The Goats and Graves Reparation

goats and graves

&copy Randy Mazie

“On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, President Donald Trump sent the 101st Airborne to maintain order at the American-Mexican border near Nogales. That was fifteen years ago.” Professor Pauline Vasquez periodically pressed her thumb on the remote, advancing the slideshow in her classroom.

“500,000 migrants, desperate to gain sanctuary, were being turned away by Army soldiers, supported by the National Guard. No one knew who fired the first shot, but it turned into a bloodbath. Three-fourths of the refuges were either killed or wounded while the rest fled.”

One student raised his hand, “Do you know when the genocide reparation hearings are scheduled for?”

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I Googled “Goats and Graves” since that’s part of the photo’s filename, and I came up with a scholarly paper titled, “Goats and Graves: Reparations In Rwanda’s Community Courts. So in this case, I’m using the image symbolically, when normally, I would have taken a more literal perspective.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed of nearly 500,000 Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from their base in Uganda, initiating the Rwandan Civil War. The group condemned the Hutu-dominated government for failing to democratize and confront the problems facing these refugees. Neither side was able to gain a decisive advantage in the war, but by 1992 it had weakened Habyarimana’s authority; mass demonstrations forced him into a coalition with the domestic opposition and eventually to sign the 1993 Arusha Accords with the RPF. The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing him. The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, around 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were killed in well-planned attacks on the orders of the interim government. Many Twa were also killed, despite not being directly targeted.

Since the Rwandan genocide was triggered by half a million refuges, I made that the jumping off point for my own, wee tale. Of course in the case of Rwanda, the relevant events took place over several months and not in a single day. As I was writing, I was also reminded of the Kent State shootings of 1970.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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