The Rwandan Genocide: a Mass Killing Event

The Rwandan Genocide was the mass killings of between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsi people of Rwanda by the ethnic Hutus from April to July 1994. In rwanda, two classes existed, the Tutsi, of higher status, and the Hutus. When Germany colonized Africa, this divide became greater. In the decolonization, the Hutu took over many political placements as they were the majority population. Hatred grew further between the two groups, and rebel groups of Tutsis formed. When the Hutu president Habyarimana was shot down in a plane crash, the Hutu blamed the Tutsi people and began violent campaigns of death squads and militias. These death squads could have been prevented if the UN had a larger role with it’s military. The 2,500 men sent by the UN was not enough to control a population of 5 and a half million and a Hutu force strong enough to kill 800,000 tutsi in 100 days.

In the culture of Rwanda, there are two social groups; the Hutu and the Tutsi. The two groups existed together for hundreds of years. Despite having many similarities, the Tutsi people were considered of higher rank. “Tutsis held the highest social status, but a Hutu could advance to the status of a Tutsi. The general population intermarried and lived in ethnically mixed communities. The two groups fought in the same army and shared the same religion, language, and political culture. Although there is no biological evidence of difference among the races, many Rwandans perceive physical distinctions between the Tutsi and Hutu. Tutsi are thought to be tall, with thin lips and noses; Hutu are thought to be shorter and broader, with thin lips and flat noses.” (rwandagenocide). When Germany colonized Rwanda in 1899, they made this distinction more apparent. High-ranking positions were given to the Tutsi class. This created and even larger divide between the two classes. In the decolonization of wanda, this divide turned into prejudice. The Hutu, having the majority of the population, took over in elections. These Hutu leaders began using their governmental powers to persecute the Tutsi groups. Rebel groups of deported tutsis in the congo began to form. Groups like the Rwandan Patriotic Front did attacks on government buildings in rwanda and terrorist raids. In 1994, the president of rwanda took a flight to namibia for peace talks with the leader of burundi. This plane was shot down by surface-to-air-missiles. The hutu populace blamed the tutsi rebels and the tutsi populace. The hutu mayors were pressured into taking action and began sending mobile killing squads and militias to genocide the tutsi populace. The attacks first began with death lists being made of tutsi cabinet members and assassinations taking place.

The UN is a predominant force in handling world situations and crises. It is a broker for peace in the world, made up of other nations. Such a powerful force should be able to stop a crisis like this. But it was barely able to do anything, as this was a situation far beyond diplomatic control.  Military action was needed, and the UN only sent 2,500 troops. 2,500 troops to keep the peace in a country with a population of 6 million and a force that can kill 800,000 in 100 days. “United Nations – A report assessing United Nations involvement in Rwanda said on its release Thursday that the UN and its member states failed Rwanda in deplorable ways in 1994, ignoring evidence that a genocide was planned, refusing to act once it was under way and finally abandoning the Rwandan people when they most needed protection.”(Winfield).

the genocide ended in july 1994 when tutsi rebel groups moved in and were able to overthrow the government. Many of both hutu and tutsi people fled in the fighting. A lot of the problems that arose from the rwandan genocide like border conflicts, refugees to other african countries among other things helped lead to the first congo war. The country of rwanda today is making progress in it’s reconciliation and reconstruction. The economy of the country is doing very well, with a steady flow and progression. “Rwanda’s economy proved surprisingly resilient in the face of the global economic downturn of 2008 and 2009. Government figures released in 2009 showed that agricultural production in 2008 leaped by 15 percent and that tourism increased by 30 percent between 2007 and 2008. Overall, Rwanda’s economy grew by an impressive 11.2 percent in 2008, even as much of the world plunged into recession. Drastically improved agricultural output in Rwanda has also led to much better nutrition for the country’s populace.” (rwandagenocide).

The genocide in rwanda was 100 days from april 7 to july in 1994. In just 100 days, 800,000 tutsi people were killed, and 2 million refugees would flee to the congo. The instability from this region would lead to two of the most deadly conflicts of the late 20th century, the rwandan genocide and the first congo war. These conflicts could have been prevented if the UN had a larger role with it’s military. The UN was only able to send 2,500 men to rwanda to stop a conflict that would lead to 800,000 dead in just 100 days.

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