The Study of Humankind

All through history we can see times of great trials for the human race. Empires rising against each-other, starvation, diseases, genocides and even infanticides. As I learned about all these events in the past, I didn’t realize to the extent that I do now, how much of these events are still happening to this day. Yet these problems don’t have one simple answer to them and are far more complicated than I could have imagined. Yet I feel they are extremely important, because I think at the root, all these issues come from the practice of ethnocentrism. Which is judging other groups of people based on my own assumptions and values.

Now I learned a lot about the crisis in Burundi, concerning the Hutu and the Tutsi. They are two groups of people that have been fighting for a long time throughout history. They each have a very rich culture and heritage, but  somewhere down the line they developed a hatred for each-other. Of course this doesn’t apply to every Tutsi or Hutu, many just want the fighting to end. Here are similar issues from other groups with similar circumstances, that I learned from some of my classmates.

Jonathan describes the civil war in the Ukraine right now. He explains that since the revolution in 2014 that put in place a pro-European government, many places with a majority of Russian populations have declared independence. This has lead to lots of violence and blood-shed, because of the clash between these two cultures.

Alex informs that in Eritrea, many people are fleeing the nation because of an out of control government. He reports people not being able to express their religious beliefs and  unfair trials resulting in torture and murder which is the “Government’s way of sending fear to the people who follow their rules.”

Hidenao reports similar political conflicts in South Sudan. He states that over 750,000 people have fled to neighboring countries.

Amanda got to research the “defectors” from North Korea. These people are so scared that she said, “As they take refuge, they pray that they don’t get caught by citizens and Chinese military who threaten to report or even deport them back where they will face bigger threats of being thrown in jail, raped, tortured, forced abortions, and even public executions.”

Allyson talks about the collapse of the government in Afghanistan. From those who are sill there she says, “From the insider’s perspective, specifically Shakila Muradi’s, she was mostly concerned with how women are treated just like property, and are not allowed to attend school.”

Erik describes all the violence and war in Kenya. How they want to go to Europe to get freedom.

Heidi examined the civil war in Somalia. In that, “The refugees do not appear to be faring well, numerous accounts say that the refugee camps, particularly Dadaab, are unsafe and have poor living conditions.”

Sierra also researched the war in Somalia. She explains that due to natural disasters and people being forced to leave their homes, violence and war have broken out.

Haley who has followed the  Sahrawian refugees. States,  “the Sahrawian refugees are originally from Morocco but fled due to the Western Sahara war.” Also that they really need more aid.

Lourdes researched the Tibetan refugees. She found that “refugees have been undergoing the same crisis for years since the invasion of China in the 1950’s. The Tibet refugees tried to fight the Chinese government from invading, but their attempts have been unsuccessful.” This is an entire country, trying to take over such a small culture of people.

So now what? Well through my experience in my anthropology class and in this research, I have actually learned a lot about my self. For one, I come from a very conservative background. My whole life I have been influenced by those around me in the ways I think. Through this course I have been able to see in what ways I may judge someone else’s culture based on my own. Now that I know this, It’s easier to put my self in other peoples shoes. Because before, it was almost like I had no idea what my shoes looked liked, but now it seems much clearer. This doesn’t mean my thinking is or was wrong, although I do admit I have thought wrongly about things. It just means that we all have different ways of thinking, and what I think is freedom may not be ‘freedom’ for someone else.

I strongly, suggest taking Anthropology for anyone. No matter what career choice you choose. I think it helps so much in understanding others and from my experience understanding yourself.

Burundi Refugees: Refrences

Burundian_refugees_children_on_tree._(20124214379).jpg

Children_in_Virunga_National_Park.jpg

References

Agius, C. (2016, January 12). Burundi refugee crisis escalates as 230,000 flee conflict. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/burundi-faces-refugee-crisis/7081722

I. (1999, November 30). BURUNDIAN REFUGEES IN TANZANIA: The Key Factor to the Burundi Peace Process [PDF]. International Crisis Group.

DRYDEN-PETERSON, S. (2015, November 23). Building a Future for the Youngest Refugees [Web log post]. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/uk/blog/building-future-youngest-refugees
E. (2015). Burundi Crisis [Map]. In ECOH daily map. European Union.

