This past week, on April 5th, the James Madison University had the privilege of hosting guest speaker Dina Temple-Raston, the notable author of the book, Justice on the Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes and a Nation's Quest for Redemption, during a "Confronting Genocide" conference. Temple-Raston spoke of the heinousness of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the recovery period the country endured. She summarized the events of the genocide for a student population which is mostly too young or oblivious to remember the atrocious episode.
Temple-Raston explained to her audience that Rwanda consists of two main ethnic groups: Tutsi and Hutu. 85% of the populations are Hutu and the rest is mainly Tutsi. Although the minority, the Tutsi always held power until the 1960's when the Hutu majority took over. This takeover caused the Tutsi to form a rebel army, and created tensions that were increasingly high for almost 30 years.
Temple-Raston marked the beginning of terror when the rebel army forcefully made Hutu President Juvenal Habyalimana sign an agreement which established shared powers. Further creating discord, Temple-Raston told us the first popularly elected Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye was assassinated in the October of 1993. She argued at this point the two main ethnic groups had such hate for each other that many extremist felt the need to spill blood. Maintaining the peace was became impossible. In efforts to prevent violence Rwandan president Habyalimana held several meetings with the Tutsi rebels up until his assassination in April 1994. Politically rooted violence erupted.
Temple-Raston was speaking on what, exactly eleven years ago, would have been the day before the most violent event to occur during the lives of the majority of the JMU student population. Hutu militia had decided they wanted nothing less...