Between April and June 1994 warfare between the Hutus and Tutsis people struck in the East African country of Rwanda. To call it a tragedy would be an understatement when faced with the estimated death count of one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus over the span one hundred days. The genocide resulted from the desire to control and obtain power within Rwanda and stemmed from a history of cultural and social class conflict amongst the rival groups. This bloodshed proved to be one the most horrific events in history.
The Tutsi people had joined the Rwanda population during the 1300’s. Before the colonial era, Tutsis typically occupied the higher status in the social system and the Hutus the lower. However, mobility on the social hierarchy was possible, Hutus who obtained wealth or a large number of cattle, approximately ten or greater, could be incorporated into the Tutsi group and an impoverished Tutsi would be classified as Hutu.
In 1890, Rwanda became part of German East Africa. During the First World War, the former colonial power lost possession of Rwanda and the territory was then placed under Belgian rule. In 1957, during the great wave of decolonization, tensions increased in Rwanda. The Hutu political movement, whose goal was to gain majority rule, was gaining momentum while the Tutsi people resisted the act of democratization and the loss of their privileges and power. In November 1959, a violent incident initiated a Hutu uprisin in which hundreds of Tutsi people were killed and thousands forced to leave to neighboring countries. This marked the start of the “Hutu Peasant Revolution” which lasted until 1961. The Revolution symbolized the end of Tutsi rule and domination.
By 1962, Rwanda gained independence. A new cycle of ethnic conflict and violence continued in Rwanda. By the end of the 1980’s Tutsi refugees in were eager to return to Rwanda, however, Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda, decided population pressures were already too large, and economic opportunities too few to accommodate large numbers of Tutsi refugees.
In 1988, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was formed mainly of Tutsi refuges as a political and military movement in order to secure repatriation of displaced Rwandans and reshape the Rwandan government, which included political power sharing. When an attack was launched, all Tustis remaining in the country were considered accomplices of the RPF.
In August 1993, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the governments in power signed the Arusha peace agreements. It appeared to bring an end to the conflict between the Hutu dominated government and the RPF. In October 1993, the Security Council established the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in maintain peace, and provide humanitarian assistance and general support. However, human rights violations started becoming for frequent and the security and Agreement was deteriorating. The Hutu majority was...