Posted by jim in on Sep 18th 2017 | 0 comment(s)

Interview conducted by Victor Scarpelli*


Before the Genocide


I experienced the initial stages of Genocide when I was five years old after the death of the Tutsi King. People were burning houses and killing cattle I do not remember experiencing any actual killing of people. This was in 1959. In 1961 my family moved to Bugasara. Many Tutsi had been relocated to this area because there were many Tsetse flies there. The government was planning to use these flies to kill the Tutsi. In 1963 groups of young refugees tried to return to return to the country. Some of these young people used force to try and return home. Tutsi were always blamed after violence and so my family attempted to escape to Burundi. I was travelling in a separate group from my parents with several family members. We were separated and I became lost in the marshes. I was about nine years old. I was stranded in the marshland until officials from the government captured me. I was completely alone and so the officials asked me which of them I would like to live with. I though that whoever I picked would kill me at the first opportunity. I saw a soldier, holding an AK-47 that seemed far meaner and crueler than the rest of the soldiers. I thought that I would positively affect him through surprise because he would not expect me to pick him. This was my strategy.

                  The soldier was a very good parent and he made sure that I was attending school. However, I was often shown off as a Tutsi who had been taken by a militiaman. The man eventually married and his wife did not accept me because I was a Tutsi. I was always followed to make sure that I was not a spy. The soldier obtained a scholarship and left the country leaving me with his wife. The wife abused me. When the soldier returned he saw that his wife was abusing me and decided to send me to boarding school. The soldier told me that I was to lie about being a Tutsi on the National Exam. I did not understand why I should lie. I though to myself that I will pass this exam as myself without covering my identity. I passed the National Exam but I was banned from school because I was a Tutsi. When I returned home I asked the soldier and his wife about going to a technical school but they said that I should stay home and find a husband. When my neighbors saw that I was no longer in school they were confused because I had often gone to school with their children. They offered to pay my tuition so that I could go to technical school. The wife of the soldier was very upset that I had gone against her wishes and she began abusing me again. I decided that I would run away and went to live my uncle who was a pastor. The soldier called the police but they sided with my uncle and said that I was old enough to decide where I wanted to live.


1973- Genocide Preparation

Habyrimana took over the government with a coup-de tat. This was a very bad time to be a Tutsi. Many Tutsi were not allowed to work or graduate from school. Schools would separate the Hutu students from the Tutsi. Many of the Hutu faculty would pour water on me and the other Tutsi students as we were sleeping. A rumor began to spread that the Tutsi students were poisoning the Hutu students. One of the Hutu students that we were friendly with warned us that the other Hutu students intended to kill us so we decided to escape.



1974 was a very good year. I met a man and we became married in April. My husband was a technician and he still had a job despite being a Tutsi. I had three girls and three boys. God had provided me with everything I needed to be happy. Before the wedding I received a letter telling me that my parents were still alive in Tanzania. I did not believe it because I was sure that they had died. I later discovered that my parents had begun searching for me in Tanzania and that eventually a neighbor of my uncle recognized them. He told them that I was alive and was about to be married. I did not believe that this letter was from my parents because in those days there were many thieves seeking to exploit people by pretending to be family. I wrote back to them and told them that if they were really my parents they should attend my wedding.



In 1990 I was attacked as a spy of the R.P.F. (Rwandan Patriotic Front). My family was one of the first families attacked. My husband was arrested and detained for six months. While he was detained he was cruelly treated. He was starved and often beaten. He was eventually released but things were never the same after his detention. He was very weak after he was released and had trouble working. The happy days were over.



At five a.m. soldiers accused us of being traitors. We were on the militia kill lists and so we were targeted very early into the genocide. We were beaten and robbed but these men did not kill us. They were only after property and did not want to be the ones who killed us. They left after robbing us and promised us that another group would be along shortly to finish us off. The next day all of our Tutsi neighbors came to our house. The women and children left our house in an attempt to reach the church. My husband stayed behind to defend our house from thieves. Two of my boys stayed with him because they were big boys. We lived very close to the church but our progress was slow because of the roadblocks. WE met the local governor on the way to the church. He told me that my husband and son were at the local government building waiting for us. The local governor saved my family and me and took us all to the church. The pastor of this church was a Hutu and had often tormented me for being a Tutsi. He would call Tutsi snakes and cockroaches and he would make me stand up in the church to mock me. However, I attended church every Sunday. People would often tell me that I should stop attending church but my faith never wavered and I attended every Sunday. For this reason I decided to take my family to a seminary instead of the church. There was a mix of Hutu and Tutsi refugees because of the immense confusion. We did not know what was happening and many Hutu had fled their homes believing that they were also in danger. The priests at the seminary protected us. When the interhamwe would come to kill us the priests would take their weapons. Eventually this alarmed the government because they thought that the priests might be arming us. So the government stopped the priests from protecting us. They shot both of the priests who were protecting us. After the priests were killed interhamwe stormed the church. They released all of the Hutu. The next day they returned again with machetes and began hacking us. Only two people survived the church. I survived but I was cut on the back of the head many times. A child also survived by hiding underneath the dead bodies. All of my children and my husband were also killed. I ran away and hid in a latrine. I chose the dirtiest latrine so that no one would use it and discover me. I hid there for five days with no food or water. The child who had survived finally brought me water before I died. We were joined by other survivors that hid in the latrine with us. The interhamwe found me but they thought that I was a Hutu who had been killed by the R.P.F. and so they ran away. Eventually I was rescued by the R.P.F. they treated my wounds and I survived. I decided to adopt the children that the R.P.F. had rescued and I became their mother.         

