I watched the movie Hotel Rwanda, which followed a man as he bravely saved the lives of over a thousand people during the Rwandan Genocide. The genocide started when the Hutu rebels murdered the president and then began slaughtering the Tutsi people and anyone who got in their way. This was a vicious, horrific even that left over a million people dead and even more displaced. The events covered in this film highlight the realities of war and the brutality and all encompassing impact of genocide. These events altered the political and economic power during and after the genocide and changed the lives of millions of people especially due to the horrific treatment of women. This brutality and despair in the film make it very challenging to watch, but it highlights historic events that can’t be ignored.
The political and economic power in Rwanda was altered immediately. The genocide began when the Hutu rebels murdered the president of Rwanda and rendered the government completely powerless. The Hutu rebels took over all power and took the rights away from everyone. They took people’s land, killed their families, burned their hopes and took away all avenues to make money or prosper in any way. During the genocide, money lost all value. The film shows the only way to get help was to bargain supplies, and as the genocide continued supplies, like food and water, quickly disappeared. This illustrated how food can be used as a tool in warfare. During conflict, food is of the upmost importance; it decides who survives (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). In the film, one of the biggest challenges of the refugees was obtaining food and water and sustaining it long enough to survive. The Hutu rebels took away the food supply of all of the refugees and shut off their water, attempting to starve them out and force them to leave the hotel where they would be murdered. In many historical cases food is used as a weapon of war by either omission or commission and contributes to further famine and hardships (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). The influence of these resources can be so powerful it impacts the economic and environmental decline, and encourages political uncertainty and ethnic rivalry (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). This film highlights exactly how food and resources can be used strategically.
The political and economic changes in power did not end when the genocide was over. The very structure of the Rwandans way of life was forever changed. The Rwandan genocide so horrific because it was within a close-knit civilization, neighbors killing neighbors, families being torn apart, life forever changing (Prunier, 2009). This disconnect within the society made changed all forms of political and economic power. People began using their personal survival of the genocide to their advantage and would accuse people of having been involved with the rebels for their own personal profit and economic gain (Prunier, 2009).
Every part of this historic event is morally wrong. The Hutu rebels stripped these people of every right they had. They tortured them, took away all of their possessions, and murdered them for no reason but control. They took the paternalism principle and decided the fate of over a million people. Everything these rebels did is undeniably horrible, but I am also shocked by the lack of help they received. I think it is morally wrong that no one came to their aid. All of these wealthy nations watched the horrific acts that took place and did nothing to help. Utilitarianism is the idea of helping the greater good, but all of these countries sack back and helped no one but themselves. The film highlights how race was a key factor in people ignoring their desperate need for help, but whatever the reason, it is unjustifiable.
All of these people were stripped of their rights and livelihood, but no one suffered worse than women. Women were shown in the film being brutally beaten and raped. Tragically, these events are common in warfare. Women are raped, forced into military brothels, and forced into sex trafficking (Hynes, 2004). The women impacted by these appalling acts are then more susceptible to poverty, prostitution, and coercion of sex for food by post-war peacekeepers (Hynes, 2004). They also are more likely to suffer from illness and death after the conflict (Hynes, 2004). This is evident in the Rwandan Genocide post-conflict especially because women who were pregnant from rape by Hutu killers were unable to get abortions because of the poor medical and economic conditions of the post war civilization (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). Everyone suffers after cruel acts of war, but women suffer the most.
My reaction to this film was intense. I am extremely horrified and disgusted by the acts of the Rwandan genocide but I firmly believe everyone must hear about it. Information if our biggest tool in prevention and developing solutions to conflicts stemming from this. The Rwandan genocide worked as a catalyst to more issues in the African Congo and other areas (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). The Rwandan genocide was a product and a cause of African crisis (Macrae, Zwi, 1992). The issues and pain caused from these events are not over and cannot be ignored. Millions of people suffered and are still suffering and they urgently need help from developed, wealthy nations.
Hotel Rwanda: A True Story. MGM Home Entertainment, 2004. DVD.
Hynes, H. Patricia. "On the Battlefield of Women's Bodies: An Overview of the Harm of War to Women." Women's Studies International Forum 27.5-6 (2004): 431-45. Web.
Macrae, Joanna, and Anthony B. Zwi. "Food as an Instrument of War in Contemporary African Famines: A Review of the Evidence." Disasters 16.4 (1992): 299-321. Web.
Prunier, Gérard. Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.