Genocide in Rwanda
Genocide does not have one particular source; rather it seems to occur when many social psychological variables pile up and produces a catastrophe. The Rwandan Genocide is no exception to this. Many variables contributed to the horrifying events that took place in Rwanda such as the history and culture, ecological resource scarcity, the role of the elite and powerful, as well as the ordinary people who participated and stood by as killings took place. Rwanda Genocide was a premeditated, systematic and state sponsored genocide with the aim of eliminating those who were ethnically identifiable as Tutsi (Klinghoffer, 1998). Between 500,000 and 800,000 people were killed in a period of 100 days, with around 77 percent of the population registered as Tutsi being murdered (Eltringham, 2004). People’s identity and view of the world is often shaped by the culture lived in and the history that surrounds that culture. Therefore when examining the variables involved that led to the Rwandan Genocide, it is important to consider the history and culture of Rwanda. Throughout the history of Rwanda, there is a continuous distinction between the Hutu and Tutsi, with shifts in power resulting in the discrimination of one tribe and the favouritism of the other. Under the reign of Tutsi King Rwabugiri (1860-1895), ethnic differences were established when King Rwabugiri implemented a system in which, land was given in return for labor. However, this system only applied to Hutu farmers and exempted Tutsi farmers. During the German colonisation (1899-1916) and later the Belgian trusteeship (1916-1961), the Tutsi were also favored and viewed as superior. The Belgians increased the emphasis on the distinction of ethnic identity by issuing cards bearing the nationality designations of Rwandans. The occupation by both Germany and Belgium contributed to an ethnic jealousy in Rwanda through superior treatment of the Tutsi (O’Halloran, 1995). The general decolonisation in Africa led to the Hutu revolution (1959-1961) in which Rwanda underwent the transition from a Tutsi dominated monarchy to a Hutu led independent republic, which resulted in tens of thousands of Tutsi fleeing into exile (Eriksson, 1996). Many people blame the Rwandan Genocide on the desire of Rwanda’s elite to remain powerful. While Rwanda was in an economic crisis, the government maintained its expenditure pattern by increased borrowing and increasing Rwanda’s foreign debt, thus providing an example of the Rwanda’s elite trying to maintain wealth and power. There were several variables that threatened the power and the regime of President Habyarimana and his inner circle known as the Akazu including, the economic crisis, financial structural adjustment, internal political discontent, the PRF invasion, and the international pressure for democratisation and the negotiation of power sharing with the RPF. The government was being threatened by so many variables that it resorted to using ethnic hatred as a tool to unite the majority of the population around the government, fight the PRF, and make elections impossible (Uvin, 1998). The Akazu aimed to accelerate racist prejudice in Rwanda, first by spreading the threat of the RPF to all Tutsi. This was achieved by various staged shootings by the army on the capital Kigali, which were blamed on the Tutsi (Uvin, 1998). Hate propaganda was also used to spread fear and hate against the Tutsi. This propaganda was financed by Akazu members and was in various different mediums including the state radio station, which depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda. Also during this period, a variety of extremist political parties were formed, preaching hatred and violence, and Rwanda became more militarised with an increase in army size from 5,000 to 40,000. As seen in the documentary Ghosts of Rwanda, the Prime Minister during the genocide, Jean Kambanda, was encouraging everybody to carry a gun, thus encouraging the violence that was...
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