The Rwandan Genocide was the systematic murder of the Rwanda's Tutsi minority and the moderates of its Hutu majority, in 1994. This was both the bloodiest period of the Rwandan Civil War and one of the worst genocides of the 1990s. With the preliminary implementation of the Arusha Accords, the Tutsi rebels and Hutu regime were able to agree to a cease-fire, and further negotiations were underway. The diplomatic efforts to end the conflict were at first thought to be successful, yet even with the MRND and RPF (political wing of the RPA) in talks, certain Hutu factions, like the CDR, were against any agreement for cooperation between the regime, and the rebels, to end Rwanda's ethnic and economic troubles and progress towards a stable nationhood. The genocide was primarily the action of two extremist Hutu militias, the Interahamwe (military wing of the MRND) and the Impuzamugambi (military wing of the CDR), against dissenters to their Hutu extremism. Over the course of about 100 days, from April 6 to mid-July, at least 800,000 Tutsis and thousands of Hutus were killed during the genocide. Some estimates put the death toll around the 800,000 and 1,000,000 marks.
With the genocide, and the resurgence in the civil war, Rwanda's conflict was thought by the United Nations to be too difficult and volatile for it to handle. Eventually, the Tutsi rebels successfully brought the country under their control and overthrew the Hutu regime. Hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees fled across the borders, mainly west to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The presence of the extreme Hutu factions on the border with Rwanda was the cause for the First and Second Congo Wars, with clashes between these groups and the RPF's RPA, now part of a coalition force, even until today. Rivalry between the Hutus and Tutsis is also central to the Burundian Civil War.
The UN's neglect of the Rwandan Genocide, under comprehensive media coverage, drew severe criticism. France, Belgium, and the United States in particular, received negative attention for their complacency towards the extreme Hutu regime's oppressions. Canada, Ghana, and the Netherlands, did continue to provide a force on the ground, under the command of Roméo Dallaire of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), but this mission had little actual power without support from the UN Security Council. Despite specific demands from UNAMIR's commanders in Rwanda, before and throughout the genocide, its requests for authorization to intervene were refused, and its capacity was even reduced.
In the fifteenth century the Tutsis were the rulers of most of today's Rwanda, with some Hutus among the nobility. Tutsis were a minority of the population, mostly herders, and the majority Hutus were mostly croppers.
When the kings, known as Mwamis, began to centralize their administrations, they distributed land among individuals rather than allowing it to be held by the hereditary chieftains, who were mainly Hutu. Unsurprisingly, most of the chiefs appointed by the Mwamis were Tutsi. The redistribution of land, between 1860 and 1895, under Mwami Rwabugiri, resulted in Tutsi chiefs demanding manual labor in return for the right of Hutus to occupy their property. This system of patronage left Hutus in a serf-like status with Tutsi chiefs as their feudal masters.[citations needed]
With Mwami Rwabugiri on the throne, Rwanda came on expansionist state. Its rulers did not bother to assess the ethnic identities of conquered peoples brought under their sway, simply labeling all of them “Hutu”. The “Hutu” identity, consequently, was to be a trans-ethnic one. Eventually, “Tutsi” and “Hutu” were seen to be economic distinctions, rather than particularly ethnic. In fact, there was social mobility between the Tutsis and Hutus, on the basis of hierachial status. One could kwihutura, or lose “Hutuness”, with the accumulation of wealth. Conversely, a Tutsi bereft of...
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