Wesley Rwanda in 1959, they flipped power

Wesley ChinMr. BabichHonors Global Studies29 January 2018The World Never Learns: Responding to Genocide Since 2nd Century B.C., the intentional destruction of a group of people, now known as genocide, has repeatedly occurred throughout the world, and almost 50 million people have been murdered as a result. An increasing amount of genocides has taken place in the last two centuries, and some still rage on today. These recent genocides include the murder of more than 800,000 Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda, the rape and slaughter of men, women, and children in Darfur, and the ongoing killing of Rohingya people in Myanmar that has caused over 10,000 deaths. International responses have varied amongst the different genocides, but all seem to have a common characteristic, being that the world does not respond to genocide in a helpful or favorable manner. International responses to genocide exhibit a constant lack of support and aid, as shown through many examples in the Rwanda, Darfur and Rohingya Genocides of the 20th and 21st Century. One of the most well known genocides around the world is the Rwandan Genocide, which took place over the course of only three months in 1994. The root of the genocide can be traced back to the late 1910s when Belgium declared Rwanda their colony after World War I. As they took control, they divided up the two main ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, with the use of eugenics, being influenced by Nazi Germany at the time. For example, the Belgian colonists measured brain size, height, and skin tone to determine which ethnic group was superior to the other. Belgians eventually declared that the Tutsis were the stronger group, so they allowed them to be heavily favored and take power over the others. The Belgians significantly changed the relationship of the Hutus and Tutsis for the worse, as the latter group no longer wanted to associate with the former. When the Belgians got ready to leave Rwanda in 1959, they flipped power to the Hutus as they knew there would be a mass killing. Thus began the Hutu Revolution in the early 1960s, as Hutus began to discriminate and exterminate the Tutsis in return for their actions in the previous years. For example, Hutus called Tutsis “inyenzi” (Kinyarwanda for cockroach) and denied them jobs in government. Eventually, the Tutsis were forced into the bordering country of Uganda to build a rebel force called the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by military leader Paul Kagame. Tensions continued to boil for next few years, and on April 6, 1994, an aircraft with the President of Rwanda on board was shot down. The day after the assassination of the president, the genocide began, as Hutu government officials and civilians started to murder Tutsis in an ample number of ways. The Tutsi-backed RPF was able to invade the country and seize control of the government, ending the genocide three months later in July. Overall, the international response to the events before, during, and after the Genocide in Rwanda was extremely inadequate and useless. One year prior to the start of the genocide, the United Nations established the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda in an effort to end the Rwandan Civil War between the Hutus and Tutsis. Just two months before the genocide began, the head of U.N.A.M.I.R. sent a message to the U.N. Headquarters, explaining that “the security situation was deteriorating on a daily basis, and reported increasingly violent demonstrations, nightly grenade attacks, assassination attempts, political and ethnic killings” (“Rwanda: Why…”) The head of the organization, Jacques-Roger Booh Booh, also received further information stating that armed militias of the two parties were stockpiling and preparing to distribute weapons and arms to their supporters. Even before the mass killings began, several members of the international community were already aware of the increasingly dangerous situation in Rwanda, yet no effort was made by U.N.A.M.I.R. to intervene. The international response continued to be worthless during the genocide, as was evident by the death toll. The country of Belgium provided the most soldiers to fight the cause, “but after 10 of their soldiers were killed the Belgian troops were withdrawn from the country, French armies overtook their place in Rwanda” (“RWANDA: Global…”). Although more soldiers were sent in after the Belgians withdrew, the response time was not quick enough and the violence and devastation grew. Even warnings sent to the U.N. Headquarters by the U.N. force commander in Rwanda were ignored. These “answers” to the crimes in Rwanda were insufficient, and it is upsetting that people let such horrible atrocities and violence occur to innocent men, women, and children. The response to the genocide in Rwanda was evidently unsatisfactory as the world realized, but somehow, they did not step up to sufficiently help, as future genocides occurred in the following years. Nine years after the end of