The Roots of the Rwanda Genocide Go Back 40 YearsRoundup: Talking About History
Sudarsan Raghavan, in the Kansas City Star (April 2, 2004):
The origins of the massacre of more than three-quarters of a million people in Rwanda, most of them members of the Tutsi tribe, date back more than 40 years.
In 1959, the Hutus came to power in a bloodless revolution. For the next 35 years, the Tutsis were depicted as a despotic tribe that wanted to enslave Hutus. Meanwhile, Tutsis living in exile in neighboring Uganda were forming their own army and plotting to take power.
In 1990, the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, made up primarily of Tutsis, invaded Rwanda and began attacking Hutu leaders and institutions. In 1993, the Hutu government and the Tutsi rebels agreed to share power.
It wasn't until April 6, 1994, however, that Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, who'd ruled Rwanda since 1973, agreed in talks in Burundi to implement the pact. That evening, on its way back to Rwanda's capital, Kigali, Habyarimana's plane was shot down. It's still unclear whether Tutsi rebels or Hutus opposed to his concessions down the plane.
Hours later, the genocide began. Senior Hutu leaders used the downing of the plane as an excuse to exterminate Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
They organized and armed Hutu extremist militias called the Interahamwe with machetes, hoes, guns and grenades. Commands over the radio ordered them to"kill the Tutsi cockroaches."
The killing stopped only after the Rwandan Patriotic Front swept into Kigali. Some 2 million Hutus fled into neighboring Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, settling down in sprawling refugee camps run by Western aid agencies.
Today, Rwanda's government is led by former rebel leader Paul Kagame, who calls himself a Rwandan and downplays his Tutsi heritage. The government dominates most aspects of life, exerting tight control over the media, military and politics.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Tourism spot for Colonial Williamsburg shocks some New Yorkers during Super Bowl 50 for use of 9/11 attack footage
- We asked 6 political scientists if Bernie Sanders would have a shot in a general election
- The price of oil has plummeted and with it Russia’s finances
- Legal scholars at Harvard debate Cruz’s eligibility to serve as president
- Has one of Sally Hemings’s siblings been neglected by history unfairly?
- Retired historian George Dennison remains on the payroll at the U. of Montana while faculty are cut
- The Atlantic profiles exciting ways to teach history
- LDS Church has gone from 0 to 4 historians specializing in women’s history
- American Historical Association protests Turkey’s crackdown on historians and other academics who signed a a petition critical of the Turkish government
- Israeli historian Yair Auron lays out details of a massacre in 1948