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Rwandan Genocide

Essay by   •  January 5, 2011  •  Essay  •  693 Words (3 Pages)  •  765 Views

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In 1994, between the months of April and June, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the span of 100 days. Most of those killed were Tutsis, and most of those who committed the acts of violence were Hutus. While the country of Rwanda has a chaotic history, the huge scale and swift speed of the massacre left the country reeling. The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down of Kigali airport on April 6th, 1994.

The country of Rwanda has a history of ethnic tension between the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis. The two ethnic groups actually have several similarities. They speak the same language, live in the same areas, and have shared traditions. When the Belgian colonists arrived in Rwanda in 1916, they treated Tutsis with superiority over the Hutus. While under Belgian control Tutsis living in Rwanda had access to better jobs, education, and other opportunities than did the Hutus. Eventually Hutu resentment for Tutsis grew and concluded with a series of riots in 1959. More than 20,000 Tutsis were killed, and large numbers escaped to surrounding countries. In 1962, Belgium granted Rwanda independence, and the Hutus took over the governmental system. Over the ensuing decades, the Tutsis were blamed for every major crisis.

In the years leading up to the 1994 genocide, the Hutus continued to hold governmental power, and the economy of Rwanda slowly worsened. The current president, Juvenal Habyarimana was quickly losing popularity. Simultaneously, Tutsi refugees residing in Uganda, with the support of some moderate Hutus, were in the process of developing the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Their goal was to overthrow Habyarimana and assert their right to return to Rwanda. In August 1993, after numerous attacks and months of compromise, a peace treaty was signed between Habyarimana and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, but it did little to still the turmoil. When Habyarimana's plane was shot down in the beginning of April 1994, it was the last straw. It is still unknown who killed the president, but the effect was both immediate and disastrous.

The Rwandan presidential guard instigated a crusade of reprisal as soon as they learned of the events of the death of the president. Leaders of the political resistance were murdered, and almost at once, the massacre of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began. Within hours of the president's death, people were sent all over the country to carry out the slaughter. Early organizers included military officials, businessmen, and

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