Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan Genocide

The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days (from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6) through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.[1] Estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500,000 and 1,000,000,[2] or as much as 20% of the country's total population. It was the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959–62 and overthrown the Tutsi monarchy.[3]

In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began the Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone Africa and France,[4][5] and the RPF, with support from Uganda. This exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country. In response, many Hutu gravitated toward the Hutu Power ideology, with the prompting of state-controlled and independent Rwandan media.

As an ideology, Hutu Power asserted that the Tutsi intended to enslave the Hutu and must be resisted at all costs. Continuing ethnic strife resulted in the rebels' displacing large numbers of Hutu in the north, plus periodic localized Hutu killings of Tutsi in the south. International pressure on the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993. He began to implement the Arusha Accords.

The assassination of Habyarimana in April 1994 set off a violent reaction, during which Hutu groups conducted mass killings of Tutsis (and also pro-peace Hutus, who were portrayed as "traitors" and "collaborationists"). This genocide had been planned by members of the Hutu power group known as the Akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government; the genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by local military and civil officials and mass media. Alongside the military, primary responsibility for the killings themselves rests with two Hutu militias that had been organized for this purpose by political parties: the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, although once the genocide was underway a great number of Hutu civilians took part in the murders.

It was the end of the peace agreement. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, defeating the army and seizing control of the country.



For over 20 years prior to German and then Belgian colonization, a Tutsi monarchy had controlled most of Rwanda. This monarchy continued under colonial rule. Past practices remained part of the culture of Rwanda: e.g., King Rwabugiri (1853–1895) instituted the hated corvée labor, which targeted mainly the majority Hutu. In addition, he elevated the use of violence as standard practice against domestic and external foes.[6]

During the 1950s, the Hutu majority became more restive. In 1957, the Hutu Emancipation Movement (Parmehutu) published the "Hutu Manifesto" (sometimes called "Bahutu Manifesto"). It alleged that the Tutsi minority held a monopoly of power in Rwanda. By 1962, the Hutu overthrew the monarchy and established a republic headed by president Grégoire Kayibanda. His regime persecuted the Tutsi, especially those previously in power, and many of the most educated fled the country for refuge in Uganda and other countries. Hutu general Juvénal Habyarimana seized power in a coup in 1973, killing Kayibanda and promising progress.

Belgian colonialism played a major role in establishing the divide between the Tutsi and Hutu peoples. While ethnic groups loosely existed before colonialism, the effects were exacerbated by Belgian rule.[7] They introduced separate ID cards for the two tribes.[8] When Belgian rule ended, most of the land and power were in the hands of Tutsi while the Hutu were relegated to positions of forced laborers, or Akazi. The colonialist period created these ethnicities that came to hate each other over time through systematized inequality and a struggle for power. Where there may not have been an ethnic divide before, colonialists created cultures to perpetuate their control over the colonies.[7]

In neighboring Burundi, two episodes of mass violence had taken place since the country’s independence in 1962: the army's mass killings of Hutu in 1972, which was considered a Tutsi-initiated genocide because the ethnic group had controlled the government army.[9] In 1994, the Hutu population arose and killed many Tutsi in Burundi.

Civil war

The Tutsi refugee diaspora was a coherent political and military organization by the late 1980s. Large numbers of Tutsi refugees in Uganda had joined the victorious rebel National Resistance Movement during the Ugandan Bush War and created a separate movement. Some 6,000 Tutsi refugee warriors invaded Rwanda to try to regain power, threatening the gains of the Hutu since independence and their revolutionary ideals.[6]

The journal Kangura, a Hutu response to the Tutsi journal Kanguka, active from 1990 to 1993, was instrumental in incitement of Hutu disdain for Tutsis,[10] on the basis of their ethnicity rather than their previous economic advantages. Hassan Ngeze, founder and editor of Kangura, published the widely read Hutu Ten Commandments, which called for the formal installment of Hutu Power ideology in schools and the establishment of an exclusively Hutu army. Among the commandments was the dictum, "The Hutu should stop having mercy on the Tutsi."

Tanzania (with the support of the West) brokered peace talks. In August 1993, the rebels and the Government of Rwanda signed the Arusha Accords peace treaty to end the civil war. The accords rolled back the authoritarian power of President Juvénal Habyarimana, vesting authority in the Transitional Broad Based Government (TBBG). The TBBG would include the RPF as well as the six political parties that had formed the coalition government, in place since April 1992, to govern until proper elections could be held. The Transitional National Assembly (TNA), the legislative branch of the transitional government, was open to all parties, including the RPF.

The extremist Hutu Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), nominally controlled by President Habyarimana, was strongly opposed to sharing power with the RPF and refused to sign the accords. When at last it agreed to the terms, the RPF opposed the accords in turn.[citation needed] United Nations peacekeepers were deployed to patrol ceasefire and assist in demilitarization and demobilization. A March 1993 report found that 10,000 Tutsi had been detained and 2,000 murdered since the RPF's 1990 invasion. In August 1993, Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, commander of the UN forces, made a reconnaissance trip to evaluate the situation and requested 5,000 troops; he was given 2,548 military personnel and 60 civilian police.[11] He at first saw the situation as a standard peacekeeping mission.

Preparations for the genocide

The killing was well organized by the government.[12] When it started, the Rwandan militia numbered around 30,000, or one militia member for every ten families. It was organized nationwide, with representatives in every neighborhood. Some militia members were able to acquire AK-47 assault rifles by completing requisition forms. Other weapons, such as grenades, required no paperwork and were widely distributed by the government. Many members of the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were armed only with machetes. Even after the 1993 peace agreement signed in Arusha, businessmen close to General Habyarimana imported 581,000 machetes for Hutu use in killing Tutsi, because machetes were cheaper than guns.[13]

Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda revealed in his testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings and that " cabinet minister said she was personally in favor of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, she told ministers, all of Rwanda's problems would be over."[14] In addition to Kambanda, the genocide's organizers included Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a retired army officer, and many top-ranking government officials and members of the army, such as General Augustin Bizimungu. On the local level, the genocide's planners included Burgomasters, or mayors, and members of the police.

Hutus and Tutsis were forced to use ID cards which specified an ethnic group. These cards served as symbols that the Interahamwe could check via the threat of force.[15] Skin color was a general physical trait that was typically used in "ethnic" identification. The lighter-colored Rwandans were typically Tutsi, the minority group, while the darker-skinned Rwandans were typically Hutu, the majority group in Rwanda. In many cases, Tutsi individuals were separated from the general population and sometimes forced to be Hutu slaves. Tutsi women were often referred to as "gypsies" and frequently fell victim to sexual violence.

