Wednesday, March 23

Why Libya matters to you

Libya, like Rwanda, is a country of peoples bound by tribal loyalties.  Individuals define themselves first by their tribe and then by country.  Political interests have historically leveraged tribal loyalty, providing one tribe with funds, arms and a mission to successfully defeat conflicting interests. 

Ostensibly you don’t care about the political interests and tribes of Libya.  But you must.  A conflict fueled by politics and led by one well armed tribe against all other tribal people has in the past resulted in horrific tragedy. 

You care about Libya as exampled by one boy, a victim in Rwanda.

Jean-Marie Mugabo was ten years old, living in Nyanza, in a southern province of Rwanda.
  Jean-Marie as the oldest brother of three siblings was allowed to attend the local primary school.  Jean-Marie was unaware of the conflict between the Hutu tribe, and the Tutsi tribe, on the border of Rwanda and Uganda.  As the fighting traveled south, he remembers hearing rumors of killings in neighboring villages.  It wasn’t until the Rwandan radio was taken over by Hutu forces and President Habyarimana was killed in 1994, that Jean-Marie recognized the fear and panic within the village. 

Jean-Marie’s daily life continued as usual.  He walked approximately 20 miles, in his khaki uniform to the six room brick school.   The students collected water from the river to clean the classrooms in the morning, hoping to win ‘the cleanest classroom’ award.  One day, Jean-Marie stayed home sick, admitting “I wasn’t so sick I just didn’t feel like going so I told them I wasn’t feeling well.” 

When Jean-Marie arrived at school the next day, he found most of the bodies in the courtyard by the flagpole.  The students and teachers had been ordered out of their classrooms, lined up in the courtyard and shot or killed with machetes.  Jean-Marie saw other bodies scattered around the school, obviously killed as they tried to escape.  This is the beginning of Jean-Marie’s gruesome journey as he fled, alone, on foot, over one hundred miles to a UN refugee camp in Uganda.

In April 1994, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to abandon Rwanda, resulting in the genocide of 800,000 people in less than 100 days.  Conversely, an American led mission backed by the U.N. Security Council to establish a no-fly zone was successfully implemented in Kosovo and effectively prevented a repeat Rwanda performance.

Libya matters to you because you care about all ten year old boys, wherever they are.

No comments:

Post a Comment