THE IDEOLOGICAL BLUEPRINT OF GENOCIDE:
COMPARISON BETWEEN THE HOLOCAUST AND THE
The Oxford dictionary defines ‘ideology’ as “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy”. The definition emphasizes the role of ideology as the basis of economic or political policy. But a closer look at the twentieth century will reveal instances where ideology has played an even more significant role. Genocide. It makes one wonder what kind of a system of ideas and ideals can prompt man to kill man? What kind of situations lead to the massive belief in ideology resulting in atrocities of the kind witnessed during the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda? While on the outset, both the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda may seem to be manifestations of the same basic principle of mass murder, it would be a crime to dismiss them as such. This paper aims to shed light on some common themes at play in the ideologies of both the genocides and seeks to provide a comparative study of ideology in both contexts.
The Genocide in Rwanda
In the beginning of the 20th century, Rwanda was a part of East Africa under German control. After World War I, it was passed on to the Belgians who controlled the country from 1924 to 1962. The demographic composition of Rwanda basically consists of three groups: the Hutu majority followed by the Tutsi and the Twa. A history of discrimination resulted in the Tutsi being receivers of benefits and privileges leaving the Hutu feeling more than oppressed. This built up anger and discontent exploded in November 1959, where a revolt by the Hutu majority dethroned the then King Kigri V and resulted in a series of ethnic clashes. As a result, thousands of Tutsi’s were either killed or forced to flee from Rwanda. Subsequently, Rwanda was decolonized and declared independent in 1962 with Gregoire Kayibanda as it’s democratically
elected president. In 1973, a coup lead by Major Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, overthrew Kayibanda and formed a single party dictatorship. The pro Hutu regime took a series of measures to suppress the Tutsi resulting in massive numbers of Tutsi fleeing to neighboring African states of Burundi , Zaire and Uganda.
The Tutsi refugees in Uganda along with some Rwandan Hutus established the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and launched a series of assaults into Rwanda, most of which were unsuccessful. In retaliation, Habyarimana heightened the repression against the Tutsis in Rwanda. From 1990 to 1992, Hutu ultra-nationalists killed an estimated 2,000 Tutsi. Faced with international pressure, Habyarimana signed the Arusha accords with the RPF in 1993 that allowed for the return of the Tutsi refugees in Rwanda. This was met with intense internal opposition from the elitist Hutus in positions of power. On April 6, 1994, Habyarimana’s presidential plane was struck by a missile and all the members on board were killed. Although the actual identity of the assassins has not yet been determined, the ruling Hutus claimed this to be the doing of Tutsi extremists. In a knee jerk reaction, local unorganized Hutu militia, called the Interahamwe, took to the streets, setting up road blocks targeting Tutsi civilians and human rights activists. The movement spread and within a period of only three months over 750,000 Tutsi and between10,000 to 30,000 Hutu, or 11 per cent of the total population, were killed and about two million people were uprooted within Rwanda. The genocide was brought to an end when the RPF defeated the Hutu militia and declared a cease fire on July 16 1994. The Ideology
The Hutu elite and the main perpetrators of the genocide used the radio, newspapers and the government machinery to serve as effective networks of spreading false propaganda, portraying
Hutus as the victims of Tutsi domination in order to incite the civilians to rise against their Tutsi neighbors and work...
Bibliography: International Federation of Human Rights, 1999
Rwanda (1995), pp. 44-47
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