October 9, 1997 – Hearts Of Darkness – Massacres In Zaire, Child Refugees Sent Back To China, Italy Ponders Austerity
October 9, 1997 – what was going on in the world, this day 20 years ago. Rwanda was in the news, as it had been for much of the year. With the mass exodus of Hutus from Zaire, reports of atrocities and massacres continued, coupled with outbreaks of Cholera and mounting deaths. The Zaire rebels led by Laurent Kabila, were made up of Tutsis, pledged to wipe out all remaining Hutus in what has been described as a legacy of hatred and persecution on both sides, for a few hundred years. Reports reaching London reported no end to abuse and atrocities. A damaging report was issued by the United Nations regarding the handling of the Hutu situation by Kabila and his allies in Rwanda’s Tutsi-dominated government. It said that the Rwandan government, right from the start, had used the rebellion to take revenge on the Hutu fighters responsible for the 1994 genocide, and the thousands of refugees trapped in Zaire. The UN sent inspectors to the area, who took photographs of mass graves of civilian refugees. It went on to say the United States knew in advance of the plan to attack refugees, and either supported or ignored it. The UN’s Human Rights Watch said the Rwandan government had been determined, right from the start to use the rebellion to take revenge on the Hutu fighters responsible for the 1994 genocide, and also on the thousands of civilians who followed them into exile in the former Zaire. Human Rights Watch went on to say Rwanda’s Tutsi-dominated army was assisted in carrying out the massacres by Congolese, Ugandan and Barundian supporters of Laurent Kabila’s rebellion.
In other news – In Italy, the government of Romano Prodi was addressing Parliament in a final effort to win support and to stave off defeat of his Austerity budget. Prodi promised that, if the budget did not win support, he would threaten to resign.
Bosnian Muslims won elections in the Serb stronghold of Srebrenica, where thousands of Muslims were killed by Serb forces under the policy of Ethnic Cleansing. Muslims had been well in the minority, however over 70% of the population was Muslim prior to 1995. The results in this election were a good sign, but a spokesperson for the United Nations Commission for Refugees felt the results offered a unique opportunity, adding the people of Srebrenica had shown courage, but added that it would be a tragedy if the results were not implemented, and many felt putting those results into practice was going to be a hard task. Still . . .
A Court ruling in Hong Kong made it possible for hundreds of illegal child immigrants being faced with expulsion and sent back to mainland China. The children entered the territory illegally in order to join their parents. The move raised several Human Rights questions.
And the U.S. named the Tamil Tigers as a Terrorist organization, which was welcomed by the Sri Lankan government.
And that’s a very small portion of what went on in the world this October 9, 1997 as reported by The BBC World Service Program News Desk.