The following example essay on “Outline of the Rwandan Genocide” is about the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis by the Hutu government, which killed one million people.
Draft Introduction Rwanda is a small land-locked nation, about 26,338 square kilometres in size, bordered by Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Tanzania. Though mainly flat, the country has a large mountain range on its northwest coast – the Virunga Mountains – that are home to the famous Rwandan Mountain Gorillas. In 1994, this seemingly insignificant country put itself on the world map, but for all the wrong reasons.
Over a period of just one hundred days, over 800,000 Rwandans were killed in one of the worst genocides of the 20th Century.
Tutsis and their Hutu supporters (the two ethnic groups in Rwanda) were massacred by Hutu militias, who encouraged ordinary citizens to kill their Tutsi neighbours. Between April and July 1994, while Europe and America looked on, this African nation was plunged into a state of severe panic and fear.
Ethnic Tension: Tutsis and Hutus Though considered two different ethnic groups, the Tutsis and Hutus speak the same language, inhabit the same regions, have the same customs and traditions, and have intermarried for generations. In fact, there are very little physical differences between the two groups at all.
In 1916 when Belgian colonists arrived in Rwanda, they distinguished between the two groups and consequently began to treat them differently. They believed that the minority Tutsis were superior and offered them better jobs and education, leading to ethnic tension. It is believed by some historians that the two were never defined by ethnicity, but by class or caste.
Traditionally, the Hutu herded cattle and grew crops, whereas the Tutsi herdsmen became the landowners, a leading position that may have led to the belief held by the Belgians.
Ethnic tension grew, culminating with the loss of over 100,000 Tutsis during a Hutu rebellion from 1956 to 1959. During the early sixties, after independence was achieved in 1962, hundreds of thousands of Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries and were refused return by the Hutu governments. The desire to return to their homeland led to the formation of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) by Tutsi exiles in Uganda. Build Up to Genocide In 1973, Major General Juvenal Habyarimana, a northern Hutu, seized power in Rwanda.
He attempted to overcome ethnic divisions, but failed due to the introduction of several anti-Tutsi measures such as their exclusion from secondary schools and universities. Discontent increased among the Rwandan people as many became impatient with the governments corrupt favouritism to northern Hutus. The post-1987 collapse of international coffee prices led to a severe economic decline in Rwanda, as coffee was their main exporter. These factors led to the 1990 Civil War, when the RPF invaded and fought against Habyarimana’s regime.
In March 1992, a Transitional Coalition Government was formed, a cease-fire declared, a peace accord signed by Habyarimana and the RPF invasion halted with the assistance of the French military. Rwanda’s problems were not over however, and on April 6th 1994 a plane flying over Kigali (the nation’s capital), carrying Habyarimana and the president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira (also a Hutu), was shot down. Both men were killed. The Genocide Almost immediately political opponents of Habyarimana were murdered and the Akuza (Presidential Guard) launched a campaign of mass slaughter.
Military officials, businessmen and politicians began organizing massacres. The Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (a private radio station) called publicly for Tutsis to be killed wherever possible. Most killings were carried out by two unofficial all-Hutu militia groups – the Interahamwe (National Revolutionary Movement for Development) and the Impuzamugambi (Coalition for the Defense of Freedom). At its peak, the Interahamwe had 30,000 members united by a commitment to wiping out the Tutsis. As well as Tutsis of all ages and backgrounds, Hutus who supported ethnic reconciliation were also targeted.
Public massacres (in churches, for example) were common and carried out almost entirely by hand, using clubs, machetes, sticks, axes and spears. Ordinary Hutu citizens were forced to kill their Tutsi neighbours – often people whom they had lived beside for many years and befriended. In the country, Hutu chiefs prepared “death lists” of local Tutsis, rounded up victims and made suitable sites available for massacres. Reaction: The Rwandan Patriotic Front In defense to this ruthless killing, the 14,000-man Tutsi-dominated RPF launched an offensive against the killers.
