Why Genocide in Rwanda Is on the Rise - Again

The front-page article ''A Genocide Later, Rwanda Again on Edge,'' Nov. 28, leaves out critical information regarding Rwanda.

First, one reason for the resurgence of Rwanda's genocidal killers has been the assistance of Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who has provided murderers both the space to operate and the ammunition to re-arm.

Second, according to the Human Rights Watch Arms Project, several other countries have supplied weapons to members of Rwanda's former government.

While the international community and the UN belatedly arrived to provide humanitarian relief to Rwandans, these same actors have failed to come through with enough assistance to help Rwanda adequately house its prisoners, charge and try perpetrators of violence, and disarm and rebuild its nation.

Erich D. Mathias Indianapolis

Program Associate

Joint Ministry in Africa

Welfare reform not good

I am surprised that the Monitor supports the congressional welfare reform bill in the editorial ''White House Hamlet,'' Nov. 16. Welfare reform is one thing; increasing the number of hungry people is another. Even if the number of children in poverty does not rise by 1.2 million, as the administration estimates, there will be a large increase in the number of hungry children.

Block grants for food stamps will give states the power to go far below the current federal nutritional standards. Anti-poverty programs like food stamps have made a tremendous impact in reducing hunger in America.

The majority of food stamp recipients are either unable to work or are already working. The Republican welfare reform bill is a step backward in the fight against hunger.

Christopher Jacobson Madison, Wis.

Religion at heart of Bosnia crisis

In the opinion-page article ''In Bosnia, a US Mission Propped Up by Myths,'' Dec. 5, the author suggests breaking Bosnia into ''three ethnic components.'' Implicit in this statement is an inaccuracy often broadcast by the American media. In reality, ethnicity has nothing to do with the crisis in Bosnia. At its heart lies religion.

In his biography of former Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito (1994), Richard West writes: ''In spite of what has been said by the foreign press and even by some of the South Slav demagogues, there is no 'ethnic' difference between the warring factions in Bosnia-Herzegovina [sic], all of whom are alike in blood, appearance, language and bellicose nature. All that divides them is their ancestral religion....'' This misunderstanding gives new life to the phrase ''ethnic cleansing.''

The atrocities are are not acts of ethnic cleansing. This flashy moniker, pinned to the actions of Croat and Serb alike, may evoke accurate images of the crimes being committed, but it only adds to the shroud of ignorance that surrounds the conflict.

Mark Sappenfield Glasgow, Va.

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