the may 2004 issue of harper’s included a letter from Congo titled “In the Valley of the Gun: A massacre unfolds in eastern Congo” by Bryan Mealer — a very intense witness of the violence in the Republic of Congo. in talking to my roommate about it, she mentioned how it is tied into what happened in Rwanda and recommended this book. it’s pretty devastating (much like that article), but an important read.
my knowledge of Rwanda was limited. though i picked up elements about what happened here and there, i still remember seeing news about the Rwandan refugees in Zaire (before it was renamed the Republic of Congo) in the mid-90s, but no context of what they were refugees from exactly. Gourevitch traces the history of tension between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes and highlights how the genocidal teachings developed among the Hutus and how the international community ignored it until an army of exiled Tutsis returned, pushing most of the Hutus out of the country. the creation of refugee camps did capture the attention of countries, who rushed to aid the displaced people, even though an indeterminate number of them were responsible for outrageous massacres of their neighbors, massacres which had decimated the Tutsi population in Rwanda.
there are so many important questions here, most of which may have to be endlessly asked over and over if there is any hope to stop such situations before they start. the article in harper’s suggests that this sort of violence is far from quelled.
(ETA: Reporting on genocide in Darfur, Sudan)