Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rwanda Genocide Trials

On Thursday I went to Arusha to do a street visit with one of the Amani social workers, John. I went in early with Sarah, a girl staying at the hostel. We took a bus for an hour to Arusha and then walked around until we found the AICC. This is where the Rwandan Genocide Trials are being held by the United Nations. Anyone can go watch at no cost, so we decided to go.
The visitors sit behind a glass wall and wear headphones and can watch the trial through the glass and also on the tv in the room with us. The case we watched was trying a man for 10 different acts of genocide. We only watched for a few hours because we got too hungry to sit through anymore but it was extremely interesting. The part that we saw was the witness on the stand. It was difficult to tell if he was on the defenses side on not but either way the things he was describing sounded awful. The lawyers would ask him questions in English and then a translator would translate it to his language. He would respond and the translator would translate it back to English. It was pretty confusing because I felt that it was harder for them to communicate using a third party and some of the words may have not translated exactly.
I felt bad for the man on the stand (the witness) because by talking about it he was reliving so many memories. Basically, the man saw over 100 people brutally murder while trying to remain safe in a church compound. He said they were forced to carry dead bodies to a burial area and that many of them were too tired, hot, hungry and dehydrated to carry the bodies the whole way. One of the lawyers showed him picutres of the church that this took place in. I cannot belive the amount of horror that that man has lived through. He also explained how 100 or so women, young girls, and children were murdered in a football field behind the church. Many bodies were thrown into mass graves and the people that had not been decapitated or hacked to death were thrown in alive.
He explained that he could not return to his country, Rwanda, because one of his friends had returned and people attempted to kill him because they thought that his friend was him. I think he said that he was a doctor and was wanted because he helped provide medical care to the other side. He said he still cannot return because he is afraid for his life.
The trial was not over that day and I am not sure what ended up happening but listening to this witnesses story made me think about how devastating genocide or any war is. I still do not understand why there is so much violence happening in Darfur that everyone is so aware of yet nothing is getting done to stop it from getting worse. It is awful.
*the picture has nothing to do with this entry

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