Government leaders communicated with figures among the population to form and arm militias called Interahamwe, "those who stand (fight, kill) together", and Impuzamugambi, "those who have the same (or a single) goal". These groups, particularly their youth wings, were responsible for much of the violence.[16]

Family ties and relationships were manipulated by the Rwandan government as well as the Rwandan Armed Forces to create killing groups, or Interahamwe, throughout Kigali and more rural areas. Without these killing groups, the genocide would not have been nearly as effective and gruesome.[17] In her article on citizen participation in the genocide, Lee Ann Fujii argues that the Interhamwe formed not from hatred for Tutsi or the Rwandan Patriotic Front, but from "social dynamics that sometimes took precedence over ethnic considerations"[18]

Media propaganda

According to recent commentators, the news media played a crucial role in the genocide; local print and radio media fueled the killings while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued events on the ground.[19] The print media in Rwanda is believed to have started hate speech against Tutsis, which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators, anti-Tutsi hate speech "...became so systemic as to seem the norm." The state-owned newspaper Kangura had a central role, starting an anti-Tutsi and anti-RPF campaign in October 1990. In the ongoing International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the individuals behind Kangura have been accused of producing leaflets in 1992 picturing a machete and asking "What shall we do to complete the social revolution of 1959?" – a reference to the Hutu revolt that overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and the subsequent politically orchestrated communal violence that resulted in thousands of mostly Tutsi casualties and forced roughly 300,000 Tutsis to flee to neighboring Burundi and Uganda. Kangura also published the infamous "10 Hutu Commandments," which regulated all dealings with Tutsis and how Hutus were to treat them. It communicated the message that the RPF had a devious grand strategy against the Hutu (one feature article was titled "Tutsi colonization plan").[20]

Due to high rates of illiteracy at the time of the genocide, radio was an important way for the government to deliver messages to the public. Two radio stations key to inciting violence before and during the genocide were Radio Rwanda and Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). In March 1992, Radio Rwanda was first used in directly promoting the killing of Tutsi in Bugesera, south of the national capital Kigali. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a communiqué warning that Hutu in Bugesera would be attacked by Tutsi, a message used by local officials to convince Hutu that they needed to attack first. Led by soldiers, Hutu civilians and the Interahamwe attacked and killed hundreds of Tutsi.[21]

At the end of 1993, the RTLM's highly sensationalized reporting on the assassination of the Burundian president, a Hutu, was used to underline supposed Tutsi brutality. The RTLM falsely reported that the president had been tortured, including castration (in pre-colonial times, some Tutsi kings castrated defeated enemy rulers). There were 50,000 civilian deaths in Burundi in 1993.

From late October 1993, the RTLM repeatedly broadcast themes developed by the extremist written press, underlining the inherent differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the foreign origin of Tutsi, the disproportionate share of Tutsi wealth and power, and the horrors of past Tutsi rule. The RTLM also repeatedly stressed the need to be alert to Tutsi plots and possible attacks. It warned Hutu to prepare to "defend" themselves against the Tutsi.[21] After April 6, 1994, authorities used the RTLM and Radio Rwanda to spur and direct killings, specifically in areas where the killings were initially resisted. Both radio stations were used to incite and mobilize populations, followed by specific directions for carrying out the killings.[21]

The RTLM had used terms such as inyenzi (cockroach in Kinyarwandan) and Tutsi interchangeably with others referring to the RPF combatants. It warned that RPF combatants dressed in civilian clothes were mingling among the displaced people fleeing combat zones. These broadcasts gave the impression that all Tutsi were supporters of the RPF force fighting against the elected government.[21] Women were targets of the anti-Tutsi propaganda prior to the 1994 genocide; for example, the "Ten Hutu Commandments" (1990) included four commandments that portrayed Tutsi women as tools of the Tutsi people, and as sexual weapons to weaken and ultimately destroy the Hutu men.[22] Gender-based propaganda also included cartoons printed in newspapers depicting Tutsi women as sex objects. Examples of gender-based hate propaganda used to incite war rape included statements by perpetrators, such as, "You Tutsi women think that you are too good for us", and "Let us see what a Tutsi woman tastes like."[22]

To promote an informed population and democracy in Rwanda, international agencies had promoted development of the media during the years leading up to the genocide.[23] It appeared that promoting one aspect of democracy (in this case the media) may, in fact, negatively influence other aspects of democracy or human rights. After this experience it has been argued that international development agencies must be highly sensitive to the specific context of their programmes and the need for promotion of democracy in a holistic manner.[23]

United Nations

On January 11, 1994 Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire (United Nations Force Commander in Rwanda) notified Military Adviser to the Secretary-General, Major-General Maurice Baril, of four major weapons caches and plans by the Hutus for extermination of Tutsis. The telegram from Dallaire stated that a top-level Interahamwe militia trainer directed demonstrations a few days before, to provoke an RPF battalion in Kigali into firing upon demonstrators and Belgian United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) troops into using force. The Interahamwe would then have an excuse to engage the Belgian troops and the RPF battalion, killing Belgian citizens and causing the withdrawal of the Belgian contingent, the backbone of UNAMIR. The Tutsis would then be eliminated.

According to the informant, 1,700 Interahamwe militia were trained in governmental forces camps, and he was ordered to register all the Kigali Tutsis. Dallaire made immediate plans for UNAMIR troops to seize the arms caches and advised UN Headquarters of his intentions, believing these actions lay within his mission's mandate. The following day, headquarters responded that his outlined actions went beyond the mandate granted to UNAMIR under Security Council Resolution 872. Instead, he was to notify President Habyarimana of possible Arusha Accords violations and his concerns and report back on measures taken. Dallaire's January 11 telegram was important in later review of what information was available to the UN prior to the genocide.[24] On February 21, extremists assassinated the Minister of Public Works, and UNAMIR was unable to gain UN approval to investigate the murder.

On April 6, 1994, the RTLM accused the Belgian peacekeepers of having shot down–or of helping to shoot down – the president's plane. This broadcast has been linked to the killing of ten Belgian UN troops by Rwandan army soldiers.[25]

The situation proved too "risky" for the UN to attempt to help[citation needed]. The RPF began to take control of the country. The UN-mandated French-led force, under Opération Turquoise, established and maintained a "safe zone" for Hutu refugees to flee to in the southwest. Eventually, after the UN Mandate of the French mission was at an end, millions of Hutu refugees left Rwanda, mainly headed to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The presence of Hutu refugees (see Great Lakes refugee crisis) on the border with Rwanda, added to internal instability, contributed to the First and Second Congo Wars, with clashes between these groups and the Rwandan government continuing.[1]

The UN's mandate forbids intervening in the internal politics of any country unless the crime of genocide is being committed. France has been accused of aiding the Hutu regime to flee by creating Opération Turquoise.[citation needed] Canada, Ghana, and the Netherlands provided consistent support for the UN mission under the command of Dallaire, although the UN Security Council did not give it an appropriate mandate to intervene. Despite emphatic demands from UNAMIR's commanders in Rwanda before and throughout the genocide, its requests for authorization to end it were refused, and its intervention capacity was reduced.

