September 24, 1999 Geneva, NY – On April 6, 1994, in Rwanda, Hutus' militias, policemen, ordinary citizens, even clergy began indiscriminately murdering their Tutsi neighbors. Within the next 100 days, nearly one million people were killed, mostly by machete, while the international community watched.
Young journalist Philip Gourevitch, a staff writer for The New Yorker, traveled to Rwanda and spent a total of nine months between 1995 and 1998 interviewing government officials, hotel managers, doctors, army officers, relief workers, United Nations peacekeepers, victims, and perpetrators. Gourevitch has since written the hauntingly-true book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, Stories from Rwanda, an account of the Rwandan genocide. The title was taken from a letter sent by seven Christian pastors to their religious leader, which serves to indicate that there were warnings and that international agencies did nothing.
Gourevitch will speak at Hobart and William Smith Colleges at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, in the Albright Auditorium. He is the first speaker in a year-long symposium titled, “Genocide in the 20st Century,” which will include five additional speakers, art and performing arts, and a film and reading series. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Campus organizer Michael Dobkowski, professor of religious studies at Hobart and William Smith and author of several books including The Coming Age of Scarcity: Preventing Mass Death and Genocide in the 21st Century (1998), believes Hobart and William Smith, as well as other educational communities, have a responsibility to study and expose the systematic killing of whole national or ethnic groups.
“By sponsoring this genocide series, the Hobart and William Smith community hopes to improve understanding of all life-annihilation processes inherent in our modern world and to help participants learn more about the circumstances under which life-destruction processes tend to focus on specific groups in events known as genocide,” Dobkowski said.
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