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Deja-vu in Sudan, Dallaire says

Lt-Gen. (Ret.) Romeo Dallaire spoke to a North Bay audience last night about his experiences in Rwanda. Photo by Levi Perry, Special to

Lt-Gen. (Ret.) Romeo Dallaire spoke to a North Bay audience last night about his experiences in Rwanda. Photo by Levi Perry, Special to

The world turned a blind eye when tribal warfare killed almost 1 million Rwandans, but mobilized when 3,000 people died during 9/11, Lt-Gen. (Ret.) Romeo Dallaire says.

Dallaire, the Canadian who lead the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, was in North Bay last night, speaking with a passion for humanity that moved the audience at The Wall.

He related to the full house his experience in Rwanda, and how the international community still hasn’t learned its lesson.

Dallaire was born in 1946. His parents met while his father was stationed in Eindhoven, Holland during World War II. A year after the war had ended his father traveled back to Canada, followed shortly after by his wife and their six-month-old son.

Dallaire always knew what he wanted to do with his life. The army was in his blood from the time he was a child.

“My father and my father-in-law were both my mentors,” Dallaire said.

They had served together in the Vandoos during the late ‘20s and early’30s.

Dallaire took command of UNAMIR in 1994. The mission took a turn for the worse and in less then 100 days over 800,000 were brutally murdered by government-sponsored forces wielding machetes.

Dallaire and his small peacekeeping force were unable to intervene because of a lack of resources.

“Not one white developed country was willing to send troops,” said Dallaire.

“When 3,000 North Americans died during 9/11 the world is mobilized. Rwanda, no one gives a damn.”

The same thing is happening in the Sudan right now, Dallaire added.

“One hundred thousand people have already been killed and still we do nothing.”

Dallaire suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following Rwanda and was medically dismissed from the Canadian Forces

He said that Canada should take a lead role in peacekeeping around the world and not wait until thousands are already dead before committing soldiers.

“The aim is to advance human rights,” Dallaire said.

Dallaire explained that the best method of peacekeeping is to send in the middle powers instead of sending in an assault force.

A middle power, Dallaire said, is a country that has a force that is very well-trained for rebuilding and has no strategic value to obtain.

“We are dominated by world powers who are dominated by self interest,” Dallaire said.

Not only did the world turn its back on Dallaire, but it also turned a blind eye to the butchering of over 800,000 human beings.

“We live in an era of ambiguity,” Dallaire said.

Dallaire’s book ‘Shake Hands with the Devil’ has just hit bookstands. It tells the story about his mission to Rwanda and the horrors he witnessed.

Dallaire did a book signing after his emotional speech. Two members of the audience shed a tear or two while thanking him for coming.

“Romeo Dallaire is a symbol of Canadian leadership,” said Lieutenant Tim Feick of the Algonquin Regiment.

“Do you negotiate with the Devil?” Dallaire asked.