Rwandan Genocide

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Recent History

The Rwanda Genocide (French: Génocide au Rwanda) was the massacre of an estimated 800,000 to 1,071,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda, mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, during a period of about 100 days from April 6th through mid-July 1994.

The Rwandan Genocide stands out as significant, not only because of the sheer number of people murdered in such a short period of time, but also because of how inadequately the United Nations (particularly, its Western members such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom) responded. Despite intelligence provided before the killing began, and international news media coverage reflecting the true scale of violence as the genocide unfolded, most first-world countries including France, Belgium, the United States declined to intervene or speak out against the planned massacres. Canada continued to lead the United Nations Peace Keeping force in Rwandan territory.

The United Nations established UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda), in October 1993 "to help implement the Arusha Peace Agreement signed by the Rwandan parties on 4 August 1993"; its "mandate" ended in 1996 (UNAMIR official website). Prior to and during the genocide, the UN did not authorize UNAMIR to intervene and to use force quickly and/or effectively enough to halt the killing and other atrocities in Rwanda. While it "adjusted" UNAMIR's "mandate and strength . . . on a number of occasions in the face of the tragic events of the genocide and the changing situation in the country" (official website), given UN Security Council policy and various procedural constraints and other limitations imposed on UNAMIR, the United Nations failed to prevent the genocide. The leader of the U.N. mission was Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire.

In the weeks prior to the attacks, the UN did not respond to reports of Hutu militias amassing weapons and rejected plans for a preemptive interdiction. Despite numerous pre- and present-conflict warnings by Dallaire, the United Nations insisted on maintaining its rules of engagement and preventing its peacekeepers on the ground from engaging the militias or discharging their weapons, except in self-defense. Such failure to intervene in a timely and effective manner to halt the killing became the focus of bitter recriminations toward the United Nations, Western countries such as France and the United States, and individual policymakers, including Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh and U.S. President Bill Clinton, who described U.S. inaction as "the biggest regret of my administration."

The genocide ended when a Tutsi-dominated expatriate rebel movement known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Paul Kagame, overthrew the Hutu government and seized power. Fearing reprisals, hundreds of thousands of Hutu and other refugees fled into eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The violence and its memory have continued to affect the country and the region. Ethnic hatreds that fueled the Rwandan Genocide quickly spilled over into Congo, continuing after it ended and fueling both the First and Second Congo Wars. Ethnic rivalry between Hutu and Tutsi tribal factions is also a major factor in the Burundi Civil War.


The key background issue in the Rwandan Genocide is the relationship between the two ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi.


Map of Rwanda
Map of Rwanda

Among the current inhabitants of the region now known as Rwanda, the earliest are believed to have been the pygmy Twa. The Twa now account for only about one percent of the country's population and as a group are at the margins of the Rwandan conflict. Anthropological and linguistic evidence suggests that after the Twa settlement, the ancestors of the Hutu immigrated to the region and supplanted the Twa, perhaps in several waves. The last wave of immigration is thought to have brought the ancestral Tutsi. The Tutsis were considered a linguistically separate Hamitic people apparently from eastern Africa, possibly the horn region of the modern Oromo group.[ citations needed]

There is some debate about the size of the migrations into Rwanda and the impact of each. Colonial scholars of the early 20th century adopted the preceding migration theory, but current research contests it. Since all three groups now speak the same language and regularly intermarry, some argue that the differences between the Tutsi and Hutu may be exaggerated cultural constructs.[ citations needed]


Some analysts see an economic explanation for the violence in Rwanda. The Great Lakes region has rich volcanic soil and a more temperate climate because of its altitude. Because of the favorable environment, it is one of the most densely populated parts of Africa. This has led to a great deal of competition for scarce land and resources.[ citations needed]

In his book Collapse, author-scientist Jared Diamond argues that this overpopulation contributed heavily to the violence. He believes that the mayhem of the genocide provided a pretext for some Rwandans to kill their wealthier neighbors in order to seize their land.