Finally, in mid-July, they defeated the 35,000-man army and the militias, drove the remnants of the army and government into Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and took control of the capital Kigali, declaring a ceasefire. United Nations aid workers and troops arrived to maintain order and bring back basic services. A multi-ethnic government took power, led by Hutu President Pasteur Bizimunga, Hutu Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramunga, and Tutsi Vice President/Minister of Defense Major General Paul Kagame, commander of the RPF.
Most other cabinet posts were given to members of the RPF. After the Genocide: Refugees and International Support Following the end of the genocide in July and August 1994, two million Hutu civilians fled, joining one million already in exile. In Zaire, the destination of most refugees, sick and starving Hutu exiles were dying at an appalling rate of 2000 per day. The government encouraged them to return to the food, water and relative safety waiting for them in Rwanda, but fears spread by former government troops that Hutus would be prosecuted on return prevent many from going home.
Genocide Trials did not start until the end of 1996 when many had eventually returned, but are still expected to take years to complete. In 1999, more than 120,000 citizen accused of involvement in the genocide were packed into overcrowded jails. Rwanda is still suffering because of the genocide fourteen years ago. Genocide trials are still under way and the government is gradually trying to improve living standards in their country. Families are still struggling with the loss of so many friends and relatives; one tenth of Rwanda’s population (800. 000 out of 8,000,000) was killed in just those one hundred days.
One of the main issues still in debate today is the lack of action of the international community. Over 2500 UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda) agents had been stationed in the country since 1993, but all but 270 were withdrawn shortly after the start of the genocide. The UN refused to call the events “genocide”, as that would have obliged the UN and USA to send officials to stop the massacres. French, Belgian and Americans citizens were speedily removed from Rwanda, but claims that they were forbidden to intervene caused no assistance to be given to locals.
In 1998, US president Bill Clinton issued an apology on behalf of the international community that not enough was done, and not quickly enough, to help the Rwandan people and to stop the genocide, which was what it should have been called from the start. Timeline: Important Events in the Genocide 6 April 1994: President Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira are killed the plane they are in is shot down above Kigali. Hutu extremists opposed to their President signing the Arusha Peace Accords are believed to be behind the attack.
April: The Rwandan armed forces and Interahamwe militia begin the systematic killing of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. UN forces stationed in Rwanda find themselves unable to intervene due to a “monitoring” mandate. 8 April: The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launches a major offensive to end the killings. 9-10 April: French, Belgian and American civilians are rescued by their governments, but no help is given to native Rwandans. 11 April: The International Red Cross (IRC) estimate: tens of thousands dead. UN soldiers protecting 2,000 Tutsis at a school are ordered to withdraw to Kigali airport.
Most Tutsis are killed after their departure. 14 April: Belgium withdraws its troops from the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda due to the death of 10 troops in the previous week. 15 April: Slaughter of thousands of Tutsis gathered at Nyarubuye Church seeking protection. 21 April: The UN cuts the level of its forces in Rwanda from 2500 to just 270 troops. IRC estimate: over 100,000 dead. 30 April: The UN condemns the killing but omits the word ‘genocide’ so that emergency genocide assistance doesn’t need to be given. Tens of thousands of refugees flee into neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire.
Mid-May: IRC estimate: 500,000 dead. 17 May: The UN Security Council says that ‘acts of genocide may have been committed’. It agrees to send 5,500 troops with to defend civilians, however deployment is delayed by disagreements between the US and UN over the financing of the operation. Trivial arguments include what colour to paint vehicles. 22 June: With arguments over the deployment still continuing, the UN authorises an emergency force of 2,500 French troops under Operation Turquoise to create a ‘safe’ area in the government-controlled south-west part of Rwanda.
The killing of Tutsis continues in the ‘safe’ area despite the presence of the French. 4 July: The RPF takes control of Kigali and the southern town of Butare. 13-14 July: Refugees fleeing the RPF flood into Zaire. Approximately 10,000-12,000 refugees per hour cross the border into the town of Goma. There is a severe lack of food, water and shelter in refugee camps. 18 July: The RPF announces that the war is over, declares a cease-fire and names Pastor Bizimungu as president with Faustin Twagiramungu as prime minister and Paul Kagame (commander of the RPF) as Vice President/Minister of Defence.