Survivors of Genocide: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet

 
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Today, as Rwanda commemorates the 20th anniversary of the brutal genocide that left 800,000 dead and 2 million displaced, politicians and pundits around the world will once again take to the newspaper columns and TV talk shows to discuss Rwanda's progress since the genocide. Such debates, however, often take away from the more basic truth that is: healing is unquantifiable; 20 years later, reconciliation continues to occur one encounter at a time.

So what do these 'encounters' look like? For some, like those featured in the New York Times Magazine piece, Portraits of Reconciliation, reconciliation has been person-to-person; it's been neighbor apologizing to neighbor, friend to friend, perpetrator to survivor. For the vast majority however, reconciliation has been and continues to be a personal struggle.

We at 3 Generations believe in the power of storytelling to facillitate catharsis and empower the storyteller. Today, on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, please help us offer the same opportunity we were able to provide Freddy, Anne Marie, Patrick, and Francine years ago. Donate to our End of Atrocity campaign today.

 

 

 

Starting next Monday, Global Giving UK is matching donations by 50%! All online donations received through the GlobalGiving.co.uk site (but NOT GlobalGiving.org) will be eligible for the 50% matching funds (until matching funds run out).

There are other exciting prizes as well including cash bonuses of £1,000 and £500 for the top two projects that generate the largest amount of money and £500 for the top project to solicit the greatest number of unique donations by the end of the campaign on March 10th, 2014.

But don't dilly dally. As stated above, these funds will run out so be sure to mark your calendars for March 3rd, 2014. Matching begins at 12:01 am GMT and will end on March 10th at 11:59 am BST.

Once again, thank you for all your support and be sure to check out 3 Generations' newest Global Giving project - Why We Speak: Help Spread Syrian Stories.

The new year typically brings a sense of renewel; of second chances and opportunities to change. These qualities are of particular revelence this year as the formerly genocide-stricken countries of Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Cambodia begin preparations for the closure of the UN supported International Criminal Tribunals. On December 31st, 2014, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will close their doors after twenty years of intensive work. The Cambodian Khmer Rouge Tribunal, meanwhile, will continue operating through 2014, with plans to close in 2015. Such plans undoubtably beg the question: where are these countries now?

The answer to this question is not an easy one to come by. Studying tribunal indictment and conviction numbers, intermarriage statistics or birthrates certainly provide critical indicators, but quantifying healing and reconciliation is ultimately limiting. As a story-telling organization, 3 Generations believes in the power and value of the human voice to spur healing and reconciliation within the storyteller and within his/her community. Healing, of course, has no timeline or limits and looking at the stories of survivors like Mom Soeun, Monica Chum, Freddy Mutunguha, or Patrick Irregura, for example, we can see the healing process still in action ten, twenty, and thirty years after the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides.

The closures of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Cambodia this year and next will not, therefore, mark the end of these dark chapters of history. Rather, the tribunal closures will mark the beginning of a new phase of healing; one that we must hope will be characterized by cultural rebirth, self-actualization, and nationalism and one that will undoubtably be built around the memory of the shared tragedy. It is for this reason that 3 Generations has made an effort to begin collecting stories of cultural regeneration to display alongside our survivor stories. These efforts, however, require both time and money. Donate today, and you can help us shed light on the stories and rebuilding efforts of these incredible survivors.

In the next few months, as Rwanda prepares to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the country's notorious genocide, the Rwandan people and the international community have much to contemplate. Over the past two decades, Rwanda has made considerable progress developmentally and economically. In terms of human rights, however, progress has been slower going. Just in the past year, Human Rights Watch issued a series of warnings regarding the persecution of political opponents and parties as well as the government's methods of intimidation which include forced "disappearances". With the current government's increasing infringements on the freedom of speech and expression and the rights of human rights groups, it is critical that the Rwandan people make their voices heard.

Since our founding, the recording of accounts of survivors of the Rwandan Genocide has been a major focus of the organization. To commemorate the 19th anniversary of the atrocities, we produced a short film that honors the victims, survivors, and the community’s movement toward cultural regeneration. In preparation for the upcoming 20th anniversary, we are translating a 150-page account of women who survived and went on to start a foundation to rebuild their towns and villages. We are also planning a week-long trip to Rwanda, where we will conduct media training for local women at the Kigali Memorial Center. The intent of the course is to equip women with a proficiency in audio/visual technology so that they will be able to record their communities’ stories. Considering the current political climate in Rwanda, this training is imperative. Help us help them share their stories so that they too may demand their own change.

