Free Essay Describing the Rwanda Genocide of 1994

Published: 2022-05-17
Free Essay Describing the Rwanda Genocide of 1994
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Genocide
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1965 words
17 min read

Rwanda is a country that has a rich history. To begin with, Rwanda began as a territory of the German East Africa between the end of the 19th century and the climax of the 1st world war. When the Germans were defeated in the 1st world war, the Belgians took over the control of Rwanda and later colonized Rwanda. During the colonial era, the Germans and the Germans used Tutsi chiefs and monarchs to govern and rule the Rwandans. This made the Tutsi view the Hutus as lesser and inferior. The Tutsi discriminated the Hutus from that moment onwards. The colonizers treated the Tutsi and Hutu as separate communities. The Tutsi had the complexity and the beauty of the Europeans, and this made them gain favor from the Belgians. A census was carried out in 1933, and 1934 and identity cards were introduced. The identity cards could show whether one was a Tutsi, a Hutu or from the Twa community. This was the beginning of division among the Rwandans. 1959 saw the Hutus lead a political movement against the Tutsi. Many violent attacks in Rwanda were undertaken, and thousands lost their lives, and another 100,000 Tutsi's flew to Uganda, Burundi, and Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of Congo).

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In 1961, there was a general election in Rwanda which was overseen by the United Nations. Mr. Gregoire Kayibanda, an author, won and was declared the president on 1st July 1962. This is the time Rwanda was declared free from colonization as an independent state. Rwanda started to gain national independence, and the Hutus took that opportunity to discriminate against the Tutsi

The darkest moment in the history of Rwanda as a country happened in between April and June. It was approximately 100 days when this nightmare occurred. An estimated 800,000 people were killed in cold blood. The massacre involved two well-known tribes of Rwanda, the Tutsis, and the Hutus. Majority of those who lost their lives were the Tutsi, while most of the violence was sparked by the Hutus. This is what is commonly referred to as the Rwanda massacre or the genocide against the Tutsi.

The Hutus had a majority representation in the government which was headed by President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu. It is believed that the violence was triggered by the death of President Juvenal, who died in a plane crash. The plane the president was traveling in was shot down on the 6th Of April, 1994 at Kigali Airport. It is also estimated that over 70% of those killed were from the Tutsi tribe, and about 30% of the Pygmy Batwa were also killed. Over two million Rwandans were displaced, and others became refugees. Most of those displaced were the Hutus.

The Rwanda Genocide is believed to have been planned and orchestrated by the elite political class who occupied powerful positions in the government. The execution was by the highly ranked Army of Rwanda, Gendarmerie and the militia who were believed to have been backed by the then government. These militia groups included the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi.

Before the genocide, there were prolonged civil wars in Rwanda. The civil war started in the year 1990 between the government led by the Hutus and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which comprised of the refugees of the Tutsi tribe. These families comprised of the people who had sought refuge in neighboring Uganda in 1959. This was triggered by a revolt against the colonialism. The Hutus acted against the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the Tutsi. This led to Rwanda's independence in 1962. There were consulted efforts to restore peace in Rwanda where the International Community put pressure on the then government of President Juvenal. More pressure was to implement an accord signed in Arusha which was known as the Arusha Accords. This led to the creation of a power-sharing government between the Hutus and the RPF. There was a section of the Hutus, the conservatives, who were not contented with the power-sharing government. Also, a section of the Akazu tribe was not contented with this arrangement of power sharing. They saw it as conceding and giving in to the needs and demands of the enemy.

The Rwandan Patriotic front went on an intensified campaign in support of the Hutu Power, which was an ideology that made it be seen as anti-Christian. It was also viewed as being behind the mastermind to reinstate the Tutsi into power and enslaving the Hutus. This was met with a lot of opposition by the Hutus.

The inter-ethnic tension between the Hutus who are the majority in Rwanda and the Tutsis, believed to be the minority, dates back to the colonial period. The animosity and the rivalry intensified since the era of colonization. It is amazing to note that the Hutus and the Tutsi have a lot in common. First, they share a common language of communication. Second, they inhabit the same geographical areas in vast Rwanda and last, which is very interesting, is that the two tribes share and follow similar traditional practices. Of contrast, however, is the fact that the Tutsis are thinner and taller than the Hutus. This is often argued that it is because the Tutsis originated from Ethiopia fitting this description.

The death of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana is blamed on the current president Paul Kagame. In fact, a French court found President Paul Kagame responsible for the genocide, something that Mr. Kamame has denied and accuses the Hutus, whom he says wanted to have a cover-up for their mission to eliminate the Tutsi's. By the time of the genocide, Paul Kagame was a leader of a Tutsi rebel group. The violence sparked from the capital Kigali and spread like a bushfire across the country. It is believed to be the worst genocide in recent modern times. The violence was so rampant and widespread that it could not be stopped until after three months. The death of President Juvenal was not the only or the main cause of the violence; there were other underlying factors.