Rwandan Genocide
  • Initial events
  • Nyarubuye massacre
  • Causes
  • Role of the International Community
  • Glossary and supplements
    • Bibliography
Parties involved
Interahamwe militia (Hutu)
Impuzamugambi militia (Hutu)
Rwandan Patriotic Front(Tutsi)
UNAMIR Mission (United Nations)
RTLM Radio
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Media adaptations
Hotel Rwanda
Shake Hands with the Devil
Shooting Dogs
Sometimes In April

In the 15th century, several Tutsi clans merged to establish the Kingdom of Rwanda, which ruled over the region throughout recorded history. Although some Hutus were among the nobility and significant intermingling took place, the Hutu majority made up 82–85% of the population and were mostly poor peasants. In general, the kings, known as Mwamis, were Tutsi.

Before the 19th century, it was believed that the Tutsis held military power while the Hutus possessed supernatural power. In this capacity, the Mwami's council of advisors (abiiru) was exclusively Hutu and held significant sway. By the mid-18th century, however, the abiiru was increasingly marginalized.[ citations needed]

Land Ownership

As Tutsi Mwami centralized their power and authority, they distributed land among individuals rather than allowing it to be passed down through lineage groups, of which many hereditary chiefs had been Hutu. Most of the chiefs appointed by the Mwamis were Tutsi. The redistribution of land, enacted between 1860 and 1895 by Mwami Rwabugiri, resulted in an imposed patronage system, under which appointed Tutsi chiefs demanded manual labor in return for the right of Hutus to occupy their land. This system left Hutus in a serf-like status with Tutsi chiefs as their feudal masters.[ citations needed]

Under Mwami Rwabugiri, Rwanda became an expansionist state. Rwabugiri did not bother to assess the ethnic identities of conquered peoples and simply labeled all of them “Hutu”. The title “Hutu”, therefore, came to be a trans-ethnic identity associated with subjugation. While further disenfranchising Hutus socially and politically, this helped to solidify the idea that “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were socioeconomic, not ethnic, distinctions. In fact, one could kwihutura, or “shed Hutuness”, by accumulating wealth and rising through the social hierarchy.[ citations needed]

German Colonial Policy

The turning point was the Scramble for Africa and the Berlin Conference, held in 1885. Rwanda and Burundi were ceded to Germany and administered as a joint colonial territory. Because the Germans did not intend to colonize Rwanda themselves, they sought to rule indirectly by appointing an elite class of indigenous inhabitants which could act as functionaries. Drawing on John Hanning Speke's Hamitic Theory of Races, and recognizing that the Tutsi held political power in Rwandan society, they chose the Tutsi to rule. This development further exacerbated the divide between Tutsi and Hutu both economically and politically; historians speculate that it is to be one of the root factors leading to the extreme hostility between the two groups.[ citations needed]

Following World War I, Rwanda became a protectorate of Belgium, whose colonial policy over the territory followed the German example and is considered especially influential in priming the genocide. In 1959, Belgium granted Rwanda self-government. Elections advanced the Hutu nationalist party Parmehutu (Parti du Mouvement de l'Emancipation Hutu), which worked to empower the Hutu majority, especially in the western part of the country. In the process, some 20,000 Tutsi were killed and an additional 200,000 fled to neighbouring countries. [ citations needed]

Entrenched Rwandan Racism

Some argue that the violence in the region is a result of the theories of race developed in Europe that also led to the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. These ideas were started by John Hanning Speke's initial speculations on African races. Unlike the other African states' mixed ethnic groups, Rwandans were considered by Speke and later racial theorists to be divided between sub-Saharan "Blacks" and the favored Hamites. Ostensibly the Tutsi were assigned the role of the "more noble" Hamites and Hutu as inferior Bantu.[ citations needed]

During the colonial period, the dominant Tutsis encouraged the racial speculations that justified their rule, but that policy poisoned Rwandan culture with racism that became a danger for the Tutsis once they lost power. The ingrained Rwandan racism was reversed when Rwanda gained independence and majority rule gave political power to the Hutus. The majority Hutus who had previously been oppressed by the Tutsis retained the same ingrained racist beliefs, but now came to view the Tutsis as "foreign invaders" rather than "true Rwandans". Similar ethnic and racial divisions in other parts of Northeastern Africa have led to similar violence.

