Genocide Awareness Events to be Held at Alvernia University

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Alvernia students to hear from Rwanda genocide survivor, author of “Left to Tell,” Immaculeé Ilibagiza.

Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculeé Ilibagiza will visit Alvernia University’s main campus on Feb. 10, at 6:30 p.m. In addition, the university’s O’Pake Institute will screen the movie “Hotel Rwanda” on Feb 12, at 6 p.m. Both events will be held in the university’s Bernardine Lecture Hall.

Genocide — defined in 1948 by the United Nations as an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” has been committed in many parts of the world over the course of human history.

And while historical acts of genocide, such as the Holocaust in the 1940s, are widely condemned, the practice has continued to devastate groups of people across the globe. But there is hope. Awareness efforts aiming to bring an end to genocide have helped align international law and bring criminals to justice.

In a continuation of awareness efforts, Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculeé Ilibagiza will visit Alvernia University on Feb. 10, to tell her story of survival.

In 1994, Ilibagiza hid in a 3x4 foot bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. Weighing only 65 pounds after the ordeal, she emerged to discover nearly her entire family, and close to a million of her fellow Rwandans, brutally murdered. Only one of her brothers, who was out of the country during the massacre, survived.

On Feb. 12, Alvernia University’s O’Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership, and Public Service will offer a follow up to Ilibagiza’s lecture with a screening of the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

“Hotel Rwanda” is the story of Paul Rusesabagina who hid more than a thousand people in his Rwandan hotel during the 1994 genocide, risking his own life and the lives of his family members. Many people were unaware of the mass killings in Rwanda until this celebrated movie shed light on the tragedy.

In the aftermath of the Rwandan tragedy, an international treaty was signed by 120 countries in 1988, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute crimes of genocide. Twenty-one cases and nine situations — including issues in Uganda (2004), Darfur (2005) and Libya (2011) — have been investigated by the court since its inception.

ALVERNIA is a thriving university that empowers students through real-world learning to discover their passion for life, while providing the education to turn what they love into lifetimes of career success and personal fulfillment, helping them make the world a better place. Situated on a scenic 121-acre suburban campus in historic Berks County, Pa., the university of more than 3,000 students is conveniently located near Philadelphia (60 miles) and within an easy drive of New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. With a College of Arts and Sciences and College of Professional Studies, Alvernia today offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and minors and a range of graduate programs at the master’s and doctoral levels through its School of Graduate and Adult Education. Satellite sites are located in Philadelphia and Schuylkill County. As one of only 22 Franciscan institutions in the country, Alvernia’s focus on caring for each other, the environment and the community are joined with a challenging educational experience to provide an unparalleled environment to grow, develop and mature as a person and professional.

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Carey Manzolillo
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