Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tim from the Tribunal

Tim (who to protect his identity will remain last-name-less) is a representative from the UN's ICTR which stands for International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The facility for these proceedings is located in Arusha and Tim came to talk to us about the Tribunal, its role and process, Rwanda and the genocide that occurred there, and the role of education in all of this. So, while I knew some about the genocide and the state of affairs (truly most of my knowledge was garnered from watching the movie "Hotel Rwanda"), I learned a lot and gained perspective from what Tim shared with us. He painted a somewhat grim picture (as might be expected considering the topic) about education's role. His experience was that the most educated were generally those that master minded or perpetrated these acts of horror. While I understand and respect his perspective, I feel that the reason that such acts go on, at least in part, is because the masses are (at times) ignorant to their own rights and at the same time respectful of the "authority" that is being influenced over them, even when what they are saying doing doesn't make sense and isn't right. Educating the masses more effectively as to their own rights as human beings would, I feel, help them to stand up for what is right and now allow such inhumane activity to occur. At the same time, propaganda is a very powerful tool, and many of the victims (both those attacked - and the attackers who were threatened and coerced into action) were exposed to intense propaganda all their lives. I certainly don't have all the answers, and it's not an easy question. Tim also explained that the timeline on the Tribunal is running out and the criminals aren't. Another tough situation - and one that is not easily remedied. He explained that it's not in the "best interests" for some of the P5 countries to approve the continuation of the tribunal as some of those outside countries are about to be implicated with assistance and knowledge prior to the genocide. Politics is never simple.

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