Ever since the Hutus and the Tutsi settled in Rwanda, there has always been bad blood and hatred between the two tribes. This animosity was worsened during the genocide period. The Tutsi's suffered greatly and as the Hutus attacked them; they could claim that they were returning them to their original home Ethiopia. This they did by throwing them into rivers. It is the Belgian colonialists who classified the Rwandans according to their ethnic affiliation.

The Belgian colonialists treated and considered the Tutsi's to be more superior to their Hutu counterparts. This ideology was well received and welcomed by the Tutsi's. For over 20 years, BBC reports that the Tutsi community received preferential treatment when it came to job placement and access to educational opportunities. This, on the other hand, meant discrimination on the part of the Hutu's. This created a lot of resentment among the Hutus, and they resulted in riots that had the highest peak in 1959. During this period, more than 20,000 members of the Tutsi community lost their lives. Other Tutsi's sought refuge in the neighboring countries like Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. This was not to last for long. In 1962, Rwanda was colonized, and the Belgians handed over power to the Rwandans. It is then that the Hutus took their place in the government and the country. Due to their preferential treatment by the Belgian colonialists, the Hutus blamed every crisis in the country to the Tutsis. During the reign of President Juvenal, the Economy of Rwanda was at its worst. This made him lose popularity among the Rwandans especially those who were not from the Hutu community and some Hutu conservatism.

Members of the Tutsi community, who had fled to Uganda with the support of some Hutus, came up with the idea of forming the Rwandan Patriotic Front (PRF). This group was led by Mr. Paul Kagame. Their main objective was to take over the government of Rwanda from the then president Mr. Habyarimana as well as get a way of going back to their motherland Rwanda. President Juvenal opted to take the threat of taking the government powers away from him as a way of bringing back the Hutus opposed to his rule back to his side. This, he also thought would help him eliminate some Tutsi community members inside Rwanda who were thought to be collaborating with the RPF in Uganda. RPF became a powerful group and started attacks in Rwanda to make president Habyarimana's government ungovernable. In August 1993, a peace accord involving the RPF and president Juvenal was signed. The main aim of the peace deal was to bring to an end the unrest in the country. The deal did not materialize as the unrest continued. The culmination of the genocide was the killing of the president and many chief staff members of the president. This indeed was the final nail in the coffin.

As soon as the news of the death of the president reached the presidential guard at the capital Kigali, a widespread campaign of retribution began. Most of the opposition leaders were killed together with a mass slaughter of the Tutsis and the opposition, and moderate Hutus started. Within a very short period, recruits were sent in all corners of the country to execute the mass slaughter. The recruits included young boys and men. At the initial point, the planners and main organizers comprised of the military officials, the business community, and political leaders. But in the long run, many other people came in and joined the mayhem.

There were well organized and co-ordinated gangs from the government soldiers as well as the soldiers who invaded the Tutsi community with machetes. Worse still, some of the Tutsi's who were internally displaced or found refuge in churches were torched or blown up into flames. The Hutus who were in government or positions of power believed that the only way to remain in power was by completely wiping out the Tutsi community. The presidential guard and the radio stations continued to spread propaganda, and the massacre continued throughout the country. Another militia group was formed which mobilized the Rwandans to attack as a group, and within a very short period, the group had recruited over 30,000 members.

The worst part of the massacre is the fact that police officers and soldiers encouraged and pushed ordinary citizens to actively participate in the massacre. The Hutus were to some extent forced to kill their neighbors from the Tutsi community. That is why the massacre was seen as a fight between the government machinery and the Hutus against the Tutsi. It was a culmination of the unfair treatment during the colonial period by the Belgians where the Tutsi had some preferential treatment in jobs and educational institutions. Again the killing of the president, who was a Hutu, made the situation worse. Those who consented to participate in the massacre were well rewarded with incentives such as money, food or even possess the portion of the Tutsi that they killed. The massacre worsened when the Rwandans were left to fight on their own. This was as a result of the killing of ten soldiers sent by the international community. This resulted in the international community withdrawing their soldiers from volatile Rwanda. One day after the killing of the president in a plane crash, the RPF intensified its attack and assault on the government and government forces. The United Nations tried on several occasions to negotiate for an end or cease-fire, but the efforts bore no fruits.

In July 1994, RPF conquered and captured the capital city of Kigali. RPF immediately declared a ceasefire after this successful capture of the capital. This created more problems in Rwanda. The Hutus started fleeing to neighboring countries. An estimated two million Hutus sought refuge in the then Zaire currently known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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