Many Rwandans claim that there was little inter-ethnic rivalry until it was deliberately encouraged by the Juvénal Habyarimana government as a ploy to counter Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front's (RPF) largely Tutsi invasion on October 1, 1990.[ citations needed]


Psychologists have also attempted to explain the genocide that occurred in Rwanda. They have done this by using the available theories. Firstly, the agency theory proposed by Milgram could explain this with strong evidence of the experiments conducted by Milgram. The Charismatic Leadership Theory, Social Identity Theory and Authoritarianism Theory could also be used to explain it.

Prelude to the Genocide

Another source of mounting tensions in 1990 was the grumblings of the Tutsi diaspora in refugee camps ringing the nation, particularly from Uganda. Rwanda had been given independence before Uganda, and the early Tutsi outcasts saw history played out in 30 years of Uganda's history, from independence from Britain, to a fledgling democracy, and on to Idi Amin and successive military overthrows. Rwandans fought alongside Ugandans, where they had helped depose Milton Obote with Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army and saw his installation as president in January 1986.

The mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was formed in 1985 under Paul Kagame and saw an opportunity in their own country to demand recognition of their rights as Rwandans, including the right of return. On October 1, 1990 RPF forces invaded Rwanda from their base in neighbouring Uganda. The rebel force, composed primarily of Tutsis, blamed the government for failing to democratize and resolve the problems of some 500,000 Tutsi refugees living in diaspora around the world.

The Rwandan government portrayed the invasion as an attempt to bring the Tutsi ethnic group back into power. International reaction was ambiguous. The violence increased ethnic tensions as Hutus rallied around the President. Habyarimana himself reacted by immediately repressing Tutsis and Hutus who were perceived to be in league with Tutsi interests. Habyarimana justified these acts by proclaiming it was the intent of the Tutsis to restore a kind of Tutsi feudal system and thus to enslave the Hutu race.

Arusha Accords

The Arusha Accords were a set of five accords signed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the Government of Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania on August 4, 1993, ending the civil war. The United States and France orchestrated the talks, under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity. The accords stripped considerable power from the once all powerful president, then Juvénal Habyarimana. Most of the power was vested into the Transitional Broad Based Government (TBBG) that would include the RPF as well as the five political parties that had formed the coalition government, in place since April 1992, to govern until proper elections could be held.[ citations needed]

Of the 21 cabinet posts proposed in the new government, the former ruling party the Mouvement Républicain Nationale pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND) was given five posts, and the RPF received the same number. The major opposition party, the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR; aka Parmehutu), or the Democratic Republican Movement, was given four posts; the Parti Social Démocrate (PSD), or the Social Democratic Party (Rwanda), and the Parti Libéral (PL), or the Liberal Party (Rwanda), each got three portfolios; and the Parti Démocrate Chrétien (PDC), or the Christian Democratic Party (Rwanda), was given one.[ citations needed]

The Transitional National Assembly (TNA), the legislative branch of the transitional government, was open to all parties, including the RPF. The Hutu-extremist Committee for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), also controlled by the previous President Habyarimana, was strongly opposed to sharing power with the RPF, however, and refused to sign the accords. When at last it decided to agree to the terms, the accords were opposed by the RPF. The situation remained unchanged until the genocide.[ citations needed]

Preparations for the Genocide

During this period the rhetoric of Hutu nationalism escalated. Radio stations, particularly Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), owned by top government leaders, and newspapers, began a campaign of hate and fear. They broadcast and published material referring to the Tutsi as subhuman and making veiled calls for violence. Radical Hutu groups, organized and funded by members of the government, started to amass weapons and conduct training programs. Government leaders met in secret with youth group leaders, forming and arming militias called Interahamwe (meaning "Those who stand (or fight) together" in Kinyarwanda) and Impuzamugambi (meaning "Those who have the same (or a single) goal").[ citations needed]

There is ample evidence that the killing was well organized. and the evidence was presented at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). By the time the killing started, the militia in Rwanda was 30,000 strong — one militia member for every ten families — and organized nationwide, with representatives in every neighbourhood. Some militia members were able to acquire AK-47 assault rifles by completing requisition forms. Other weapons such as grenades required no paperwork and were widely distributed. Many members of the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were armed only with machetes, but these were some of the most effective killers.

