Rwanda is made up of three main ethnic groups: Hutu (Ba hutu), about 90 percent of the population in the 1990’s; Tutsi (Ba tutsi or Wa tutsi), 9 percent; and Twa (Bat wa), 1 percent. Its history didnt have signs of tension between the three groups until German explorers arrived in the 1880’s, and Roman Catholic clergy established missions in the area. Later inthe decade Rwanda (then called Ruanda) and Burundi (Burundi, is a landlockedrepubli in eastern Africa, bounded on the north by Rwanda, then called Burundi) were incorporated into German East Africa. The native rulers maintained good relations with the Germans, and later, with the Belgians, who occupied the country during World War I (1914-1918). After the war the area was entrusted to Belgium by the League of Nations and became known as the Territory of Ruanda- Urundia.
Following World War II (1939-1945) it became a United Nations trust territory. The Belgians continued previous policies of supporting education by missionaries and of ruling through the Tutsi chiefs. However, they also forced the Tutsi to phase out theubuhake system, in which the Hutu became a caste of serfs subject to the Tutsi, by 1958. As political awareness increased among Africans after World War II, theHutu grew more vocal in protesting the political and social inequalities in Rwanda. In 1959 the conflict between Tutsi and Hutu erupted into violence; the next year the Tutsi king fled the country, and an mass departure of some 200,000 Tutsi followed. A republic was established in January 1961.
In elections held the following September, the Hutu-dominated Parmehutu Party won a large majority of the seats in the National Assembly. At the persistence of the United Nations trusteeship council, Belgium granted Rwanda independence on July 1, 1962, with Gr goi re Kayibanda, leader of theParmehutu (now renamed the Democratic Republican Movement; MDR), as president. The MDR won the elections in 1965 and 1969. In 1963 some exiled Tutsi returned to Rwanda as a rebel army. Although unsuccessful, the takeover attempt prompted a large-scale massacre of Tutsi by theHutu, followed by periodic ethnic violence. At the same time thousands of Hutu victimized in Burundi took refuge in Rwanda.
In July 1973 the defense minister, General Juv nal Habyarimana, led a bloodless coup that ousted Kayibanda. Habyarimana, a Hutu from the north, charged that Kayibanda favored southern Hutu and was trying to monopolize power. Both parliament and the MDR we resuspended after the coup. Political activities resumed in 1975 with the formation of anew ruling party called the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (N RMD). In 1978 a new constitution was approved, and President Habyarimana was confirmed in office for another five years. After thwarting a coup attempt in 1980, he was reelected without opposition in 1983 and again in 1988.
In 1990, Belgium and several central African nations sent troops to Rwanda to oppose an uprising by the Tutsi-backed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a movement of Tutsi refugees and moderate Hutu, invading from Uganda. As seen from a historians viewpoint one could only guess at how long until the groups would give into tensions and erupt into civil war. Throughout its history the Hutu found many reasons to despise the Tutsi, and it came to no surprise when in April of 1994 a genocide, only paralleled by Hitler and the Holocaust, headed by Hutu extremists led to the deaths of some 1,000,000 Tutsi, Twa, and Hutu Moderates (Hutu’s who did not agree with the genocide). The killings to did not start immediately but instead began with the destruction of PresidentHabyarimania, he had been working months prior to the genocide in a effort to make a peace treaty. Throughout the so-called peace implementation period, President Habyarimana was under tremendous pressure from the extremists not to implement the peace process. He did everything within his power to avoid it.
On early April of 1994, he was called by regional presidents to various meetings. He was flying back on April 6, 1994, from these meetings. He flew into Kigali, and as his plane descended toward the airport, it was hit by one or two surface-to-air missiles, bursts into flames, and crashes into his own backyard of his palace. Now, immediately the Hutu power extremist radio, starts blaming the rebels (the Rwandese Patriotic Front) for this. There has since been endless speculation about who did what.
What’s most clear is that the circumstantial evidence points tothe fact that it was actually the extremists in the president’s own entourage, who had often predicted that if he didn’t comply with them and complied instead withthe peace deal, he would be meeting his maker. They staged a coup within half an hour. Essentially, the government now became a government of absolute Hutu extremists. It became a military coup, which instated a new sort of puppet government.
And within the course of that night (the night of April 6th), the program of massacres that had been planned began to get implemented, first killing political opposition ists rather than singling out Tutsis by ethnicity. It was really focusing on those people who might cause the most political trouble. And members of the presidential guard were recruited and sent forth with lists as assassins. Massacres began to take place.
It was the rhetoric of “Our beloved president was killed by them”, when in fact everything indicates that they either killed him or certainly exploited his death within moments. Following these messages of blame the Hutu extremists then took the opportunity to rid there country of Tutsi by gaining power over the national radio station and this became the genocidal radio. It was a radio dedicated entirely to entertainment and genocidal propaganda. Following the president’s death, it became almost Genocide Central. It was through there that people were instructed at times, “Go out there and kill. You must do your work.
People are needed over int his commune”. Sometimes they actually had disc jockeys who would say”, So-and-so has just fled. He is said to be moving down such-and-such street”. They would literally hunt an individual who was targeted in the street. It was a rallying tool that was used in a tremendous way to mobilize the population. This tool has been accredited with allowing the Hutu’s to work in such a swift manner.
