Genocide is defined as the systematickilling of all of the people from anational, ethnic, or religious group, or anattempt to do this. It is also called ethnic-cleaning.
Can you think of any other times inhistory where genocide has takenplace?
The extermination of more than 10 millionNative Americans in North America The Holocaust Darfur and the Sudan
Rwanda is a country in Africa that had apopulation of around 7 million people in1994 (currently 309 million people in theU. S.). The people were comprised of 3 maingroups: the Hutu (85%), the Tutsis(14%),and the Twa (1%).
It had been previously colonized byGermany. Once Germany signed the Treaty ofVersailles, control of Belgium went toBelgium. FACT CHECK: Which war did the Treatyof Versailles end?
The Hutus and the Tutsis speak the samelanguage. They embrace the same culturalpractices. The ethnic groups were turned into aclass system under the Belgians in 1918.
Both the Germans and the Belgiansdeveloped a class system in Rwanda(one group received better treatmentthan another). Both countries favored the Tutsis over theHutu. Belgium took things a step further bycreating ethnic identity cards for them tocarry so people would know if they wereHutu or Tutsi.
The Tutsis were treated as if they were farmore superior than the Hutus. They were given better jobs, placed inofficial positions, and offered Western-styled education. The Tutsis eventually began to seethemselves as “better” than the Hutus.
Hutu groups began to rebel against boththe Belgians and the Tutsis. Belgian troops were forced to withdrawfrom Rwanda in 1962. Tutsis, knowing that their protectionwould be gone with the Belgians, Tutsicitizens fled Rwanda by the thousands.
By 1960, more than half of the Tutsipopulation had been forced to flee. By 1973, the Hutu began purging theTutsis from local universities. There wasan ethnic quota put on hiring. Tutsisweren’t allowed to have more than 9%of the available jobs.
Widespread killings of Tutsi citizens beganagain. Politicians and journalists who wereopposed to the killings were also singledout. The fighting between the two groupscontinued throughout the 70s and the 80s. In 1993, the current Hutu president decidedto sign a peace agreement between thetwo groups.
The United Nations sent in troops to helpthe Hutu president coordinate thepeace agreement between the Hutusand the Tutsi rebels. Instead of the Hutu presidentimmediately signing the resolution, hestalled on it. This heightened tensions between thetwo groups and the massacres beganagain.
Hutu extremist groups began to use theradio to call for the annihilation of all of theTutsis in Rwanda. The extremists informedthe people that they would use a codewhen it was time to begin eliminating them.The code would be “cut the tall trees”. Various human rights groups began to begthe international community to intervene.
On April 6, 1994, the plane that wascarrying the Hutu president was shotdown. Hutu rebels immediately blamedthe Tutsis. The Rwandan Armed Forces went houseto house killing Tutsis. They also killedpoliticians that they believed had“tricked” the president into acceptingthe idea of a peace agreement.
They wiped out entire neighborhoods ata time. It is estimated that at least 200,000people participated in the violenceagainst the Tutsis. Hutus that chose not to participate in themass killings were killed themselves. Tutsi women were captured and brutallyassaulted at the hands of Tutsi rebels.
Soldiers from the United Nationsdesperately wanted to help the Tutsis,but they had only been given orders to“monitor” the situation. After repeated requests for permission tointervene were denied, the soldiersaccepted their fate and watched idly ashundreds of thousands of Tutsi citizenswere killed.
Belgian soldiers had been assigned toprotect the Hutu prime minister since hewas seen as “moderate”. Hutu rebels killed the prime minister and theBelgian troops. They were tortured, shotand hacked to death with machetes. Instead of sending in more troops, theUnited Nations decided to cut the numberof troops stationed in Rwanda (the troopswere reduced from 2500 to 250).
24 days later(April 30, 1994), the UnitedNations Security Counsel met to discussthe situation in Rwanda. They condemned the acts of the Hutumilitia, but they were very careful not touse the word “genocide” in theirmeeting. Had they described the situation as“genocide”, they would have beenforced to act.
Had the word “genocide” actually beenused, the Security Counsel would havehad a legal obligation to “prevent andpunish” those committing the crimes. Thousands of Rwandans were able toflee to nearby countries, but hundreds ofthousands continued to be slaughtered.
17 days later (May 17, 1994), the UnitedNations makes the decision to send in6800 troops. Troops were not immediately sent inbecause of infighting between theUnited States and the other members ofthe U. N. over who was going to pay forthe troops and the equipment.
The U. N. dispatched French soldiers(instead of an international police force)into Rwanda to establish Refugee campsand “safe areas” for the fleeing Tutsis. Killings continue and eventually spreadto the “safe” areas.
June 22, 1994, more than two monthsafter the killings began, the United Statesfinally uses the word“GENOCIDE”. Ethiopian troops are dispatched. Aninternational police force is still not sentin. The killings continue.
4 months later in November, the UnitedNations appoints an international courtand gives them power to prosecuteanyone suspected of being involved ingenocide. It would be a year beforethey would issue their first indictments. Meanwhile, the West joined togetherand pledged to send $600 million to helpaid the Rwandans.
September 20, 1995, Pope John Paul IItraveled to Africa and pleaded forpeace in Rwanda. In December 1996, trials finally began forHutus that were involved in the 1994genocide. In December 1999, a Hutu militia leaderwas found guilty for his role in the 1994murders.