According to Linda Melvern, in Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide and the International Community, convicted war criminal Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda revealed, in his testimony before the ICTR, that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings and that "one cabinet minister said she was personally in favour of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, she told ministers, all of Rwanda's problems would be over." In addition to Kambanda, the genocide's organizers included Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a retired army officer, and many top ranking government officials and members of the army, such as General Augustin Bizimungu (who is portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda). On the local level, the Genocide's planners included Burgomasters, or mayors, and members of the police.

Arms shipments and the Rwandan Genocide

Delivery from France

In the early morning of January 22, 1994, a DC-8 aircraft loaded with armaments from France, including 90 boxes of Belgian-made 60 mm mortars, was confiscated by UNAMIR at Kigali International Airport. The delivery was in violation of the cease-fire clauses of the Crushable Accords, which prohibited introduction of arms into the area during the transition period. General Dallaire put the arms under joint UNAMIR-Rwandan army guard. Formally recognizing this point, the French government argued that the delivery stemmed from an old contract and hence was technically legal. Dallaire was forced to give up control over the aircraft.

Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd (UK)

A UK company, Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd, was involved in arms supplies to the Hutu regime at least from June 1993 to mid-July 1994. Mil-Tec had been paid $4.8 million by the regime in return for invoices of $6.5 million for the arms sent. The manager of Mil-Tec, Anoop Vidyarthi, was described as a Kenyan Asian who owned a travel company in North London and was in business with Rakeesh Kumar Gupta. They both fled the UK shortly after the revelations.

Arms shipments by Mil-Tec

  • 6 June 1993 ($549,503 of ammunition from Tel Aviv to Kigali);
  • 17 - 18 April 1994 ($853,731 of ammunition from Tel Aviv to Gooma);
  • 22 - 25 April 1994 ($681,200 of ammunition and grenades from Tel Aviv to Goa);
  • 29 April - 3 May 1994 ($942,680 of ammunition, grenades, mortars and rifles from Tirane to Goa);
  • 9 May 1994 ($1,023,840 of rifles, ammunition, mortars and other items from Tirane to Goa);
  • 18 - 20 May 1994 ($1,074,549 of rifles, ammunition, mortars, Rocket propelled grenades and other items from Tirane to Goa);
  • 13 - 18 July 1994 ($753,645 of ammunition and rockets from Tirane to Kinshasa).

Catalyst for the Genocide: Initial assassinations

On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi, was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali. Both presidents were killed when the plane crashed.

Although the exact responsibility for these assassinations has not been established with certainty, one theory is that Paul Kagame, the leader of the RPF who later became President of Rwanda, ordered the plane to be shot down. According to Steven Edwards, in "'Explosive Leak on Rwanda Genocide," published in the National Post on 3 January 2000, initially, "UN investigators believed that Hutu extremists within Mr. Habyarimana's family circle had killed him," since, "at the time, he was involved in talks that aimed at sharing power with the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a mainly Tutsi rebel army in which Mr. Kagame was a military leader." But "just three senior UN officials" were given access to this "extremely sensitive . . . confidential report" obtained by the National Post, containing "explosive" claims that Habyarimana's assassination was actually carried out by members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front with foreign help:

Three Tutsi informants told UN investigators in 1997 that they were part of an elite strike team that assassinated the Hutu president in 1994, shedding new light on an event that triggered the genocide of at least 500,000 people in Rwanda . . . [and] that the killing of president Juvenal Habyarimana was carried out "with the assistance of a foreign government" under the overall command of Paul Kagame. . . . The informants told the investigators that the [Rwandan Patriotic] front decided to kill Mr. Habyarimana because the group was not pleased with the slow pace of the talks.

