Genocide Never Again In Rwanda
Beginning on April 6, 1994, Hutus began slaughtering the Tutsis in the African country of Rwanda. As the brutal killings continued, the world stood idly by and just watched the slaughter. Lasting 100 days, the Rwanda genocide left approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers dead.
Who Are the Hutu and Tutsi?
The Hutu and Tutsi are two peoples who share a common past. When Rwanda was first settled, the people who lived there raised cattle. Soon, the people who owned the most cattle were called “Tutsi” and everyone else was called “Hutu.” At this time, a person could easily change categories through marriage or cattle acquisition.
It wasn’t until Europeans came to colonize the area that the terms “Tutsi” and “Hutu” took on a racial role. The Germans were the first to colonize Rwanda in 1894. They looked at the Rwandan people and thought the Tutsi had more European characteristics, such as lighter skin and a taller build. Thus they put Tutsis in roles of responsibility.
When the Germans lost their colonies following World War I, the Belgians took control over Rwanda. In 1933, the Belgians solidified the categories of “Tutsi” and “Hutu” by mandating that every person was to have an identity card that labeled them either Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa. (Twa are a very small group of hunter-gatherers who also live in Rwanda.)
Although the Tutsi constituted only about ten percent of Rwanda’s population and the Hutu nearly 90 percent, the Belgians gave the Tutsi all the leadership positions. This upset the Hutu.
When Rwanda struggled for independence from Belgium, the Belgians switched the status of the two groups. Facing a revolution instigated by the Hutu, the Belgians let the Hutus, who constituted the majority of Rwanda’s population, be in charge of the new government. This upset the Tutsi.
The animosity between the two groups continued for decades.
The Event That Sparked the Genocide
At 8:30 p.m. on April 6, 1994, President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda was returning from a summit in Tanzania when a surface-to-air missile shot his plane out of the sky over Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali. All on board were killed in the crash.
Since 1973, President Habyarimana, a Hutu, had run a totalitarian regime in Rwanda, which had excluded all Tutsis from participating. That changed on August 3, 1993 when Habyarimana signed the Arusha Accords, which weakened the Hutu hold on Rwanda and allowed Tutsis to participate in the government. This greatly upset Hutu extremists.
Although it has never been determined who was truly responsible for the assassination, Hutu extremists profited the most from Habyarimana’s death. Within 24 hours after the crash, Hutu extremists had taken over the government, blamed the Tutsis for the assassination, and begun the slaughter.
100 Days of Slaughter
The killings began in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali. The Interahamwe (“those who strike as one”), an anti-Tutsi youth organization established by Hutu extremists, set up road blocks. They checked identification cards and killed all who were Tutsi. Most of the killing was done with machetes, clubs, or knives. Over the next few days and weeks, road blocks were set up around Rwanda.
On April 7, Hutu extremists began purging the government of their political opponents, which meant both Tutsis and Hutu moderates were killed. This included the prime minister. When ten Belgian U.N. peacekeepers tried to protect the prime minister, they too were killed. This caused Belgium to start withdrawing its troops from Rwanda.
Over the next several days and weeks, the violence spread. Since the government had the names and addresses of nearly all Tutsis living in Rwanda (remember, each Rwandan had an identity card that labeled them Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa) the killers could go door to door, slaughtering the Tutsis.
Men, women, and children were murdered. Since bullets were expensive, most Tutsis were killed by hand weapons, often machetes or clubs. Many were often tortured before being killed. Some of the victims were given the option of paying for a bullet so that they’d have a quicker death.
Also during the violence, thousands of Tutsi women were raped. Some were raped and then killed, others were kept as sex slaves for weeks. Some Tutsi women and girls were also tortured before being killed, such as having their breasts cut off or had sharp objects shoved up their vagina.
Slaughter Inside Churches, Hospitals, and Schools
Thousands of Tutsis tried to escape the slaughter by hiding in churches, hospitals, schools, and government offices. These places, which historically have been places of refuge, were turned into places of mass murder during the Rwanda Genocide.
One of the worst massacres of the Rwanda genocide took place on April 15-16, 1994 at the Nyarubuye Roman Catholic Church, located about 60 miles east of Kigali. Here, the mayor of the town, a Hutu, encouraged Tutsis to seek sanctuary inside the church by assuring them they would be safe there. Then the mayor betrayed them to the Hutu extremists.
The killing began with grenades and guns, but soon changed to machetes and clubs. Killing by hand was tiresome, so the killers took shifts. It took two days to kill the thousands of Tutsi who were inside.
You can ask yourself why Rwandan genocide has been happened while there were international organizations such as UN, FRENCH SOLDIERS known as MINOIR without stopping it while they were able to do. Everyone can suggest his own answer: may be JUVENAL HABYARIMANA government has paid a corruption to those organizations or they were supporting that evil act.
We all Rwandans know the negative impacts of genocide including death of people where over one million Rwandans were killed, destruction of infrustructions, bad image of Rwandans to international community, many orphans, many widows and widowers, poverty, trauma and mental problems, very many ch