Evans, K. (2016, April 02). “Let us be heard”: Burundi’s refugees tell stories of ethnic targeting « Afronline – The Voice Of Africa. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.afronline.org/?p=41163

Harneis, J. (2007, February 17). Hutu and other Rwandan children in Virunga National Park [The kids were playing around the health centre, on a terrace overlooking the plains of the Virunga national park, empty except for militia from the Forces Democratique pour la Liberation de Rwanda, FDLR. A hutu militia that has been in the east of DRC for more than twenty years.]. Retrieved June 6, 2016, from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutu#/media/File:Children_in_Virunga_National_Park.jpg
Sy, A., & Goyal, R. (2015, May 29). Third term-ism: Is Burundi a serious threat to the region? [Web log post]. Retrieved May 25, 2016, from

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in-focus/posts/2015/05/29-burundi-election-violence-regional-economic-community-sy-goyal
Burundi [Map]. (n.d.). In WorldAtlas. WorldAtlas.

U. (2013, August 28). Eyewitness Testimony: Clemantine Wamariya. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrFZAofNGi4

U. (2015, December 03). Tanzania: Fleeing Burundi, Refugees Seek Safety. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUe6ZPo0CFE

M. (2015, July 31). Photo MONUSCO / Abel Kavanagh [Burundian refugees children on tree]. Retrieved June 08, 2016, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burundian_refugees_children_on_tree._(20124214379).jpg

 

Other Resources: Burundi’s Refugees

Third term-ism: Is Burundi a serious threat to the region?

By: Amadou Sy and Radhika Goyal on May 29, 2015

In this article, the major concern with President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term is explained along with its affect on Burundi’s exiting economy. Also that until this happened, the country was actually starting to become stable and grow. Now however, it’s going to plunge even further into poverty. Except, because Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the region, its troubles won’t have much of an impact on the whole region’s economy. Yet as it concerns the Burundi refugees, they will have a huge obstacle to overcome in order to rise from poverty.

This article is a credible source considering, Amadou Sy is the director of the Africa Growth Initiative and serves as a member of the Editorial Board of the Global Credit Review. He researches banking, capital markets, and macroeconomics in Africa. Most likely intended for his colleagues or other professionals in the field and anyone looking to learn about the issues facing Burundi. Likewise, there are many links and references to outside sources along with charts and diagrams depicting the economic growth of Burundi and in the region.

 

Building a Future for the Youngest Refugees

By: Sarah Dryden-Peterson on November 23, 2015

Dryden-Peterson describes not just Burundi refugees but all of them around the world. But her focus isn’t on the details of how and why they have lost everything. Instead, she explains how education may be their only way out. Explaining that in cases where these people have gotten access to higher education, they have been able to climb out of poverty and make a difference in their own countries. This even reflects Clemantine Wamariya’s story from my last post, since she was able to come to america and receive education and now stands up against genocides and human violence.

Sarah Dryden-Peterson is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She offers a link that goes to her report to the Migration Policy Institute that describes her experience with these refugees. The purpose of this article is to explain the importance of education to these refugees. The audience is clearly the policy makers for immigration in hopes there can be better ways for America to help provide education to refugees. Considering the position of Dryden-Peterson and who efforts to confront policy makers, gives this article pretty good credibility.

Citations

Dryden-Peterson, S. (2015, November 23). Building a Future for the Youngest Refugees AMID EXILE, LOSS, AND UNCERTAINTY, EDUCATION OFFERS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD [Weblog post]. Retrieved from https://www.gse.harvard.edu/uk/blog/building-future-youngest-refugees

Goyal, A., Sy, A. (2015, May 29). Third term-ism: Is Burundi a serious threat to the region? [Weblog post]. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in focus/posts/2015/05/29-burundi-election-violence-regional-economic-community-sy-goyal

Image-  Burundi Health by European Commission  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Burundi: Their Testimony

Eyewitness Testimony: Clemantine Wamariya

Wamariya was six when the genocide in Burundi started. But in 2000, she received asylum in the United States. After witnessing the violence and suffering, Wamariya believes that no human being should ever go through that. Incredibly smart, She even won Oprah Winfrey’s National High School Essay Contest that asked, “Why is Elie Wiesel’s book Night relevant today?” It’s a great testimony.

Tanzania: Fleeing Burundi, Refugees Seek Safety

                                                                                                                                         Published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Dec 3, 2015.

This video first describes how long the journey has been for these people to flee Burundi. As more and more pour into the village of Nehru, it becomes too crowded. So some are attempting a move, to a less populated camp. A refugee by the name of Nestor Kamza, shares his testimony of how him and his family, “fell into the hands of thief’s” on their way to the Tanzania border, just east of Burundi.

Deeper Look at Burundi

As I said before, when Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a (un-constitutional) third term in office, the country once again, began to be littered with violence. The purpose of my research is to find articles that show how the conflict has effected the lives of the Burundian people.