Specific allegations assigning responsibility for Habyarimana's assassination to Kagame are made by Lieutenant Abdul Ruzibiza, who, in his 2005 book, accuses Kagame of directly planning it in a meeting at RPF headquarters in Mulindi (Byumba, northern Rwanda) on March 31, 1994. (Cf.)

Others claim that the United States CIA was involved in Habyariman's assassination.

Despite unresolved uncertainty about the actual identities of its perpetrators, many observers view the dramatic airplane attack as a catalyst triggering the subsequent genocide. Rwandans interpreted it as an unambiguous signal: the ultimate killers knew that they were to begin murdering others; Tutsi and moderate Hutu understood that they would be attacked.[ citations needed] (The movie Hotel Rwanda dramatizes this phenomenon as a coded radio broadcast instructing Hutus to "cut the tall trees." The real-life hero, Paul Rusesabagina, claims in his autobiography that he indeed heard such a phrase over the radio on the morning of the first day of the genocide.)

On the nights of April 6 and 7 the staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Colonel Bagosora clashed verbally with the UNAMIR Force Commander General Dallaire, who pointed out the legal authority of the Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, to take the control of the situation as outlined in the Arusha Accords. Colonel Bagosora disputed the authority. General Dallaire decided to give an escort of UNAMIR personnel to Mrs. Uwilingiyimana to protect her overnight and to allow her to send a calming message on the radio the next morning. By then, the presidential guard occupied the radio station and Mrs. Uwilingiyimana had to cancel her speech. In the middle of the day, she was assassinated by the presidential guard. The ten Belgian UNAMIR soldiers sent to protect her were later found killed. In his book, Me Against My Brother, Scott Peterson describes the barbaric details of their murders:

Their Achilles tendons were cut so they couldn't run, and the Belgian soldiers — all of them privates — were castrated and died choking on their genitalia.

Other moderate officials who favored the Arusha Accords were quickly assassinated. Protected by UNAMIR, Faustin Twagiramungu escaped execution. Dallaire informs us about events from April 7th, the first day of the genocide:

I called the Force HQ and got through to [Ghanian Brigadier General] Henry [Anyidoho]. He had horrifying news. The UNAMIR-protected VIPS - Lando Ndasingwa [the head of the Parti libéral], Joseph Kavaruganda [,president of the constitutional court] and many other moderates had been abducted by the Presidential Guard and had been killed, along with their families [...] UNAMIR had been able to rescue Prime Minister Faustin, who was now at the Force HQ.


MRND, the ruling party of Rwanda from 1975 to 1994, under President Juvénal Habyarimana, has been implicated in organizing many aspects of the Genocide.[ citations needed] Military and Hutu militia groups began rounding up and killing all Tutsis they could capture as well as the political moderates irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds.[ citations needed] Large numbers of opposition politicians were also murdered. Many nations evacuated their nationals from Kigali and closed their embassies as violence escalated. National radio urged people to stay in their homes, and the government-funded station RTLM broadcast vitriolic attacks against Tutsis and Hutu moderates. Hundreds of roadblocks were set up by the militia in the capital Kigali and around the country. Lieutenant-General Dallaire and UNAMIR, escorting Tutsis in Kigali, were unable to do anything as Hutus kept escalating the violence and even started targeting, via RTLM, UNAMIR personnel and Lieutenant-General Dallaire.

The killing swiftly spread from Kigali to all corners of the country. Between April 6th and mid-July, a genocide that is estimated to have left between 800,000 to 1,071,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead at the hands of organized bands of militias, as reported by Helen Vesperini:

James Smith of Aegis Trust, a British NGO dedicated to the prevention of genocide, says finding an exact number is not the point: "What's important to remember is that there was a genocide. There was an attempt to eliminate Tutsis — men, women, and children — and to erase any memory of their existence."

One such massacre occurred at Nyarubuye. Ordinary citizens were called on by local officials and government-sponsored radio to kill their neighbors and those who refused to kill were often killed themselves. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself," said one Hutu, rationalizing an ambivalent mixture of regret, fear, and shame at being forced to kill Tutsis.

