Rwanda and Cambodian Genocide

[pic] [pic] Many times we may hear but not respond, we see and don’t move and having the ability to take action we don’t even move a finger until the situation is out of control. It’s amazing how ignorant and stubborn the human race can be. This is exactly the response of many nations when it comes to genocide. Genocide is the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethnic, or religious group. Two of the most recent genocides in history are the genocide of Rwanda and the genocide of Cambodia. The genocide of Cambodia started on the year of 1975 and ended on 1979.

This is considered the Khmer Pogue period, where Pol Pot , Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Khieu Samphan and the Khmer Rouge Communist party took over Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge renamed it as Democratic Kampuchea. The four-year period of their rule was enough to see the deaths of approximately two million Cambodians through the combined result of political executions, starvation, and forced labor. Due to the large number of deaths, during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, this is commonly known as the Cambodian Holocaust or Cambodian Genocide.

The Khmer Rouge period ended with the invasion of Cambodia by neighbor and former ally Vietnam in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, which left Cambodia under Vietnamese occupation for a decade. The Rwandan Genocide, located on east Africa, was the murder on 1994 in which an estimated 800,000 people died. According to a Human Rights Watch estimate[i] at least 900,000 people were killed during approximately 100 days from the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6 through the middle of July. Other estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000.

This is equivalent to 20% of the country’s total population. It was the result of an old ethnic competition and tensions between the minority that was Tutsi, who had complete power of Rwanda for centuries, and the majority, which was Hutu. The Hutu came to power in the rebellion of 1959–1962 and overthrew the Tutsi monarchy. The assassination of Habyarimana in April 1994 set off a violent reaction, resulting in the Hutus’ conducting killings of Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus. They even killed some of the Hutu’s because they were accused as being traitors and collaborationists.

This genocide had been planned by members of the Hutu power group known as the Akazu. Many of them occupied positions at top levels of the national government. The execution of the genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by local military and civil officials and mass media. Alongside with the military, the main responsibility for the killings rested upon two Hutu militias that had been organized for the purpose of political parties. These were the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, although once the genocide had started a great number of Hutu civilians took part in the murders.

It was the end of the peace agreement meant to end the war. In response to the killings that were being produced, the Tutsi Rwanda Patriotic Front fought back and eventually defeated the government army and seized control of the country. Both of these genocides were meant to wipe out an ethnic group or groups. The Khmer Rouge persecuted those who were educated, such as doctors and lawyers, and those who were or had been in the military or police force. In the Cambodian genocide the targets were Vietnamese and Chinese nationals, Muslims and Buddhist monks.

They all were virtually, if not entirely, eliminated from the population by expulsion, execution, or starvation. In the Rwanda genocide the ethnic group that was being eliminated was the Tutsi population that had been considered as cockroaches, this is how the Hutu referred to them as. The Tutsi though were assassinated brutally and in various inhumane ways. The groups that led the genocide of Rwanda were the Rwandan military and Hutu militia groups, which were the Interhamwe and Impuzamugabi. They all were sent out to kill any Tutsi that their eyes could lay on.

They didn’t care whether they were kids, adults, the elderly, women, men, boys, girls, or even babies. The Hutu had no heart when they brutally killed the large percentage of Tutsi all they cared about was cleaning their country of the “Cockroaches” as they would say. On the other hand, in the Cambodian genocide the targets weren’t assassinated on site by the soldiers. They had a similar death of those in the Jewish Holocaust. They were sent into the Killing Fields where a great quantity of Cambodians were brutally assassinated and buried at a rough estimation of 1. to 2. 5 million. The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. You would be arrested for having any type of connection with anyone outside the country. The Khmer Rouge’s polices were guided by its belief that the citizens of Cambodia had been tainted and corrupted by exposure to outside ideas, especially those from the capitalist West.

The Khmer Rouge persecuted those who were educated, such as doctors and lawyers, and those who were or had been in the military or police force all which would later be assassinated. [ii] Its goal was to create a society in which no one competed against another and all people worked for the common good. This was accomplished through placing people in collective living arrangements, or communes. A commune was where various families were put together and had to work together. Different weapons and ways to kill were used in these genocides.

In the Rwandan genocide, everything from machetes, fire arms to grenades were used to kill the large portion of the Tutsi population. The primary weapon used by the Hutu were machetes, they were less expensive and easy to supply. Some Hutu though obtained different types of fire arms including the AK-47. [iii] They obtained these by completing requisition forms, but various Hutu were pleased with a machete anything that helped them kill was extremely useful for them. The Hutu usually went into homes and sliced up anyone that was Tutsi. They made hundreds of roadblocks to get the Tutsi that were trying to escape.

You would be stopped at roadblock, stripped down for your valuable possessions they killed. At times the Hutu would kill the children first or vise versa just to make the Tutsi terrified. At times if you were Hutu and didn’t have the papers to prove it when stopped at the roadblock you were killed as well. Also, if you didn’t join the massacre and didn’t help eliminate the Tutsi population, you would be assassinated on the spot. That means you had to be part of the massacre or join the dead Tutsi that were scattered around the ground of Rwanda as if they were a pile of cards nobody ared to pick up. The health conditions in Rwanda were terrible due to this. You would travel on a road of dead bodies some starting to have signs of decomposition already. This increased the spread of diseases including cholera due to the massive contamination of water. The worst part of all was that there was no escape. Every where you went there would be a rotting corpse with a puddle of blood surrounding it. These types of scenes traumatized many children and some adults as well. In Cambodia, the population died from starvation, hard labor, disease, and assassinations in the Killing Fields.