In 2000, the UN explicitly declared its reaction to Rwanda a "failure".[26] Then Secretary General Kofi Annan said of the event "The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret.".[27]


The Roman Catholic Church affirms that genocide took place but argues that those who took part in it did so without the permission of the Church.[28] The Marian apparition, known as Our Lady of Kibeho, was seen in 1982. The Virgin Mary was said to have shown three visionaries a future blood bath and called for prayer and repentance. In 2001 the diocese approved the vision as "worthy of belief", indicating the Catholic Church's attitude regarding the Massacres. Reports indicate the percentage of Muslims in Rwanda has doubled since the genocide due to Muslim sheltering and protection of Tutsis and Hutus during the genocide.[29]

Though religious factors were not prominent (the event was ethnically motivated), in its 1999 report Human Rights Watch faulted a number of religious authorities in Rwanda, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other Protestants for failing to condemn the genocide directly - though that accusation was belied over time.[30] Some in its religious hierarchy have been brought to trial for their participation by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and convicted.[28] Bishop Misago was accused of corruption and complicity in the genocide, but he was cleared of all charges in 2000.[31] Others Catholic and Protestant clergy, however, gave their lives to protect Tutsis from slaughter.[30] The majority of Rwandans, and Tutsis in particular, are Catholic, so shared religion did not prevent genocide.

Catalyst and initial events

Memorial for the dead Belgian UNAMIR personnel in Kigali.

On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi, was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali, killing everyone on board. Responsibility for the attack was disputed, with both the RPF and Hutu extremists being blamed. A later investigation by the Rwandan government blamed Hutu extremists in the Rwandan army.[32] In spite of disagreements about the identities of its perpetrators, many observers believe the attack and deaths of the two Hutu presidents served as the catalyst for the genocide.

On April 6 and 7, the staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and Colonel Theoneste Bagosora clashed verbally with the UNAMIR Force commander Dallaire, who stressed the legal authority of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana to take control, as outlined in the Arusha Accords. Bagosora disputed her authority, and Dallaire provided escort to Uwilingiyimana to protect her and to allow her to send a calming message on the radio the next morning. By then, the Presidential Guard had occupied the radio station, and Uwilingiyimana had to cancel her speech.

When the Presidential Guard stormed the building, they took the UN peacekeepers prisoner and confiscated their weapons. They assassinated Uwilingiyimana and killed the ten Belgian UN soldiers, after releasing the Ghanaian ones. In 2007 Major Bernard Ntuyahaga was convicted of these murders as the commanding officer. The Presidential Guard quickly assassinated other moderate officials who favored the Arusha Accords. Protected by UNAMIR, Faustin Twagiramungu escaped execution. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil, Dallaire recalled the events from April 7, the first day of the genocide:

"I called the Force HQ and got through to Ghanaian Brigadier General Henry Anyidoho. He had horrifying news. The UNAMIR-protected VIPs – Lando Ndasingwa [the head of the Parti libéral], Joseph Kavaruganda [president of the constitutional court], and many other moderates had been abducted by the Presidential Guard and had been killed, along with their families [...] UNAMIR had been able to rescue Prime Minister Faustin, who was now at the Force HQ."[33][34]

Jared Diamond theorized that population pressure was the main cause of the genocide. He points out that most of the Twa pygmies were wiped out despite being no threat to the Hutus. The Kanama region in the north west lost 5% of its population despite having virtually no Tutsis. A quarter of Rwandans have great grandparents from both tribes.[8] Rwanda's population density in 1990 was 760 people per square mile, one of the highest in the world. The population grew at over 3% a year.[35] By 1985 all the land except the national parks had been cultivated.


Rwandan Genocide victims.
Skulls in Murambi Technical School

The Rwandan military and Hutu militia groups, notably the Interahamwe, systematically set out to murder all the Tutsis they could reach, regardless of age or sex,[36] as well as the political moderates among the Hutu. They incited Hutu civilians to participate in the killings or be shot in turn, using radio broadcasts to tell them to kill their Tutsi neighbours. Most nations evacuated their nationals from Kigali and abandoned their embassies in the initial stages of the violence.

As the situation worsened, the national radio advised people to stay in their homes. The Hutu Power station RTLM broadcasted violent propaganda against the Tutsi and Hutu moderates. The militia put up hundreds of roadblocks around the country, using them to block off areas and attack the citizens. Lieutenant-General Dallaire and UNAMIR were in Kigali escorting Tutsis and were unable to stop the Hutus from escalating their attacks elsewhere.

Through the RTLM, the Hutu also attacked Lieutenant-General Dallaire and UNAMIR personnel. On April 8, Dallaire sent a cable to NY indicating ethnicity was the driving force of killings. The cable detailed the killings of politicians and peacekeepers (Chairman of Liberal party, Minister of Labor, Minister of Agriculture, and dozens more). Dallaire informed the UN that the campaign of violence was well-organized and deliberately conducted, primarily by the Presidential Guard.

On April 9, UN observers witnessed the massacre of children at a Polish church in Gikondo. The same day, 1,000 heavily armed and trained European troops arrived to escort European civilian personnel out of the country. The troops did not stay to assist UNAMIR. Media coverage picked up on the 9th, as the Washington Post reported the execution of Rwandan employees of relief agencies in front of their expatriate colleagues. On April 9–10, US Ambassador Rawson and 250 Americans were evacuated.

Killings quickly took place throughout most of the country. The mayor (burgomaster) of the northwestern town of Gisenyi was the first local official to organize killings on a genocidal scale: on April 6, he called a meeting to distribute arms and sent militias to kill Tutsis. Gisenyi was a center of anti-Tutsi sentiment. It was the homeland of the minority Akazu and a refuge for thousands of people displaced by the rebel RPF occupation of large areas in the south. While killing occurred in other towns immediately after Habyarimana's assassination, it took several days for officials to organize them on the scale of the murders in Gisenyi.

Butare Province was an exception to the local violence. Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana was the only Tutsi prefect, and the province was the only one dominated by an opposition party.[37] Opposing the genocide, Habyarimana was able to keep relative calm in the province, until he was deposed by the extremist Sylvain Ndikumana.[37] Finding the population of Butare resistant to murdering their fellow citizens, the government flew in militia from Kigali by helicopter, and they readily killed the Tutsi.[37]

Murambi Technical School, where many victims were killed, is now a genocide museum.

Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia typically murdered victims by machetes, although some army units used rifles. The Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings, and massacred them. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their neighbors, and those who refused to kill were often murdered on the spot. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself."[38]

One such massacre occurred at Nyarubuye. On April 12, more than 1,500 Tutsis sought refuge in a Catholic church in Nyange, then in Kivumu commune. Local Interahamwe, acting in concert with the authorities, used bulldozers to knock down the church building.[39] The militia used machetes and rifles to kill every person who tried to escape. Local priest Athanase Seromba was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR for his role in the demolition of his church; he was convicted of the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity.[39][40][41] In another case, thousands sought refuge in the École Technique Officielle (Technical School) in Kigali where Belgian UNAMIR soldiers were stationed. On April 11, the Belgian soldiers withdrew, and Rwandan armed forces and militia killed all the Tutsi.[42]

Because of the chaotic situation, there is no consensus on the number of people killed between April 6 and mid-July. Unlike the genocides carried out by Nazi Germany and by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, authorities made no attempts to record deaths. The succeeding RPF government has stated that 1,071,000 were killed, 10% of whom were Hutu. The journalist Philip Gourevitch agrees with an estimate of one million, while the UN estimates the toll as 800,000. Alex de Waal and Rakiya Omar of African Rights estimate the number as "around 750,000," while Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch states that it was "at least 500,000." James Smith of Aegis Trust notes, "What's important to remember is that there was a genocide. There was an attempt to eliminate Tutsis — men, women, and children — and to erase any memory of their existence."[43]

Out of a population of 7.3 million people–84% of whom were Hutu, 15% Tutsi and 1% Twa–the official figures published by the Rwandan government estimated the number of victims of the genocide to be 1,174,000 in 100 days (10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute). Other sources put the death toll at 800,000, 20% of whom were Hutus.[citation needed] It is estimated that about 300,000 Tutsi survived the genocide. Thousands of widows, many of whom were subjected to rape, are now HIV-positive. There were about 400,000 orphans and nearly 85,000 of them were forced to become heads of families.[citation needed]

Several individuals were active in attempting to halt the Rwandan genocide, or to shelter vulnerable Tutsi, as it was taking place. Among them there are Romeo Dallaire, Pierantonio Costa, Antonia Locatelli, Jacqueline Mukansonera, Paul Rusesabagina, Carl Wilkens, André Sibomana and Captain Mbaye Diagne.

War rape

In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda made the landmark decisions that war rape in Rwanda was an element of the crime of genocide. The Trial Chamber held that "sexual assault formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide."[44] Although no written orders to rape were found, evidence suggests that military leaders encouraged or ordered their men to rape Tutsi as well as condoning the acts taking place, and made no efforts to stop them.[22] Compared to other conflicts, the sexual violence in Rwanda stands out in three ways:

  • the organized nature of the propaganda that contributed to fueling sexual violence against Tutsi women;
  • the public nature of the rapes; and
  • the level of brutality toward the women.[45]

In his 1996 report on Rwanda, the UN Special Rapporteur Rene Degni-Segui stated, "Rape was the rule and its absence the exception."[46] He noted, "Rape was systematic and was used as a weapon" by the perpetrators of the massacres. This conclusion was based on the number and nature of the victims as well as from the forms of rape. Estimates were that between 250,000 and 500,000 Rwandese women and girls had been raped.[47] A 2000 report prepared by the Organization of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that "we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it".[47]

During the genocide, it was culturally acceptable/mandatory to stand by while women were raped. Maria Louise Niyobuhungiro recalls seeing local peoples, other generals and Hutu men watching her get raped about 5 times per day. Even when she was kept under watch of a woman, she would give no sympathy or help and furthermore, forced her to farm land in between rapes. Reportedly, 70% of all sexual assault victims in the Rwandan genocide are infected with HIV.[48] Men were seldom the victims of war rape,[22] but sexual violence against men included mutilation of the genitals, then displayed as trophies in public.[22] War rape during the genocide was also directed against Hutu women considered moderates. The Interahamwe were the chief perpetrators, but RAF soldiers, including the Presidential Guard, and civilians also committed rape against mostly Tutsi women.[22]

UNAMIR and the international community

A school chalkboard in Kigali. Note the names "Dallaire", UNAMIR Force Commander, and "Marchal", UNAMIR Kigali sector commander.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was hampered from the outset by resistance from numerous UN Security Council members, who were reluctant to have the UN become involved. This applied both to the Arusha Accords process and to preventing or suppressing the genocide.[49][50] Only Belgium had asked for a strong UNAMIR mandate. After the murder of ten Belgian peacekeepers protecting the Prime Minister in early April and the failure of the Security Council to act, Belgium pulled out of the peacekeeping mission.[51]

Just before the genocide began in April 1994 a Hutu man with a guilty conscience high in the ranks of the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain de Parmehutu sent a fax to the United Nations and to the United States detailing the plans of genocide against the Tutsis that would take place shortly. The fax detailed where, against whom and with exact what materials the genocide would be carried out. The information was never dealt with. For whatever reason, perhaps bureaucracy, the word of the genocide never spread far enough to enlist help from the Security Council.[52]

In addition, the UN peacekeepers were sent with specific instructions not to interfere unless a fellow peacekeeper or self was in danger. Under the United Nation's Capstone Doctrine peacekeepers were to exercise their own judgement in stopping the violence; however, it was the job of the United Nations Security Council to use force.[53]

The UN and its member states did not respond to the realities on the ground. In the midst of the escalating crisis for Tutsis, they directed Lt. General Roméo Dallaire to focus UNAMIR on evacuating foreign nationals from Rwanda. Due to the change in orders, Belgian UN peacekeepers abandoned the Don Bosco Technical School, filled with 2,000 refugees. Hutu militants waited outside, drinking beer and chanting "Hutu Power." After the Belgians left, the militants entered and massacred everyone inside, including hundreds of children.

Four days later the Security Council voted to reduce UNAMIR to 270 men, by Resolution 912.[54][55] Following the withdrawal of the Belgian forces, Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Canadian, Ghanaian, and Dutch soldiers in urban areas and tried to provide areas of "safe control". His actions saved the lives of 20,000 Tutsi.[citation needed] The administrative head of UNAMIR, former Cameroonian foreign minister Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, has been criticized for downplaying the significance of Dallaire's reports and for holding close ties to the Hutu militant elite.[citation needed]

The US was reluctant to get involved in the "local conflict" in Rwanda and refused to label the killings as "genocide". Then-president Bill Clinton later publicly regretted that decision in a Frontline television interview. Five years later, Clinton stated that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500,000 lives could have been saved.[56]

The new Rwandan government, led by interim President Théodore Sindikubwabo, an ethnic Hutu, worked to minimize international criticism. Rwanda at that time had a seat on the Security Council. Its ambassador argued that the claims of genocide in the country were exaggerated and that the government was doing all that it could to stop it.

The UN conceded that "acts of genocide may have been committed" on May 17, 1994.[57] By that time, the Red Cross estimated that 500,000 Rwandans had been killed. The UN agreed to send 5,500 troops, mostly from African countries, to Rwanda.[58] This was the original number of troops requested by General Dallaire before the killing escalated. The UN also requested 50 armoured personnel carriers from the United States; the US Army charged $6.5 million (USD) for transport alone. Deployment was delayed due to arguments over their cost and other factors.[59]

Some UN peacekeepers protected Rwandans despite the organizational limitations. One Senegalese peacekeeper drove 1,000 people through check points to safety, a feat that no nation even attempted.[60] Others stood outside of churches where hundreds of Tutsi refugees hid; by simply guarding a door, the Interhamwe and other Hutu extremists simply did not try to trespass.[60]

Paul Rusesabagina, who saved over 1,000 people by sheltering them at the Hôtel des Mille Collines, has said: “In a sense things got better after the peacekeepers left… People realized no one was going to help them.”[61]

French role

A French soldier, part of the international force supporting the relief effort for Rwandan refugees, adjusts the concertina wire surrounding the airport.

