The three months from April 1994 to June

The Rwanda Genocide occurred despite the
international outcry of “never again” which began after the end of the
Holocaust. Even though developed countries promised that they would not allow
these types of atrocities to ever occur, they still did. The Rwanda Genocide
lasted three months from April 1994 to June 1994, it was within these three
months that an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in a systematic fashion.
The mass killings were orchestrated by the Hutu controlled Rwandan government,
shortly after Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, who happened to be a Hutu,
died after his plane was shot down. This therefore angered Hutus because they
believed that the Tutsis were responsible for this atrocity which sparked a
killing campaign that immediately turned into a genocide (BBC, 2011). But these
events where not the sole cause of the genocide. This essay will explain how
the Hutus perpetrated the Rwandan genocide by using Dr. Stanton’s eight stages
of genocide, this will be done by using historical context to explain and
describe the eight stages that led up to the genocide. This essay will also
explain and analyze how foreign factors contributed to the escalation of the genocide.

            But first it is important to analyze
the historical context leading up to genocide and to explain the 8 stages of
genocide. The genocide and mass killings in Rwanda had already occurred in the
past. Therefore, in order to understand this, it is important to look back at
the Tutsi and Hutu tribal relationships. The Tutsis are historically a cattle
herding tribe which several hundred years ago migrated south into the East
Central African region that is today made up of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Eastern
Zaire. This region had been already settled by the Hutus which are historically
farmers. Over time the Tutsis and the Hutus began to intermarry until
eventually both tribes began to share common cultures, religion, and language.
But despite these shared characteristics these two tribes would eventually have
deep divisions that would lead to violent consequences. Part of the reason for
this lies within European Imperialism. These divisions were created during the
German rule (1889) and Belgium rule (1916-1961) when the Tutsis being a
minority were put into the upper class which would eventually rule over the
Hutus (Dekmejian, 2007). Therefore, since the Tutsis belonged to the upper
class they were allowed to access higher education and were allowed to hold
authority over the Hutus therefore, turning the Hutus into serf. This created
profound resentment and hate among Hutus towards the Tutsis which began an era
of intransigent violence among both tribes. During their mandate over Rwanda
the Belgians governed the territory with the help of Tutsi kings but since the
Tutsis demanded independence the Belgians decided to hand over the power to the
Hutus. By consequence this sparked violence that led to the killing of 100,000
Tutsis in 1961, 20,000 in 1963, and to the killing of 100,000 Hutus by Tutsis.
Eventually all these killings would take a toll and lead to the genocide of
1994.

            The historical context previously
mentioned helps in understanding why there existed so much resentment and hate
among the Hutus and the Tutsis, but what does it take to unleash a genocide?
That’s why it’s important to look at the eight stages of genocide in order to
understand what it takes for a genocide to occur. The eight stages of genocide
are classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization,
preparation, extermination (actual genocide), and denial. The first six stages
classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, and
preparation serve as early warning signs of a genocide. 

            The first stage classification is
characterized by the “us versus them” attitude and it is in this stage where
individuals are separated and distinguished along the lines of race, religion,
nationality, or ethnicity. It is in this stage that a society becomes divided
and a power struggle between groups is created. An example of classification
occurred in 1916 when the Belgians began creating identification cards in order
to classify and differentiate Tutsis from Hutus. This was because the Belgians
considered the Tutsis more superior than the Hutus (BBC, 2011). The Belgians
used traits like nose size, height, and eye type (Stanton, Lecture Notes). The
second stage is symbolization, it is in this stage when Belgian colonist began
using the identification cards to symbolize status among the groups. Those who
were classified as Tutsis had access to education and those that were
classified as Hutus did not have access to any type of assistance or education.
But later these identification cards would prove to be deadly because they
would eventually be used in the genocide.

            The third stage of genocide is
dehumanization. In this stage one group takes away the humanity of the other by
making the other group seem subhuman. In Rwanda, this occurred when the “Hutu
regime subjected the Tutsis, moderate Hutus, and citizens of mixed percentage
to brutal propaganda attacks accusing them of being collaborators” (Dekmejian,
2007). Another example of the dehumanization is when Hutus began describing the
Tutsis as “cockroaches”. This therefore began to give an excuse of
justification to call the genocide as an “ethnic cleansing” (Stanton, Lecture
Notes). The fourth stage is organization which is when the state or government
begins to assemble “kill squads “like the secret police, or military groups
with the sole purpose of organizing and conducting the genocide. In Rwanda,
this was evident when the Hutu controlled government began to train the
national police, the presidential guard, and other Hutu militias like the
Interahanwe and the Inpuzamugambi for systematic mass killings despite the
United Nation’s UNAMIR’s mission of peacekeepers. 

