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Rwandan's Genocide And Conflicts Essay

1048 words - 5 pages

In April of 1994, the converging forces of history culminated in one of the Twentieth Century’s most brutal crimes against humanity, in the small East African nation of Rwanda. In just one hundred days, by official estimates, over 800,000 Tutsi men, women, and children were slaughtered at the hands of Hutu majority population and government (Scheffer, 125). It is estimated that 333 human beings were slaughtered per hour during this period (Do Scars Ever Fade). By all accounts, this was a preventable genocide. The world’s most powerful nations received damning evidence regarding the mass slaughter of innocent civilians, yet refused to intervene (Ferroggiagio).
The seeds for this conflict were planted in 1918, at the end of World War 1. Rwanda had been a protectorate of Germany since 1899. In 1915, Belgium troops took control of Rwanda away from the Germans. The League of Nations officially granted Belgium rule over Rwanda in 1918. The Belgian’s immediately began a process of ethnic division based on the existing caste system in Rwanda. Belgium granted indirect authority to the minority Tutsis. The Tutsis were thought, by the Belgium’s, to be the superior group in Rwanda, because they possessed a higher education and had achieved greater social mobility. The lower class Hutu majority were subjugated to the Tutsi rule which followed mandates of oppression and forced labor as dictated by the Belgians. Prior to this time, the Tutsi (cattle owners) and the Hutu (crop farmers) were simply divided by class. A Hutu could actually “cross class lines” and become a Tutsi by acquiring cattle, land, or wealth (Do Scars Ever Fade). The Belgians used the physical features of the two classes to divide the even further. Using calipers to measure their skulls and noses, the Belgians determined the criteria of a true Hutu to be that of a flat nose and wider cranium (Do Scars Ever Fade). The Belgians also issued identity cards which indicated who was Tutsi and who was Hutu.
In 1959, the Parmehutu (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutus) rebelled against Belgian rule. Over 150,000 Tutsis fled to Burundi. In 1962 the Belgians withdrew from Rwanda and the Hutu government took power and Gregoire Kayibanda is installed as Rwanda’s first president. Under Kayibanda rule until 1973, tensions between Hutu and Tutsi increased dramatically. Tutsis were purged from public offices and universities, they were randomly massacred, and many of them were either exiled or had fled from Rwanda. “It is estimated that by the mid-1960s half of the Tutsi population is living outside Rwanda” (Frontline). In 1973 General Juvenal Habyarimana seized power and set forth a doctrine of repressive mandates to deal with the “Tutsi problem”. These mandates created a greater divide between the two classes further repressing the Tutsi. In October of 1991 the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi army lead by Paul Kagame, invades Rwanda from the Ugandan border (Frontline). These events led to a civil...

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