Before the genocide

In the analysis of British journalist Linda Melvern, documents recently released from the Paris archive of former president François Mitterrand show how the RPF invasion in October 1990 was considered as clear aggression by an Anglophone neighbour on a Francophone country.[62] The documents are said to argue that the RPF was a part of an "Anglophone plot", involving the President of Uganda, to create an English-speaking "Tutsi-land" and increase Anglophone influence at the expense of French influence. In Melvern's analysis, the policy of France was to avoid a military victory by the RPF. The policy had been made by a secretive network of military officers, politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and senior intelligence operatives. At its centre was Mitterrand. As a matter for the French presidency, this foreign policy was not referred to parliament.[62]

Mitterrand's political view proved prescient in that, as the BBC noted as of 2010, after a progressive rift with the Kagame-led regime that has ruled Rwanda since 1994 (described in greater detail below), Rwanda repeatedly broke diplomatic relations with France; the Rwandan government shut down all French institutions in Rwanda, including schools and cultural organisations, with only some being subsequently reopened; the language of instruction in Rwandan schools "has even been switched from French to English"; and Rwanda strove to join the British-led Commonwealth, thus becoming one of only two members that were not former British colonies.[63]

Melvern goes on to state that most of Rwanda’s arms deals were negotiated through the Rwandan embassy in Paris. When the genocide was over, according to her, extensive records were found in the embassy offices, but none of them concerned Rwanda’s relationship with France, as the documents had been systematically destroyed by Colonel Sebastien Ntahobari, Rwanda’s military attaché in France.[64] The book also relates other forms of military assistance the government of France gave the Rwandan government, prior to the genocide:[65]

  • A French military co-operation team was openly acknowledged to be in Rwanda, and was thought to have included forty seven people. These people were attached to key units in the army and in the gendarmerie as “advisers” or “technical assistants”.
  • A list of Rwandan officers prepared by Rwandan army officers within the Rwandan Ministry of Defense and dated 5 March 1994, shows three French nationals working as “technical assistants” in the reconnaissance battalion.
  • In the Rwandan air corps, there were two French flying instructors, a navigator, an air traffic controller, and a mechanic.
  • In the para-commandos, under Colonel Aloys Ntabakuze,[66] there were four French nationals including a major in the French Army.

Melvern attributes other forms of French support for the regime. She report that, according to Belgian intelligence in Rwanda, French diplomats advised opposition politicians that if they wanted to stop the RPF, they had to give their support to President Habyarimana.[65]

A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) early after the genocide also reported on French armaments support for the regime.[67] It states:

“Official deliveries of arms by the French government to other governments are regulated by well-defined rules, but in the case of Rwanda — as in many others — the rules were rarely followed. According to the National Assembly investigative commission, thirty-one of thirty-six deliveries of weapons to Rwanda during the years 1990 to 1994 were made 'without following the rules.'”

HRW went on to provide that a former French policeman who had also served as security consultant to Habyarimana, Captain Paul Barril, was hired by the Rwandan Ministry of Defense to conduct a training program for 30 to 60 men, eventually to grow to 120, at Bigogwe military camp in the northwest. He was to provide training in marksmanship and infiltration tactics for an elite unit in preparation for attacks behind the RPF lines.[68] Further, a Col. Didier Tauzin (who was later to re-enter Rwanda during the genocide under a fake name Col. Didier Tibault) was head of the French operation that had helped the Rwandan forces “spectacularly save the situation” in turning back the RPF offensive in February 1993.[69] Notwithstanding HRW's associations, though, no evidence exists that these French officers were directly involved in the genocide.[70]

In terms of balance, the HRW and Melvern analyses omitted countervailing facts known as of their writing - specifically, that there were no arms delivery by France or facilitated by France once it deemed large-scale killings likely, let alone during the mass genocide proper; and that one of the tasks that the Rwandan regime hired Barril for was to recover a pre-payment for a likely fraudulent arms delivery deal, that was stopped by the French authorities.[70]

During the genocide

On June 22, with no sign of a UN deployment taking place, the Security Council authorized French forces to land in Goma, Zaire on a humanitarian mission. They deployed throughout southwest Rwanda in an area they called "Zone Turquoise," quelling the genocide and stopping the fighting there, but often arriving in areas only after genocidaires had expelled or killed Tutsi citizens. Again, controversy subsequently arose about French intent. According to HRW, Opération Turquoise had another purpose: Preventing a victory by the RPF. HRW reported that some military officers in Paris had talked openly of “breaking the back of the RPF.”[69] It remains that there were no documented large-scale killings in Zone Turquoise once it was established. Thus, regardless of any other aims attributed to it, the French intervention helped to stop the genocide locally and represents the only foreign intervention on the ground to have ended some of the killings after UNIMAR was reduced.[70] The French military presence effectively helped the genocidaires to escape from the RPF and flee into neighboring Zaire.[71][72]

Kagame-ordered report

Following an investigation of the plane crash of April 6, 1994 that killed both the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira and precipitated the genocide, and in which three French crew had also died, the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière indicted eight associates of Rwandan president Paul Kagame on November 17, 2006. President Kagame himself was not indicted, as he had immunity under French law as a head of state. Kagame denied the allegations, decrying them as politically motivated, and broke diplomatic relationships with France in November 2006. He then ordered the formation of a commission of his own Rwandan Justice Ministry's employees that was officially "charged with assembling proof of the involvement of France in the genocide".[73]

In testimony before the commission, Jacques Bihozagara, who was presented as "former ambassador to France", claimed that "Operation Turquoise was aimed only at protecting genocide perpetrators, because the genocide continued even within the Turquoise zone."[74] Beside misrepresenting the timeline of the mass killings in the Zone Turquoise, the implication of the testimony as conveyed to the foreign press was that Bihozagara had a sitting ambassador's insight into French policy at the time of the genocide. In fact, Bihozagara was a founding member of the RPF and close Kagame ally under whose watch as Minister of Rehabilitation the Kibeho Massacre occurred in 1995. His attitude and statements at that time led to reports that he had ordered that massacre, making him too much of a political liability for the RPF to keep as minister.[75] Bihozagara was subsequently ambassador to Belgium, and then to France from September 2001 onwards; but in the intervening period Rwanda had closed its French embassy and purged personnel, precluding continuity of records.[76]

The political character of that investigation was in turn further averred when the commission issued its report solely to Kagame – symbolically on November 17, 2007, exactly one year after Bruguière's announcement – and the head of the Rwandan commission, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, stated that the commission would now "wait for President Kagame to declare whether the inquiry was valid."[73] In July 2008, Kagame threatened to indict French nationals over the genocide if European courts did not withdraw arrest warrants issued against Rwandan officials, which by then included broader indictments against 40 Rwandan army officers by Spanish judge Fernando Andreu.[77][78]

