On Yom HaShoah, we remember the Jews killed in the Holocaust. Also on my mind will be a little town in Lithuania, and a white-haired man searching for a way to pay his respects to the dead.
Billions of the poorest people throughout the developing world know in a terrible and personal way the same truth the Rwanda genocide taught me: Violence has the power to destroy everything -- and is unstopped by our other responses to poverty.
The world is marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide with events, statements and speeches. But I have a better idea. Let's act.
There is much still to learn and understand about how and why the genocide happened -- to prevent future genocides. But one thing was clear today: Rwandans are proud of thinking big -- and they should be.
Forgiving doesn't mean loving or hugging the one who was once hunting you down and trying to exterminate your "people." It is, rather, learning how to live in peace with him again.
Rwanda had to create something virtually unique in Africa: government that was corruption-free, a plan to turn away foreign aid as soon as possible, and a reliance on business standards to encourage competition and efficiency.
They are 5,250 miles apart, one in Asia, the other in Africa. But in each, huge piles of human skulls bear mute witness to the genocidal horrors of the last quarter of the 20th century when the world should already have learned better from the enormity of the Nazi Holocaust. Once the Chao Ponhea Yat High School, Pol Pot turned it into Security Prison 21 (S-21), where of the nearly 20,000 who passed through its satanic doors only a dozen survived. It was just one of scores of such hellholes where prisoners were beaten, tortured with electric shocks, burned with searing hot metal and water-boarded among other torments.
After the genocide was over, I did not return to Rwanda for 18 years, but I have always kept an eye on what was happening from afar. Once you have been part of a seismic event in a country's history, you always feel connected.
When asked about his childhood, Jean Bosco Ngwabije, 33, remembers two things -- fighting and running.
This April Rwandans will remember the 20th anniversary of a genocide the world did nothing to stop.
What motivated men to do this? This is worse than hate, worse than fear, worse than greed or jealousy or anything else I have ever felt. I don't know how you could justify killing anyone, so I cannot even imagine what inspires a nation to conceive of, fabricate, operationalize and use a killing factory.
While it appears that no amount of remembrance can possibly stop the next genocide from occurring, we must keep trying and we must remain ever vigilant to the signs of impending action such as those that have scarred our past.
In a move that appeared to surprise both Washington and Colombo, however, New Delhi abstained from voting on the UN resolution. What explains New Delhi's decision?
Today Defense Secretary Hagel is hosting the Defense Minister of Burma among others to discuss the Obama administration’s commitment to “peace and security” in the region. But there is no peace and security for the ethnic minorities in Burma.
Curiously titled The Missing Picture, the film is, however, not only about the genocide of a quarter of Cambodia's population; it is also a meditation of what survivors do with their memory of this horror.
The Rwanda genocide may seem like a black hole in history, forever beyond human understanding from which no light can ever escape. But historical events can be meaningfully explained and Rwanda is no exception.