photo of skullsGhosts of Rwanda
join the discussion - Does the phrase never again have more meaning today than it did ten years ago? If another Rwanda were to happen, do you think the world would respond differently this time?


Mr. Aamir Ali's description of Muslim efforts to save lives during the genocide in Rwanda deserves further enlightenment.

During the early weeks of the slaughter, the Islamic community in Nyamirambo quarter of Kigali gathered to protect those who were being marked for extermination, regardless of their religious persuasion. Only when the maddened interahamwe and military over ran their defensive positions did those protecting and being protected succumb. In late 1996 when the mass returns of those who had fled the carnage took place, the Muslims led the return in solidarity and unison from Tanzania, seeking reconciliation and healing in their nation.

In those times of the general failure of mankind, the Islamic community in Rwanda spoke as one voice against the evil being perpetrated. God, by whatever name we choose to call him, was alive in their collective hearts.

gromo alex
Kigali, Rwanda

Gregory Alex
Kigali, Rwanda,


In some of the letters posted, people have shown some disgust, resentment, etc., towards Kofi Annan and the U.N., when the troops pulled out of the situation. What these people fail to recognize is that the U.N. itself is not a single force, but an entity made up of different countries.

Therefore, when the Belgian government, along with others, pulled it's troops out, those troops belonged to the those individual governments and were working in accordance with the U.N. I do know though, more could have been done to prevent such an atrocity, and the blame lies on the shoulders of many people including, especially the "land of liberty, and justice" America, as it fails to stand by its words.

Heinrich V. Schpielmann
Eureka, Nevada


Thank you Frontline, for opening the eyes of many to this tragedy. I cannot believe how little attention the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide has attracted. It is very embarassing.

I would like to recommend LGeneral Romeo Dallaire's book, "Shake Hands with the Devil" to anyone wanting to learn more about this failure of humanity. He is a great man and a true hero. I hope he finds solace on his first trip to Rwanda this week.
To the surviving women and children of Rwanda, may you find hope, love and a brighter future. You are not forgotton in my heart.

Cara Mattea
East Lansing, MI


. I am Rwanda myself, and I am still crying my family members and friends who were killed in Rwanda 1994. Some of them were Hutu others were Tutsi. It just does not seem to go away from my mind, my life.

I was fortunate to be outside of Rwanda during the genocide. I was a student in the US, but my education suffered a lot since the beginning of that ordeal.

The Rwandan genocide is to be blamed first on us Rwandans, because we got to settle our differences somehow. But, partisan politics will not let this happen.

I also place a big responsability on the UN and western nations. Madeleine Albright said it herself, that she was instructed not to support any kind of UN action in Rwanda.

If the Rwandan population were to be white, that mass murder would not have reached the scale. Something would have been done.

Your report does have a few things that needs comments:
- You showed the gruesome killings done by the government and never showed anything done by the then rebellion -- Kagame's rebellion killed thousands of people in the East and Northern Rwanda and yo did not capture that.
- confusion of things: some bodies had their arms tied behind their back. This is a well known killing style, that was used by Kagame rebellion. The other side used mostly machettes.

I thank all the people who put the lives on the line to protect others in Rwanda, especially Capt. Mbaye Diagne. I believe he deserves a medal from Rwandan, a UN Honor or a Nobel Peace price.

Rwandan,in the USA


With more financing, more resources, more international respect and support the UN could have a powerful unprecedented impact on the quality of life in this world.

Evil will never disappear, but a united front condemning and responsive to crimes against humanity could eventually mold cultures to conform to a more uniform respect of life and liberty.
I also feel Kofi Annon is a powerful leader, with an empathetic understanding of human nature and culture. He is a remarkable individual with an irreproachable character and it is therefore so tragic he can not do more within his organization.

Thanks for such a heart wrenching chronicle too painful to be forgotten. There is truly no hell to fear other than the one that exists here on earth.

e e


When the Rwanda genocide was unfolding I remember asking myself why someone isnt doing something to stop it.

I didn't write a letter I didn't make a phone call I didn't encourage my friends to act. Our leaders didn't act because I didn't nor did people of many nations force their leaders to act.

The blame lies within each of us that watched this tragedy develop without making our leaders aware and are going to hold them accountable.

Michael Burns
Tubac, Arizona


Great documentary. I recently visited Rwanda --beautiful, primitive, gentle, hopeful. One had to make an effort to see remnants of the genocide. There are some memorials; the occasional overgrown or burnt house off the road; a man with one arm.... I was in a remote area, and the Rwandans there didn't talk about it. They are trying to put it behind them. I guess that's their privilege, but we in the West should not put it behind us. Your show will help us in that regard.
I was moved by many an individual in the show, but most by Carl Wilkens, the missionary. Many Christians, mostly Rwandan, endangered and sacrificed themselves saving their brothers and sisters. Their names will never be well known, at least not in this world.
Another recommended book: "We wish to inform you that in the morning we will be killed with our families" by Philip Gourevitch.
I agree with your first letter-writer, who wanted more details about French complicity in this disaster.
Again, well done.

william rambo
Columbia, SC


Thank you for a very moving powerful program. There is plenty of blame to go around but I was surprised by the fact that France's role in the genocide was not even mentioned. They trained and supported the Hutus in pursuit of their faded dreams of empire.

The United States is frequently presented as the 'bad guy' in world affairs. In the case of Rwanda, the French have much to answer for and to date few answers have been forthcoming.

