Spring 2004 Alternatives’Campaing

In Rwanda and Around the World, Alternatives is Working in Solidarity for Peace and Democracy

Thursday 15 April 2004, by Gil COURTEMANCHE

This year marks the tenth anniversary of one of the most horrific events in human history. I’m writing today to remind you of it.

It was ten years ago that 800,000 innocent people were murdered. Murdered over a span of about 100 days. The place was Rwanda. I was there — both before and after the genocide. I wrote a book about it.

When news started to filter out, the rest of the world learned of the horrors that occurred there. The men and women hacked to death with machetes. Children, too, brutally murdered; or, if spared, their feet cut off, so they would never grow up to be soldiers.

I returned to Rwanda after it was all over, after the carnage had stopped. I had a list of thirty people I wanted to find, people that had helped me, and whom I had helped, during my years in Rwanda.

These were friends of mine. As you can imagine, I was worried for them. I didn’t know if they would be alive or dead. But the news was even worse than I had feared. Of my 30 friends, 27 were dead.

The other three? To my horror, I learned that they had taken part in the killings. They had become murderers. Maybe to save their own lives? I don’t know.

One of the three was a health worker — a kind and compassionate man, as I remember him. I was told that he had killed his own patients.

But this letter is not about what happened in Rwanda. Indeed, we may never fully comprehend what happened there — why so many people died; why so few people knew; why so few people tried to stop it.

No, my letter to you today is not about what happened. Instead, it’s about asking you to help prevent such a horrible thing from ever happening again.

So I write to you today on behalf of Alternatives, an organization that you and I both support. I’ll ask you to please join me in making a special donation today — because Alternatives is still in Rwanda. Helping to rebuild. Helping to lay the foundations for a new, just and peaceful society.

But as you know, Alternatives is also in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo... More than thirty countries around the world.

As you also know, many of these countries are in the midst of war right now. While others are just emerging from war (after twenty long years, in the case of Sudan) to begin the long, slow process of rebuilding.

Rwanda taught me many things, and one of those things was that we cannot stop caring. We cannot! When people stop caring, horrible things happen. So when peoples’ human rights are violated, when justice is denied — it is our duty to help.

Especially for us, here in one of the safest countries in the world, far away from the civil unrest and violence that plagues so many innocent people.

Indeed, walking the safe streets of Canada’s cities, with a full stomach and warm clothes, most of us cannot imagine the repression, the cruelty, the horror that millions of people in the world are up against. For too many people, each day is a fight just to stay alive.

These are the people who so desperately need your help today. So again, I am asking you to please join me in helping them by making a gift to Alternatives.

As you know, when you work with Alternatives,you do far more than "mend fences." Rather, you start at the foundation, and work up: You help local grassroots groups to organize, so that citizens can help themselves; you help to build schools; you support local publications devoted to civil and human rights.

Your gift today does not have to be a large one.

You could give $20. (Believe me, your $20 gift today would be accepted most gratefully!) You could give $50. You could give $100, or $200, or $500. Give only what feels comfortable to you — it all makes a difference.

I know that you already support Alternatives’ life-changing work. I know that you’ve helped in the past. So let me take a moment to thank you.

For over some four decades, I have been to many of these countries. I’ve seen first-hand what your support brings to these people who are so in need. You bring hope. Indeed, the gift you give today is a sign.

The food and medicine you bring — the schools you build, the grassroots organizing you make possible — are all signs to these people that the world is watching. A sign that they are not alone, and that they should never, under any circumstances,
give up hope.

I am often asked: "What happened there? What happened

in Rwanda? How was it able to go so far?" In my view, it was a "refusal to see."

Individuals, governments, entire countries that could have helped, that might have been able to stop the genocide — refused to see. Refused to see the evidence, which was in clear view. Refused to see the tragedy, which was unfolding everywhere, in the very streets.

So please know that when you give your gift today, you are telling Alternatives that your eyes are wide open. If violence has not yet erupted somewhere in the world, you can nevertheless hear it simmering. You see an opportunity to help stop violence before it starts.

And there is only one thing in the world that can defeat violence — even violence on such a massive, horrendous scale as that which plagued Rwanda those ten years ago. That one thing is a just society.

Alternatives — to break it down to its most basic form — is an organization devoted to doing exactly that: Building just societies.

Please, help us to keep building. You can help today, at this very moment. You can do it right now, with a stroke of your pen. Thank you.

Yours in solidarity,

Gil Courtemanche
Author, journalist,
Alternatives supporter

P.S. You can help the most by making a modest gift (just $10) on a monthly basis. You can do this by joining Alternatives’ core supporters as a member of Alternatives’ Solidarity Fund.

Vous avez aimé cet article?

  • Le Journal des Alternatives vit grâce au soutien de ses lectrices et lecteurs.

    Je donne

Cet article est classé dans :

Partagez cet article sur :

Articles de la même rubrique


Because preserving the environment is not just an option!

Articles du même auteur


Tsunami politique

Articles sur le même sujet


Haïti 6 mois après le séisme dans l’impasse de la CIRH

Je m’abonne

Recevez le bulletin mensuel gratuitement par courriel !

Je soutiens

Votre soutien permet à Alternatives de réaliser des projets en appui aux mouvements sociaux à travers le monde et à construire de véritables démocraties participatives. L’autonomie financière et politique d’Alternatives repose sur la générosité de gens comme vous.

Je contribue

Vous pouvez :

  • Soumettre des articles ;
  • Venir à nos réunions mensuelles, où nous faisons la révision de la dernière édition et planifions la prochaine édition ;
  • Travailler comme rédacteur, correcteur, traducteur, bénévole.

514 982-6606