Eyewitness to a Genocide: The U.N. & Rwanda MAG

By Emma K., Galesburg, IL

     “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” This statement made by Albert Einstein applies to this book. Although many of us are knowledgeable about the world, we are not taught all its horrors. There are areas where people live in terror on a daily basis - including a place called Rwanda.

I was naive about Rwandan issues until my dad told me about the conflict. Because the facts seemed impossible to believe, I began to do some research and found Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. It immediately caught my attention, and I became engrossed in it because of how its author tried to justify the unjustifiable.

Before I get into this highly politicized book, I will give you some background on this forgotten genocide. On April 6, 1994, the plane of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down and he was killed. This began 15 weeks of merciless bloodshed. No one was spared, not even newborns. The most powerful country in the world (and the United Nations) knew about the indescribable horror happening to these innocent people, yet everyone decided to look the other way as thousands were brutally murdered.

This book shows the inhumanity of not only the murderers, but the indifference of the world that removed the only hope they had. Barnett tries to justify the UN’s inaction even though the UN has a mandate to intervene when genocide is known to be occurring.

This book is not worth reading unless you can find some explanation for the United Nations letting 800,000 people be slaughtered. I do not recommend it, but I did learn that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke.

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