Monday, March 03, 2008

Genocide in Rwanda

I watched a moving and eye-opening film last night titled Sometimes in April, a 2005 historical drama television film about the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which was a tragic and horrific event that occurred in south central Africa that the world merely ignored.


The Rwandan Genocide was the systematic murder of members of Rwanda's Tutsi minority and the moderates of its Hutu majority, in 1994. This was both the bloodiest period of the Rwandan Civil War and the worst genocide of the 1990s.

The parties involved in the war included:
Interahamwe militia (MRND) - Hutu militia group involved in the genocide
Impuzamugambi militia (CDR) - Hutu militia group involved in the genocide
Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) - Tutsi rebel group seeking to overthrow the Hutu regime
UNAMIR Mission (United Nations) - non-action UN troops
Kangura / RTLM Radio - Hutu brainwashing media
Hutu Rwandan Citizens - Population majority and involved in the genocide
Tutsi Rwandan Citizens - Victims of the genocide

Essentially, there was a shooting war and a genocide war. The two are connected, but also distinct. In the shooting war, there are two conventional armies (MRND & CDR vs RPF) at each other, and in the genocide war, one of those armies (MRND & CDR), the government side together with help from civilians, were involved in mass killings.


Historic rivalry between the two tribes, the Hutu and Tutsi, originated from ethnic and economic distinctions. The Tutsis were a minority of the population, mostly herders and viewed as the nobility, and the majority Hutus were mostly croppers. When the kings, known as Mwamis, began to centralize their administrations, it left Hutus in a serf-like status with Tutsi chiefs as their feudal masters.

The UN's neglect of the Rwandan Genocide, under comprehensive media coverage, drew severe criticism. France, Belgium, and the United States in particular, for their complaicancy towards the extreme Hutu regime's oppressions.

In the Berlin Conference of 1885, Rwanda, and Burundi, were annexed by the Germans, with this state of affairs in effect until the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, when it was ceded to Belgium. The Belgians, sought an explanation for the complex monarchy they found in the colony, so on the basis of race, rather than class, they created the distinction between Hutu and Tutsi. The Belgians brought in identification cards to every Rwandan, with preferential treatment to Tutsis for positions in education, politics and business, which further caused tension as the distinction pitted the two tribes against each other.

The 1959 "social revolution" led by the Hutu nationalist party Parmehutu (Parti du Mouvement de l'Émancipation Hutu) was the foundation of a Hutu-led republic. It propped the Hutus into power and was the first stage of the Rwandan Civil War, with the deaths of some 20,000 Tutsi. 200,000 had been made to flee across the borders, and the formation of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) found its roots in these refugees. Rwanda's independence from Belgium was to follow, in 1961.

On October 1, 1990, the Tutsi's began their invasion of Rwanda to restore themselves within the nation. The journal Kangura and the hate-mongering Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), active from 1990 to 1993, were instrumental in inciting ethnic hatred and violence, of Hutu for Tutsi. On August 4, 1993, the rebels, and the Government of Rwanda signed the Arusha Accords, to end the civil war. The accords stripped considerable power from President Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been all-powerful.


This, however, would not stop the preparations for genocide. Government leaders met in secret with youth group leaders, forming and arming Hutu militias. Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda revealed, in his testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal, that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings and that "one cabinet minister said she was personally in favor of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, she told ministers, all of Rwanda's problems would be over." In addition to Kambanda, the genocide's organizers included Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a retired army officer, and many top ranking government officials and members of the army, such as General Augustin Bizimungu. On the local level, the Genocide's planners included Burgomasters, or mayors, and members of the police.

Although the UN was aware of the planned genocide, they chose to not interfere.

On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi, was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali. Both presidents died when the plane crashed. Responsibility for the attack is disputed, with both the RPF and Hutu extremists being blamed. But in spite of disagreements about the identities of its perpetrators, the attack on the plane is to many observers the catalyst for the genocide.

