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Rwandan ambassador to speak at UIS

February 4, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - His Excellency Dr. Zac Nsenga, Rwandan ambassador to the United States, will speak on “Rwanda, Ten Years After,” at 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 9, in Brookens Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Brookens Auditorium is located on the lower level of Brookens Library on the UIS campus. Dr. Nsenga’s appearance is hosted by the International Studies Department at UIS and is free and open to the public.

The Rwandan Embassy in Washington D.C. is also the country’s official mission to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico. Nsenga formerly served as ambassador to Israel, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Nordic countries, and was Rwanda’s Secretary General in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He was educated at Makerere University in Kampala, where he graduated with a medical degree, and at the University of Westminster, where he earned an M.A. in Diplomatic Studies.

On April 6, 1994, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s personal plane was shot down, likely by extremists in the military and government bitterly opposed to an accord that Habyarimana had concluded with rebel forces which capped three years of war and ended his 20-year control over the country’s politics and society.  Within an hour of the crash, the Presidential Guard, elements of the Rwandan armed forces, and extremist militia set up roadblocks and barricades and began an organized slaughter that killed nearly one million Rwandans, approximately one-tenth of the population, in 100 days’ time.

As the killing intensified, Western nations landed troops to evacuate their own citizens and then left.  A token peacekeeping force sent by the United Nations was ineffective and soon withdrawn. After human rights, media, and diplomatic reports of the carnage mounted, however, the UN reconsidered; but the full complement of troops and materiel would not arrive in Rwanda until months after the genocide ended.

Public awareness of the country’s struggles has been revived by the movie Hotel Rwanda, which has received a number of Academy Award nominations.

For more information, contact Steve Schwark, professor of Political Studies and chair of International Studies at UIS, at 206-6650 or International Studies graduate assistant Maria Britton at 206-7889.

 

    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.
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