Most of the victims were killed in their villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia members mostly killed their victims by chopping them up with machetes, although some army units used rifles. In some towns the victims were forcibly crammed into churches and school buildings, where Hutu extremist gangs massacred them. In June about 3,000 Tutsis sought refuge in a Catholic church in Kivumu. Local Interahamwe then used bulldozers supplied by the local police to knock down the church building. People who tried to escape were hacked down with machetes.[ citations needed]


For the next couple of weeks, many questionable decisions were made by members of the United Nations Security Council (Report of The Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda; Statement of the Secretary-General on Receiving the Report [1999]).

UNAMIR's Force Commander Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire became aware of plans for the genocide in January of 1994. He sent a cable to the then head of UN peacekeeping, Kofi Annan, for authority to defend Rwandan civilians - many of whom had taken refuge in UN compounds under implicit and sometimes explicit promises of protection. Throughout January, February and March, he pleaded for reinforcements and logistical support. The UN Security Council repeatedly refused his pleas. Annan's faxed response had ordered Dallaire to defend only the UN's image of impartiality, forbidding him to protect desperate civilians waiting to die. Next, it detailed the withdrawal of UN troops, even while blood flowed and the assassins reigned, leaving 800,000 Rwandans to their fate.

Following the failed US efforts in Mogadishu, Somalia, the United States refused to provide requested material aid to Rwanda (Evidence of Inaction: A National Security Archive Briefing Book, ed. Ferroggiaro). France, China and Russia opposed involvement in what was seen as an "internal affair". Dallaire was directly "taken to task," in his words, for even suggesting that UNAMIR should raid Hutu militants' weapons caches, whose location had been disclosed to him by a government informant. The United Nations "failed" to respond adequately to Dallaire's urgent requests (Report of the Independent Inquiry; Statement). In the United States, President Bill Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright refused to take action (Evidence of Inaction). Only Belgium had asked for a strong UNAMIR mandate, but after the gruesome murder of the ten Belgian peacekeepers protecting the Prime Minister in early April, Belgium pulled out of the peacekeeping mission.[ citations needed]

The United Nations and its member states appeared largely detached from the realities on the ground (Report; Statement). In the midst of the crisis, Dallaire was instructed to focus UNAMIR on only evacuating foreign nationals from Rwanda, and the change in orders led Belgian peacekeepers to abandon a technical school filled with 2,000 refugees, while Hutu militants waited outside, drinking beer and chanting "Hutu Power." After the Belgians left, the militants entered the school and massacred those inside, including hundreds of children. Four days later, the Security Council voted to reduce UNAMIR to 260 men.[ citations needed]

The administrative head of UNAMIR, former Cameroonian foreign minister Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh,has been criticized for downplaying the significance of Dallaire's reports and for holding close ties to the Hutu militant elite.[ citations needed]

Following the withdrawal of the Belgian forces, General Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Canadian, Ghanaian and Dutch soldiers in urban areas and focused on providing areas of "safe control". His actions are credited with directly saving the lives of 20,000 Tutsis.[ citations needed]

The new Rwandan government, led by interim President Théodore Sindikubwabo, worked hard to minimize international criticism.[ citations needed] Rwanda at that time had a seat on the Security Council and its ambassador argued that the claims of genocide were exaggerated and that the government was doing all that it could to stop it. Representatives of the Rwandan Catholic Church, long associated with the radical Hutus in Rwanda, also used their links in Europe to reduce criticism. France, which felt the United States and United Kingdom would use the massacres to try to expand their influence in that Francophone part of Africa, also worked to prevent a foreign intervention.[ citations needed]

UNAMIR's Kigali sector commander, Belgian Col. Luc Marchal, reported to the BBC that one of the French planes supposedly participating in the evacuation operation arrived at 0345 hours on 9 April with several boxes of ammunition. The boxes, about 5 tons, were unloaded and transported by FAR vehicles to the Kanombe camp where the Rwandan Presidential Guard was quartered. The French government has categorically denied this shipment, saying that the planes carried only French military personnel and material for the evacuation.[ citations needed]

