Genocide Awareness Week

Paul Rusesabagina gained international acclaim for his actions during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, recounted in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda. On March 30, Rusesabagina will visit campus to speak as a part of the Peace and Conflict Studies Lecture Series about his experience during the genocide.

In a time of great danger and chaos, when the rest of the world stood idly by, Rusesabagina saved over 1,200 people by providing refuge and shelter for them in the hotel he managed, the Mille Collines.

In 1994, after Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated, Hutu extremists launched a genocide aimed at killing all Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Nearly one million people were murdered in 100 days, and despite this the international community did little to remedy the situation.

The event is being organized by the Peace and Conflict Studies Department, Students for Social Justice, the Model United Nations Team and the Progressive Students Network.

These groups hope that the lecture and a subsequent screening of the film will open the eyes of students to foreign conflicts so that the international community will act to prevent such violence from spiraling out of control as it did in Rwanda.

Sophomore Victoria Shepard, a member of the Progressive Students Network, thinks the event will highlight how much of a difference one man could make without outside aid.

“It is our hope that future attempts at genocide would face much more resistance with international attention and assistance,” Shepard said.

Rusesabagina received the Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity in 2002, as well as the Presidential Model of Freedom Award and Amnesty International’s “Enduring Spirit” Award.

Although he now owns his own transport company, he continues to help the Rwandan people. He works with various charities that aid survivors of the genocide, and is establishing an aid organization of his own that will provide assistance in the future.