Has it been 20 years since Rwanda? Rwanda, I said. Ruh-WAN-duh. Where the Hulus and Tweeties massacred each other for fun and profit.
Oh, come on, they made a movie about it. Don Cheadle looked very concerned about the whole thing.
What’d I tell you?
Anyway, it’s back. (It never really went away.)
Drive north from the capital, and you soon discover why relief workers call the Central African Republic a post-apocalyptic country. After a year of mass murder, the villages are abandoned and the roads eerily empty and desolate.
The checkpoints are controlled by cold-eyed men from largely Christian militias who brandish knives, machetes, swords and other crude weapons. Occasionally, a decrepit taxi comes barrelling down the road, ludicrously overloaded with 15 or 20 refugees, some piled on the roof. At times, a slow-moving convoy appears – busloads of terrified Muslims, with an escort of heavily armed peacekeepers to protect them from slaughter.
They represent 15 per cent of the country’s 4.5 million people, but even where they were a substantial minority, almost all Muslims have been killed or forced to flee. The last ones in the impoverished town of Boali were removed a month ago, and a local administrator admits it is still too dangerous for her Muslim husband and children to visit, let alone come back for good.
Last year, when largely Muslim rebel forces seized power, it was the Christians who fled for their lives even though the two communities had lived peacefully side by side for decades.
A horrifyingly bureaucratic term, “ethno-religious cleansing,” has been invented to describe the massacres in the CAR. While experts argue over whether it qualifies as genocide, those inside the country know only that the killing is endless. In the capital, Bangui, bodies still pile up in the morgues, mosques and streets.
What began as a political struggle has become sectarian. “One group is trying to exterminate the other,” says Dr. Jean Chrysostome Gody, director of Bangui’s pediatric hospital. “It’s about extreme brutal revenge. They are trying to eradicate a race.”
This wasn’t supposed to happen. “Never again,” the world said after 800,000 died in Rwanda. Yet two decades later – Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the 100-day carnage – the killing continues. It continues in terrible wars such as the conflict in Syria, but also much closer to the scene of the tragedy that shocked the world in 1994.
Tens of thousands have been butchered in the CAR as well as its neighbour to the east, South Sudan, where a few months ago a dispute between the president and vice-president erupted into mass bloodshed.
Here, when we have a dispute between the prez and the vice-prez, we just call Biden an idiot and move on. Much more civilized.
And they haven’t even mentioned Darfur! Sorry, keep it down. The whole issue upsets Mia Farrow more than her ex-husband molesting her children. Remember the vlog she kept during her “fast” (it seemed tortuously slow) for Darfur? I haven’t heard such kvetching since my father-in-law’s last gout attack.
Where was I?
Oh yes, genocide! Or, it will be when the “experts” get around to saying it is.
And you know what else the article neglects to mention? Congo! Congo, I said. KON-go. As in:
Bongo, bongo, bongo I don’t want to leave the congo
Oh no no no no no
Bingle, bangle, bungle I’m so happy in the jungle I refuse to go
When you Google “Congo war”, it asks you which one. It turns out I mean the Second Congo War, “the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II” (bet they don’t refuse to go now).
World War II, I said. They made plenty of movies about that.
But not about the Second Congo War, curiously. Maybe that’s why no one mentions it. I used to bring it up here from time to time, but it upset the women and children. The 100 days of killing in Rwanda was like a bad afternoon in Congo; the agony of Darf—sorry, Mia, Darwin, Australia—could barely fit into a commercial break after a touchdown for the Kinshasa Lions.
I’m sorry I have no lessons to draw, no morals to share. Mankind never ceases to amaze with its ability to inflict unspeakable misery on itself. In Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe. We had our own bout of “ethno-religious cleansing” with regard to the Native Americans. Though they gave as good as they got sometimes, especially to each other.
Read up on the Inca Empire some day:
“For as is well known to all, not a single village of the highlands or the plains failed to pay the tribute levied on it by those who were in charge of these matters. There were even provinces where, when the natives alleged that they were unable to pay their tribute, the Inca ordered that each inhabitant should be obliged to turn in every four months a large quill full of live lice, which was the Inca’s way of teaching and accustoming them to pay tribute”.
Never got caught with a live louse or a dead girl, the Incas used to say.
But here I am bumming you all out on this splendid New England spring day. Time for me to go work the garden, tend to a little life, instead of death.
We who have that choice should choose wisely.