Rwanda Where and When?



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Rwanda




Where and When?

Rwanda – beginning in Kigali and spreading through the country

April – July 1994
Who and Why?

Perpetrators:



  • Militant Hutu extremists also collectively known as the Interahawe

Victims:


  • About 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus

  • Murder of approximately 1/10 of Rwandan population in 100 days


Historical Context

  • Belgian colony from 1916 – 1962

    • Belgians saw Hutu and Tutsi groups as distinct entities

    • produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity

    • Tutsis considered the superior group by Belgian colonists

  • Rwanda was granted independence from Belgium in 1962 and the Hutu took power

    • Exiled Tutsi refugees in Uganda, supported by some moderate Hutus, formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) with an aim to overthrow the current Hutu Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and secure their right to return to their homeland

    • Habyarimana chose to exploit this threat as a way to bring dissident Hutus back to his side, and Tutsis inside Rwanda were accused of being RPF collaborators

  • The genocide was sparked by the death of the Habyarimana when his plane was shot down near Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.

  • Ethnic mythologies and propaganda used by Hutu

    • Tutsis seen by Hutu as culturally alien to Rwanda

    • Tutsis occupied privileged status under Belgian rule

    • Propaganda shows Tutsis to be alien and clever – dangerous combination

        • Encouraged by the presidential guard and radio propaganda (Radio Mille Collines), an unofficial militia group called the Interahamwe (meaning those who attack together) was mobilized


How was murder committed?

  • Close contact murder primarily with the use of machetes

  • Other methods included: massues (clubs studded with nails), small axes, knives, grenades, guns, fragmentation grenades, beatings to death, amputations with exsanguinations, buried alive, drowned

  • Many women were raped and killed later

  • Many victims had both their Achilles tendons cut with machetes as they ran away, to immobilize them so that they could be killed later


Justice – Accountability for the Perpetrators

        • RPF captured Kigali - the government collapsed and the RPF declared a ceasefire

        • July 19, 1994 a new multi-ethnic government was formed with UN help, promising all refugees a safe return to Rwanda

        • November 8, 1998 - The United Nations Security Council on established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)

    • Branch of ICTR operating in Arusha, Tanzania under Rwandan jurisdiction

    • Life imprisonment is the maximum sentence of the ICTR

    • About 500 people have been sentenced to death, and another 100,000 are still in prison

    • First international court since Nuremberg to pass a judgment

Source: A Century of Genocide edited by Samuel Totten, William Parsons and Israel Charny.




Midwest Center for Holocaust Education



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