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Documentary: 'The Ghosts of Rwanda'

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PBS/Frontline/BBC

The Ghosts of Rwanda was produced by Frontline/BBC in 2004.  It is a documentary about the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, written and directed by Greg Barker.  The events it portrays occured in 1994 when a radical faction of the Utus (one of two main social groups in Rwanda) began to preach the eradication of the Tutsis.  The Utus felt oppressed by the Tuts's who had been in power in Rwanda. 

Though there were UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda at the time, they were ordered to take no action.  As the Utus became more inflamed by radio broadcasts of speeches inciting them to kill Tutsis, the violence began.  Utus attacked Tutsis with machetes, sticks, and firearms.  It is estimated that 800,000 people were murdered.

This documentary chronicles the events, interviews participants, including the UN General from Canada, Belgian officials (who withdrew as the violence increased), and Rwandan officials and victims.  There are some graphic scenes of the madness and its aftermath. 

The Ghosts of Rwanda is disturbing in that it shows the abandonment of ordinary people into violence; these were not soldiers, though they were led and incited by extremists.  The film also shows the compassion of people who worked to stop the devastation.  One UN peacekeeper, MBaye, saved hundreds of lives by refusing to be limited by the UN orders to stay uninvolved.  He continually hid people and helped them to escape. 

If you are looking for a moving film of great historical signifigance that shows both the inhumanity and the humanity of man, this is a must see.

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