 13
Perspectives on Rwands's past and future
"Public health is defined as what we as a society do to ensure the conditions of health. It's also what we as society don't do to ensure the conditions of health. … Public health involves politics, and if it doesn't, then sometimes we're not relevant." —James Curran, dean of Rollins School of Public Health
"Part of the tragedy of Rwanda comes with denial. … In Rwanda, we don't see denial that [the genocide] happened but we see denial of responsibility: 'Everybody's responsible, everybody did this.' Consequently, no one is guilty and everyone is guilty, so there's no blame to be put." —Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies
"We don't have all the tools we need to criminally prosecute war crimes [who have taken refuge] here in the U.S., and we need that. It must be seen through to the end. Every last genocidier should be brought to justice."
—Gregory Gordon, former legal officer with the Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
"It's not the case that genocide is some kind of spontaneous act that takes place in a heated environment and leaves no paper trail. Genocide is always a matter of state policy and states create records. Rwanda is a very document-oriented place, it was a very bureaucratic country [in the lead-up to the genocide]." —Jeffrey Richter, senior historian in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations and part of a three-member team at OSI focused on Rwanda
"The new government came up with a vision to move Rwanda from the level of conflict and killing to the level of being a country that provides services for its people, where people can live in peace and harmony and get out of poverty." —James Kimonyo, ambassador of Rwanda to the United States
"Rwanda is one of the fastest growing countries economically in the world. They are attracting investors from all over the world. A group of investors from Dubai has just pledged $230 million for recreational and hotel development. … President [Paul] Kagame's strategy is you can't feed everybody on the land [through agricultural jobs], but you can put everybody to work behind a computer." —Andrew Young, chairman of GoodWooks International and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
December 3, 2007
Rwanda offers grim lessons to understanding threat of genocide
By carol clark
A slide of a joyous group of people filled the screen at Glenn Memorial Auditorium. "I'm in the middle with my wife," said Egide Karuranga, explaining that the photo was taken at his wedding, when the couple was surrounded by 20 family members and friends. Everyone in the photo, except for Karuranga and his wife, died in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, he tells the audience. "They were all killed. And they were killed by neighbors."
Karuranga was among the panelists who took part in "Beyond Hollywood's Rwanda: Truth and Justice, Security and Development," sponsored by the Rollins School of Public Health, along with other Emory organizations and GoodWorks International. The event was a follow-up to the "State of Race" in November, which featured a talk by Paul Rusesabagina, whose experiences managing the Hotel des Milles Collines during the genocide inspired the movie "Hotel Rwanda."
CNN's Jim Clancy served as moderator at the Nov. 27 discussion, which covered the decades-long lead-up to the genocide, the ongoing work to bring the perpetrators to justice, and the current government's efforts to rebuild the country.
"I was there when the first genocide happened in 1959," said Karuranga, a Tutsi who said he was 3 years old when a group of Hutus came and asked his family to leave their home and then burned it down in front of them. Violence flared again in 1973, before the worst episode in 1994, when an estimated 800,000 to 1 million people were killed.
Karuranga was one of about 1,200 people who survived in 1994 by taking refuge in the Hotel des Milles Collines. He is currently an assistant professor at Virginia State University School of Business.
"How can ordinary people kill 1 million people in less than 100 days?" Karuranga posed the question before going through the some of the stages of genocide that researchers have identified, including: classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination and, finally, denial.
"It is for us, very complicated. It's more complicated than anything to still live together," he said, referring to the monumental challenges his homeland faces today.