Samantha Power Keynotes NCC 4/23 Event Marking Rwandan Genocide

Worldwide Faith News, Press Release
April 7 2004

Samantha Power Keynotes NCC 4/23 Event Marking Rwandan Genocide

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Samantha Power to Keynote April 23 Event
in Los Angeles

April 7, 2004, NEW YORK CITY – The National Council of Churches USA
will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide with an
April 23 event in Los Angeles. “Remembering Rwanda – Ten Years After
the Genocide” will feature Samantha Power, who won the 2003 Pulitzer
Prize for her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of

Free and open to the public, the 7 p.m. event will be held in Fowler
Museum’s Lenart Auditorium, on the campus of the University of
California at Los Angeles. Preceding the program, at 6 p.m.,
Kimberlee Acquaro’s short film, Journey to Kigali, will have its
premiere screening. The evening will close with a presentation of
Rwandan music and dance.

The event is being held as part of the World Council of Churches’
Decade to Overcome Violence and of an international initiative called
“Remembering Rwanda 1994-2004,” which is inspiring commemorations this
month in cities around the world.

The Rwandan Genocide is a tragic chapter in the history of the 20th
century. In April 1994, hostilities between the Hutu and Tutsi
peoples were at such a point that, when the President, who was a Hutu,
was killed in a plane crash, it touched off a genocide that resulted
in the deaths of more than 800,000 Tutsi and several thousand moderate
Hutu. While the events leading up to the genocide may still be
debated, what is clear is that the international community – including
the United States and the United Nations – failed to prevent it from
taking place.

Samantha Power is a leading authority on genocide. In A Problem from
Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, she analyzes the genocides of
the 20th century and the responses of the United States to these

What she found is striking. As she writes: “It is daunting to
acknowledge, but this country’s consistent policy of nonintervention
in the face of genocide offers sad testimony not to a broken American
political system but to one that is ruthlessly effective. The system,
as it stands now, is working. No U.S. president has ever made
genocide prevention a priority, and no U.S. president has ever
suffered politically for his indifference to its occurrence. It is
thus no coincidence that genocide rages on.”

Citing a case in point in an April 6, 2004, op-ed in The New York
Times, Power warned, “On this anniversary, Western and United Nations
leaders are expressing their remorse and pledging their resolve to
prevent future humanitarian catastrophes. But as they do so, the
Sudanese government is teaming up with Arab Muslim militias in a
campaign of ethnic slaughter and deportation that has already left
nearly a million Africans displaced and more than 30,000 dead. Again,
the United States and its allies are bystanders to slaughter,
seemingly no more prepared to prevent genocide than they were a decade

“For all the horror of the Rwandan Genocide, it remains largely a
forgotten episode in the recent history of the world for most
Americans,” said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, the NCC’s associate
general secretary for international affairs and peace.

Dr. Kireopoulos said he looks forward to Ms. Power’s remarks, during
which she will dissect the Rwandan Genocide and offer proactive steps
that the international community can take to prevent such horrors from
happening again.

“This is crucial for all of us, especially at a time when, in places
like Sudan, the situation is looking alarmingly familiar,” he
said. “Can we afford not to learn the lessons of Rwanda?”

The event “Remembering Rwanda – Ten Years After the Genocide” will
also include remarks by Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of
the National Council of Churches; Dr. Richard Hrair Dekmejian,
Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern
California and an expert on the history of the Armenian Genocide, and
Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, Executive Director of the Los Angeles City
Human Relations Commission. The program also will include testimonies
by Rwandan Genocide survivors.


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