Quotes: Rwandan Genocide

Quotes: Rwandan Genocide

The First Genocide

1959-61 around 100,000 Tutsis were massacred in Rwanda in what is known as the 'Hutu revolution', approximately one-third of the Tutsi population.

"The most horrible and systematic human massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis."
British Philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1964, as quoted in A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide by Linda Melvern, 2000.

"Seldom in history has a once-dominant group suffered so terrible a reversal of fortune as the Tutsi of Rwanda."
British Historian Robin Hallett, Africa Since 1875, 1974.

The Second Genocide

In 1994 approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were hacked to death in a carefully organized program of genocide. It continues to be a controversial event because of the apparent indifference of the international community to the plight of the Tutsi.

How the World Responded

"If the pictures of tens of thousands of human bodies being gnawed on by dogs do not wake us out of our apathy, I do not know what will."
Undersecretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan in 1994, as quoted in The East Africa 18 March 1996.

"Rwanda is clinically dead as a nation."
Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 1994.

"The horror of Rwanda is too high a price to pay for a very vaporous and whimsical notion of what constitutes inviolable territorial boundaries."

Nigerian Nobel Literature Laureate Wole Soyinka, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 1994.

"All notions of sovereignty with respect to Rwanda should be completely forgotten and we should just go in and stop the killing."
Nigerian Nobel Literature Laureate Wole Soyinka, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 1994.

"The OAU Organisation of African Unity was nowhere to be found… during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis, the OAU was furiously doing the watutsi* in Addis Ababa Ethiopia."
Ghanaian Economist George Ayittey, in Africa in Chaos, 1998.
* Watutsi is a synonym of Tutsi, but also the name of a dance.

"The whole world failed Rwanda… "
Words attributed to UN staff members under Secretary-General Kofi Annan, reported by Philip Gourevitch in Annals of Diplomacy: The Genocide Fax, New Yorker, 11 May 1998.

"In such countries, genocide is not too important… "
Words attributed to French President Francois Mitterand, reported by Philip Gourevitch in Reversing the Reversals of War, The New Yorker, 26 April 1999.

On Dealing With the Perpetrators

"The international community must hand them - and the sooner the better. The crime was capital and the punishment must be capital."
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, from a speech at the 'Conflict in Africa Conference', Arusha, Tanzania, as reported in New Vision, 11 February 1998.