Findings of the commission were released at Kagame's order on August 5, 2008. The report accused the French government of knowing of preparations for the genocide and helping to train the ethnic Hutu militia members; it accused 33 senior French military and political officials of involvement in the genocide, including then-President Mitterrand and his then general secretary Hubert Védrine, then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, then-Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, and his chief aide at the time, Dominique de Villepin.[79][80][81]

A statement accompanying the release claimed that "French soldiers themselves directly were involved in assassinations of Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis... French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors", though the latter was not documented in the report.[79] A BBC report commented that French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, denied French responsibility in connection with the genocide but said that political errors had been made.[79] Another BBC report delved into the motivations for the Rwandan report and stated that:

Chief among them has been an iron determination to keep the world's attention focused on the genocide, rather than on the role of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the force that took power in 1994, bringing President Paul Kagame to power. In recent years uncomfortable questions have been raised about the war crimes the RPF are alleged to have committed during and after 1994. While stressing there can be no equation between genocide and war crimes, Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch says RPF leaders do have a case to answer. "Their victims also deserve justice," she says.[82]

French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda and subsequent statements

The suspicions about United Nations and French policies in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 and allegations that France supported the Hutus led to the creation of a French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda, which published its report on December 15, 1998.[70] In particular, François-Xavier Verschave, former president of the French NGO Survie, which accused the French army of protecting the Hutus during the genocide, was instrumental in establishing this Parliamentary commission.

The commission released its final report on December 15, 1998. It documented ambiguities and confusion in both the French and UN responses. Regarding Opération Turquoise, it regretted that the intervention took place too late, though it noted that this was better than the non-response from the UN and the opposition by the U.S. and U.K. governments to such a response. The report documented mixed success at disarming the Rwandan Army and militias, but a definite and systematic attempt (though not fast enough as far as then-General Paul Kagame of the opposing RPF forces was concerned, in documentation of the latter's communications with the French forces).[70]

The Parliamentary Commission did not find any evidence of French participation in the genocide, of collaboration with the militias, or of willful disengagement from endangered populations, to the contrary. It documented multiple French operations, all at least partly successful, to disable genocide-inciting radio broadcasts, tasks which the UN and the United States had rejected calls for assistance with.[70]

The report concluded that there had been errors of judgment pertaining to the Rwanda Armed Forces, but before the genocide only; further errors of judgment about the scale of the threat, at the onset of the genocide; over-reliance on the UNIMAR mission without awareness that it would be undercut by the United States and other parties; and ineffective diplomacy. Ultimately, it concluded that France had been the foreign power most involved in limiting the scale of the genocide once it got started, though it regretted that more had not been done.[70]

On November 27, 2004 in a televised debate on France 3, after the showing of the French film "Tuez les Tous" (English: Kill Them All), created by three students of political science, the president of the parliamentary mission for information for Rwanda, former minister Paul Quilès stated that "France asks to be pardoned by the people of Rwanda, but not by their government".[83]

In 2010, during a visit to Rwanda, French President Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged that France made "mistakes" during the genocide, although, according to a BBC report, he "stopped short of offering a full apology".[63]

U.S. role

Prior to the war, the U.S. government had aligned itself with Tutsi interests, in turn raising Hutu concerns about potential U.S. support to the opposition. Paul Kagame, a Tutsi officer in exile in Uganda who had co-founded the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1986 and was in open conflict with the incumbent Rwandan government, was invited to receive military training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home of the Command and General Staff College. In October 1990, while Kagame was at Fort Leavenworth, the RPF started an invasion of Rwanda. Only two days into the invasion, his close friend and RPF co-founder Fred Rwigema was killed, upon which the U.S. arranged the return of Kagame to Uganda from where he became the military commander of the RPF.[84] An article in the Washington Post of August 16, 1997, authored by its Southern African bureau chief Lynne Duke, indicates that the connection continued as RPF elements received counterinsurgency and combat training from U.S. Special Forces.[85][86]

In January 1994 NSC member Richard Clarke developed a formal US peacekeeping doctrine, Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25).

There were no U.S. troops officially in Rwanda at the onset of the genocide. A National Security Archive report points out five ways in which decisions made by the U.S. government contributed to the slow U.S. and worldwide response to the genocide:

  1. The U.S. lobbied the U.N. for a total withdrawal of U.N. (UNAMIR) forces in Rwanda in April 1994;
  2. Secretary of State Warren Christopher did not authorize officials to use the term "genocide" until May 21, and even then, U.S. officials waited another three weeks before using the term in public;
  3. Bureaucratic infighting slowed the U.S. response to the genocide in general;
  4. The U.S. refused to jam extremist radio broadcasts inciting the killing, citing costs and concern with international law;
  5. U.S. officials knew exactly who was leading the genocide, and actually spoke with those leaders to urge an end to the violence but did not follow up with concrete action.[87]

US President Bill Clinton claimed to have not fully understood the severity of the situation. Scholars have suggested that President Clinton could not have known about the genocide until around April 20, 1994, when it became popularized in the media. The fighting was reported by newspapers around the world as being a civil war with both parties fighting, rather than a genocidal campaign. However, the very few people who remained in Rwanda for parts of the genocide report that almost every country knew something about the violence. For example, Carl Wilkens, the only American who stayed behind to lead the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International, reports thinking:

"If the people in Rwanda ever needed help, it now was the time. And everyone was leaving."[88]

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) renewed invasion

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) battalion of Tutsi rebels stationed in Kigali under the Arusha Accords came under attack immediately after the shooting down of the president's plane. The battalion fought its way out of Kigali and joined up with RPF units in the north.[89] The resulting civil war raged concurrently with the genocide for two months. The nature of the genocide was not immediately apparent to foreign observers, and was initially explained as a violent phase of the civil war. Mark Doyle, the correspondent for the BBC News in Kigali, tried to explain the complex situation in late April 1994 thus:

Look you have to understand that there are two wars going on here. There's a shooting war and a genocide war. The two are connected, but also distinct. In the shooting war, there are two conventional armies at each other, and in the genocide war, one of those armies, the government side with help from civilians, is involved in mass killings.[90]

After regrouping, the RPF launched an offensive and on July 4, 1994 they took the capital Kigali. On July 13 they seized Ruhengeri prompting a mass exodus towards Zaire. Four days later on July 17 the RPF defeated the last government stronghold and declared victory.[91]


Approximately two million Hutus, participants in the genocide, and the bystanders, with anticipation of Tutsi retaliation, fled from Rwanda, to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and for the most part Zaire. Thousands of them died in epidemics of diseases common to the squalor of refugee camps, such as cholera and dysentery.[92] The United States staged the Operation Support Hope airlift from July to September 1994 to stabilize the situation in the camps.[93]

After the victory of the RPF, the size of UNAMIR (henceforth called UNAMIR 2) was increased to its full strength, remaining in Rwanda until March 8, 1996.[94]

In October 1996, an uprising by the ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge people in eastern Zaire marked the beginning of the First Congo War, and led to a return of more than 600,000 to Rwanda during the last two weeks of November. This massive repatriation was followed at the end of December 1996 by the return of 500,000 more from Tanzania after they were ejected by the Tanzanian government. Various successor organizations to the Hutu militants operated in eastern DR Congo until May 22, 2009.

