This April 7 should be a solemn day of remembrance. Designated by the United Nations as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, this Wednesday marks the beginning of the 1994 mass slaughter of Tutsis. An estimated 800,000 people were murdered in little more than three months.
The rest of the world did little to stop the genocide. Four years later President Bill Clinton visited Rwanda. He apologized for the failure of the international community. More important, he looked ahead at what needed to be done: "We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of hope."
After the Holocaust the civilized world collectively declared: "Never again" Yet mass killings, massacres, and genocides continued: East Timor, Cambodia, Sudan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. And, of course, Rwanda.
Tragically, in our own era, we are witnessing a rising tide of political, religious, ethnic, and tribal violence around the world. Of particular concern is West Africa, the site of terrible brutality and killing, much of it sectarian. For instance, violence is roiling Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation. Tens of thousands of Nigerians have been murdered over the last decade. Several violent jihadist groups are active, including Boko Haram, Islamic State in West Africa Province, and Ansaru.
Beyond Nigeria, West Africa is the target of increasing Islamist violence. Three Islamic State affiliates are on the rise in Africa—Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), and Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP).
Containing such violence will be no easy feat. Better security is critical, of course. But in countries such as Nigeria the military often has been part of the problem. So it is critical to go deeper and address the underlying causes of murderous intolerance and violence.
For this purpose, AfroLeadership, a pan-African human rights NGO is joining with Good of All, a non-profit educational organization in Washington, D.C. to harness the power of digital media for universal rights education in Africa.
Perhaps the great tragedy of this age is that advances for humanity such as the Internet have been used for evil by terrorists, racists, and extremists of all varieties at home and abroad. It is essential to harness these technologies for good.
This is the reason for our creation of the Universal Rights Academy. Our goal is to use the educational power of the Internet to promote the transcendent principles of human rights and freedom that are the best antidote to ideologies of racism, violence and genocide.
The anniversary of the horrific events in Rwanda remind us of the urgency of this task. After every genocide the world declares "Never again!" But then it happens again. It seems to be unfolding in front of us in West Africa today. Unless we act, it will reappear somewhere else tomorrow.
It is not enough to confront violence as it occurs. We must preempt genocide before it starts. That requires inspiring a digital generation with our shared human dignity and the universal rights that are the birthright of all humanity.
Dr. Matthew Daniels is the Chair of Law and Human Rights at the Institute of World Politics. He is also the founder of Good of All, an international human rights education organization and creator of www.universalrights.org.
SOURCE Matthew Daniels, JD, PhD
CONTACT: Audrey Mullen, Advocacy Ink, 202-270-2772, firstname.lastname@example.org