COLUMBIA - Senator Roméo Dallaire, retired Lieutenant-General, headed the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. He will speak on the University of Missouri campus, in Cornell Hall at 3:30 p.m. today, as a keynote speaker for the symposium: "Genocide in Rwanda: Media, Memory and Denial."
Dallaire stayed behind with just a few soldiers to see the genocide, which claimed 800,000 lives in 100 days, to its end. His discussion Saturday is titled, "Are All Humans Human?"
In an exclusive interview with KOMU 8 News Saturday afternoon, Dallaire said, ""In essence, the paradise on earth descended into hell. In another way, hell and the devil and his minions invaded paradise on earth for 100 days. Ever sort of act, every scene, every decision, every smell, every awakening moment was living hell. It was nothing that could be articulated as being worse than another, because human being outdid themselves every day to try and make it worse."
The 3-day long symposium has countered genocide denial by bringing in speakers, survivors, and genocide experts.
The symposium concludes Saturday night, with a banquet hosted by Step Up! American Association for Rwandan Women - a "non-profit organization founded in 2004 to respond to the ongoing trauma experienced by Rwandan women during the 1994 genocide."
Proceeds from the banquet will go toward building a trauma center in Rwanda.
"I think it will be a place of hope for the women, who can use it and benefit from trauma counseling. Because despite 18 years (since the genocide), we still have problems. There are not enough centers," Step Up Founder Béa Gallimore said.