Ghosts of Rwanda

The film ‘Ghosts of Rwanda’ revisits the 1994 genocide committed by Hutu militias against rival Tutsi tribes people where 500,000−800,000 were murdered as otherwise empowered states, officials, and individuals did nothing. In a world where most have heard the post-Holocaust mantra “Never Again,” echoed repeatedly, pay special attention to this sad chapter in the history of human rights abuse, and tragically, to the ‘success story’ of an alliance of states and international organizations who conveniently found common interest in a policy of non-intervention. More recently in places like the Sudan (Darfur) and Syria, most Americans, Christians included, have generally remained indifferent to calls for humanitarian intervention in order to save lives subject to genocidal murder if not simple political chaos.

After watching this film, take notes carefully. Adding what you learned from the readings and other videos, answer the following prompts in any order or manner you chose, separately or integrated:

  • How did the Rwanda genocide happen? What were the reasons (i.e. political, organizational, institutional, psychological, practical, legal, etc.) so many otherwise moral and responsible people and institutions, Christian included, stood by as hundreds of thousands of civilians were murdered?
  • The Jewish and Christian faith traditions have traditionally asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, a typically rhetorical question meant to signal our moral responsibility to safeguard the lives of humans as humans. Realist theory ordinarily answers questions about humanitarian intervention more pragmatically by first asking what being a ‘keeper’ will cost my state, community, tribe, family, or personal well-being. Using biblical and extra-biblical sources to inform your own reasoning, on what practical or moral basis would you have acted differently than so many other good and decent people in this case, Christians included, by insisting on a policy of humanitarian-military intervention? Have you applied such reasoning to calls for humanitarian intervention in any current international crisis?