Political development

After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994. Called The Broad Based Government of National Unity, its fundamental law is based on a combination of the constitution, the Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. The MRND party was outlawed. Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003 respectively.[citation needed]

The current government prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race or religion. The government has also passed laws prohibiting emphasis on Hutu or Tutsi identity in most types of political activity.[citation needed]

In March 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kigali Airport: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred" in Rwanda.[95] He acknowledged his failure to deal effectively with the situation in Rwanda.[95] Clinton has stated that the "biggest regret" of his presidency was not acting decisively to stop the Rwandan Genocide.[96][97]

Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms, the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. In March 2000, after removing Pasteur Bizimungu, Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda. On August 25, 2003 Kagame won the first national elections since the RPF took power in 1994. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.[citation needed]

The first try at democracy in Rwanda was under Habyarimana just before his plane was shot down and the genocide began. Democratization had been prompted by French influences (international donors practically forcing the administration's hand). Because the idea of democracy had been presented as both a Tutsi imposition and a colonialist one, it remained a disdainful concept in the cultural mindset of the Hutu majority.[98]

Economic and social developments

Graph showing the population of Rwanda from 1961 to 2003. (Data from U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)

The biggest problems facing the government are reintegration of the more than two million refugees, ending the insurgency among ex-soldiers and Interahamwe militia fighters and the Rwandan Patriotic Army in the north and southwest of the country, and the shift away from crisis to medium and long-term development planning.[citation needed] The prison population will continue to be an urgent problem for the foreseeable future, having swelled to more than 100,000 in the three years after the war. Trying this many suspects of genocide will tax Rwanda's resources sorely.[citation needed]

The long-term effects of war rape in Rwanda for the victims include social isolation (social stigma attached to rape meant some husbands left wives who had become victims of war rape, or that the victims were rendered unsuitable for marriage), unwanted pregnancies and babies (some women resorted to self-induced abortions), sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS.[45]

The Special Rapporteur on Rwanda estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 pregnancies resulted from war rape (between 250,000 and 500,000 Rwandan women and girls had been raped).[47] Rwanda is a patriarchal society and children therefore take the ethnicity of the father, underlining that war rape occurred in the context of genocide.[45] The main issue involving reintegration is the fact that the violence that had occurred often involved neighbors; people lived next to rapists, murderers and torturers. It was very difficult right after the genocide for Tutsis to trust Hutus, whether or not they had any involvement in the genocide.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

With the return of the refugees, the government began the long-awaited genocide trials, which had an uncertain start at the end of 1996 and inched forward in 1997. In 2001, the government began implementing a participatory justice system, known as Gacaca, in order to address the enormous backlog of cases.[99] Meanwhile, the UN set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, currently based in Arusha, Tanzania. The UN Tribunal has jurisdiction over high level members of the government and armed forces, while Rwanda is responsible for prosecuting lower level leaders and local people.[100]

Twenty-two people were executed in public for their role in the massacre in 1998, eighteen of them in provincial towns where the massacres had occurred, while four were executed at a football field in Kigali by firing squad. The executed included Silas Munyagishali, a Kigali assistant prosecutor, and Froduald Karamira of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development.[101]

Tensions arose between Rwanda and the UN over the use of the death penalty, though these were largely resolved once Rwanda abolished the punishment in 2007.[102] However, domestic tensions continued over support for the death penalty, and the interest in conducting the trials at home. In ten years the Arusha tribunal only succeeded in sentencing 20 people.

In 2003, in an attempt to redress this mismanagement,[citation needed] the UN appointed Hassan Bubacar Jallow chief prosecutor with exclusive jurisdiction over Rwanda. Faced with the local criminal system's inability to cope with a number of detainees awaiting trial in Rwandan jails reaching 90,000, in 2000 a series of popular tribunals called gacaca courts were setup. The convicted are invited to admit their guilt in exchange for significant reductions in their sentences.

On Thursday, December 18, 2008, Theoneste Bagosora was found guilty of crimes against humanity. He was charged by UN judge Erik Møse, and sentenced to life in prison.[103] The court also found Bagosora responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers.

Media and popular culture

Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire became the best-known eyewitness to the genocide after co-writing the 2003 book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda describing his experiences with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.[104] Another firsthand account of the Rwandan genocide is offered by Dr. James Orbinski in his book An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century.

At the Earth Made of Glass premiere, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stands with, from left, Jenna Dewan, director Deborah Scranton, documentary subject Jean Pierre Sagahutu, producer Reid Carolin and executive producer Channing Tatum.

The critically acclaimed and multiple Academy Award-nominated 2004 film Hotel Rwanda is based on the experiences of Paul Rusesabagina, a Kigali hotelier at the Hôtel des Mille Collines who sheltered over a thousand refugees during the genocide.[105] It is listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 most inspirational movies of all time. This same story is related in Rusesabagina's autobiography An Ordinary Man. Gil Courtemanche, a French-Canadian writer, authored Dimanche à la piscine à Kigali (A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali), which also focuses on events in Kigali during the genocide.

In 2005, Alison Des Forges wrote that eleven years after the genocide, films for popular audiences on the subject greatly increased the "widespread realization of the horror that had taken the lives of more than half a million Tutsi".[21] In 2007, Charlie Beckett, Director of POLIS, made the following observation: "How many people saw the movie Hotel Rwanda? [it is] ironically the way that most people now relate to Rwanda."[106]

The song "Rwanda" by the punk-ska band Rancid from the album Rancid is about the Rwandan genocide.

Immaculée Ilibagiza survived the genocide and documented her story in Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust (2006). Left to Tell recounts how Immaculée Ilibagiza survived for 91 days with seven other women during the holocaust in a damp and small bathroom, no larger than 3 feet (0.91 m) long and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide.

Brooke Fraser wrote the song "Albertine" on her album Albertine about her time in Rwanda in the 2000s after the genocide.

The punk-ska band Rx Bandits's song "In All Rwanda's Glory" on their album Progress, which they say contains "overly political lyrics", is about the Rwandan genocide.

At the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival President Paul Kagame attended the premiere of Earth Made of Glass, a documentary about the personal and political costs of the Genocide.[107]

Accusations of revisionism

The context of the 1994 Rwandan genocide continues to be a matter of historical debate.[108] There have been frequent charges of revisionism.[109] A "double genocides" theory, accusing the Tutsis of engaging in a "counter-genocide" against the Hutus,[110] is promulgated in Black Furies, White Liars (2005), the controversial book by French investigative journalist Pierre Péan. Jean-Pierre Chrétien, a French historian whom Péan describes as an active member of the "pro-Tutsi lobby," criticizes Péan's "amazing revisionist passion".[111]

On May 27, 2010, American law professor and attorney Peter Erlinder was arrested in Kigali and charged with genocide denial while defending presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire against charges of genocide.[112][113]

Another person accused of genocide revisionism[114][115] with respect to Rwanda is the Montreal writer Robin Philpot, whom Gerald Caplan identified in a 2007 Globe and Mail article as believing that "many people were killed in 1994 by both sides making those who carried out the genocide and their enemies morally equivalent." He further charges that Philpot argued "[t]here was no one-sided conspiracy by armed Hutu forces and militias against a million defenceless Tutsi, he says."

