Friday, June 19, 2009

Genocide and the pace of justice

I was able to do something I thought was very significant yesterday. Thursday morning I hopped a bus to Arusha with a couple of the other volunteers. It was about an hour and a half ride and cost roughly 1.25 each way. The bus dropped us off near the United Nations War Crimes tribunal building where they are trying those implicated in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. This building looked like some kind of fortress and we had to have our passports to get in. We then got visitors passes and headed down a long corridor following one of the armed guards (a Tanzanian who looked like he was about 20) to the courtroom. As the guard walked ahead of us the strap holding his AK 47 came loose and the gun swung toward the floor and us ( I am not making this up). I was a little alarmed but as far as I know I am bulletproof. Thankfully, this theory was not put to the test. There were 3 trials going on and we attended one for about 15 minutes before moving to the next one. As I was getting on the elevator the doors slammed shut and caught me right in the middle. I was a little alarmed but as far as I know my bulletproof skin protected me because I was not hurt. Although the doors opened back up much slower than I was expecting them too. All of this was comical but what happened next was not.

We entered another viewing room beside another court and a witness was on the stand. They asked him to describe what he saw back in April 1994. He talked about how soldiers entered his house at gunpoint and stole all of his money. He also talked about the scene on the streets as he evacuated his family. He described the bodies that were piled up on the side of the road and it reminded me of a scene from Hotel Rwanda, except this wasn't Hollywood. This was his life. I was a little surprised that the trials are still going on 15 years after the event. Justice is still waiting for many. The UN seems to be doing a pretty thorough job. The way the building looks it seems like they were planning on being there a long time. I am afraid that this building may be in use for many more years since a genocide is occuring in the Sudan as I am writing this. Arusha may be the site where that is sorted out as well. It is frustrating to me that we do so much after the fact and very little to prevent these atrocities. But i don't have enough internet time to write on that topic.

My favorite part of the trial was when the judges (mostly Americans and Europeans) asked the witness what his profession was. He said evangelist and pulled out bibles for all the judges and started preaching. They quickly told him that they only wanted him to describe it not do it but it took a while to get him to stop. I thought it was funny but I really admire the guy's faith. He said it was every Christian's duty to share the gospel of love so that things like the genocide never happen again.

On the way home I got the best view of Kilimanjaro yet. There were almost no clouds and you could see virtually the entire mountain. It was cool.

Mungu akubariki.


  1. Wow...I mean, wow...

    I can't believe all that you're getting to see and experience. Be careful, Trent! No matter what, though, I know that God has anointed you to be where you are and that he's protecting you!

    And by the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY!!!

  2. Sounds like this has been a meaningful trip for you so far. Just wanted to say Furahi siku ya uzalishi! I apologize if that was butchered, but I couldn't find an exact translation. Stay safe and blessed.