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At the beginning of this month, April 7th to be exact, Africa and the rest of the world took a moment to reflect on the horrific Rwandan genocide that took place 20 years ago, in 1994. President Paul Kagame and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, lit a flame at the Kigali genocide memorial centre, which estimates that more than 1 million Rwandans perished in three months.
This dark season in Rwandan history ironically happened at the heels of a peace agreement signed by the former Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front led by current Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The whole purpose of signing the peace agreement was to put an end to the four-year war that had consumed Rwanda. But what followed was machete and gun fire attack, carried out mostly by extremist Hutus on the country’s minority Tutsi population.
Rwanda has not healed from the devastating memories of the genocide, and the pain will always be there. It’s important for us to continue remembering the Rwandan genocide so that we can learn from the mistakes of the past and history does not repeat itself.
After months of discussions and deliberation, it looks like the conflict in South Sudan is getting much worse. News reports from media around the world suggest that the conflict has taken an ugly turn; into an ethnic conflict.
South Sudanese rebels reportedly seized a strategic oil town last week, separating terrified residents by ethnicity before killing hundreds. According to the United Nations, residents have sought out shelter in churches, mosques and hospitals when the rebels raided the town of Bentiu.
The conflict in the country is becoming symptomatic of a tragedy that could possibly be on the level of genocide. Yes I used the word genocide.
Article 2 of The 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of one group to other groups.
According to the above definition, genocide is being carried out in South Sudan. People are being killed systematically in accordance to their ethnic back ground.
UN reports indicated 400 people were massacred during the past week. Making the situation similar to Rwanda, a message was even broadcast in South Sudan by a rebel commander, warning certain groups to leave town.
“Others broadcast hate messages declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu and were even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community,” the UN also said.
The sad thing is that, there is really no good side, not from where I am sitting anyway. This all comes down to power and is ridiculous.
On one side, you have an oil rich country that recently obtained independence. On the other side you have two people; Riek Machar backed by the Nuer community and his rival, President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka side.
The two leaders have been entangled in a power struggle since December, with the President accusing Machar of trying to oust him through a coup. This is the reason why a lot of people are going to die.
The reality is that, a life doesn’t mean much. And this is not in context of Africa only, but also any part of the world. A life is only as good as it is relevant to the moment’s need.
In 1994 Rwanda, the lives of close to one million Tutsi’s were irrelevant, very easy to destroy and not worth a second thought. In South Sudan, the lives of the people that have been killed are no different.