The first article I found called, Burundian Refugees in Tanzania is actually a very detailed report on the conflict in Burundi before the recent political issues. Written by the International Crisis Group and slightly outdated from February of 1999. This published work is still useful in understanding the already hostile relationship between the Hutu and Tutsi people. The main point of this report is to show that despite the attempts for peaceful negotiations, there are still issues that must be addressed before any peace can really be found. Some of the problems pointed out in this report are “militarized” refugee camps, leaving out rebel groups in peace talks and even lack of security in refugees camps.

When it comes to how bias this article is, I’d say it’s pretty non-biased. The author seems to take no stance with any particular group of people and only looking to find a solution for peace. The tone of it is very informative and there are lots of statistical facts that do hold up.

Next, the second article was written by Kimberly Evans from the Gashora Reception Centre in Rwanda, just north of Burundi. It’s called “Let us be heard”: Burundi’s refugees tell stories of ethnic targeting, published by Afronline on April 02, 2016. This article is obviously more recent but the problems outlined here are very similar. Evans doesn’t go into the political details of the conflict but shares some of the testimonies from the refugees that have gone to Gashora. One example is a former Burundian Judge named Desire, who had gotten orders to settle a land-dispute between a Hutu and a Tutsi by just giving the land to the Hutu. Not wanting to favor the one side by  following orders  and afraid of punishment from the government, Desire had strung out the case as long as he could before fleeing to Rwanda with his family. The main point of this article is to show what “ethnic targeting” looks like in Burundi right now.

As far as bias goes, this article is a little on the bias side. Evans seems more sympathetic to the Tutsi group, sharing only testimonies that depict ethnic targeting against them. While this doesn’t necessarily mean she is only sympathetic to one group, it’s just something worth noting.

Finally, the next one comes from ABC new’s website and is published by PM on January 06 2016. Written by Connie Angius, “Burundi refugee crisis escalates as 230,000 flee conflict to seek refuge in neighbouring countries”, is another more recent look at what’s preventing peace in the area. Angius writes about the rape and violence happening right inside the refugee camps in Tanzania. He also speculates that the whole Burundi country may be on the brink of civil-war. Likewise, his main point is that while there is so called “peace talk” happening between opposing forces, all these issues is what keeps preventing any of the talks from being successful.

Angius is not just sympathetic to one group, he is clearly sympathetic to the whole idea of peace in the region. This is a great article that leaves all political “peace talks” aside and addresses what is actually happening, which is not very peaceful. Overall, I’d it’s very factual and isn’t biased.

Burundian Refugees

The country of Burundi is small and located in South Africa just below Rwanda. Conflict and discrimination in this country has been the major theme for at least 30 years. In fact just recently, political disputes have stirred up another clash between two groups of people know as the Hutu and the Tutsi.

What interest me the most about these Burundians is not just the shear brutality and hatred that some of these people go through but that their own government promotes it. And it’s not just the Burundians, it’s also Rwanda, Tanzania and probably more. These countries have all been apart of mass genocides concerning the Hutu and the Tutsi because they are literally, at each others throat for power.

Those who lost everything in Burundi have fled up north to Rwanda and east to Tanzania, where the conflict has died down some. The Untied Nations is trying to work with Tanzania and help with shelters and supplies. While in Rwanda many have gone to places like the Gashora Reception Centre, where they await to transfer to the Mahama Refugee Camp.

Here’s a map of Africa and where Burnudi is located: Click Here!

Here’s a map of where Burundian refugees are going:Click Here!

21st Century Refugees: Scratching the Surface

As I dig deeper into the conflicts of the world, there seems to be no end to the suffering. First, the Armenian genocide and now the Syrian refugees. Only God knows all those in between that went unnoticed. Fortunately there are organizations that are dedicated to helping as many people they can. For instance, there is the International Red Cross, United Nations and Norwegian Refugee Council. From their websites I was able to go a little deeper and research several refugee groups.

Yemen has been recently under lots of attacks from Saudi Arabia in order to subdue the radical Muslim group known as the Shiite Rebels. The people of Yemen have been fleeing to where ever they can, but more than 5,000 of them have gone into Berbera Somaliland. Parts of Yemen have been completely destroyed by airstrikes that the Yemen people fear, will have no end.

Another group of refugees that have gone all over the world seeking asylum, are those from Kosovo. Kosovo has been riddled with war since the start of the Ottoman empire. Recently, at the start of the 21st century, Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Serbia started to oppress all of the Albanians in the entire area. There’s definitely a lot more to this, but to keep things brief, this resulted in lots of violent attacks that led  many to leave the country.

