When the Belgian colonizers entered Rwanda in 1924, they created an ethnic classification between the Hutu and the Tutsi, two tribes who used to live together as one. After independence in 1962, there was a constant power struggle between the two tribes. Former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Chrétien described the situation as “tribalism without tribes.” (Destexhe, 1995) There were many signs leading towards genocide, yet the nations in power chose to ignore them. From April 6, 1994 until mid-July, a time spanning approximately of 100 days, 800,000 people were murdered when the Hutu attacked the Tutsi. No foreign aid came to the rescue until it was too late. Ten years after the genocide the United Nations was still involved in Rwanda, cleaning up the mess that was left behind because of man’s sinful nature. Could the Rwandan Genocide have been prevented, or is it simply a fact of life? Even though the international community is monitoring every country and race, such an event as the Rwandan Genocide could occur again because the European colonizers introduced ethnic classification where it did not exist and the nations in power chose to ignore the blatant signs of genocide.
Define the Issue
Genocide is the “deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group.” (Dictionary.com, 2010) In 1924, after World War I, Belgian colonists entered Rwanda and allowed the Tutsi dynasty to remain in power. However, after World War II concepts of right and wrong changed. Since the Belgians had been favouring the Tutsis, this change in ethics caused the Belgians to have compassion on the Hutus and promote the Hutu cause, creating tension. (Thompson, 2007) It was the Belgians who created an ethnic classification system, and upon independence in 1962 nothing changed, allowing for genocide.
In 1993 the Hutu president, Habyarimana started to use radio broadcasts to try and create a feeling of hatred amongst the Hutu against the Tutsi. One example was, “The grave is only half full. Who will help us fill it?” or in 1994, “By 5 May, the country must be completely cleansed of Tutsis.” (Destexhe, 1995) President Habyarimana issued threats on two levels. Publicly, the Tutsi race was threatened of annihilation. Yet the radio broadcasts also made the Hutus feel as if they were under threat, and must attack the Tutsis.
When on April 6, 1994 Hutu President Habyarimana died after his plane was shot down, Rwanda’s extremist Hutu immediately sent out an order for Rwanda’s mayors, militias, and death squads to start killing the Tutsis. From there, the Interhamwe (those who attack together), an unofficial militia group of about 30,000 fighters, was organized. (Gale, 2010) Those in power started to create death lists, hunt down the Tutsi on these lists and kill them. Radios broadcasted the command for all Hutus to join the campaign to kill the Tutsis. The speed and level of violence shocked many as Hutu gangs...