Philip Gourevitch’s book, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, was a well written account of the Rwandan genocide. Gourevitch wrote the book with the help of stories that he gathered from survivors. Part one of the book begins with an account in Kibungo which is located in eastern Rwanda, revealing a scene showing the readers how Rwanda looked after the genocide was over. Gourevitch then further explains to tell the readers that the scene was located in a church and goes into explaining the skeletons and parts of skeletons still covering the floors, he used very picture oriented language with describing the scene, which the objective to show the readers exactly how gruesome and horrific the Rwandan genocide was. Gourevitch later on with the help of survivors stories shows the readers accounts from the beginning of the killings of the Tutsis, Hutus, and the Twa. In the beginning many tried escaping, but not even churches could protect them. Gourevitch’s method of using survivors stories to create a timeline for the reader to follow was very insightful. He captures the treatment of the Tutsis, Hutus, and the Twa, also capturing the torture of women and of muscles, and limbs. The Hutu extremists took over the government after the assassination of the president. Once the government was in the Hutu extremists control, the order of the killings of the Tutsi population, this also included the Hutu moderates began. Gourevitch first visited Rwanda in 1995, he then began his travels throughout Rwanda collecting stories to put into the book. Later on in the first half of the book Gourevitch explains a brief history on Rwanda, the Tutsis, the Hutus, and the Twa. Overall part one of Philip Gourevitch’s book shows the beginning of the slaughter of the populations of the Tutsis, the Hutus, and the Twa, he shows the mindset of the killers, who used knives, machetes, and other weapons to torture and kill, but not guns.
Hugo Slim’s book, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness, and Morality in War, he begins by explaining his humanitarian views and explains he was European and Catholic which are factors that help understand his perspective in his writing better. He believed that there were certain groups of people that should be protected from injury and death during wars. He stated that woman, the elderly, farmers, children, and people of religious affiliation should not be hurt or aimed at to hurt. These people are what he calls civilians. He stresses that there is a difference between combatants and non-combatants. He then explains how other groups and places feel it acceptable to target civilians or feel there is no way around it. Slim says there is intent and purpose behind civilian suffering and links this to anti-civilian thinking. Anti-civilian thinking is a universal problem according to Hugo Slim. Hugo Slim wrote his book sectioned into four parts. The first part goes into the different thinking and views of war throughout our history. He writes about “limited war” and how it would impact the countries. In the second part he goes into the various ways that civilians suffer and are killed in wars. He introduces the idea of the “Seven Spheres of Suffering” and explains that most of civilian killings are political and have military logic connected to them. In the third section of the book, Slim explains why the people who want to enter war target civilians. He goes into explaining the anti-civilian ideologies that they find to justify the killings of so many civilians. This section also talks about genocidal killings. Slim explains the four types of ambiguity; economic, military, social and political. In the fourth and final part of his book Hugo Slim introduces pro-civilian thinking and ideologies. Explaining how to avoid killing civilians in any war fought. I feel Slim was very blind to other positions in his work, and could have offered other perspectives other than the most obvious. This was a very interesting read and showed how and why civilians are killed in war.
- Why do you think this went so unnoticed for so long? It was if they didn’t even realize how many deaths had been occurring, or know what to do to stop the Turks. It is such a huge problem, you would think it would have been noticed sooner.
- Why were the Armenians considered not important enough to fully investigate, if there were so many requests and reforms asking for help over and over again? Why did the leaders of the Nations not take action immediately? Even with evidence of them being deported and murdered?
- What do you think caused the Turks to target Christian women and children?