Victor Scarpelli is currently a third year student at Loyola University Maryland where he studies Philosophy and English.  He participated in the 2017 Peacebuiding Institute held in Kigali, Rwanda







Posted by jim in on Jun 21st 2017 | 0 comment(s)

The US Federal Judicial Center recently published International Human Rights Litigation: A Guide for Judges.  This Guide was written to assist federal judges in managing and resolving federal cases involving international human rights claims, and it provides a comprehensive analysis of all substantive and procedural issues involved.  A detailed analysis is provided on the Alien Tort Statute, Torture Victim Protection Act, and other federal statutes.  The book also includes a model scheduling order for human rights cases as well as case summaries, tables, and research references, current as of Dec 31, 2016.

The Guide was drafted to be neutral as between human rights plaintiffs and defendants, and thus should provide useful information for all.  Because it was commissioned by a federal government agency (the FJC) for the benefit of federal judges, lawyers, and agencies, the Guide has been placed in the public domain and is available as a free resource.  Readers can freely distribute, print, and otherwise use and transmit the Guide in its present form, provided that no changes are made to the manuscript itself.  You can find and download the Guide by searching on the FJC website or via this link to the author’s SSRN site (Abstract ID # 2978170).

   Recommended citation: David Nersessian, International Human Rights Litigation: A Guide for Judges 1-178 (Federal Judicial Center 2016). 

David L. Nersessian, JD, D Phil (Oxon)

Assistant Professor

Babson College – Accounting & Law Division 

Posted by jim in on Mar 7th 2017 | 0 comment(s)

The International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) hosts an annual 2-week, intensive course in partnership with the University of Toronto. The Genocide and Human Rights University Program is entering its 16th year of operation as one of the Institute’s most rewarding initiatives to further education, help raise genocide awareness and advancing the cause of prevention and promote the study of human rights. Over 400 students have graduated from the course, and over 40 renowned specialized scholars have participated as instructors in this program, including IAGS President, Professor Andrew Woolford, former President, Professor Joyce Apsel and Vice-President, Professor Elisa von Joeden-Forgey.

The program uses a comparative approach to understand the many complexities surrounding genocide, and incorporates subjects such as genocide theory, sociology, political science, anthropology, international law, history, and psychology. Through fostering dialogue, historical analysis and education, GHRUP provides the essential training to develop a new generation of scholars to engage in research and publication in this field.


 Click on the following link for program details:


Posted by jim in on Feb 6th 2017 | 0 comment(s)

Recently, I asked members of the IAGS community who teach in the field of Genocide Studies and related areas to submit course descriptions, lists of readings, and syllabi to the IAGS blog.  The IAGS blog is an appropriate platform to share such resources.  Those new to teaching Genocide Studies as well as those of us who have been teaching in the field for some time can only benefit from a broad and rich resource such as ours.  Please consider sending your material to me at [email protected].  Professor Jobb Arnold's syllabus is posted below.

Menno Simons College

In association with The University of Winnipeg

Course Syllabus

Genocide, War and Conflict



Instructor.............. Dr. Jobb Arnold

Course Description:

War and genocide are terms used to express some of the most extreme and complex manifestations of

deadly conflict. These instances are not inscrutable nor are they inevitable. In this course students will

be introduced to foundational texts on the topics of both war and genocide. We will examine the root

causes, social dimensions and psychological impacts of these phenomenon drawing on

multidisciplinary perspectives from sociology, anthropology, psychology as well as genocide studies.

The purpose of the course is not to provide an exhaustive account of different wars and genocides or to

offer definitive answers regarding the nature of their occurrence. Rather, the readings will highlight

salient features, patterns and logics that manifest across diverse contexts meant to inform students

understanding of threshold scenarios within the field of conflict studies.

The class format will include lectures, discussion, small group interaction, and films, with the goal of

working as a learning community. Students are expected to do considerable reading and reflection, and

actively engage in class activities. Informed participation is a significant course evaluation factor.