Burundian refugees from central Africa probably stand out the most to me because of how brutal some of their stories are. It all started when their president Pierre Nkurunziza, decided he was going to run for a third term even though their constitution allowed only two. Backed by the courts, Pierre was using pure force and killing anyone who stood in his way. Reading one story, this man came home to find his entire family murdered along with some of his friends. The scene he describes is like one from a nightmare. His four children between the ages of 7 to 19 years old, all full of bullet holes while sitting in the t.v room watching a soccer match.

After researching only briefly about these different groups, I’ve already learned a lot. First of all many of theses conflicts have been going on for a long time  and are still just as bad. Also, it’s good to know that there are organization trying to help all over the world. This allows people that can’t necessarily devote the time to help, to at least contribute some money to these groups that can. I’m not sure how I feel about learning more because it seems like a gruesome tale waiting to be uncovered. I expect that my “findings” will probably portray much of that. Hopefully it will also help to find possible solutions and ways that I myself can directly help these people.

America, What Happened?

The world today is being desecrated by conflicts and struggles that some of which, have been going on for over a thousand years. As a result, many people are left with nothing and seek a place of refuge to start again. While I do believe it’s a major concern, I still don’t have as much knowledge of the subject as I probably should.

I’m sure there is a lot who are aware of the Syrian crisis going on in the middle east. If like myself, you never watch the news, then you most likely heard from a friend, teacher or perhaps a stranger passing by; that there are lots of those seeking refuge from the chaos that need help.

Learning about the Armenian genocide from the Near East Exhibit however, was very interesting. Especially in relation to the current events today. When America first entered World War I, we had decided as a free nation, that we could no longer turn a blind eye toward ruthless dictators committing heinous crimes against humanity. So we decided to do everything within our power to bring freedom to the world. But in war there is no beauty, no matter how noble the cause. It leaves lives broken, homes destroyed, and your surrounded by death. In the midst of the Armenian genocide, America was still committed to that dream and gave everything we could to help them.

As time goes on, we start to get weary. More and more dictators spring up which leads to more killings and it becomes too much for us to handle. And because naturally, we fear the lives of our sons and daughters so much that we just want them to come home.

Have you ever wondered what happens after we kill these dictators and then just leave a war torn country without helping any of it’s people? It’s simple they either starve, get killed or learn to kill. Not just that, but when followers of the last leader come back to try again they will be harsher and even more cruel. Now think about this, how thankful are those people going to be afterward?

So why don’t we help the Syrian’s like we helped the Armenians?  One of the most common claim that the Syrian refugees are too dangerous because of the associations between terrorist and Islam. In anthropology, this is a form of ethnocentrism. Because it   evaluates a culture through preconceptions such as, all Muslims are terrorist. Another claim that some feel, is it’s “not our responsibility”. Which likewise, is a form of extreme relativism and basically means, that it doesn’t matter because it’s not related. On the other hand, you could also say that America demonstrated critical cultural relativism when we aided the Armenians. Because we didn’t have preconceived impression but experience them first hand. As I learn more about Anthropology, I start to see how easy it is to evaluate someone with preconceived notions. But once you set them aside, it becomes clear how to treat others.

 

A Little Relief in the Middle East

The Ottoman Empire was created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and was one the of the most powerful entities in the world during the 15th and 16th centuries. They were known for enforcing strong religious laws that resulted in the oppression of many people who did not hold the same Islamic beliefs. As a result of this Islamic society, the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christian minorities  were denied their basic rights.

After World War I began, these problems started to escalate way out of control. The Turkish Government claimed the Armenian people were aiding the Russian Army and began to seize their property and imprison their people. To make matters worst, the government decided to start mass executing all of them; which became know as the “Armenian Genocide”. Most experts report that over 1.5million people (men, women and children) were “systematically exterminated”.

These events are just utterly barbaric and unbelievable. Most people are aware of the Holocaust but the Nazi’s were clearly not the only ones committing mass genocide. This was happening all over Europe and the middle east. It’s hard to imagine a women having her child ripped from her arms and murdered or a father being killed in front of his son.

Yet there is light in all of this and room for some goodness. Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, was the first person to warn the U.S. Government of the impending disaster. As a result, a small group of people came together to form the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief (A.C.A.S.R.). In just two months the group grew very large and had all kinds of successful and prominent people involved. They were able to raise over 10 million dollars to aid the Armenians.

This is a great example of what a few people can do for a worthy cause. Yet, there is no amount of money that could bring someone’s family member back. However, it’s not just money the A.C.A.S.R brought to these people, it was also a sign to them that somebody in this world actually cares. That no matter your race, gender and religion, they still want to help in anyway they can. While we may all live in different places and have different ideas, we all still need love.