she caught me by surprise, Rwanda, and not only me.
for the past three years,she has held me in her grip.

early on the morning of April 7, 1994, I was awakened by an urgent phone call from the newsroom. "a small plane carrying the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda has crashed. they are both dead".

few people knew then, that the downing of that plane and the elimination of the Rwandan president was the pre-arranged signal to begin a very carefully planned genocide, which, by the time of the phone call was already in progress.
even Africa, had never seen such a bloodbath that, at least not in living memory. this would become one of the most documented genocides in history.

at the beginning, in the first hours of April 6th, almost nobody noticed the drama unfolding in Rwanda. and when we finally did notice, as usual, it was too late.

you enter a simple prayer house, on the outskirts of a small village drowned in greenery; on the red-brick church walls are images of the crucifixion and the Holy Mother. they look down on thousands of bodies - women, old people, children... many children and infants.
the rotten stinking bodies lay on the ground amongst the wooden church benches. after one year, two, even three years, you can see the last pose, as they desperately tried to defend, if not themselves, at least the young. you can not comprehend the images the eyes send to the brain. these scenes are illogical, unbearable.

yet, someone, did this. not in a flash of madness, but in a planned and well thought-out move. the hate, that brought the killers to raise their knifes, to rape the victims before the slaughter, to kill without discrimination even the babies, to riddle the churches with bullets, to throw in grenades, to massacre with hands, stones, bars, anyone who tried to escape...
this hate, was not born in one day. the citizens of Rwanda were poisoned with these arrows through decades, almost since independence in 1962, some say even before.

Rwanda has managed to confuse almost all we thought we already knew. she implies a constant nightmare to the few who remember her on regular days, and a bright warning signal to everyone who thought we had already learned, that we succeeded, in assuring, 'never again'.

all this happened not so far from here, on a clear blue spring day, in a beautiful, fertile land, where nobody had ever starved.
what started in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 has not yet ended. vicious bloody mad cycles like this do not, ever, end so quickly.

the few photos you see here, depict only the surface of the Rwandan tragedy and are the humble way I choose to share with you what I have witnessed - maybe a small act of prayer, that we will never again witness such a horror.

Erez T. Yanuv
Jerusalem, April 1997