Friday, August 7, 2015

IHL Film Series: "Hotel Rwanda" Speaks to Region's Violent Past, Uncertain Present

Over the course of 100 days in 1994, between 500,000 and 1 million people were slaughtered by the Akazu, radicalized members of the Hutu ethnic group, in Rwanda. The early days of this Rwandan genocide form the backdrop of this month's International Humanitarian Law Film Series installment: Hotel Rwanda. The critically-acclaimed 2004 film details the plight of Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu hotelier, as he works to save his Tutsi wife and the 1,200 people sheltered in his business. Although the bloodiest days of the Rwandan Civil War were more than two decades ago, the film's depiction of ethnic violence and government corruption finds new relevance today, as tensions again rise in the region, in neighboring Burundi.

Burundi's ethnic divisions arise from the same origins as Rwanda's, and in recent months, violence has been erupting in the region once again. With the legacy of Rwanda in living memory, the Burundi conflict is raising questions regarding the responsibilities and capabilities of other nations to provide help, of the obligations of international organizations to take action, and where the nearly 140,000 refugees who have fled the nation can find safety.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, now contending with the crisis in Burundi, was deeply involved with relief efforts during the Rwandan Civil War. The ICRC established a presence in Rwanda in 1990 that remains in place today, educating and enforcing International Humanitarian Law, restoring connections between families displaced by the conflict, and working to improve conditions for the nation's 57,000 detainees.

Following the film, a roundtable discussion will be held to talk through the themes of Hotel Rwanda, as well as to cover topics like genocide, international humanitarian law, and the role of supranational organizations in conflicts around the globe.

The IHL film series will screen Hotel Rwanda at 4 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 13, at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St., in Denver. To RSVP for the IHL Film Series, click here. For more information, contact Tim Bothe.

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