Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA => Rwanda => Topic started by: admin on December 24, 2006, 05:20:43 AM

Title: Rwandan Civil War and Genocide
Post by: admin on December 24, 2006, 05:20:43 AM

The Rwandan Civil War was a complex conflict that began in 1990 between exiled Rwandans of Tutsi ethnicity and the Hutu-dominated government of President Juvénal Habyarimana. Following an invasion by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in 1990, fighting had stalemated for two years until the signing of the Arusha accords in 1994. The assassination of Presidents Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi signaled the start of the Rwandan Genocide.

The Rwandan Genocide (French: Génocide au Rwanda) was the massacre of an estimated 800,000 to 1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda, mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, during a period of about 100 days from April 6th through mid-July 1994.

In the weeks prior to the attacks, the UN did not respond to reports of Hutu militias amassing weapons and rejected plans for a preemptive interdiction. Despite numerous pre- and present-conflict warnings by Dallaire, the United Nations insisted on maintaining its rules of engagement and preventing its peacekeepers on the ground from engaging the militias or discharging their weapons, except in self-defense. Such failure to intervene in a timely and effective manner to halt the killing became the focus of bitter recriminations toward the United Nations, Western countries such as France and the United States, and individual policymakers, including Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh and U.S. President Bill Clinton, who described U.S. inaction as "the biggest regret of [his] administration."

The genocide ended when a Tutsi-dominated expatriate rebel movement known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Paul Kagame, overthrew the Hutu government and seized power. Fearing reprisals, hundreds of thousands of Hutu and other refugees fled into eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The violence and its memory have continued to affect the country and the region. Ethnic hatreds that fueled the Rwandan Genocide quickly spilled over into Congo, continuing after it ended and fueling both the First and Second Congo Wars. Ethnic rivalry between Hutu and Tutsi tribal factions is also a major factor in the Burundi Civil War.

Entrenched Rwandan racism

Some argue that the violence in the region is a result of the theories of race developed in Europe that also led to the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. These ideas were started by John Hanning Speke's initial speculations on African races. Unlike the other African states' mixed ethnic groups, Rwandans were considered by Speke and later racial theorists to be divided between sub-Saharan "Blacks" and the favored Hamites. Ostensibly the Tutsi were assigned the role of the "more noble" Hamites and Hutu as inferior Bantu.

During the colonial period, the dominant Tutsis encouraged the racial speculations that justified their rule, but that policy poisoned Rwandan culture with racism that became a danger for the Tutsis once they lost power. The ingrained Rwandan racism was reversed when Rwanda gained independence and majority rule gave political power to the Hutus. The majority Hutus who had previously been oppressed by the Tutsis retained the same ingrained racist beliefs, but now came to view the Tutsis as "foreign invaders" rather than "true Rwandans". Similar ethnic and racial divisions in other parts of Northeastern Africa have led to similar violence.

Many Rwandans claim that there was little inter-ethnic rivalry until it was deliberately encouraged by the Juvénal Habyarimana government as a ploy to counter Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front's (RPF) largely Tutsi invasion on October 1, 1990.

Prelude to the genocide

Another source of mounting tensions in 1990 was the grumblings of the Tutsi diaspora in refugee camps ringing the nation, particularly from Uganda. Rwanda had been given independence before Uganda, and the early Tutsi outcasts saw history played out in 30 years of Uganda's history, from independence from Britain, to a fledgling democracy, and on to Idi Amin and successive military overthrows. Rwandans fought alongside Ugandans, where they had helped depose Milton Obote with Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army and saw his installation as president in January 1986.

The mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was formed in 1985 under Paul Kagame and saw an opportunity in their own country to demand recognition of their rights as Rwandans, including the right of return. On October 1, 1990 RPF forces invaded Rwanda from their base in neighbouring Uganda. The rebel force, composed primarily of Tutsis, blamed the government for failing to democratize and resolve the problems of some 500,000 Tutsi refugees living in diaspora around the world.

The Rwandan government portrayed the invasion as an attempt to bring the Tutsi ethnic group back into power. International reaction was ambiguous. The violence increased ethnic tensions as Hutus rallied around the President. Habyarimana himself reacted by immediately repressing Tutsis and Hutus who were perceived to be in league with Tutsi interests. Habyarimana justified these acts by proclaiming it was the intent of the Tutsis to restore a kind of Tutsi feudal system and thus to enslave the Hutu race.

The Rwanda genocide plan

The evil started with the arrival of colonial masters, specifically the Belgians (after Germany) who divided Rwandese people into three different ethnic groups (according to them): Hutu, Twa, and Tutsi. Amazingly, the difference was only related to the tallest people and forms of nose or just numbers of cattle possessed. Biologically-apparently, there wasn’t any difference between Rwandese people. But the science and technology of those missionaries and colonial masters helped them a lot in measuring noses, skull and faces of Rwandese, and finally gave them what they called “IDENTITY”.

Question: Before their arrival, what was the identity of the Rwandese?

Answer: BANYARWANDA – which means Rwandese, nothing else.

 As usual, in order to strengthen the ideology of ethnicity, the white missionaries educated all students from primary schools in the whole country regarding the difference between Hutu and Tutsi as major ethnic groups, producing Division, where hatred begins.

When we look at the dimension of the Rwanda conflict, we find that so many countries were involved actively, indirectly, and directly. A big country like France and its president Mitterrand is the one who fueled the genocide, just accomplishing the idea created by colonialists (Germany and Belgium). Remember that in the 1994 genocide, the identity books brought  by Belgians in 1931-35 played a major role in determining “whom to kill or whom to let go”.

The vital role of France was to give military support to the French-speaking government (weapons, training, and battlefield support on front line), and they were present on roadblocks as well. Other countries, like the USA, UK and others, were there too, helping directly or indirectly the English speaking rebels.. This really shows how the so-called “powerful countries" often used to destroy the so called “poor countries” with the aim of gaining respect over other countries, and raising their celebrity status. In this issue of the Rwanda conflict, English speaking countries were against France and Belgium, former colonialists of Rwanda. At this time Rwanda was directly or indirectly on the English speaking countries’ side as well.

Now, who won? Who lost? French or English speakers? What is the destination of bilateral cooperation in the post-1994 genocide? Who is helping remarkably in reconstruction of Rwanda? And why? Do we have any proof that genocide will never happen again in Rwanda or elsewhere in the world? What do we do in order to prevent it?

Let’s think about it!

May peace prevail in Rwanda and in the entire world!
Rwandan Genocide: Crisis in Central Africa