In1994, a meager group of hardliners within the country’s rulingparty and military planned the 20thcentury’s most swift extermination operation. During the period,Rwanda became engrossed in a ruthless groundswell of planned ferocitythat left approximately one million individuals dead within durationof only three months.1The thoroughly organized and state-scrutinized genocidal conflictswere manifested by the widespread engagement of the local populace.Rwanda comprises of three ethnic groups the Tutsi, Twa, and Hutu.Before the colonial period, Tutsis usually occupied the higher stratain the country’s social system while the Hutus were on the lowerstrata. Nevertheless, it was possible to have social mobility, wherea Hutu that acquired a lot of wealth could be assimilated into theTutsi. Alternatively, an impoverished Tutsi could be seen as a Hutu. The Rwanda genocide resulted from civil, economic crisis, strugglefor state power, and population growth. The Rwandan genocide led tovast killings with a very short time, and left the country in atattered state. The purpose of this report is to discuss the Rwandagenocide, its history, and aftermath.
ThePath to the Genocide
TheRwandan patriotic Front (RPF) became created in 1988 in Kampala,Uganda, as a military and political crusade having the objective ofsafeguarding the deportation of Rwandans that were in exile, as wellas improving the Rwandan administration. The RPF constituted mainlythe Tutsi refugees in Uganda, most of who had assisted in theNational Resistance Army under Museveni as the president. Althoughthere were some Hutus in the RPF having ranks, most of the leadershippositions were taken by the Tutsi immigrants. In 1990, the RPFstarted a key attack on Rwanda from Uganda with approximately 7000fighters. Following the attacks, which led to the displacement of alot of people, all the Tutsis in the country became labeled ascollaborators of the movement while Hutus that were members of theopposition parties were regarded as traitors. Unfounded rumors, whichwere spread by the media, especially radio, exacerbated ethnictensions. In 1993, peacemaking efforts by the OAU and regionalregimes helped in the signing of the Arusha Peace Agreements thathalted the conflict amid the Hutu-dominated government and the RPF.In the same year, United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda(UNAMIR) became established by the Security Council it had themandate of facilitating the peace process. However, the desire toattain and sustain peace in the country became sabotaged by some ofthe political parties in Rwanda, which were contributing to the peacearrangement. With the interruptions of the execution of the peaceagreement, human rights violations spread more leading todeterioration in security.
TheRwanda genocide commenced on 6thApril, 1994 following the shooting down of the plane carryingHabyarimana, as well as the Burundi’s president, Ntaryamira.Although it was not verified, it was speculated that RPF wereresponsible for shooting both presidents.2As if the assassination of the president was what the Hutu extremistswere waiting for, they immediately moved into action. The reasonableHutu government leaders, as well as political opponents, becamedeliberately removed, which led to the creation of a vacuum in whichcolonel Bagosora, a mastermind of the genocide, and his supporterscould take over. Roadblocks were being erected by midnight and thekilling of Tutsis was underway, which started in the capitalspreading to other areas. On 7thApril, RTLM (Radio Television Libres Des Mille Collines) airedinformation that associated the plane crash with the RPF and offeredincitements of eliminating the Tutsi.3On the same day, the Premier and 10 Belgian peacekeepers, who wereprotecting her, became brutally executed by the administrationsoldiers. Following the massacre of its soldiers, Belgium withdrewthe remaining forces and the UNAMIR soldiers reduced from 2,165 to270. The ability of the UN to mitigate human suffering in the countrybecame constrained by the unwillingness of the member states to offertroops that could provide additional force to the UNAMIR troops. On22ndJune 1994, the Security Council gave authority to French-led troopsto mount a philanthropic mission. The mission helped in savinghundreds of civilians in the South Western part of Rwanda. Thegenocide concluded in the same month with the RPF capturing Kigaliand the Hutu militia fleeing to the Democratic Republic of Congo, aswell as other countries in the neighborhood. More than 10% of thepopulation had been murdered and 30% had gone into exile, which ledto a tattered country.
TheOutcome of the Genocide
Followingthe genocide, soldiers, regime officials, and paramilitaries who wereinvolved in the genocide fled to the DRC taking with them around 1.4million civilians. Hutus were the dominant individuals fleeing to DRCbecause they feared that they would be killed by the RPF in case theyremained in the country. The camps that were previously utilized bythe Rwandan government became re-arming points and areas for staginginvasions.
Thegovernment started genocide trials. Following the conclusion of thegenocide, the trials did not commence immediately. This was becausethe country did not have personnel in its judiciary because most ofthe judiciary professionals had been lost in the genocide. Besides,the infrastructure to support the process had been destroyed duringthe genocide. By 2000, more than 100,000 suspects associated with thegenocide were awaiting trial. A participatory justice system, whichwas referred to as Gacaca became implemented by the Rwandangovernment in 2001 in an attempt to address the voluminous backlog ofcases. Communities were very important to the judiciary process sincethey were involved in electing judges who heard the trials ofgenocide suspects. The penal law was used in trying the suspectsinvolved in the planning of genocide, as well as raping.
