Reactions

From USA Today
By Matt Roush

"A searing edition of FRONTLINE by way of the BBC, uses this orphan's stark story as a framework to humanize the inhumane. 'It was beyond crime. It was profoundly evil,' says a state prosecutor involved in bringing the killers to justice. No small task, as there are 90,000 suspects implicated in the slaughter by Hutus of 800,000 of the Tutsi minority.

Reporter Fergal Keane was among the first Westerners to enter the churchyard killing field at Nyarubuye. 'My capacity to rationalize, to understand, was overwhelmed,' says his voice-over narration. 'You don't just see death here, you feel it and you smell it ... It is as if all the goodness had been sucked out and replaced with the stench of evil.'"


From St. Louis Post Dispatch
By Gail Pennington

"More than 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered in Rwanda that spring three years ago, and FRONTLINE doesn't spare the West from responsibility. Although 1948 international law requires signets (including the United States) to intervene in cases of genocide, the State Department is shown carefully avoiding use of the term in connection with the Rwanda killings, instead citing only 'acts of genocide.'

Valentina's Nightmare should be required viewing for anyone who thinks a Holocaust could never happen today."


From San Francisco Chronicle
By John Carman

"...The world simply didn't care to pay the price of intervention in Rwanda, to the obvious dismay of BBC radio reporter Fergal Keane. Keane was in Rwanda during the massacres. His rage still hadn't subsided last year, when he returned to the southeastern Rwandan village of Nyarubuye to prepare a documentary for BBC television. His program, Valentina's Nightmare is tonight's FRONTLINE.

"Keane makes practically no effort to disguise his contempt when he recounts that a year after the massacre, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali visited the church and 'tiptoed around the remnants of death.' In one of Boutros-Ghali's armed guards, Keane sees 'the guns of the West so noticeable absent during the massacre.'

"It's a cheap shot, though Keane's feelings are understandable. He's similarly disparaging in his descriptions of medical and nutritional aid that finally reached Rwandan refugee camps in Tanzania and Zaire. The refugees were Hutus and Keane says the camps were hotbeds of the sort of Hutu extremism that caused the massacres. In effect, he says, the outside world's late involvement only served to 'ensure the comfort of the killers from places like Nyarubuye.'"


From Atlanta Journal
By Drew Jubera

"Just how many dead bodies can we wrap our minds around? Almost a million people were slaughtered in Rwanda in 1994, a genocide almost too horrific to comprehend. It was, one observer says, 'beyond crime.' But tonight's Valentina's Nightmare PBS's shattering FRONTLINE documentary makes the mass horror vividly real by telling much of it through the eyes of a 13-year-old survivor. Valentina Iribagiza hid among hundreds of corpses in her village for more than a month, taken for dead by Hutu executioners who cut off her fingers with a machete. Reporter Fergal Keane walks through this startling killing field to talk to the stone-faced Valentina and other child survivors, and through them enlightens with historic context, exposes political folly and enters the psyche of the killers themselves. Grade: A."


From Arizona Republic
By Ken Parish Perkins

"Tonight's documentary examining Rwanda's struggle for justice and reconciliation in the midst of a brutal massacre is nearly impossible to digest. You'll be asked to summon history's most horrific human slaughters to keep this hour-long production in any kind of perspective.

"...Valentina's Nightmare is by far the most ambitious and accomplished television treatment of the Rwanda massacre. It includes vivid accounts of babies being snatched from the arms of dying parents and thrown headfirst into latrines, and of the stomachs of pregnant women being slashed open."


From New York Times
By Walter Goodman

"This strong BBC report delivers some relevant background, beginning with Belgian rule after World War I, when the minority Tutsi served the colonial power as a sort of aristocracy. With Rwandan independence, tens of thousands of Tutsi were driven from the country. They returned in 1990 as a guerrilla army, and in 1993 a power-sharing arrangement was reached with the moderate Hutu President, Juvenal Habyarimana.

"When he was killed in a plane crash in 1994, Hutu Tutsi-haters went on the rampage."


From Columbus Dispatch
By Julia Keller

"Into the safe, pristine world of the average TV viewer are thrust images of grotesque savagery, of an evil so immense that it staggers the mind.

"Why, you ask, would anyone willingly watch?

"Because the images come not from some violence-gorged, blood-soaked Hollywood movie--but from reality, a part of our world.

"To turn away from them is to deny the suffering of hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandans.

"Valentina's Nightmare, tonight's installment in the reliably excellent PBS series FRONTLINE, examines in excruciating but necessary detail the 1994 genocidal sweep in Rwanda."

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