2009 Archives

Understanding What Happened in Rwanda in 1994

Read the blogs and see the lecture that will change the way you look at genocide

August 5, 2009

Rwanda in Central Africa was the scene of the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and Hutu political moderates in 1994 by Hutus over the course of 100 days.

To help students better understand this genocide, SMU's Human Rights Education Program is in Rwanda this summer, where the group is visiting such sites as the Nyarubuye Genocide Memorial and Urukundo Home for Children.


Laura, one of the group, is blogging for SMU Student Adventures about her experiences and impressions, including a visit to Murambi, the site of some of the worst massacres of the genocide.

"Others in the group were sobbing as we walked among the rooms, and most were being comforted, strangely enough, by women whose families lay in the very rooms we were walking through," she wrote in part. "After visiting Murambi, my subconscious was obviously processing what I had seen. I was unable to eat - I skipped two meals that day - and slept virtually all of the afternoon and into the next morning. The marks made on me at Murambi might not be physical, but undoubtedly, they will last just as long." (Read her blog.)

In addition, on April 7, 2009, SMU's Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility present "Confessions of an Expert Witness: Rhetoric, Politics, and Ethics at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda." The lecture was given by Professor Mark Lawrence McPhail, chair of the Division of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs in Meadows School of the Arts, who appeared as an expert witness before the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UNICTR) in 2008.

McPhail presented his personal reflections on the tragedy, its political and moral legacies, and the implications it holds for international justice and reconciliation in the 21st century. Watch McPhail's presentation (right).

Read more about the Rwandan Genocide.

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