A History of the Armenian Genocide, written by Ronald Suny, discussed the genocide of mass thousands of Armenians. Suny talked in depth of the events surrounding the beginning of the genocide and the many actions and massacres that happened during it. The main three groups that participated in the majority of genocide were the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, the Russians, and the British. Suny discusses in detail the Armenian nation, the capitalist views, and its battle to become its own nation. They had the bible translated into Armenian, and were able to elect it’s own government. During this time Russia was expanding it’s territory, winning many battles. The British begin to ship goods into the Black Sea, expanding trading to other countries. This was the “industrial period” and was soon to end. The Turks soon begin to dislike the Armenians, feeling that they had been deprived in earlier years, the Turks begin to revolt against them. The Armenians become allies with Russia in attempt to fight against the Turks. Russia and the Armenians fought many battles against the Turks, such as the Russo- Turkish War, achieving victory every time. Soon the Russians and the Armenians begin to revolt against each other also though, ending the era of reform and beginning the era of reaction. Russia’s rule over the Armenians becomes more strict as they restrict the Armenians from school and religious activities. The countries makes treaties and reforms most of them failing in some way or ignoring the Armenians requests completely. Riots began, massacres of thousands of Armenians began. The other countries blaming the Armenians for the massacres, claiming the Armenians were in a state of rebellion. It was not until late into the massacres did outside news fully hear, see, and print the real story of the massacres. Armenians were converting to Islamic belief in attempt to survive. During peaceful demonstrations, Armenians were murdered. Attempt after attempt to change the people in power resulted in failure, no group of people in any position of government would fully help the Armenians. Later events during these massacres helped lead to the Great War. These events were finally taken to trail and declared a crime of genocide, and an international crime. The Young Turk government was found guilty of the Armenian genocide. It is scary to realize this remained overlooked for so long even with newspapers. Suny was able to fully show the full extent of the genocide and historical events surrounding it in mass detail but lacked emotion in most of his writing so it was hard to follow at time.
- Henry Dunant thought of the Red Cross because of his experience during the Battle of Solferino, he saw the lack of help offered to the wounded and felt a need to help. How did no other person or company, until that point, not think of creating an organization to help the people in need? If there was someone else who?
- Why do you think there was such a lack of help during some of these battles and wars until an organization designed to help was created?
- What brought Henry Dunant to help out in the make shift hospitals, handing out cigars to the wounded?
Henry Dunant’s, A Memory of Solferino, discusses the battle between the France, Austria, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. France was led by Napoleon lll, Austria was led by the young Emperor Franz Joseph l, and the Kingdom of Sardinia was led by Victor Emmanuel ll. The Battle of Solferino, led Henry Dunant to become interested in helping and caring for people in distress. His proposition to have many trained volunteers organized in all countries, with the purpose to help the wounded created much excitement. Dunant founded the Red Cross, in response to his experience helping the wounded in the hospitals after the battle. He felt that if there had been a huge group of volunteers ready to help the wounded get medical help and be transported to the hospital from the field, the number of deaths would not have been so high, and many would not have needed to have surgeries. Dunant witnessed and helped out at many hospitals bringing gifts of tobacco to the wounded and the soldiers near death, he wrote about many soldiers’s injuries, noting that most of the important figures and leaders were either critically injured or killed. Many brave soldiers had been left behind, with nobody there to offer help. Dunant goes into explaining the destruction of land, and the 3 long days and nights it took to bury the dead on the battlefield. Castiglione was no longer a town but rather a place to heal the wounded, Brescia, a town at 40,000 in population almost doubled with the wounded from this battle. At times the prisoners would try to defy against the medical help, the hospitals were filled with men on the verge of death. Dunant never spoke ill of the doctors or the help, he thought very highly of them, for they worked hard and as fast as possible. He witnessed many amputations during his time spent helping the wounded. Two months after the battle, the number of deaths increased by 40,000 more men. Many towns happily welcomed and cared for the wounded. Henry Dunant’s experience as he traveled through towns witnessing the aftermath of the battle helped him write, A Memory of Solferino. This piece of writing caused him to found an organization that would effectively change the healthcare for struggling towns and groups of injured people. These organizations would be ready to help people out during any type disasters. Dunant believed in the importance of human life and was a very influential man who founded the Red Cross, in response of the mass number of deaths due to the lack of help for the wounded during the Battle of Solferino.