            The fifth stage of genocide is
polarization. The stage of polarization occurs when extremist groups begin to
drive groups apart, laws are created to forbid intermarriage and social
interactions among groups, and those that are political moderates are
intimidated and murdered. In Rwanda, the stage of polarization can be seen when
militia forces begin to kill moderate Hutus (BBC, 2017) shortly after the
genocide begins. The sixth stage of genocide is preparation, this is when
victim groups begin to be relocated to other regions where they will suffer
hunger and famine. This stage is also characterized by the creation of death
list by the government or group in charge (Stanton, Lecture Notes). Another
characteristic of preparation is the stockpiling of weapons. In Rwanda, there
are three clear examples of this. The first example occurred in 1959 when
20,000 Tutsis where killed which forced many more to flee the country and seek
refuge in Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda. The second example occurred when Hutu
militias used identification cards to single out Tutsis. The third example
occurred with the distribution and stockpiling of 500,000 machetes to militants
by the government in order to kill Tutsis.

            The last two stages of genocide are
stage seven and eight which are extermination (the actual genocide), and
denial. The seventh stage extermination is when mass killings begin and the
government officially legitimizes mass killings in a genocidal fashion. Those
that commit genocide call it extermination because they believe that the
victims are subhuman and therefore by exterminating the victim they are
preforming an ethnic cleansing. This was evident in Rwanda   in April 1994
when the Rwandan government along with militant groups began the systematic
massacre of Tutsis. This killing rampage lasted 100 days and ended with a death
toll of 800,000 Tutsis. The eighth and final stage of genocide is denial. During
this stage state actors and perpetrators attempt to deny any fault or
involvement in the genocide. Those involved in the Rwanda genocide attempted to
deny being part of the genocide when shortly after “the RPF was victorious, an
estimated two million Hutus fled to Zaire” (BBC, 2011) and among them were many
who were implicated in the massacre.

            The eight stages of genocide serve
to help understand the steps that state actors take to eventually legitimize
and convince a population to systematically kill. But in most cases a genocide
is not solely caused by internal factors it is also instigated or provoked by foreign factors.
There are two types of foreign factors which instigated the Rwandan genocide,
these factors are imperial aide to rebels and inaction from the international
community. When the Belgians granted Rwanda its independence in 1959, this
sparked a violent uprising that forced 10,000 Tutsi into exile in the
neighboring country of Uganda (Cameron, 2012). Therefore, within the 30 years
of post-independence about half a million Tutsi left the country and of those
half million about 80,000 took refuge in Uganda. Among those displaced Tutsis
included many who previously were in the Rwandan military which helped foment
the desire to return to invade Rwanda. Therefore, this interested the British
due the fact that the UK held important economic interests in the neighboring
country of Uganda. So, in order to advance their interest in Uganda the British
capitalized on Rwandan refugees resentment by supporting the creation of the
“Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), “a small but highly effective military and
political movement capable of engaging with Rwandan Government Forces (FAR)
with political wing of the guerrilla movement as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)”
(Cameron, 2012). The British support of the Rwandan Patriotic Front became
evident in October 1990 when thus group invaded Rwanda. Even though the Rwandan
Patriotic Front was defeated during this attack it eventually lead to the
genocide because it further deteriorated Tutsi and Hutu relations since the
Rwandan government was controlled by Hutus who distrusted the Tutsis. Evidence
would later show during the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that
“the order for the October 1990 invasion…could not have happened without the
knowledge, approval, and active assistance of…Britain’s Secret Intelligence
Service (SIS) commonly referred to as MI-6” (Cameron, 2012). 

            The second foreign factor that
aggravated and allowed the Rwandan genocide was the inaction and idle standing
of the international community. The genocide in Rwanda was atrocious and
horrible but more horrible was the reaction of Western powers. In the time
period between February 1994 and April 1994, “tensions in Rwanda intensified
noticeably as the paralysis in the government dragged on” (Newbury, 1995).
During these three months, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) was
killed, in retaliation PSD supporters then killed the leader of the Coalition
for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). Therefore, this sparked a wave of
violent killings, burnings, and looting throughout Kigali. Meanwhile this was
happening the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), which was
created by United Nations Security Council on 5 October 1993 to end the Rwandan
Civil War, remained idle and did nothing to halt the onslaught. Which therefore
gave militants a practice run for the genocide and further encouraged such
groups to continue with the slaughter. But the biggest crime was not the UNAMIR’s
inaction, it was the actions taken by Western countries and the Western media.
During the genocide, Western countries actions appeared “almost to acquiesce
in-and perhaps even further-the killings” (Newbury, 1995) because western
governments like the United States, England, and France only sent troops in to
save whites but not to stop the genocide. To even further the indifference of
the West towards the genocide, media outlets in the U.S. like Nightline and
Sixty Minutes “persistently portrayed” the genocide “as simply the continuation
of ancient tribal animosities-in spite of the empirical record” (Newbury,
1995). Therefore, taking away any hope for intervention to stop the massacre.

            The Rwanda Genocide occurred despite
the international outcry of “never again” because the international community
failed to intervene or provide any form of protection to the thousands of
victims of such atrocity. Maybe it was imperialism, international inaction, or intransigent
ethnic conflicts. But the truth is that the Rwandan genocide was caused by all
these factors. That is why it is important to analyze the historical context
leading up to genocide and to explain the 8 stages of genocide in order to
better understand why these crimes on humanity occur because only by understanding
this and by having tolerance towards diversity can humanity truly say, “never
again”.

Related Posts

© All Right Reserved