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The Rwandan Genocide - a lesson that must not repeat
Today, I'm going to write about another interesting topic and tomorrow I will give a more detailed focused presentation on Rwanda.
In Rwanda there are two main ethnic groups: the Tutsis and the Hutus. However, why the Hutu and the Tutsi emerged as two distinct groups remain a mystery. Some believe they migrated to a wander at different times, but others think they just chose different occupations.
Tutsis grazed cattle, while Hutus grew crops. Over time, the wealthy, yet less numerous Tutsis took power of the Rwanda Kingdom and when the Germans colonized the area, they kept the Tutsi monarchy in power. Later, the Belgians further disenfranchised the Hutus during their period of modernization.
However, the Hutus managed to find high ranking position within the Catholic Church and the Hutu clergy began calling for emancipation. Over time, they helped inspire and bring about a Hutu revolution in 1959 , which ousted the Belgians and the monarchy.
But, now in power, the Hutus began killing Tutsis and forcing hundreds of thousand to leave the country to former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. As a consequence, the Tutsis formed militias and over the next couple decades they led small unsuccessful attacks into Rwanda. But in the 80s, many of the refugees who had fled to Uganda joined the Ugandan Bush War (or simply said, the Ugandan civil war) and helped Yoweri Museveni secure power. They tried to get the Ugandan government to start a war with Rwanda, but when this failed, major-general Fred Gisa Rwigyema formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front/ RPF in 1990.
With an experienced fighting force, the RPF invaded Rwanda from the north starting the Rwanda Civil War. Rwanda, at that time, had been run by Juvenal Habyarimana for 17 years after he took power in a coup.
He was quite a moderate leader, but a group of Hutu extremists, like his wife, Agatha, had a great deal of influence. The small group of Hutu extremists, the Akazu, began producing a great of anti-Tutsi propaganda. For instance, they called Hutus who married or did business with Tutsis traitors.
During the war, Rwigyema died and Paul Kagame became the head of the RPF. But their guerilla tactics failed to make any significant gains. So, after two and half years of fighting, France, the US and the organization of African Unity helped organize a ceasefire. The Arusha Accords were signed in August 1993 and this divided the government between the different parties. The RPF, in the ruling party, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development/ MRND largely split power. But many Hutus were angered by this peace treaty.
The government Hutu's power radio stations told their listeners how to deal with Tutsis and many like the youth wing of the MRND, the interahamwe became more militant. Furthermore, new groups like the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic also had a militant youth wing. The Impuzamugambi, who like other militias were receiving training from the Rwandan Armed Forces. Moreover, one wealthy Hutu businessman named Felicien Kabuga imported hundreds of thousands of machetes, but despite growing tensions peace managed to be maintained.
But in April 1994, Juvenal Habyarimana's plain was shot down and nobody knows who did it. RPF soldiers are Hutu extremists. Either way, the next day, the Prime Minister and two UN bodyguards were killed by soldiers within the Rwandan army and the RPF had to stop Hutu militias from taking the government building.
Hutu extremist, Théoneste Bagosora, took over as the interim leader and with no moderate voices left within the government, the Akazu were free to call for more violence. Radio hosts gave out information of members of the RPF and called for people with weapons to go out and find them. The Hutu militias and soldiers quickly began setting up roadblocks and indiscriminately killing Tutsis.
The UN forces that had been in Rwanda since the Arusha Accords had already been withdrawn. So, there was nobody there to stop the Hutus. Kagame meanwhile warned if the killing did not stop, he would launch an invasion of Rwanda, but it did not. So, the RPF moved into the north from Uganda and advanced on Kigali. They were able to rescue some Tutsis who fled behind the frontline, while the UN created Humanitarian zones in the south. But within a hundred days, between 500.000 and a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed, largely at the hands of organized militias and their machetes. Of course, many were raped and maimed.
Kagame meanwhile spent less time in circling Kigali and cutting off its supplies. In the early July, he captured the city. A UN force was sent in shortly after Kagame seized power but he set up a coalition government and remains in power today.
With the Tutsis now in power once again, around 2 million Hutus fled the country. Most of them to DRC, but many of the people guilty for carrying out the genocide were able to escape with the Hutu refugees to DRC and the refugee presence in this country would help start the Congo War, a couple years later.