U of M Is One of the First U.S. Universities to Host Rwanda Genocide Exhibit University News
For release: October 6, 2008

For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

An internationally displayed exhibit that depicts the human face of genocide is coming to the University of Memphis campus.  "Lessons from Rwanda" will be on exhibit Oct. 27-31 in the atrium of the University’s Administration Building.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during normal University business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The exhibit presents an account of the events taking place before, during, and after the Rwanda genocide. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the lasting impact of genocide on survivors, on the lessons to be learned from those events, and on the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and other judicial mechanisms in ending impunity.

According to Dr. David L. Richards, assistant professor of political science at the U of M, it will be one of the first displays of the exhibit at a United States university. The exhibit has been on display in Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Canada.

“It is important to put a human face on the cost of genocide, because the staggering casualty numbers associated with genocides represent real individuals, living human beings.  The ability to act to stop these events is weakened if the human factor is forgotten or misunderstood,” said Richards. “Also, it is important to the prevention of future genocides to understand that it is human beings, not abstract monsters, who perpetrate these crimes. It is easier to lay horror at the hands of monsters, but we won’t understand the dynamics behind genocide, if we do that.”

Richards is considered a leading expert in human rights. He is co-director of the CIRI Human Rights Data Project (www.humanrightsdata.org), which annually rates government respect for 15 internationally-recognized human rights in 195 countries. It is considered one of the largest and most respected such data bases in the world. He also serves on the advisory board of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The exhibit is a production of Aegis Trust for genocide prevention, in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information.

More information on the exhibit is available at Web site: http://www.un.org/preventgenocide/rwanda/exhibit.shtml

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