1/31/2005

"Shake hands with the devil"

From MoJo:
When Canadian general Roméo Dallaire took charge of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda in 1993, the country’s civil war had halted after more than two years of fighting. Dallaire’s mission was to help both sides implement the agreed-upon Arusha peace accords and transition to a new government. But on April 6, 1994, after the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down, extremists within the Hutu population began assassinating moderate government officials and set in motion the vicious genocide that would ultimately claim the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days.
Amid escalating violence, Dallaire faced a nearly impossible situation. The United Nations repeatedly refused to send him reinforcements, and his force shrunk from 2,600 soldiers to 800 as nations withdrew their troops in the first days of the slaughter. Dallaire and his remaining forces stayed, trying to save as many people as they could while the killing continued, witnessing acts so inhuman that the general later suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Almost fifty years to the day that my father and father-in-law helped to liberate Europe -- when the extermination camps were uncovered and when, in one voice, humanity said, ‘Never again,’ -- we once again sat back and permitted this unspeakable horror to occur,” Dallaire writes in the introduction to his recent book Shake Hands With the Devil, in which he chronicles the brutality he witnessed as the world simply stood by.
Dallaire is now a fellow with the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he’s researching ways the international community can respond to future crises. He recently spoke by telephone with MotherJones.com, and you can read the interview here.

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