“The Arusha Tapes,” a two-hour documentary film about the process of justice in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, was screened in two Rwandan townships last week, with over 400 people in attendance.

The screenings were held in Butare and Gikongoro prefectures in southwestern Rwanda, regions strongly affected by the 1994 genocide. Audiences reacted emotionally to the film, welcoming it and saying they would be eager to see more. Internews has released a Special Report (PDF Format) documenting the film screenings and the reactions of audience members.

Directed by award-winning South African filmmaker Mandy Jacobson, the Internews film focuses on six trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is located in Arusha, Tanzania. The film includes extensive footage from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, as well as background about genocide during World War II, the creation of the United Nations and the 1995 establishment of the ICTR by the UN Security Council.

“The Arusha Tapes” is being screened at locations around Rwanda as part of a three-year Internews project to bring information about international and domestic justice initiatives to Rwandans, who otherwise have little access to news or information about the proceedings.

“In Rwanda, reconciliation cannot take hold until people believe that justice is being served,” says Mark Frohardt, Africa region director at the Washington office of Internews. “Because Rwandan citizens get so little information about the ICTR, there tends to be focus on the negatives and an ongoing sense that the international community is not serious about genocide in Africa. What we are doing here is making it possible for Rwandan citizens to make informed evaluations of the justice process and register their views with those responsible for implementing justice both at the national and international levels.”

After the film has been screened around the country, Internews plans to show regular video updates every two months on the ICTR, on Rwanda’s domestic trials and on the country’s traditional or “gacaca” courts. The video screenings will be followed by discussions about justice and reconciliation to be facilitated by specially trained mediators.


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