In a matter of a hundred days an average 8000-10000 Tutsi were killed by mobs of Hutu going house to house in search of Tutsi. This genocide was one of the most efficient mass murders since Hitler caused the Holocaust in the 40’s and comes to a certain degree of surprise when the international community learned that days prior to the genocide a fax sent had be ento the UN peacekeeping Council depicting in several paragraphs what would was to come in the following months. On January 11, 1994 Major General Dallaire sent an urgent fax to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN headquarters in New York. The fax, headed ” Request for Protection for Informant”, explained that Dallaire had developed a remarkable intelligence source from within the highest echelons of the interahamwe and that he needed help in guaranteeing the man’s security. The informant, Dallairewrote, was a former member of the President’s security staff, who was getting paid nearly a thousand dollars a month by the army chief of staff and president of the ruling Hutu party to serve as a “top level” interahamwe trainer. A few days earlier, Dallaire’s informant had been in charge of coordinating forty-eight plainclothes commandos, and several government officials in a plot to kill opposition leaders and Belgian soldiers during a ceremony at the parliament.
“They hoped to provoke the RPF… and provoke a civil war”, the fax said. “Deputies were to be assassinated upon entry or exit from parliament. Belgian troops”-the mainstay of the UNAMIR force-“were to be provoked and if Belgian soldiers resorted to force a number of them were to be killed and thus guarantee Belgian withdrawal from Rwanda”. That plan had been aborted-for the moment-but Dallaire’s informant told him that more than forty interahamwe cells of forty men each were “scattered” around Kigali, after being trained by the Rwandan army in “discipline, weapons, explosives, close combat, and tactics”. The fax continued: Since UNAMIR mandate [the informant] has been ordered to register all Tutsi in Kigali.
He suspects it is for their extermination. Example he gave isth at in twenty minutes his personnel could kill up to a thousand Tutsis. Informant states he disagrees with anti-Tutsi extermination. He supports opposition to RPF but cannot support killing of innocent persons.
He also stated that he believes the President does not have full control over all elements of his old Party / Faction. Informant is prepared to provide location of major weapons cache with atleast a hundred thirty-five weapons… He was ready to go to the arms cache tonight-if we gave him the following guarantee. He requests that he and his family (his wife and four children) be placed under our protection. Dallaire then continued by writing a letter to the chief of UN peacekeeping Dallaire labeled his fax “most immediate”, and signed off in French: “Peu x ce que veux. Allons’y” (“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Let’s go”). The response from New York was: Let’s not. The chief of UN peacekeeping at the time was Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian who would become Secretary-General. Annan’s deputy, Iqbal Riz a, replied to Dallaire the same day, rejecting the “operation contemplated” in his fax-and the extension of protection to the informant-as “beyond the mandate entrusted to UNAMIR”. Instead, Dallaire was instructed to share his information with President Habyarimana, and tell him that the activities of the interahamwe ” represent a clear threat to the peace process” and a “clear violation” of the “Kigali weapons-secure area”. Never mind that Dallaire’s informant had explicitly described the plans to exterminate Tutsis and assassinate Belgians as emanating from Habyarimana’s court: the mandate said that peace-treaty violations should be reported to the President, and New York advised Dallaire, “You should assume tha the”-Habyarimana-“is not aware of these activities, but insist that he must immediately look into the situation.
The disregard for the contents of the initial fax cost the people of Rwanda some hundreds of thousands of people, had the cache of arms been found the rate at which the Tutsi were killed would have been greatly decreased. The International communities lack of involvement in trying to stop the genocide is somewhat hard to grasp but what comes to being even more startling was the United States involvement or lack there of in preventing the genocide. The Clinton administration-and one should always remember that in the United Nations Security Council, the United States is essentially the 800-pound gorilla that sits where it wants and can bend others to its will. It’s the great power, the Clintonadministration’s policy was, “Let’s withdraw altogether. Let’s get out of Rwanda.
Leave it to its fate”. The United States ambassador to the United Nations at that time was then Madeline Albright. And it was she who was in the wretched position of having to represent this position to the Security Council, and who did so very effectively. Although the issues discussed in this essay where known in the intenationalcommunity as well as he US it was not completely known until the publication of Philip Gourviths bestseller, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will beKilled With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. It has a an unforgettable firsthand account of a people’s response to genocide and what it tells us about humanity, this remarkable book chronicles what has happened in Rwanda and neighboring states since 1994. I read this book and found the it both too powerful to read- too powerful no tto.
The horrible stories of Rwanda put many things in perspective for me… and have made me ask many questions of my family, my friends, my government, my world, and myself. How can I trust a government that would sink so low A government that would, according to this book and interviews of government officials, turn its back on the fate of millions… making sure to never acknowledge a “genocide” was occuring, which would force the US to intervene due to the Genocide Convention of 1948. What can I do What can anyone do For all the people, all the organizations (like the Red Cross and Amnesty International), and all the journalists that were there… that knew what was going on… what could they do They reported it. They hoped someone would stop it, they hoped the world would act and show that it was up to the challenge. And when the international community got its chance to prove itself just and strong… it failed. Interviews with US government officials shocked me, pushing Gourevitch’s message farther into my conscience.
Several people within the White House administration, the Pentagon, and the State Department felt what was going on was wrong.