Faces of Genocide: Don't Look Away
from New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and
to Girls & Young Women main page
the Holocaust, the world said, “We’ll
never let this happen again.” Yet genocide
has happened in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda
among other places. Genocide is when one group
carries out a mass killing of another group because
of their race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality.
Most often, our world pays little attention.
It’s a terrible and scary thing to even
think about, but we have to understand it so
we can try to stop it. I want to talk about what
happened in Rwanda in 1994, and what’s
happening in Darfur, Sudan today. Then, let’s
discuss taking action to improve our world.
Rwanda is a central African country of mountain
ranges and rolling grasslands. “When
God wanders the world, at the end of the day,
He comes to Rwanda to sleep because He considers
this to be the most beautiful place on Earth” is
a famous saying there. But starting in April
1994, Rwanda’s beauty gave way to an
ugly genocide that killed more than 800,000
people in 100 days.
often happens because of power struggles between
two ethnic groups. In Rwanda, two tribes, the
Hutas and the Tutsis, struggled for power.
On April 6, 1994, someone killed the president
of Rwanda by shooting down his plane. The president’s
death acted like a signal to Hutu extremists. They began rounding up Tutsis
and killing them. Hutu militias raped thousands of women and girls. Many fled
Rwanda, but refugee camps in neighboring countries reported countless deaths
because of poor living conditions and malnutrition in the camps.
the genocide began in Rwanda, Major-General
Romeo Dallaire, the United Nations commander
in charge of peace-keeping, told the U.N. that
he needed more help. But the U.N.refused. Dallaire
continued to try to stop the attacks on Tutsis,
but his efforts weren’t enough. Eventually,
Paul Kagame and the Rwandese Patriotic Front
fought the Hutu militias for three months and
took power of Rwanda in July of 1994. They ended
the genocide, but with almost no help from the
the Government of National Unity governs Rwanda.
It includes representation from all ethnic
groups and religions. Under the previous government,
women in Rwanda couldn’t own land, have a bank account,
or work outside the home. Now Rwanda has the
highest percentage of women holding government
positions in the world! Women have taken an active
role in rebuilding their country in other ways
as well, finding homes for orphans, creating
support groups for widows, and entering the labor
Genocide is in the news again because of conflict
in the Darfur region of Sudan, in Africa. In
September 2004, General Colin Powell told the
U.N that the conflict happening in Darfur is
genocide; Janjaweed, Arab Sudanese
militia groups, are killing black Sudanese
villagers. Yet the international community
still hasn’t responded. Four-hundred
thousand people have died, 2.5 million people
are out of their homes, and 3.5 million people
We need to take action to stop genocide. Girls
can make a lasting impact by planning a fundraiser
or awareness campaign in their schools or communities.
Write to your local newspaper and get the media
involved. As girls, we can make just as much
difference in the world as adults. If we all
took the initiative to help, think of the impact
One organization, www.savedarfur.org,
has started a bracelet awareness campaign called “Not
On My Watch”. All of the proceeds go to
SaveDarfur.org to raise awareness about genocide.
Write to the White House
You can write to George W. Bush and tell him
to take action against the genocide in Darfur,
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C, 20500
New Moon Publishing.