Stories from an introverted Fijian, earnestly seeking purpose, truth, and justice in this world.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
My Neighbor, My Killer
Stark lesson on the evils of racism.
She spoke of how the perpetrator grabbed her baby off her back and flung him violently on the hard dry earth and beat him almost to death
She went on to say that when her son was almost dead, they chopped off his limbs with a machete, and fed his body parts to wild dogs and pigs that were feasting off the limbs of the other murdered children.
Another survivor told of how her pregnant friend’s stomach was cut open so that members of the rampaging Hutu tribe could see what was on “the mind of a Tutsi baby”.
In 1994, the Rwandan Hutus were driven to butcher their Tutsi friends and neighbors and Hutu political moderates in an attempt to exterminate them under the Hutu Power ideology.
Over the course of about 100 days, from April 6 through to mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed, according to the Human Rights Watch
Other estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000, or as much as 20 per cent of the total population of the country
In My Neighbor, My Killer, perpetrators and victims come face-to-face during the Gacaca Hearings, a form of citizen-based justice adopted by Rwandans.
The result is quite harrowing as the most brutal and horrible killings are re-lived. The victims are still traumatized and mentally tortured. They describe themselves as the “living dead”.
Having witnessed their children, husbands, friends and family members savagely attacked and killed by people who were their friends and neighbors, they said that they wished they too had died. Their existence was meaningless, they said, and they were just carrying on while waiting to die.
I managed to catch this movie at the Alliance Francaise headquarters in Suva in March. It was part of the Suva-based Citizens Constitutional Forum’s efforts to commemorate the UN International Day for Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which fell on March 21.
Glass of wine in hand, and in a fairly relaxed mood, the movie soon had me fully engrossed. It was, frankly, a sober awakening.
Anne Aghion, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, cut to the chase and went to the hearings to get the story directly from the victims’ and the alleged perpetrators’ mouths.
Filming out of a tiny rural village for a decade, she documented the stories of both the survivors and perpetrators of the horrific crimes of the 1994 genocide.
What she recorded and presented were the reactions of the people to the Gacaca
The Gacaca tribunal was set up with the intention of rebuilding the nation. What this meant was that the accused killers were released from prison and sent back to their homes and neighborhoods.
Perpetrators and survivors of the massacre found themselves living side-by-side again
For me, the movie stirred up a carousel of emotions. It was depressing, shocking, implausible, horrific, and confusing.
The documentary was depicted in its rawest and most humane form. It transported me from the comfortable chair I was sitting on, to the dirt and mud the survivors told their story off.
Personally, the Gacaca tribunal, does not seem quiet justifiable.
This form of grass root, communal court system, is merely based on a reconstructed series of events as told by an individual.
After years of ignorant self-education from television series like Law and Order, The Practice and Ally Macbeal, it just does not make sense.
I could not see how fairness and justice could be possible for these women. It was their voice against a man’s, and all they had going for them was whatever their memory could muster.
Rwanda does not want to wallow in its past as this can be destructive. It wants to move on, and the victims were asked to forgive mass murderers — people who had butchered their loved ones. Some, understandably, found this impossible.
All the screen violence, blood and gore we have become used to, compliments of Hollywood, could not match the raw pain, anguish, turmoil, horror and heartbreak in this documentary.
The way that this experience was portrayed, literally sent chills down my spine. The pain, loss, memories, unanswered questions and unresolved anger that the survivors, mainly women, have to live with, is appalling.
The stories revealed the darkest side of men. It was a scary revelation.
My Neighbor, My Killer is a good lesson on the evils of racism.
My Neighbor, My Killer has given me the chance to correct my inaccurate opinion on discrimination, by showing me the extent to which the inhumanity of man can be somebody’s reality.
I would not recommend you watch this if you are faint-hearted, however if you do want to come out of your comfort zone for a while and be exposed to the actuality of the world around you, this documentary is for you.