The film, Beyond the Gates, shows audiences the horror that took place during the Rwandan genocide. Shot in the same area as the actual genocide took place, the film tells the story of the Hutu extremist attempt at destroying the countries minority group known as the Tutsi. Many human rights violations were shown in this movie, shedding light on the real issue of how the international community failed to intervene during this time of crisis and prevent the deaths of thousands of people.
A few examples of human rights violations during this movie will be discussed in order to create awareness about the many human rights that were violated during the actual Rwandan genocide. Beyond the Gates takes place in Rwanda during the time when the country’s president is shot and killed in 1994. The characters in this film are located in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. The majority of the film takes place in a secondary school located in Kigali known as The Ecole Technique Officielle.
The school becomes a refugee camp for the Tutsi people during the genocide because the UN peacekeepers are stationed here and catholic priests run the school.
The Tutsi feel safe at the school from the Hutu extremists. One of the main characters is Father Christopher, the catholic priest who runs the school. Joe Connor, another main character is a British teacher at the ETO who wants to make a difference in the lives of the students. While there are many Rwandan characters in the film, it focuses mainly on Marie, a young Tutsi girl who has bonded with Father Christopher and Joe and is seeking refuge at the school. Also important to mention is Captain Delon, the head of the UN peacekeepers stationed at ETO.
Throughout the film the Captain struggles with the bloodshed he sees and hears around him and the orders he is given by the UN not to intervene in the crisis. These four characters serve as the main characters that make up the story told in the film. The story this film tells is about one of the worst violations of human rights, genocide. This Rwandan genocide violates many of the Tutsi people’s human rights, specifically their right to life, their right to not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and their freedom from discrimination.
A few specific examples from the film show in action these human rights being violated during the genocide in Rwanda. In the film Beyond the Gates, there are many scenes in which the audience hears or sees the Tutsi people of Kigali being killed or tortured. In one of these scenes Joe is being told by a Tutsi woman seeking refuge at the school what she witnessed while hiding from the Hutu. Marie is translating for Joe so can understand what is being said to him since he only speaks English.
The woman tells Marie and Joe that she was hiding behind a house because she saw there were gangs of militia in the street checking identity cards and that she was very scared because she is Tutsi. She saw another Tutsi woman and her baby who were stopped by the militia. The Hutu men took off this woman’s clothes and kicked her in the stomach. One of them then took her baby by the feet and swung it at a tree, hitting its head. They kept swinging until the baby was dead.
Article 2 of The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide describes genocide as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Under this list of types of genocide are killing members of the group as well as causing bodily or mental harm to members of the group. This scene from the film illustrates both these forms. The baby was killed and the mother was kicked and had to watch her child die solely because they were identified as Tutsi. The woman talking to Joe and Marie was traumatized by what she saw and feared for her own life.
This part of the film is when the audience first gets a detailed description of the horror that is taking place. The Tutsi are having their rights to life violated by the Hutu extremist and are terrified. Another scene from the movie that shows violation of human rights is when Father Christopher leaves ETO to go get medicine for Tutsi baby that was given birth to by a refugee inside the school. The baby is sick and there is no medicine at the school. Father Christopher leaves the school grounds and goes into town to get the medicine the baby needs.
When he tries to get the clerk at the store, who is Hutu, to give him the medicine the clerk first asks him if the baby is Hutu or Tutsi. Father Christopher lies to the clerk and tells him that the baby is Hutu because he realizes that the clerk will not give him the medicine if he finds out it is for a Tutsi baby. The Hutu clerk is discriminating against the Tutsi by refusing to sell anything to anyone who belongs to this minority. This is violating the human rights of the Tutsi people by taking away their freedom from discrimination.
Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide says that deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part is considered a form of genocide. This scene shows how the Hutu did just this. They refused to give Tutsi people the things they needed to stay alive. The Tutsi could not get things like medicine, food, or fuel because the Hutu cut them off from these necessities, setting them up to die. These are just a few examples from Beyond the Gates of how the Tutsi had their human rights violated.
This film, while hard to watch, gives the audience a glimpse into the horror of genocide. Rwanda is only one of many genocides that have taken place over seas. Many people have had their human rights violated and lost their lives to these acts of genocide and this film shows the sad truth that not enough is being done to stop this type of human rights violation. Beyond the Gates is a rude awakening to those who are ignorant to these events that have taken place and will hopefully continue to raise awareness about the change that needs to happen to protect the people involved in these types of situations.