See also


  1. ^ a b Des Forges, Alison (1999). Leave No One to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch. ISBN 1-56432-171-1. Retrieved January 12, 2007. 
  2. ^ See, e.g., Rwanda: How the genocide happened, BBC, April 1, 2004, which gives an estimate of 800,000, and OAU sets inquiry into Rwanda genocide, Africa Recovery, Vol. 12 1#1 (August 1998), p. 4, which estimates the number at between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Seven out of every 10 Tutsis were killed.
  3. ^ René Lemarchand, "Disconnecting the Threads: Rwanda and the Holocaust Reconsidered", Idea Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, Mar 29, 2002, accessed Sep 14, 2010
  4. ^ Wallis, Andrew. Silent accomplice, 2006, pp. 38–41.
  5. ^ Walter, Barbara F. and Snyder, Jack L. Civil Wars, Insecurity, and Intervention, 1999, p. 135.
  6. ^ a b René Lemarchand, "Rwanda: The State of Research", Scholarly Review, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, Nov 200, referring to Keana and Dienan, Antecedents to Modern Rwanda: The Nyiginya Kingdom (2004), accessed Sep 15, 2010
  7. ^ a b Langford, Peter. "The Rwandan Path to Genocide: The Genesis of the Capacity of the Rwandan Post-colonial State to Organise and Unleash a project of Extermination". Civil Wars Vol. 7 n.3
  8. ^ a b Jared Diamond, Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive, page 318
  9. ^ Staff, "Burundi", Prevent Genocide International
  10. ^ Linda Melvern, Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide, Verso, 2004, ISBN 1-85984-588-6, p. 49
  11. ^ Neuffer, Elizabeth. The Key to My Neighbor's House, 2002, p. 102
  12. ^ "Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda." Human Rights Watch. Report (Updated April 1, 2003)
  13. ^ Diamond, Jared. "Collapse", Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2005, pp. 316
  14. ^ Mark Doyle, "Ex-Rwandan PM reveals genocide planning", BBC News, March 26, 2004
  15. ^ Jim Fussel, "Indangamuntu 1994: Ten years ago in Rwanda this Identity Card cost a woman her life", Prevent Genocide International, April 4, 2011
  16. ^ Melvern, Linda. Conspiracy to Murder, 2006, pp. 25–28
  17. ^ Fujii, Lee Ann. "The Power of Local Ties: Popular Participation in the Rwandan Genocide". Security Studies Issue 17. 2008: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. p1.
  18. ^ Fujii, Lee Ann. "The Power of Local Ties: Popular Participation in the Rwandan Genocide". Security Studies Issue 17. 2008: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. p3.
  19. ^ ""Media and the Rwanda Genocide, The" | The Communication Initiative Network". May 8, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  20. ^ [1][dead link]
  21. ^ a b c d e "Part 1: Hate media in Rwanda&#149 Call to genocide: radio in Rwanda, 1994: International Development Research Centre". Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  22. ^ a b c d e f de Brouwer, Anne-Marie (2005) [2005]. Supranational Criminal Prosecution of Sexual Violence. Intersentia. p. 13. ISBN 90-5095-533-9. 
  23. ^ a b Lise Rakner, Alina Rocha Menocal and Verena Fritz (2008), "Assessing international democracy assistance: Key lessons and challenges", London: Overseas Development Institute
  24. ^ "Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda" (PDF). December 15, 1999. pp. 4–5. Retrieved February 24, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Hate media in Rwanda", The International Development Research Centre
  26. ^ ""UN admits Rwanda genocide failure"". BBC News. 2000-04-15. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  27. ^ ""UN chief's Rwanda genocide regret"". BBC News. 2004-03-26. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  28. ^ a b Dictionary of Genocide", Samuel Totten, Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, p. 380, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008, ISBN 0-313-34644-5
  29. ^ Emily Wax (2002-11-23). "Islam Attracting Many Survivors of Rwanda Genocide". Washington, D.C.: The Washington Post. p. A10. Retrieved 2007-12-04. 
  30. ^ a b Rwandan Genocide: The Clergy Human Rights Watch
  31. ^ "Rwandan bishop cleared of genocide". BBC News. June 15, 2000. Retrieved May 23, 2010. 
  32. ^ "TIME". TIME.,8599,1953129,00.html. Retrieved 2011-05-30. [dead link]
  33. ^ Roméo Dallaire. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, London: Arrow Books, 2004, pp. 242–244. ISBN 0-09-947893-5
  34. ^ Note: According to the Arusha Accords, Faustin Twagiramungu from the opposition party Democratic Republican Movement was supposed to become Prime Minister after Uwilingiyimana's assassination. But, on April 9, 1994, the Hutu swore in Jean Kambanda. Faustin Twagiramungu did not become Prime Minister until July 19, 1994, after the RPF had captured and taken control of Kigali.
  35. ^ Jared Diamond, Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive, page 319
  36. ^ "Peace Pledge Union Information on the Genocide in Rwanda". Peace Pledge Union. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  37. ^ a b c Prunier, Gérard. The Rwanda Crisis. 1997, p. 244
  38. ^ Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995); rpt. in "Rwanda & Burundi: The Conflict", Contemporary Tragedy. The Holocaust: A Tragic Legacy
  39. ^ a b "Appeals Chamber Decisions". Retrieved August 30, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Catholic Priest Athanase Seromba Sentenced to Fifteen Years" (Press release). International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. December 13, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  41. ^ "Prosecutor to Appeal Against Seromba's Sentence" (Press release). International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. December 22, 2006. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  42. ^ (PDF) ICTR YEARBOOK 1994–1996. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. pp. 77–78. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
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Further reading

  • Beck, Roger B. World History Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2007.
  • Michael Bowen, Passing by;: The United States and genocide in Burundi, 1972, (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1973), 49 pp.
  • René Lemarchand, Selective genocide in Burundi (Report – Minority Rights Group ; no. 20, 1974), 36 pp.
  • Rene Lemarchand, Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide (New York: Woodrow Wilson Center and Cambridge University Press, 1996), 232 pp.
  • Edward L. Nyankanzi, Genocide: Rwanda and Burundi (Schenkman Books, 1998), 198 pp.
  • Scherrer, Christian. Genocide and crisis in Central Africa: conflict roots, mass violence, and regional war; foreword by Robert Melson. Praeger, 2002.
  • Weissman, Stephen R. "Preventing Genocide in Burundi Lessons from International Diplomacy", United States Institute of Peace
  • Woods, Michael, and Mary B. Woods. Ancient Transportation: from Camels to Canals. Minneapolis: Rinestone, 2000

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