Much of the material we will be covering is of a difficult and disturbing nature and if students find this

triggering, they are encouraged to access supports as needed either through the instructor or campus


Required Text:

Harald Welzer. Climate wars: Why people will be killed in the 21st century. (London: Polity Press,


*All other required readings will be provided online through Nexus.


Course Topics

Note: This is a tentative outline and schedule of topics to be covered. Some topics and readings may be

omitted and others may be added.

Sept. 7: Introductory Discussion

Week 1: Setting the Parameters of the Topics

Sept. 12:

• Carl Von Clausewitz, “What is War?” in On war. trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret.

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974): 75-94.


• Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, “Insurgency and counterinsurgency” in Counterinsurgency.

(Washington: Department of the Army, 2006): 1-24.

Sept. 14:

• Raphael Lemkin, “Genocide – A new term and new conception for destruction of nations.” In,

Axes rule in occupied Europe: Proposals for redress. (New Jersey: The Law Book, [1944]

2008): 179-93.

• Greg H. Stanton. The eight stages of genocide, (United States State Department Briefing Paper,

1996) http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stagesofgenocide.html

Week 2: Pre-conditions for violence

Sept 19:

• Ervin Staub. “Cultural-societal roots of violence: The examples of genocidal violence and of

contemporary youth violence in the United States.” American Psychologist. Vol.1, No. 2

(1996): 117-132.


• Martin Shaw. “The General Hybridity of War and Genocide.” Journal of Genocide Research.

Vol. 9 No. 3 (2007): 461-73.

Sept 21: NO CLASS

Sept 26: Week 3: On Killing

• Lt.Col. Dave Grossman, “Killing and the existence of resistance: A world of virgins studying

sex.” On killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. (New York: Back

Bay Books, 1996): 1-37.



• Jean Hatzfield, Machete Season: The killers in Rwanda speak. (New York: Farrar, Straus and

Giroux, 2005).

Sept 28:

• Rudolf Höss, “The final solution of the Jewish question in concentration camp Auschwitz.”

Death Dealer: The memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz (New York: Da Capo Press,

1996): 27-48.


• Alexander Laban Hinton, “Why did you kill?: The Cambodian Genocide and the dark side of

face and honor.” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 57, No. 1 (1998): 93-122.

Week 4: Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa

Oct. 3:

• René Lemarchand, “Rwanda: The state of research.” Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence,

[online], published on 27 May 2013, http://www.massviolence.org/RWANDA-THE-STATEOF-RESEARCH,742.


• Jean Hatzfield, Life Laid Bare: The survivors in Rwanda speak. (trans.) Linda Coverdale. (New

York: Other Press, 2007).

Oct. 5:

• Lee Ann Fuji, Killing neighbors: Webs of violence in Rwanda, (Cornell University Press: Ithica,



• Scott Straus. “Local dynamics.” In, The order of Genocide: Race, power, and war in Rwanda,

(Cornell University Press: Ithica, 2006): 65-95.

**October 9th -15th Reading Week – No Classes**

Week 5: The Shoah / Holocaust

Oct. 17:

• Raul Hilberg, “The structure of destruction.” in, The destruction of the European Jews (New

Haven: Yale University Press, 1985): 49-51.

• Raphael Lemkin, “German occupation.” In, Axes rule in occupied Europe: Proposals for

redress. (New Jersey: The Law Book, [1944] 2008).


Oct. 19:

• Zygmunt Bauman. “The ethics of obedience (reading Milgram).” In, Modernity and the

Holocaust. (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1989): 151-166.


• Christopher R. Browning, “Ordinary men.” In Ordinary men: Reserve police battalion 101 and

the final solution in Poland. (New York: Harper Collins, 1992): 159-189.

Week 6: Colonial Genocide and Indigenous Peoples **Geraldine Shingoose***

Oct. 24:

• Andrea Smith, “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide” in Conquest: Sexual Violence and

American Indian Genocide (New York: South End Press, 2005): 7-35.


• Patrick Wolf, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide

Research, No. 8 Vol. 4 (2006): 387-409.

Oct 26:

• Andrew Woolford. Ontological Destruction: Genocide and Canadian Aboriginal Peoples.

Genocide Studies and Prevention 4, No.1 (2009): 81–97.

• Phil Fontaine and Bernie Farber, What Canada committed against First Nations was genocide.

The UN should recognize ithttp://media.knet.ca/node/22677


• Christopher Powell, “What do genocides kill? A relational conception of genocide,” Journal of

Genocide Research, Vol. 9, 4 (2007): 527–547.

Week 7: Cultural Genocide

Oct. 31:

• “Introduction.” In, Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final

Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (Library and Archives Canada

Cataloguing in Publication, 2015): 1-29.


