Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ghosts of Rwanda

The PBS documentary Ghosts of Rwanda does an excellent and gut-wrenching job of describing the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and how little the outside world did to prevent it. The movie is very hard to watch, but worth watching. While film-makers never overtly express an opinion as to who tried to help and who stood in the way on the international scene, we can draw some conclusions. Two people I've generally liked, Kofi Annan and Richard Clarke, don't come off well. Annan, head of UN Peacekeeping at the time, blocked numerous attempts by the hard-charging Canadian general managing UN forces there from taking more active steps to stop the slaughter. Clarke blocked Madeleine Albright's attempt to be slightly more active, and he refused to be interviewed for the show as well, which sounds like an admission of guilt to me. As an American documentary, it appropriately focuses on American inaction, but other countries, especially Belgium, have plenty to answer for as well. I hope that's happening.

I also wanted to recognize the heroism of an unarmed Segalese officer, Captain Mbaye, detailed to the UN team. He used nothing more than charm to negotiate his way through numerous roadblocks manned by crazed murderers, and conducted a completely unauthorized human smuggling operation that saved hundreds of people, while world leaders did nothing. Random mortar fire killed him in the last days of the genocide. More information is here. How he did it and even what he did remains mysterious. He deserves his own movie.

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