Thank you for your continued support.

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Raise Awareness. End Genocide
Raise Awareness. End Genocide

April was Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month; a time when survivors, activists and advocates came together to commemorate past genocides, to call for action to stop ongoing genocides and to prevent the intensification of future conflicts. Commemorations for the genocides that scourged Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia Rwanda, Darfur and the Holocaust were held throughout the month of April. Each of these tragic events in history are recalled in order to honor the millions murdered in cold-blood, to remember the millions of people who have (and continue to be) devastated by the egregious crimes inflicted upon them and to commit the brutality to humanity’s memory so to incite preventative action when confronted with escalating conflicts.

This past month, more specifically, signified the 19th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide; the one-hundred day mass slaughter of ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. The 1994 genocide has held particular significance in genocide prevention discourse since, unlike any other genocide in the twentieth century, every step of the escalating ethnic conflict was documented by national media. And even though the genocide unfolded before the world’s eyes, there was no international intervention. The world sat idly by and watched as at least 800,00 people were massacred.

Broaching twenty years since the Rwandan genocide, real change in international response is expected. That is why we dedicated April to raising awareness to the genocide by highlighing our Rwanda survivors' stories in combination with a short we recently produced about the commemorative ceremonies held in Kigali, Rwanda. The genocide left millions without homes, without families and without faith in humanity. However, 19 years later, the Rwandan people have come together to reconstruct a better, stronger and more united society. 

Last month, we had the honor of meeting Daphrose Mukarutamu, a Rwandan genocide survivor and the inspiration of the Duhozanya Association. Literally meaning ‘let us console one another,’  the Duhozanya Association brings Rwandans together to share in their common grief, mourn with one another and then overcome together. The organization serves thousands of members,including: widows, orphans, child-headed households, women victims of rape and women infected with HIV/AIDS. In an effort to help these victims rebuild their lives, the Association provides a spectrum of services. These primarily consist of emotional support groups, coping techniques for trauma victims and tools for economic empowerment. While there are still festering wounds for most (if not all) of these women survivors, Duhozanya provides  a place of healing and hope and has helped many of these Rwandan women achieve political and economic self-sufficiency. Their ability to overcome the unthinkable and to triumph over adversity is demonstrative of the type of future Rwanda, and all nations that have been plagued by mass atrocities, has - one paved with strength and resilience.

We also had the privilege to attend the Commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide at the United Nations. During the ceremony, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:

Collectively, we must go beyond words and effectively safeguard people at risk.  And individually, we must nurture the courage to care – and the resolve to act.  Only by meeting these challenges can we match the resolve of the survivors and truly honour the memory of those who died in Rwanda 19 years ago.

Ban Ki-moon’s speech called for collective action today against modern-day atrocities. It is as obvious as it is unfortunate that innocent people continue to unnecessarily suffer in the twenty-first century. For over 60 years, the Tibetan people have been politically, culturally and religiously oppressed by the Chinese government. The cries of self-immolators, a form of Tibetan protest, remain ignored. The victims of the Darfur genocide continue to be denied justice as the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, suspected to be responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, remains at large. Those who have survived Bashir’s wrath and the ongoing conflict have been indefinitely displaced, amounting to 1.4 million IDPs. In the last year, tens of thousands of Syrian civilians have been ruthlessly killed by the Assad regime. It is predicted that, left on its current trajectory, Syria will witness mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing that could amount to genocide in certain areas.

Even though we are no longer in the month of April, we must stay vigilant in our fight against human rights abuses and crimes against humanity. Out of the ashes of the genocide, Rwanda has, indeed, been able to make incredible progress towards a more peaceful and just society. However, if we take away only one lesson from this horrendous moment in history, it’s that innocent blood was spilt in a conflict that could have been avoided entirely.

This month, continue to educate yourself. Hear the testimonies of survivors of genocide and understand why this century must mark a no-tolerance policy towards atrocities. 

Lunch in honor of Daphrose Mukarutamu
Lunch in honor of Daphrose Mukarutamu
UN Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide
UN Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide

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Organization

3 Generations

New York, NY, United States
http://www.3generations.org

Project Leader

Jane Wells

3 Generations Founder and President
New York, NY United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Survivors of Genocide: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet