Last updated: April 17. 2014 1:14AM - 296 Views

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Rwanda’s genocide

On Monday, Rwanda commemorated the victims of a genocide unleashed 20 years ago by Hutu extremists in power then. More than 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi men, women and children, were systematically hunted down and brutally murdered over a period of just 100 days. The world stood by and let the blood bath happen.

Over the past two decades, Rwanda has done an impressive job of rebuilding its institutions and economy. To bring perpetrators of the genocide to justice, the United Nations has conducted more than 70 tribunal cases, Rwanda’s courts have tried up to 20,000 individuals, and the country’s Gacaca courts have handled some 1.2 million additional cases. Incredibly, Tutsis and Hutus, survivors and former killers, now live side by side. The government of President Paul Kagame has transformed Rwanda into an island of order and relative prosperity in a poor and politically volatile region.

Despite this, the genocide has left a legacy of unanswered questions and uncorrected failures. It is time to face them. The international community cannot hide behind euphemisms. The reluctance to use the word “genocide” because of the moral horror it carries and the intervention it demands does not change realities on the ground.

It did not spare the United States accusations of shameful paralysis during the Rwandan genocide, and it will not protect the international community from the judgment of history for mass murder now or in the future. Recognizing the need to respond appropriately to such situations, President Obama created the Atrocities Prevention Board in 2012. But as events in the Central African Republic, Syria and Sudan make clear, the United Nations, regional organizations and allied countries also need to set up international contingency plans to deal with mass atrocities.

It is time for France to open its records to public examination. France had close relations to the Hutu-dominated government that planned and incited the genocide. A lack of clarity about France’s role has poisoned its relationship with the Kagame government and hampers France’s actions in Mali and the Central African Republic.

Kagame must also be held accountable for abuses in Rwanda and outside its borders, where he has gone after critics in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Europe. Civil and political rights in Rwanda are severely restricted. Dissidents and opposition political leaders are subject to harassment, detention and torture. Several have disappeared or been killed.

Addressing the poisonous legacies of Rwanda’s genocide is the only way to avert future tragedy, and it is the best way to honor Rwanda’s dead. — The New York Times


Giving Mideast peace talks a rest

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sounds frustrated and exhausted. No wonder. He has shuttled time and again to the Middle East to meet a self-imposed late April deadline for a “framework” that could lead to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

But the talks are on the verge of collapse. Let them.

“There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward,” Kerry told reporters last week. We’re at those limits.

Kerry’s warning came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu balked at releasing Palestinian prisoners because, he said, the Palestinians hadn’t agreed to extend the negotiation deadline past the end of this month.

And after the Palestinians moved to join 15 international conventions and agreements, defying Israel and the U.S.

And after the U.S. foolishly floated the possibility of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard in a transparently desperate bid to keep the Israelis at the table.

Last week, Kerry said the peace process needs a “reality check.” We’d say it also needs the U.S. to substitute tough love for denial of the obvious. What would happen if Kerry told the Israelis and Palestinians, Call us when you’re ready to make the serious compromises necessary for a deal. Otherwise, we have pressing issues elsewhere in the world.

Secretary Kerry, let’s say exactly that.

Everyone knows the broad outlines of a deal — the necessary land swaps and security arrangements. And everyone knows the formidable obstacles. The Palestinians have failed to unite behind a single political banner, with Fatah and Hamas jockeying for advantage. Hamas terrorists rule Gaza and could veto a peace deal with violence.

The U.S. may find a way to hold the parties at the table beyond the latest deadline. But that just means another deadline will arise … likely to be broken. The U.S can’t broker a peace deal absent strong motivation from both sides to surmount formidable, historic hurdles.

The U.S. has devoted enough energy to trying, at least for now. Whether it’s a quest for peace in the region, or for history’s warm smile, or for ultimate credibility as diplomats, American presidents and secretaries of state have been mesmerized, and ultimately disappointed, reaching for this elusive goal. Time to step back. — Chicago Tribune


The fight against heroin

Welcome developments on state and national fronts recently will fortify the arsenal of weaponry to successfully fight the war on heroin in the United States.

In Columbus last month, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law that will allow friends and family members of addicts permission to administer the drug naloxone, a life-saving antidote to the chilling and too often deadly effects of heroin and other opiates.

In Washington last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a convenient tool to administer naloxone. The device called Evzio rapidly delivers a single dose of naloxone via a hand-held auto-injector that can be carried in a pocket or stored in a nearby medicine cabinet.

Naloxone has rightly earned the “wonder drug” label because it rapidly reverses the effects of opioid abuse and has become the standard treatment for overdose. However, existing naloxone drugs and policies require administration via syringe and only by trained medical personnel….

To be effective, however, friends and family members of known opiate abusers must be proactive. That means they must arm themselves with the easily injectable Evzio, carefully read the instructions for its proper administration and realize that it must be followed up with a prompt call to emergency medical authorities. Responsibly doing so will go far toward lessening the escalating and anguishing death toll from the national scourge of opiate abuse. — The Youngstown Vindicator

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