MRND, the Hutu ruling party of Rwanda from 1975 to 1994, under President Juvénal Habyarimana, has been implicated in organizing many aspects of the genocide. Using arms such as AK-47 rifles, grenades, and machetes, supplied by the US, Europe, China, and other nations, military and Hutu militia groups began rounding up and killing all Tutsis they could capture as well as the political moderates irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds. Hutu brainwashing media convinced Hutu citizens to seek and destroy the "cockroaches" (Tutsis).

Most of the victims were killed in their villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia members typically murdered their victims by hacking them with machetes, although some army units used rifles. The victims were often hiding in churches and school buildings, where Hutu gangs massacred them. Ordinary citizens were called on by local officials and government-sponsored radio to kill their neighbours and those who refused to kill were often killed themselves. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself."

In just a matter of two months, the death toll accumulated to around 1,000,000 to 1,750,000 victims. And the world did nothing but watch.

The victory of the RPF rebels and overthrow of the Hutu regime ended the genocide in July 1994, 100 days after it started.

Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms—including Rwanda's first ever local elections held in March 1999—the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation.

In March 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kigali Airport: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred" in Rwanda. Four years after the genocide, Clinton issued what today is known as the "Clinton apology," in which he acknowledged his failure to efficiently deal with the situation in Rwanda, but never formally apologized for any non-action by the U.S./international community.

It seems that the U.S. just doesn't know when it shouldn't intervene (Iraq) and when it should (Rwanda). And it is plain unbelievable that the other UN nations and the rest of the world followed suit by also ignoring the Rwandan genocide.


The story of the movie Sometimes in April centers around two brothers: Honoré Butera, working for the hate-mongering Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM Radio), and Augustin Muganza, a captain in the Rwandan army (who was married to a Tutsi woman, Jeanne, and had three children with her: Anne-Marie, Yves-André, and Marcus), who bear witness to the killing of close to 1,000,000 people in 100 days while becoming divided by politics and losing some of their own family. The film depicts the attitudes and circumstances leading up to the outbreak of brutal violence, the intertwining stories of people struggling to survive the genocide, and the aftermath as the people try to find justice and reconciliation.

Check out other Rwanda films:

HBO Films


~^~ WittyoreL~^~ said...

I guess I am the only one who has some things to say about the genocide in Rwanda...

As hurt as it may seem to have found the idea that this mass genocide that happened in Rwanda was callously uncovered by the world media in the mid-90's gave me a sense of hatred and blame to the superpowers that are US, UK, Belgium and France who could have saved millions of lives if had enforced an immediate action plan in addressing smaller issues of ethnic cleansing in Rwanda.

Clinton's apology must serve as a catalyst towards addressing similar life-threatening strickened issues faced by Dar fur and other Central African countries which could be at least related to the same fate Rwanda had experienced.

The face of Africa is no less than of apathy and pity. Just by letting people know of the harsh life that people suffer on their daily lives should awaken the humanity in all of us, particularly for most if us whose lives are deeply blessed in innumerable countless ways far away from a GENOCIDELANDIA!

Leaemy said...

this is really heartbreaking to see so many innocent lives taken...

Anonymous said...

The Belgians are the worst colonizers. King Leopold, a nasty old white guy, is rumored to have dropped cigar ash into the middle of the map of Africa when the kings of Europe were partitioning it in a meeting. He said, "Ah! wherever the ash fell that's my portion" The ash fell into the center of the map, which is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prior to European arrival, many of the tribes in west Africa figured out a way to resolve issues without violence. The do this by finding the best man in the tribe who can throw a spear the farthest. The Portuguese upset the balance of power by giving one tribe guns. This divide and conquer strategy was repeated over and over. Now there is ethnic and tribal animosity all over the place. This leaves us an important question; who was really more civilized at the time? the people who figured out a way to resolve conflicts with a non-violent way? or the more technologically advanced Christian Portuguese who settled everything with violence?


StopGenocides said...


I stumbled upon this video about the Rwanda Genocide, and I
wanted to share it with you. It is by Rita Carter an artist who is
trying to spread awareness on Genocide. Hope you enjoy just as i did.

Behind the Scenes

The Teaser of the Video

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Post a Comment