Life in the Killing Fields was devastating. The work they did lasted for hours and if thought of not working at their full capacity they were killed. They were removed form the rest of the working group taken out of the field and suffocated for various seconds before getting assassinated. Some of the hard labor workers did survive though. Dith Pran a photojournalist for example survived this horrible experience. One of things that kept him alive was making letters in his head to Mr. Schanberg his journalistic partner. He lived by “making no move unless there was a 50-50 chance of not being killed. [iv] Dith Pran had an extremely hard life in the Killing Fields. He was fed half a cup a rice, which was barely enough to keep him alive. At this point the hunger was so immense that anything edible would satisfy him, even if it meant eating grass or a crawling lizard that his hungry eyes caught glimpse of or even sucking the blood of a cow, that would make him live on for a day more. The story of Dith Pran is well known world wide. He was a very famous humanitarian when alive and given various international recognitions as well. He might have been one of the most humanitarian persons that lived at that time.

The process of the Khmer Rouge regime, for minor or political crimes, began with a warning from the Angkar. [v] This was the government of Cambodia under the regime. People that received more than two warnings were sent for “re-education,” This meant near-certain death. People were often encouraged to confess to Angkar their “pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes” which usually included some kind of free-market activity. This could have been having contact with a foreign source, such as a U. S. missionary, international relief or government agency or even contact with any foreigner.

Even the outside world at all, being told that Angkar would forgive them and “wipe the slate clean. ” This meant being taken away to a place such as Tuol Sleng or Choeung Ek for torture or execution. The executed were buried in mass graves. In order to save ammunition, the executions were often carried out using poison, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks. In some cases the children and infants of adult victims were killed by having their heads bashed against the trunks of Chankiri trees. The rationale was “to stop them growing up and taking revenge for their parents’ deaths. [vi] Some victims were required to dig their own graves. Their weakness often meant that they were unable to dig very deep. The soldiers who carried out the executions were mostly young men or women from peasant families. The estimated numbers of deaths of genocides are alarming. At times it makes us think that we should have helped the Cambodians with military support. Unfortunately its too late now, more than 500,000 people had to die for us to realize that intervention was the right choice to take. In the Cambodian Genocide, an estimated amount of 1. million died out of the population of 8 million. That means that roughly, 21% of the countries population was wiped out in a period of 4 years. In the Rwanda genocide, there is an estimation of 800,000 up to 1,200,000 deaths. [vii] That’s about 20% of the total population the country had at the time. After so many deaths finally the Khmer Rouge was removed from power when communist Vietnam invaded in January 1979 and established a pro-Vietnam regime in Cambodia. Many survivors fled to refugee camps in Thailand, where they began to rebuild their lives.

Of these, many came to the United States on sponsorship visas. [viii] More than 20 years later, there is an attempt to bring those who committed these crimes to trial in Cambodia. On the other hand, the Rwandan Genocide ended in July 1994 when the Tutsi RPF, Rwandese Patriotic Front, captured Kigali. Approximately two million Hutus and the bystanders, with anticipation of Tutsi revenge, fled from Rwanda, to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and for the most part Zaire. [ix] In conclusion the genocide of Rwanda and the genocide of Cambodia were disastrous.

The ethnic groups involved in both of these genocides suffered a lot and a great majority was killed and left around the counter like garbage. About 21% of the Cambodian population was killed and 20% of the Rwandan genocide lay on the ground all scattered making the grounds of Rwanda a field of scattered rotting corpses. Hopefully in future threats of genocide we put action so that this doesn’t happen again. The death and brutal assassination of any ethnic group should not be shrugged off as any other problem but taken seriously before it’s too late.

These have been two of the most recent genocides in history and hopefully the last. WORKS CITED ———————– [i] Des Forges, Alison. “Leave No One to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights”. 17 January 2007 Watch. http://www. hrw. org/reports/1999/rwanda. 1 Apr. 2011 [ii] Kamm, Henry. Cambodia. (New York: Arcade Publishing 1998). 136 [iii] Holfer, Patricia. “Through My Eyes: Rwandan Genocide” 14 Dec. 1999 http://www. throughmyeyes. org. uk/server/show/nav. 23319. 1 Apr 2011 iv] Douglas, Martin, “Dith Pran, Photojournalist and survivor of the Killing Fields, Dies at’65”(New York Times) Obituary 31 Mar. 2008 A19 [v] Kamm. 156 [vi] Patterson, Henry. “Mail Online: Khmer Rouge torturer describes killing babies by ‘smashing them into trees. ” 9 Jun. 2009 http://www. dailymail. co. uk/news/worldnews/article 1191601/Khmer-Rouge-torturer-describes-killing-babies-smashing-trees. html#ixzz1Ihrc4cZm 1 Apr. 2011 [vii] Lyons, Robert. The Rwandan Genocide. (New York :Zone Books 2006) 35 [viii] Kamn. 179 [ix] Lyons. 108