the Rwandan Genocide, the international community realized that their response to the genocide was a complete failure. Unfortunately, a new opportunity to assist came out of an armed conflict in Sudan in 2003. The exact origins of the conflict in Sudan are unknown, but one of main issues was that in earlier years, conflicts evolved between the various groups in the Darfur area of the African country of Sudan, primarily between African farmers and Arab herders. In February 2003, rebel groups, including the Sudan Liberation Movement (S.L.M.) and Justice and Equality Movement (J.E.M.), began fighting the Sudanese government, which they accused of oppressing the non-Arab groups in Darfur. The government quickly responded by putting the Janjaweed, a group of Sudanese military and police, on their offensive force. The Janjaweed carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign, along with burning villages, looting economic resources, polluting water sources, and raping and torturing civilians. As of 2017, over 480,000 people have been killed and over 2.8 million have been displaced from their homes. The war between the rebel groups and Sudanese government is still ongoing today, but most of the killings by the Janjaweed have subsided. Awareness of the conflict first started with reports by advocacy organizations in 2003, but widespread media coverage did not start until a year later. The African Union (A.U.), a continental union that consists of all 55 countries of Africa, was the first to respond to the War in Darfur. In April of 2004, the A.U. attempted to initiate a ceasefire between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed/rebel groups. The attempt failed, causing the United Nations Security Council to prepare to assist. The initial response from the U.N. was weak, but “extensive media coverage given to the travesties and the calls to action by several notable human rights groups pressured governing bodies to do something” (“International Response…”), so the term genocide was finally used to describe the conflict. Unfortunately, the U.N. did not adopt the term to define the events, but several important political figures started to do so in support of solving the conflict. For the first few years of the genocide, the U.N. “adopted a hands-off policy…by initiating negotiations and providing resources to the A.U.” (“International Response…”). A shimmer of hope came about in May of 2006 for the people of Darfur, when the government and the S.L.A. signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (D.P.A.). The U.N. finally realized that direct intervention was necessary to implement the policies in the D.P.A., so the United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (U.N.A.M.I.D.), a joint peacekeeping mission between the A.U. and U.N., was formed in 2007. The British Government also deployed thousands of peacekeepers to Sudan in an attempt to end the conflicts, and supported the goal of U.N.A.M.I.D. Unfortunately for the mission, several complications ensued, with one major roadblock being that the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Omar Al Bashir, the Sudanese president. This led to the expulsion of many humanitarian groups by the Sudanese government, worsening the situation for the people of Darfur, and yet, as of 2018, Al Bashir is still in office. The fact that it took the world so long to begin to intervene in Darfur is unacceptable, and it is disgraceful that so many have suffered due to the laziness and incompetence of the world’s political leaders. As perfectly stated by Eric Reeves, a researcher of the conflict in Sudan, the “international failure in responding to genocide in Darfur should be occasion for the deepest shame. Inaction has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and caused untold human suffering” (“Failure…”). Somehow, the world still did not learn to take action, even after the events in Rwanda that occurred less than ten years before the beginning of the conflict in Sudan. On August 25, 2017, the government of Myanmar announced that 71 people were killed at police and army posts with bombs and small arms weapons. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group based in the Rakhine State where their people reside, took responsibility for the attacks, claiming that “it was ‘taking defensive actions’ in more than 25 different locations” (“Deadly…”). The conflict between the Myanmar government and Rohingya people can be traced back to the fifteenth century, when a large group of Muslims arrived in the former Kingdom of Arakan. As the years went by, new Muslim populations travelled to the area, and rule of the area was forced over to British India. In 1948, Burma gained independence and was renamed Myanmar in 1989. Since the mid 20th century, the governments of Burma/Myanmar have continuously suppressed the Rohingya people. They have said that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants, explaining that “neither the central government nor Rakhine’s dominant ethnic Buddhist group, known as the Rakhine, recognize