R. Blumer


Thanks for helping us to learn about the painful truth regarding the 1994 genocide in Rawanda.

I can't help but wonder whether or not the race of the perpetrators and victims had significant bearing upon the world's lack of concern and action during this horrific event.

I am ashamed of America's indifference and the inability of our mid-level beauracrats to have any impact on the decision making processes of our government during such an urgent dilemma. I think that the United Nations should be removed from USA soil and that we should refuse to be a member again until the world nations can agree upon a definition of genocide that transcends politicalization along with a staunch committment to take fast and decisive action whenever genocide once again rears its ugly head.

We will most assuredly be revisited by this ultimate evil again and yet again until we have the courage and conviction to act against it. To my way of thinking, "Never again" is a meaningless concept. We should replace it in our minds and actions with "That they shall not have died in vain!"

Jon D. Elder
Monterey Park, CA


I'd urge anyone moved by this--abject failure of civilized humanity to defend itself-- to also read David Rieff's book, "A Bed For The Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis." In it, he chronicles this failure, along with several other failures in the 90's, all of which are key in defining how we got to where we are today in Iraq.

Your two hour documentary could change the world. I only wish it were more widely accessible. I only wish that, across the world, we all stopped for two hours, and just quietly witnessed, with our eyes open. Our humanity is out there somehere, waiting to re-establish itself.

Fred Bartlett
Allentown, Pa


To all those who stayed in Rwanda because you cared, you are truly heroes.

Thank you Frontline for reminding the world of the lessons of Rwanda.

Amos Hare
New York, New York


Thank you for producing and airing such a staggering documentary. I only wish that people hooked on a staple diet of "reality TV" would care enough to watch and discuss this program.

Rwanda was allowed to happen because it involved poor black people with nothing to offer the United States government. Period. If this genocide had occurred in a wealthy country, or in a country with predominantly white citizens, the US and the rest of the world would be in a lather to put a stop to it.

Molly Kinkaid
Clearwater, Kansas


I found your report on the Rwanda genocide to be very informative. However, both your program and your website has glossed over the only material point of this genocide which is:

Why do the Tutsi and the Hutu hate each other to the point of tolerating mass murder?

If this problem is left unsolved, more mass murders are in store. The western world will constantly have to police this state, to the point of it becoming "colonial."

FRONTLINE'S lack of providing the background for this intertribal hatred lead me to form some rather incomplete conclusions. For example, if the audience knew the actual reason for the hatred, and the reason was trivial, would the audience look with contempt upon one party over another? How could the Tutsis, who you mentioned are a minority party, eventually topple the majority Hutu?

And finally, what about repercussions? I can not imagine that in such a lawless society such as Rwanda, that revenge killings will not start.

Annan and Albright can have all the regrets they want to have.
But that is not the story. The story is the hatred that spawned the murders. And FRONTLINE had less than a minute of inconclusive nonsense about a "spear in the foot" devoted to it.

Tell me, could you tell the difference between a dead Hutu and a dead Tutsi?

Now I will go do some research as to the real cause of this tragedy. It sure is not Bill Clinton's lack of resolve on this matter. And I am no a fan of his.

Christopher Davitt
Lake Forest, Illinois


I have copied down some names, among them: Capt. Mbaye Diagne, Carl Wilkens, Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Phillipe Gaillard. I intend to read more about these people.

Perhaps one of the hardest things about growing up (or perhaps old) is the realization that injustice is so commonplace, and that so many humans find it easier to rationalize or look away, than to oppose it. I suppose it is necessary for most of us to feel the ice-cold knife of a betrayal, or the silence that follows an irrepairable personal catastrophe in order to fully understand what justice is or the meaning of the word conscience.

I don't believe there are metrics that cover heroism, so it goes without saying that he was not alone. However, for me, the moment I heard the story of Carl Wilkens packing his family onto the buses taking them to safety and what he said as he closed the gate to his home behind them: "I simply could not leave..." Tears silently streamed from my eyes as I continued to watch.

How easily any of those who remained in Rwanda could have justified an alternative course. Careers, reputations, families all provide entirely honest reasons to get in the lifeboat. But for some, those reasons are not enough. None of us can predict when we may find ourselves face to face with such a choice. I can only hope that if and when I am, the sights and sounds and words of people like Mr. Wilkens will help me make the right one.

ted thomas
portland, oregon


The Senegalese officer was not the only Muslim who saved lives. Most Rwandan Muslims also saved many lives by hiding people in their homes and mosques. In fact since then the number of Muslims in Rwanda has gone up from 8% to 16% due to conversion by Rwandans as a recognition of the Muslim efforts.
This is one positive and inspiring feat that African Muslims accomplished in the 1990's and this documentary would have done a lot in order to show that. But i guess showing Muslims in positive light in anaethmea to the American media.

Aamir Ali
Knoxville, Tennessee


Dear Frontline,
Thank you for telling this story. People say the media doesn't have the ability to do good, and I'm glad you showed it does. It's also a testament to the problems with media. The image of the US soldier's corpse being dragged through the streets in Somalia put a bad test in all of our mouths just months before. I wonder how things in Rwanda might have come out if this picture had never been taken.

I watched this show and saw everybody blaming someone else. To be honest, I think all of us that did nothing share some blame too. I could have written to my elected officials, or made a phone call, but I didn't. A movement of people working towards one goal is hard to ignore, even by the most hardened bureaucrat.

Chris Birks
Crystal Lake, IL


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posted april 1, 2004

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