Rwandan Genocide Essay

2472 words - 10 pages

Rwanda has almost always been somewhat of a melting pot, much like other African nations. People of various ethnicities, occupations, and social classes lived in the country without much more trouble than the surrounding nations. Even so, much like other nations, Rwanda still had underlying issues beneath the surface that still had to be faced. Beginning on April 9th, 1994, the genocide had begun, leading to a systematic killing of over 800,000 Rwandans. For what reason were these people killed to begin with? Each of these people were killed for being either Tutsi, an upper-classed ethnic group in the nation, or for refusing to partake in the barbaric bloodletting. After the ...view middle of the document...

However, a Hutu could still become a “Tutsi” if he went up high enough on the social ladder, so if anything the separation was just a general statistic at best. By the time the late 19th century and early 20th century came along, after colonialists came into the area, a new policy was instilled which proclaimed that Tutsi were superior to Hutu, giving the Tutsi more privileges and better education than their Hutu counterparts (Twagilimana 22). After Belgium took control of Rwanda in 1918, it was decided that rather than allow Hutu to improve their living situation, they would be forced into a social class - “upper-classed” Tutsis or “lower-classed” Hutu – depending on their ethnicity (“Frontline: Rwanda Chronology”; Twagilimana 22). In addition, the Hutu were no longer allowed to rise in class, and were stuck in their position for life. Further exacerbating the already strained relationship of Hutu and Tutsi masses, between the 1920’s and 1930’s, Belgian officials decided that ethnicity cards, or “books,” as described by some individuals, would be issued to every citizen of Rwanda, identifying them as Hutu, Tutsi, or of another race (“Frontline: Rwanda Chronology”; Rusesabagina 23). This suppression of Hutu continued on until the 1950’s, when Hutus rebelled against a suppressing ruling-class that had oppressed them for so long. By the year 1962, the Hutu had finally taken control of the nation, causing thousands of Tutsi to flee to surrounding nations in order to escape suppression (Freeman 18; Overfield 446). With Hutus holding about “90 percent of open seats” in the national elections that year, it became clear that politically, the Hutu had become the majority. Still, the nation stayed peaceful throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, save for the occasional skirmish of murders now and then, but was still more or less tame in comparison to the great purges that would soon plague the country in 1994.
Eventually, tensions exploded in the nation of Rwanda. After the current president, Juvenal Habrayimana, and the Rwandese Patriotic Front had begrudgingly signed an agreement that would guarantee at least some equality in the government, highly patriotic Hutu were outraged, to say the least. This may have been the catalyst for the president’s assassination on April 6th, 1994, when he and many others were shot down by a missile fired at their airplane (Crisis in Rwanda: New Perspectives 4; Overfield 446). The situation was used as an opportunity to release the hateful, boiling tensions that had been building up until that point, and soon Hutu extremists were using the death of the president as an excuse to begin the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and Hutu moderates. Within a span of about three to four months, well over 800,000 people were brutally killed, at a rate of about five people per minute. (Rusesabagina xi). For over one hundred days, people were hacked apart not only by Hutu militia, but by everyday people...

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