A film about the genocide in Rwanda

It was a shocking film of course, showing the way that the UN troops were unable to stop the killing and eventually withdrew, letting the killing get even more.  The killing was done by machetes.  The film is set in a school in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.  The main characters are two westerners working as a priest and a teacher and a woman BBC journalist.  The African characters do not become known to us so well but the focus on the Europeans was a deliberate choice in an attempt to make the genocide meaningful to British and similar audiences.  The UN forces are powerless to stop the killing because of their small numbers and their orders which are to monitor the situation rather than to intervene.  Maybe it would be very difficult to stop a genocide such as this when it has gathered power from years of conflict and resentment and is stoked by radio broadcasts encouraging enmity.

 

Peter Pack of Amnesty gave an introduction and took questions after the film, discussing how we can best act to prevent or stop genocides such as the one in Rwanda.  He pointed out that the international community is not keen to send very large numbers of troops in to deal with such situations and that arguably it would be better to find ways to deal with the situation leading into a genocide, for instance by stopping the use of the media to intensify hatred between groups.

 

There are a number of reviews of this film on the internet.  One review describes the reaction of an audience in Rwanda who saw the film.  They said, "That is how it was".  One review says that the Belgians when they were the colonial power sowed the seeds for ethnic hatred between Hutu and Tutsi.

I visited Rwanda briefly in 1987.  The country seemed very peaceful then and so it came as a great shock to hear of the genocide in 1994.  If there were tensions below the surface they were not obvious to us travelling through.

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