Finally, on April 29, 1994, the United Nations conceded that "acts of genocide may have been committed."[ citations needed] By that time, the Red Cross estimated that 500,000 Rwandans had been killed. The UN agreed to send 5,500 troops to Rwanda, most of whom were to be provided by African countries.[ citations needed] The UN also requested 50 armoured personnel carriers from the United States but for the transport alone they were charged 6,5 million USD by the American army. Deployment of these forces was delayed, however, due to arguments over their cost and other factors (Evidence of Inaction: A National Security Archive Briefing Book, ed. Ferroggiaro).

On June 22, with no sign of UN deployment taking place, the Security Council authorized French forces to land in Goma, Zaire on a humanitarian mission. They deployed throughout southwest Rwanda in an area they called "Zone Turquoise," quelling the genocide and stopping the fighting there, but often arriving in areas only after the Tutsi had been forced out or killed. Operation Turquoise is charged with aiding the Hutu army and fighting against the RPF. Due, purportedly, to confusion among French troops about what was actually going on, many Tutsi were massacred in French controlled areas.[ citations needed]

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) renewed invasion

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) battalion stationed in Kigali under the Arusha Accords came under attack immediately after the shooting down of the president's plane. The battalion fought its way out of Kigali and joined up with RPF units in the north.[ citations needed]

The RPF renewed its civil war against the Rwandan Hutu government when it received word that the genocidal massacres had begun. Its leader, Paul Kagame, directed RPF forces in neighboring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania to invade the country, battling the Hutu forces and Interahamwe militias who were committing the massacres. The resulting civil war raged concurrently with the genocide for two months.[ citations needed]

The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the genocide in July 1994, 100 days after it started. Approximately two million Hutu refugees, most of whom participated in the genocide and feared Tutsi retribution, fled to neighbouring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC]). Thousands of them died in epidemics of cholera and dysentery that swept the refugee camps. The Rwandan genocide and the resulting large numbers of refugees destabilized the regional balance of power along the Zairian border, resulting in the start of the First Congo War, which set the stage for the Second Congo War that continues to trouble the region. Battalions of Interahamwe continue to operate in eastern Congo, destabilizing the region and causing tension between Rwanda and the DRC.[ citations needed]

In March 2000, after removing Pasteur Bizimungu, Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda. On August 25, 2003, "he won a landslide victory in the first national elections since his government took power in 1994." Led by his government, Rwanda is still in the process of prosecuting thousands of genocide suspects in its national court system of justice and through Gacaca courts, a participatory justice system implemented in 2001.

Relief efforts

Refugee camp in Zaire, 1994
Refugee camp in Zaire, 1994

The United States which lost 19 soldiers in October, 1991 in Somalia was reluctant to involve itself in the "local" conflict in Rwanda (a decision which Clinton later came to regret). The United Nations, in the absence of any serious military aid from the United States, was forced to open its communication pathways wider than before and urge other countries to join the efforts. The United States agreed to support these efforts with finance and some equipment. Early in the relief process, American relief planes began to drop large food packages from the air in hopes of alleviating the suffering in the camps below. The opposite effect occurred, however, as people were slaughtered by members of mobs trying to reach the precious food. Due to the perils of such chaos in the refugee camps, the United States refused to bring its aid closer to the ground, and, as time went by, dysentery and cholera began to spread rapidly through the crowded refugee camps, ultimately killing tens of thousands. Soon, the problem was exacerbated as rain began to fall and many people contracted septic meningitis.[ citations needed]

By this point, France had established a field hospital at the area of Lake Kivu in an attempt to help the large numbers of refugees. Some of these refugees were Interahamwe leaders and members of the government who fled the country fearing retaliation from the RPF. To aid the ground forces, Israel conducted the largest medical mission in its history, and, although their supplies were not as abundant as those of the other forces, their all-volunteer force of military surgeons was composed both of specialists and sub-specialists, including well-known surgeons. The two units established a unique and constructive method of operation which relied on France's abundant medical supplies and Israel's medical expertise.[ citations needed]

In tandem with these two units, the Netherlands had sent a small contingent consisting mostly of medics and nurses. This force turned out to be beneficial for rehabilitation efforts and ambulatory care after patients left the French-Israeli medical quarters. CARE Deutschland assisted by supplying ambulances, and Merlin of Ireland assisted by supplying trucks and heavy equipment to distribute food and supplies to the refugee camps. Working together, these two units are credited with curbing the death toll in the area of Lake Kivu, near Goma, Zaire.[ citations needed]

After the victory of the RPF, the size of UNAMIR (henceforth called UNAMIR 2) was increased to its full strength, remaining in Rwanda until March 8, 1996.[ citations needed]

In October 1996, an uprising by the ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge people in eastern Zaire, marking the beginning of the First Congo War, led to a huge influx of refugees, resulting in the return of more than 600,000 to Rwanda during the last two weeks of November. This massive repatriation was followed at the end of December 1996 by the return of 500,000 more from Tanzania, again in a huge, spontaneous wave. The Interahamwe continues to operate in eastern DRC.[ citations needed]

Justice, reconciliation, reforms

With the return of the refugees, the government began the long-awaited genocide trials, which got off to an uncertain start in the closing days of 1996 and inched forward in 1997. In 2001, the government began implementing a participatory justice system, known as Gacaca, in order to address the enormous backlog of cases. Meanwhile, the United Nations set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, currently based in Arusha, Tanzania. The United Nations Tribunal has jurisdiction over high level members of the government and armed forces, while Rwanda is responsible for prosecuting lower level leaders and local people. Tensions have arisen between Rwanda and the United Nations over the use of the death penalty.[ citations needed]

Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms — including Rwanda's first ever local elections held in March 1999 — the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.[ citations needed]

Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire co-wrote a book, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (2003) describing his experiences during his months in Rwanda. As he reveals, after he returned to Canada, he suffered severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.[ citations needed] In 2000, he was hospitalized after being found under a park bench, intoxicated and suffering from a reaction to prescription anti-depressants. The story gained national headlines in Canada and sparked a fierce debate over the rules of engagement for UN Peacekeepers. In 2004, he testified at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Dallaire is considered a hero in Canada, whose prime minister appointed him to the Canadian Senate in 2005.

Poster of fugitives wanted for genocide in Rwanda
Poster of fugitives wanted for genocide in Rwanda

On March 31, 2005, the successor organization to the Interahamwe, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), finally condemned the genocide of 1994.[ citations needed]

In May 2006, the Paris Court of Appeal accepted six courtsuits deposed by victims of the genocide to magistrate Brigitte Reynaud.[ citations needed] The charges lifted against the French army during Operation Turquoise from June to August 1994 are of "complicity of genocide and/or complicity of crimes against humanity." The victims allege that French soldiers engaged in Operation Turquoise have helped Interahamwe militias in finding their victims, and have themselves carried out atrocities.

Charges of Revisionism

The context of the 1994 Rwandan genocide continues to be an important matter of historical debate. There have been frequent charges of revisionism. Suspicions about United Nations and French policies in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 and allegations that France supported the Hutus led to the creation of a French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda, which published its report on December 15, 1998. In particular, François-Xavier Verschave, former president of the French NGO Survie, which accused the French army of protecting the Hutus during the genocide, was instrumental in establishing this Parliamentary commission. To counter those allegations, there emerged a "double genocides" theory, accusing the Tutsis of engaging in a "counter-genocide" against the Hutus. This theory is promulgated in Black Furies, White Liars (2005), the controversial book by investigative journalist Pierre Péan. Jean-Pierre Chrétien, a historian whom Péan describes as an active member of the "pro-Tutsi lobby," criticizes Péan's "amazing revisionist passion" ("étonnante passion révisioniste"). Chrétien participated in a panel discussion on "Hate Media in Rwanda" during a 2004 symposium commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide entitled "The Media and the Rwandan Genocide," whose keynote speaker was Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire.

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