Rwanda: Civil War or Genocide?

Topics: Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda, Hutu Pages: 8 (3524 words) Published: April 28, 2015
R.J. Malson
Introduction to Historical Methods
Rwanda: Was the Genocide a part of the civil war?
Throughout the 19th century, Rwanda was a hotbed for violence and oppression. Rwanda had been the home of oppression throughout most of its history, the center of the issues revolving around the Hutu and the Tutsi. The Hutu make up the majority in Rwanda while the Tutsi make up the minority.1 Ever since, these two groups started inhabiting the same area, they have struggled for power. Initially it was the Tutsi, then the Hutu, and now the Tutsi again. Amidst this struggle for power came the Rwandan Civil War and the Rwandan Genocide. There are many opinions on the war and the following genocide. Some believe that the genocide was separate from the war and had no real relation to the war. Some say that the war never ended and the genocide was just an extension of the war. Some, including myself, believe that the genocide was not an extension of the civil war but it was another event that was mostly caused by the war and created tension for the fighting to continue. Would there have been genocide without the civil war? If there was a grey area on the subject, this idea would be it. The is no telling which one of the previous theories is correct, but the one certainty is that the Rwandan Genocide was a brutally disturbing act of violence and one of the darkest times in human history. The Rwandan Civil War took place in the early and mid-1990’s in Rwanda, Africa. The civil war was the result of many years of tension between the Tutsi and Hutu people. The Tutsi and Hutu people inhabited Rwanda decades ago. There are a few different ideas on how the Hutus and Tutsi came to Rwanda. One idea suggests that the Hutus migrated to the region and then later the Tutsi migrated. This theory also states that the Tutsi and Hutu were from a different racial background.2 The more recent theory is that all people of Rwanda came from the same racial group known as the Banyawanda.3 The Banyawanda group consists of the Twa, Tutsi, and Hutu which are all the groups that inhabit Rwanda. Moving along in history we see that the Hutu make up the majority yet until the mid to late 19th century, the Tutsi were the wealthy ones in the country. The Tutsi were the ones who owned the cattle and owning the cattle meant that you were wealthy and had power.4 The Tutsi used the cattle as a way to keep the Hutu down.5 The Hutu majority ended up being the peasant masses under the powerful Tutsi minority. This idea of Tutsi dominance continued into the Colonial era when the powers of Europe were grabbing up land in Africa. The Tutsi were seen as the more civilized and there for were the ones who were entrusted with power under the colonial rule.6 Changes started in the 1950’s and 60’s with the Hutu pushing for equality in the country. By the time the 1950’s came around there was a lot of uneasiness around the inequality of the Hutus and the Tutsi. In the early 1950 it had seemed that there were breakthroughs for equality, but even when there were supposed to be councils to handle the issues, the Tutsi used their power to nominate the members of the councils.7 The major push from the Hutus came after WWII when the Catholic Church started working to empower the unprivileged Hutu.8 The Tutsi leadership could sense the rising Hutu influence. Starting in the late 50’s, violence had started to break out in the form of the Rwandan Revolution. The violence had begun when Hutu sub-chief, Dominique Mbonyumutwa, was attacked by pro-Tutsi supporters.9 The Hutu were quick to retaliate by attacking Tutsi civilians. The Tutsi tried to fight back but by 1960, the Hutu had full backing of the Belgian Government.10 The Belgian government replaced most of the Tutsi leadership with the Hutu; many of the Tutsi fled the country and lived as refugees in the surrounding areas. The Tutsi attempted to come back into the country but there was continued violence against them that was not...

Bibliography: Adeline, Survivor Testimonies, 2009, Accessed on https://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/rwanda/testimonies/pdf/59%20-%20Adeline%202009.pdf
Chalk, Frank
Kapuscinski, Ryszard. "What 's this Hutu Tutsi thing?." The ideas around Hutu and Tutsi have played a big part in Rwanda 's history.. http://www.rwandanstories.org/origins/hutu_and_tutsi.html (accessed March 10, 2014).
Ponthus, Julien. "Rwandan convicted of killing Belgian peacekeepers." Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/07/04/us-rwanda-genocide-belgium-idUSL0469900520070704 (accessed March 10, 2014).
"Quotes: Rwandan Genocide." About.com African History. http://africanhistory.about.com/od/rwanda/p/qts_Genocide1.htm (accessed March 17, 2014).
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