There has been much talk about the Aquino family’s “achievements” with some going on and on about how the EDSA Revolution, the so-called “Bloodless Revolution” given power through “People Power”. Well let me tell you now that the more I think about it and compare it with the history of the rest of the world, the more it seems that I think that the Aquino family’s success was more a stroke of luck than an actual victory in any real sense of the word. What I’m saying is the “Bloodless Revolution” could have turned a great deal more bloody had the right circumstances taken place.
Now, I’m going to discuss with you the Rwandan Genocide. You’ve probably heard of it but more likely than not, you haven’t because most Filipinos could really care less about what’s happening to the rest of the world unless it affected them directly. Heck, they don’t really show much of an interest in what happens to the islands of their own country as long as it isn’t happening on the island that they are actually on. Bear in mind that the Rwandan Genocide has some very unpleasant similarities to the EDSA Revolution save for the fact that it happened in the worst way possible.
The Rwandan Genocide happened just recently in living memory. In 1994, world news televised the horrors of what happened there and most of the world was stunned by what they saw. Take note the word “mostly”. I don’t know if we never noticed it happening, the media somehow omitted it from their reports or we just refused to acknowledge it because, deep inside, we all know that it could happen to us.
So okay, sit tight and hold on to your meal as Professor Grimwald gives you another painful history lesson:
How It Began
The Rwandan Genocide began in a way not all that different from the EDSA Revolution. It began with the assassination of a key political figure.
You see, Rwanda was a Dutch colony that was traded among other European powers at the time like Germany and Belgium until 1961 when it was finally given independence. Before then though, the people were divided into distinct tribes or classes with the two most prominent ones being the Tutsi (upper class) and Hutu (lower class). The Dutch entrusted the ruling of their colony to the Tutsi, whom they deemed were more “European” and thus more superior. While things went on without any real trouble, the problems began when the hatred between Hutus and Tutsis came to a head and resulted in a bloody civil war.
The president of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana, was in charge of the country at the time. He was a Hutu who hated the rule of the Tutsi when Rwanda was still under Dutch control. He often balked at negotiations being done with the Tutsi rebels which eventually led to his assassination. After his death, the Hutus were galvanized into taking action against the Tutsis whom they now saw as oppressors.
What followed the death of Juvénal Habyarimana was a bloody massacre that can be barely put into words. Take note that it was not the military that carried out the killing or even a rebel group, it was the common civilians who took the streets to slaughter their fellows. It was like a zombie apocalypse but what made it worse was that it was not people being brainwashed by a virus, it was simply people giving into their baser desires. Neighbor turned against neighbor and people who once knew each other resorted to gruesome violence.
Encouraged by their own media, specifically radio stations, many Hutu civilians began the systematic slaughter of their fellow Rwandans. What were once friendly or even loyal neighbors became murderous bandits who looted, raped and butchered those they didn’t recognize as one of “them”. The government and media even went on to display lists and pictures of those who were Tutsi, and thus enemies of the state, and any Hutus who sided with or protected them.
One of the most prevalent crimes to be committed during those terrible moments was rape. This was even encouraged among the participants of the massacre as they believed that this demoralized the enemy. Then there was the way the Hutus would hack off the limbs of their Tutsi victims one at a time, refusing to give them the final relief of death unless they bled to death. Some victims even paid their killers so they would be killed quickly and efficiently with minimal pain.
To this day, I find it hard to put into words the details I’ve read about the Rwandan Genocide. The line “men became beasts and beasts became men” from Warhammer almost fit the events to tee. It was a time, I will have to say, that human beings forgot that they were human at all. What makes it worse is that, as I’ve mentioned above, this was not perpetrated just by military personnel. A lot of the atrocities that occurred were committed by civilians, common people who simply decided to join in on the action.
While the troubles of Rwanda have more or less settled down, its effects and the remembrance of what happened to the people there remain some of the most gruesome events in recent history. The UN, even with its resources, was unable to intercede because it did not deem that the massacre in Rwanda could be called “genocide” and thus refused to act even when Rwandan civilians were being killed on a regular basis. This is the same UN we Filipinos are actually hoping will defend us when China invades or when the terrorists of the south start raiding Manila.
For more references on what happened, I suggest watching the films Hotel Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil and Sometimes in April.
Look people, the sad truth is that the state of the Philippines isn’t that far from Rwanda now. Remember that when the EDSA Revolution took place, most of the people were more or less educated and level-headed people. With the events in EDSA 2 and EDSA 3, it comes to mind that another revolution in this country will be far from “bloodless”.
Let’s get our shit together, my fellow Filipinos. Let’s wake from this nightmare together before we end up like the Rwandans.
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