Sudan Tribune (18 Jan 2006) published Dr. Gerald Caplan’s “From Rwanda to Darfur: Lessons learned?” essay pointing out three lessons from the Rwandan genocide.

Caplan writes that what happens in Sudan has been expected: “Even before the 1994 Rwandan genocide ended, some began wondering when ‘the next Rwanda’ would be. Not ‘if’, but when.”

He points out the tragedy in Darfur being pronounced “genocide” by the U.S., and the ironic no-action that followed the “recognition.”

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Photo: human remains in Darfur (from

I met Dr. Caplan at the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies in August of 2005. He was a vibrant speaker, and being a Jew himself, he harshly criticized the ignorance of many Jews toward other genocides. He particularly cited an incident when a Jewish organization stopped funding a Holocaust research center, after the center had added the word “genocide” to its name, becoming “Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center.”

Sudan was hoped to be “a genocide we can stop.” Apparently, we did not. And now we are “learning lessons” from Sudan. And it is very well said, that the only thing that we have learned from history is that we have not learned anything from history.

Even before the 1994 Rwandan genocide ended, some began wondering when "the next Rwanda" would be. Not "if", but when. Despite Indonesia in 1965, Burundi in 1972 and Cambodia from 1975 to 1978, genocide had receded in the public consciousness. From the late 1960s, it’s true, memory of the Holocaust was in full bloom. But the Holocaust was treated as almost a self-contained phenomenon separate from "ordinary" genocide. The earlier Armenian genocide was mainly the crusade of Armenians, the Hereros’ extermination was unknown beyond a few experts. As for the post-Holocaust massacres of half-a-million Chinese and Communists in Indonesia, the slaughter by the Tutsi army of perhaps 200,000 Hutu in Burundi, including all those with secondary education, and the deaths by beating, starving or torture by the Khmer Rouge of a million and a half Cambodians, none quite seemed to meet the standards set down in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (UNCG).

Rwanda was different. Rwanda was a classic UNCG genocide, fulfilling all the conditions, and it reminded the world that a half century after the world first vowed "Never again," genocide had not disappeared. What Primo Levi had said of the Holocaust was now said about Rwanda: It happened, so it will happen again. For some, it happened soon enough. For them, Srebrenica in 1995 seemed "another Rwanda", and indeed, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia eventually decided that the murder of 8000 Muslim Bosnian males by Bosnian Serb militias was indeed genocide. But this has been a controversial issue. Cold-bloodedly murdering 8000 Muslim Bosnians was beyond question an egregious war crime, even a crime against humanity, but, some wondered, how could it belong in the same category as killing 1 ½ million Armenians or six million Jews?

Rwanda, however, left no room for ambiguity…

The entire article is available at