Children’s Drawings of the Genocide Against the Tutsi

By Juliette Remond-Tiedrez

Warning: this post contains sensitive photographs which some people may find disturbing.  

The Shoah Memorial in Paris is hosting, from the 4th of April to the 17th of November, a commemorative exhibition of the genocide against the Tutsi, 25 years after it happened (as a small reminder, from April to mid-July 1994, almost a million ethnic Tutsi were massacred in Rwanda). I decided to go there. I misread the exhibit’s poster and thought that there was also a memorial for the Tutsi victims in addition to the memorial for the victims of the Holocaust. It turned out to be an exhibition only, but an instructive one.

As an international criminal law student, I am quite familiar with this, sadly famous, genocide and I was therefore expecting the exhibition to be emotionally heavy but even so, it hit me harder than expected.

The commemoration is called “the genocide through the eyes of the child”. The organiser of the commemoration decided to exhibit the children’s drawings and stories. The first thing that really impacted me in this exhibition was the harshness and the violence in the children’s drawings. In the below drawing, by a 14 year old, one can clearly distinguish the blood drawn in red, as compared to the rest of the drawing which is black. The people being stabbed, people’s legs being cut, are visible to point out. 

The notes made by the boy are even harder as they frankly explain what he experienced,  This is what happened to be during my teenage years in 1994 (up right); Here the interahamwe (a Hutu paramilitary organisation) cut my arm (center); This one is a military man from Habyarimana (down right)”

As Creating Rights had already been working on this subject (see for example Zérane Girardeau’s project Déflagrations) I had already seen children’s drawings and had already been shocked by the cruelty displayed in them. However, at the exhibition it felt different because there were a few people with me, reading the same stories, examining the same drawings. Some would sigh as they were confronted with the harshness of the testimonies. I have to say that when I arrived, I was quite in a good mood, but after reading only one story I directly felt touched and immersed in the terrible events that happened 25 years ago in Rwanda.

The second thing that impacted me was that the organiser did not only focus on the genocide itself but also on its consequences. This was, I think, very clever because, as it is a commemoration, 25 years after the events occurred, it is also interesting to examine what happened to the victims after the massacre. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the situation did not improve. A victim even said, “life after the genocide was like a second genocide for the survivors and a third genocide for the orphans”. The exhibition gives the examples of women who, after being raped, eventually died of AIDS, half of the survivors who did not have a house; orphans who couldn’t go to orphanages because they were too crowded and who had troubles at school. A young girl testifies “people would say that survivor children were the stupid ones, but I would say we were intelligent because studying with all the problems that we have and manage to have the grades that we had, was a great sign of bravery”.

The interahamwe came. They killed my neighbours and burned the house. I hid in a sorghum field.”


The Power of Narratives

by Njomza Miftari

Often times, human rights concerns become a hot topic when they occur in grave violations or in places far away from us but sometimes we can also learn from situations taking place in smaller communities.

On the 29th of October 2018, I attended a small exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, where a number of master’s students organized a forum called “The Power of Narratives” to provide a space for a counter narrative regarding the controversial police operation on the 31st of May 2017 at a vocational school called “B11” in Nuremberg.

To give some background, Asef N., a 20 year old Afghan national living in Germany was arrested in his classroom in order to be deported back to Afghanistan. During his arrest, a peaceful protest emerged by his classmates, members of the public and human rights activists. Unfortunately, when police authorities were unable to carry out the arrest due to the mounting of protestors, they became violent by dragging the protests off the street.


This created a national debate about Germany’s migration policy, solidarity and police use of force. This national debate was made evident by the mass collection of media glued to one side of the wall.

According to Johanna Böhm, a representative from the Bavarian Refugee Council, ‘the given status of Asef N. made it obligatory to leave because his asylum application was rejected. Still there are many legal and human perspectives which the authorities could have used but the Bavarian Authorities decided to take him out of class to deport him to a country which was and is in civil war. However, the cause of the resistance was due to the fact that this was an individual who has been living in Germany for many years (at this time it was more than 5 years), who is well integrated, and was awaiting a response regarding his status application.’

Since then, a number of activists have been arrested but no repercussions have taken place against the police authorities regarding their use of force. In addition, the situation has been used by some as a political tool to name and shame activists as ‘left-wing extremists.’

But is this case unique? It is not, according to Maria Gabriela, a Master’s student of Human Rights at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. ‘We see this happening everywhere, across Europe, South America and so on, where nationalism is tied with strong anti-migration discourse and stronger police intervention and the only way some people people feel protected is by such policies.’

Narratives form opinions, and opinions lead to different consequences. This exhibition was an impressive way to portray narratives and make us see them.


Save the date: dialogue on the future of international justice with artist Bradley McCallum

You are invited to join in the Assembly State Parties side-event organized by the WAYAMO Foundation to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the creation of the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA). The event will take place on Monday 21 November 2016 from 6 to 7.30 pm (followed by a reception) at the Marriott Hotel in The Hague, The Netherlands.
On this occasion, a panel discussion on the future of international justice and its challenges will gather members of the AGJA, as well as artist Bradley McCallum who will introduce his project entitled Weights and Measures: portraits of justice.
Organized by Conjunction Arts, Weights and Measures is an international exhibition with the aim to start a discussion on the underlying issues of international justice, through portraiture. The exhibition will take place internationally from February to November 2017 in South Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and the Netherlands. It comprises large-scale oil paintings of defendants, photographs of justice practitioners and audio installations of witnesses and victims. A preview of the exhibition will be visible during this side-event.
Through this collaborative event, we are hoping to not only discuss the existence of a system of international justice and its challenges, but whether a culture of international justice exists today, and how it can contribute to the debate.

Moving Walls, a photography exhibition documenting social justice and human rights

By Fiana Gantheret

Following up on the implications of photojournalism in humanitarian settings, today’s post will look into the Open Society Foundations Moving Walls exhibits. Open Society Foundations have organized, since 1998, an annual documentary photography exhibition entitled Moving Walls, which presents the work of several photographers about subjects related to social justice and human rights issues.

Moving Walls 20 is this year’s edition, and is exhibited in the New York offices of Open Society Foundations until 13 December 2013. Each photographer’s exhibit comprises about 20 pictures documenting one subject. 20 images that depicts a reality.

Borderland: North Korean Refugees

Katharina Hesse‘s work shows North Korean refugees and activists that help them cross the border between North Korea and China, as well as landscapes of the fields that these refugees have to go through to escape.


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