• Elisa Novick, “Physical-biological or socio-cultural ‘destruction’ in genocide? Unravelling the

legal underpinnings of conflicting interpretations.” Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 17, No.

1, (2015): 63–82.

** Nov. 1st FINAL DATE to withdraw without academic penalty from courses which begin in

September and end in December of the 2016 Fall Term **


Nov. 2:

• Robert van Krieken. “Rethinking cultural genocide: Aboriginal child removal and settler

colonial state formation.” Oceania, 75 (2004): 125-153.


• Lars Berster. “The alleged non-existence of cultural genocide: A response to the Croatia v.

Serbia judgment.” Journal of International Criminal Justice, 13 (2015): 677-692

Week 8: Environmental Pressures and Ecocide

Nov. 7:

• Martin Crook and Damien Short, “Marx, Lemkin and the genocide–ecocide nexus,” The

International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 18, No. 3 (2014): 298-319


• Jennifer Huseman and Damian Short, “‘A slow industrial genocide’: tar sands and the

indigenous peoples of northern Alberta.” The International Journal of Human Rights Vol.16,

No.1 (2012): 216-237.

Nov. 9:

• Valerie Percival and Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental scarcity and violent conflict: The

case of Rwanda.” The Journal of Environment and Development, Vol. 5 No. 3 (1996): 270-289.

• Colin P. Kelley, Shahrzad Mohtadi, Mark A. Cane, Richard Seager, and Yochanan Kushnir

“Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought”

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol.112 No.11 (2015): 3241-3246.


• Andrea Graziosi, “Hunger by design: Holodomor in Ukraine.” In, Halyna Hryn (ed.) The great

Ukrainian famine in it’s Soviet Context famines and the Ukrainian Holodomor (2008).

Week 9: Intergenerational Trauma and Cultural Continuity

Nov. 14:

• Vamik Volkan, “Ancient fuel for a modern inferno: Time collapse in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” In

Bloodlines: From ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism. (Boulder Colorado: Westview Press, 1997):



• Derek Summerfield, “A critique of seven assumptions behind psychological trauma

programmes in war-affected areas.” Social Science & Medicine, 48 No.10 (1999): 1449-1462.

Nov. 16:

• Chandler, Michael J. and Christopher Lalonde. “Cultural continuity as a hedge against first

nations suicides in Canada.” Transcultural Psychiatry, 35, 2 (1998): 191-219.


• Tyler A. McCreary and Richard A. Milligan. “Pipelines, permits, and protests: Carrier Sekani


encounters with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.” Cultural Geographies. (2014): Vol.

21, 1 (2014): 115–129.

Week 10: Representations and Psychic Numbing

Nov. 21:

• Alexander Laban Hinton, Kevin O’Neil Lewis “Genocide: Truth, Memory, and Representation:

An introduction.” in Genocide: Truth, Memory, and Representation (Durham: Duke University

Press, 2009): 1-29.


• Zorbas, Eugenia. “What does reconciliation after genocide mean? Public transcripts and hidden

transcripts in post-genocide Rwanda.” Journal of Genocide Research, 11, No. 1 (2009): 127-


Nov. 23:

• David A. Frank, Paul Slovic, Daniel Vastfjall and Daniel Vasfjall. “‘Statistics Don't Bleed’:

Rhetorical Psychology, Presence, and Psychic Numbing in Genocide Pedagogy. JAC,” Vol. 31,

3/4 (2011): 609-624


• “The Responsibility to protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and

State Sovereignty” (Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State

Sovereignty, 2001).

Week 11: In-Class Presentations

Nov. 28: Presentations

Nov. 30: Presentations


Dec. 5: Last Day of Class, Course Overview and Reflections

Posted by jim in on Nov 20th 2016 | 0 comment(s)

Doctor Michael Herron, who recently joined IAGS, would like to announce the publication of his new book The Unburied Past: Denial of the Armenian Genocide in American and French Politics. It covers the recent debates in American and French Politics confronting denial of the Armenian genocide, ending with the decision of the French Constitutional Council in 2012 to declare the French law criminalising denial of the Armenian genocide, unconstitutional.  It considers the issue of what is appropriate for third party states to do when confronted with denial of genocide particularly when they were involved at the time.  The book is primarily aimed at fellow genocide scholars to build on the findings of the research conducted for the dissertation on which the book is based.

Hard copies are available for purchase at blurb.com.  They are also available via Doctor Herron’s website pasttothepresent.com, a site that features blogs about how the past influences politics in the present day, some of which focus on genocide.


Doctor Herron was recently awarded his PhD in Holocaust and genocide studies from Kingston University in London for his thesis on which his book The Unburied Past is based.  He has taught a seminar on the Holocaust at Kingston University, having previously worked in politics for Democrat Representatives and a Democrat campaign consultancy in Washington DC and for the Labour Party in London.