Monday, April 16, 2007

200 mark genocide's anniversary

Windsor Star (Ontario)
April 16, 2007 Monday
Final Edition
Gary Rennie, Windsor Star

When Domine Rutayisire called from Canada to her parents' home in Rwanda for the last time she suspects it was their killers who answered.

"Those people don't live here anymore," was the chilling message.

She lost all hope her parents had survived the genocide of some 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over 100 days of murder, rape and destruction that began in early April of 1994.

Rutayisire's story was one of many told Saturday at the University of Windsor's Vanier Hall. About 200 people gathered as the Rwandan Canadian Culture Association of Windsor, Essex County and Detroit held the 13th remembrance of the genocide.

Six men, women and children died every minute of that 100 days, often hacked to death by machetes swung by former neighbours, friends and relatives.

Rutayisire estimated about 90 per cent of her 500 close and distant
relatives died. Now living in LaSalle, the social worker at the Teen Health Centre said many Rwandans feel a bond with Canada because our troops led the UN peacekeeping mission in her country.

Rwandans appreciate that Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire warned of the coming genocide and tried unsuccessfully to get reinforcements sent with authority to respond with force, Rutayisire said.

Rutayisire's story was told in "Dry Your Eyes Rwanda," a 20-minute documentary of local survivors of the genocide that was produced by communication students at the University of Windsor. The commemoration of the Rwandan genocide ended Sunday with a service at St. Alphonsus Church, followed by a walk to the Detroit River.

One of the organizers, Hiram Gahima, said the remembrance is also meant to keep the world's attention on the survivors of the genocide, including some 200,000 orphaned children, widows and rape victims. They still need housing, medicine, food and access to education, he said.

Other genocides, such as the Holocaust, Pol Pot's regime of terror in Cambodia, mass murder of Armenians or what is now unfolding in the Sudan, were also highlighted.

The parents of Windsor psychologist Morrie Kleinplatz survived the Holocaust. But even with knowledge of what his parents told him and professional training, Kleinplatz can't explain how some people can be so brutal to others.

"To this day, I can't imagine it," he said of his parent's experiences as teenagers in Nazi Germany. After the horror of the Holocaust was revealed many opined "never again," said Kleinplatz. "Never again has become again and again."



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