the label ‘Rohingya'” (‘What Forces…”). Tensions continued to boil between the two groups, leading up to the attack by the Rohingya insurgent group in August of 2017. The military of Myanmar, along with Buddhist/Rakhine militia, quickly responded to the attacks by burning down villages and forcing Rohingya to flee their homes. In addition, many men, women, and children have been tortured and murdered since the initial attacks, with over 10,000 deaths having been reported. The international response to the Rohingya genocide has been merely a string of condemnations from various organizations and countries. In September 2017, the top human rights official of the U.N. declared that the troubles in Myanmar were “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, and that their campaign was brutal and in violation of international law. The governments of many neighboring countries have also released statements condemning the actions of the Myanmar government, with some imposing sanctions in an attempt to lessen the violence. On the other hand, countries such as China have contributed to the worsening of the situation for the Rohingya, as it repeatedly “blocked attempts to meaningfully address Myanmar’s abusive treatment of the Rohingya at the United Nations Security Council, using its veto to create stronger diplomatic ties with the Burmese regime” (“The International…”). The reactions to the genocide generally have evidently been disorganized, and the circumstances for the Rohingya continue to worsen. The world’s silence on the conflict is a prime example of how its international response to genocide is consistently poor and inadequate. It is common logic that stating that something is wrong is not going to help anything. The U.N. has not sent any peacekeepers or intervened in Myanmar in any manner, and the sanctions that some countries have imposed are useless. Several human rights organizations have been pushing for international groups to increase pressure on the Myanmar government, with one former U.S. diplomat explaining “an international response that consists primarily of assigning blame for this humanitarian tragedy is no longer tenable. It is time for the international community to organize a realistic, workable solution” (“What Forces…”). The Rohingya people need immediate humanitarian aid, and they also need to be assisted in seeking asylum. Countries that have been acting as a safe haven for the Rohingya, including Bangladesh and India, have begun to push them out of their countries, and they have no safe space to return to.  The world has failed the Rohingya people overall, sadly adding on to another example of how it has not learned its lesson on helping victims of genocide.It is distasteful that after such a large number of genocides that the world has not been able to unite and end the conflicts for good. The genocide between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and the genocide in Darfur showed that the world cannot wait too long to take action, while the current Rohingya Genocide demonstrates how important solidarity and unification is amongst everyone. Genocide already is a horrifying enough topic, as extinguishing a group of people through incredibly violent means is frightening. What’s even more inexplicable is that other peaceful countries throughout the world and international organizations made to end such problems are unable to come together to create plans to help victims and end genocide. History has repeatedly illustrated how international reactions and responses to genocide have not been as useful as they could have been, and it is time to fix this problem now.Works CitedAlbert, Eleanor. “What Forces Are Fueling Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis?” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 5 Jan. 2018, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/rohingya-crisis.”Deadly Clashes Erupt in Myanmar’s Restive Rakhine State.” Myanmar News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 25 Aug. 2017, www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/deadly-clashes-erupt-myanmar-restive-rakhine-state-170825055848004.html.”International Response to the Darfur Genocide.” Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2014. http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/GXQKOE926533637/SUIC?u=nysl_ce_cazehs&xid=b313f1ad. Ismael, Aisha, and Elliot Dolan-Evans. “The International Community’s Response to the Rohingya Crisis – AIIA.” Australian Institute of International Affairs, 12 Sept. 2017, www.internationalaffairs.org.au/australianoutlook/international-community-response-rohingya/.Reeves, Eric. “Failure to Protect.” Harvard International Review, 15 Mar. 2008, http://hir.harvard.edu/article/?a=1715.”RWANDA: Global Response.” Rwanda: Global Response, 2006,   teaching.quotidiana.org/our/2006/rwanda/response.html.”Rwanda: Why the International Community Looked Away.” DW.COM, 4 July 2009, www.dw.com/en/rwanda-why-the-international-community-looked-away/a-4157229.

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