Besides,after the genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR) became established. The tribunal is based in Arusha, Tanzania.The court had the capacity to put to trial high-profile members ofthe government, as well as armed forces who fled the country duringthe country unnoticed. The court was involved in trying three mediaowners who were accused of utilizing their media to provideincitements that fueled the ethnic tensions and genocide.4Although the ICTR has been triumphant in prosecuting most of thecentral Hutu perpetrators who were responsible for the genocide, ithas not been successful in the prosecution of RPF crimes. However,the ICTR cannot be faulted entirely for the failure because theRwanda regime has made it difficult for the court to carry out itsduty without interference. Despite ICTR carrying out theinvestigations and obtaining evidence concerning RPF significant rolein the assassination of the president, the Rwanda administration hasfrustrated efforts to prosecute the RPF suspects.
Furthermore,in the aftershock of the genocide, most survivors portrayed highlevels of psychosocial and mental health issues emanating from thedehumanized, inconceivable ruthlessness that most of them witnessedor became open to. Whole family arrangements and the general socialfabric, which previously offered support, were wrecked because oflosses of family members, as well as expanding mistrust and fearafter the genocide.5In addition, there were economic deprivation since most of thesurvivors were female, who were not in a position to provide fortheir children in terms of food and housing.
Thereare different lessons that emerge from the case of Rwanda genocide.One of the lessons is that there is a need to protect the vulnerablein society. In the case of the Rwanda genocide, it was evident thatthe powerless were the targets of violence and oppression. In casethese individuals are not protected, they stand to be oppressed.Therefore, in any society, there is the need to empower the powerlessin order to create a level ground for co-existence rather thanfavoring one side and ignoring another. The minority groups shouldnot be ignored, but should be allowed to have equal access topolitical, economic, and social environment just like otherindividuals in society. This can be critical in avoiding conflicts.Another lesson that can be developed from the Rwanda genocide is theneed for establishing a justice system that is vital in seeingthrough the prosecution of perpetrators of crime. In case peoplecommit crimes and they are not brought to justice, there will alwaysbe a tendency to repeat the same mistakes in the future. However, inthe case of the Rwandan genocide, the international court systemcreated and the internal justice system helped in the prosecution ofthe criminals involved in the genocide. This has helped the countrymove forward, despite the memories being hurting.
TheRwandan genocide is one of the most memorable moments in the worldsince, within a period of three months, one million individuals hadbeen killed after local people turning against each other. The Rwandagenocide commenced on 6thApril, 1994 following the shooting down of the plane carryingHabyarimana, as well as the Burundi’s president, Ntaryamira.Although it was not verified, it was speculated that RPF wereresponsible for shooting both presidents. The genocide concluded withthe RPF capturing Kigali and the Hutu militia fleeing to theDemocratic Republic of Congo, as well as other countries in theneighborhood. The country was left in a deplorable state since therewere psychological, economic, and social suffering following theconclusion of the genocide. Most survivors portrayed high levels ofpsychosocial and mental health problems emanating from thedehumanized, inconceivable ruthlessness that the majority of themwitnessed or became exposed to. After the genocide, the InternationalCriminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) became established. The tribunalis based in Arusha, Tanzania. The court had the capacity to put totrial high-profile members of the government, as well as armed forceswho fled the country during the country unnoticed. The genocide wasone awful experience that Rwanda went through, but lessons werelearned.
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Gallagher,Adrian. 2013. Genocideand its threat to contemporary international order.Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ngenga,Henriette Nyirarukundo, and Kristin Ponce Baker. 2016. CarryingDivine: my Rwanda genocide survivor story.Maitland: Exulon Elite.
Reider,Heide and Elbert, Thomas. 2013. Rwanda– lasting imprints of genocide: trauma, mental health andpsychosocial conditions in survivors, former prisoners and theirchildren. Conflictand Health.
White,Dean J. 2015. Theignorant bystander? Britain and the Rwandan genocide of 1994.Manchester: Manchester University Press.
1 Bartrop, Paul R. 2012. A biographical encyclopedia of contemporary genocide portraits of evil and good. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. P. 28.
2 Gallagher, Adrian. 2013. Genocide and its threat to contemporary international order. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. P. 48.
3 Ngenga, Henriette Nyirarukundo, and Kristin Ponce Baker. 2016. Carrying Divine: my Rwanda genocide survivor story. Maitland: Exulon Elite. P. 62.
4 White, Dean J. 2015. The ignorant bystander? Britain and the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Manchester: Manchester University Press. P. 86.
5 Reider, Heide and Elbert, Thomas. 2013. Rwanda – lasting imprints of genocide: trauma, mental health and psychosocial conditions in survivors, former prisoners and their children. Conflict and Health. P. 7.