Survivors Encourage Bravery in The Face Of Genocide

WINNIPEG, MB - The University of Winnipeg's Faculty of Theology and Augustine United Church host two public forums on The Responsibility to Protect on Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 3:00 pm and the other on Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm at Augustine United Church. These forums are a part of the United Church of Canada's support of a United Nations effort to encourage governments to implement “Responsibility to Protect” Policies.

Marceline Ndayumvire and her family were among those first targeted in isolated attacks that started in December 1969 when gun-wielding assassins burst into her home. By July 1972, as many as 200-500,000 Hutus were massacred in the Burundi genocide, including Ndayumvire's six siblings and her father.

By the time the news had reached Ndayumvire, she and her husband and four children had found safety in India. But to this day, she is haunted by the memory of the attacks, aggrieved by the loss of her family and appalled by the world's response of silence to the slaughter.

“I thought: The world cannot sit and do nothing but nobody said a word. There was no condemnation.” said Ndayumvire, who tells her story to encourage others to speak out against injustice. Because Burundi is such a poor nation, dependent on the support of its neighbours, she says any kind of protest or intervention early on could have saved thousands of lives.

Ndayumvire is one of several speakers featured.

“Our commitment as Christians is to be clear in our responsibility to act. We cannot just watch atrocities happen and do nothing,” said Augustine United Church minister Loraine Mackenzie Shepherd. “We are trying to help Christians formulate their own beliefs and responsibilities to protect people from future massacres, genocides and holocausts.”

The event details are:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christian traditions and responses to violence including the just war theory, pacifism and peacekeeping.

Speakers include:

  • Peter Denton, ethicist, military historian and United Church minister

  • Tom Faulkner, Associate Professor of Church & Society, Faculty of Theology, UWinnipeg

  • Helmut Harder, Professor Emeritus, Canadian Mennonite University

“What are the options to an armed military response? To work long range to build a culture of peace. To be a peacemaker in the face of conflict and to keep our integrity, rather than solve a problem with violence and aggression,” said Harder.

Sunday, November 22, 2009
Christian responses to stories of genocides and massacres

Included among the speakers are the survivors of atrocities, including:

  • Waldemar Janzen, refugee from Soviet oppression

  • Evasio Murenzi, survivor of early Rwandan massacre

  • Marceline Ndayumvire, survivor of Burundi genocide

  • Henny Paritzky, Holocaust survivor

“The reason I am participating is that I want the world to know what happened,” said Paritzky. “We would not have survived if not for the decency of some people. One does not expect everybody to be a hero, but when people are silent when atrocities are committed in a war, they are in some way, guilty too.”

A silver collection at the door will help to defray costs.

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Alison Etter , Augustine United Church,
P: 204.284.2250, E: