Ethnic Conflict and International Security

Topics: Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda, Hutu Pages: 6 (1704 words) Published: February 22, 2011

Within the borders of most of states there exist numerous ethnic, national, racial, linguistic or cultural groups. In other words, the majority of states are composed of more than one ethnic group. Sometimes these groups are not accepted as full members of this state or the nation, which it purports to be or presented, or who actually excluded from it. In such circumstance number of ethnic groups demands more rights and recognition that leads in many cases to ethnic conflict If not checked, ethnic conflicts are contagious and can spread quickly across borders like cancer cells.


Ethnic groups are defined as a community of people who share cultural and linguistic characteristics including history, tradition, myth, and origin. Scholars have been trying to develop a theoretical approach to ethnicity and ethnic conflict for a long time. Some, like Donald Horowitz, Ted Gurr, Donald Rothschild and Edward Azar, agree that the ethnic conflicts experienced today especially in Africa are deep rooted. These conflicts over race, religion, language and identity have become so complex that they are difficult to resolve or manage. Ethnicity has a strong influence on one's status in a community. Ethnic conflicts are therefore often caused by an attempt to secure more power or access more resources.


Several factors have been identified as the major causes of ethnic conflict, these are: Economic factors: has been identified as one of the major causes of conflict. Theorists believe that competition for scarce resources is a common factor in almost all ethnic conflicts especially in Africa. Psychology: is another major cause of ethnic conflict and is the fear and insecurity of ethnic groups during transition. It has been opined that extremists build upon these fears to polarize the society. Additionally, memories of past traumas magnify these anxieties. These interactions produce a toxic brew of distrust and suspicion that leads to ethnic violence.


Background of the violence
For centuries, the Tutsi monarchy had controlled most of the power in Rwanda. The monarchy continued under colonial rule. There have been always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown substantially since the colonial period. When the Belgian colonists arrived in 1916, they produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity. The Belgians considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea, and for the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than their neighbours. Resentment among the Hutus gradually built up, culminating in a series of riots in 1959. When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place, the Hutu overthrew the monarchy and established the Republic headed by Grégoire Kayibanda. His regime persecuted the Tutsi in turn; especially those previously in power, and many of the most educated fled the country for refuge in Uganda and other areas. General Juvénal Habyarimana, also ethnic Hutu, seized power in a coup in 1973, killing Kayibanda and promising progress.

In neighboring Burundi, two episodes of mass violence had taken place since the country’s independence in 1962: the army's mass killings of Hutu in 1972, which was considered a Tutsi-initiated genocide because the ethnic group had controlled the government army.[7] In 1994, the Hutu population arose and killed many Tutsi in Burundi.

Before the Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 850,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began...
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