7th of April 1994: The Rwandan genocide begins.
In the early hours of the Morning of April the 7th, the Rwandan army, Police and Hutu militia forces began their genocidal purge of the Tutsi minority residing in Rwanda. The Genocide was to last until the 15th of July but during that time it is estimated between 500,000 and 1 million tutsi and moderate hutu had been systematically murdered
To give some context to why this atrocity happened. Rwanda has two types of people. Hutu and tutsi. The Tutsi Minority had ruled the country as a monarchy until 1884 when the German empire colonised it. The German settlers made a great distinction between the two classes, favouring the tutsi because of their lighter skin, natural tallness and their willingness to accept christianity. The Hutu where treated as a lower people, after ww1 Germany lost control of the colony and it was granted to Belgium, who continued the pro tutsi policy. The Belgians introduced identity cards to label the citizens of rwanda tutsi or hutu. Or a very small minority who made up 1% of the country called Twa.
After ww2 Rwanda saw its transition from a belgian colony with a tutsi monarchy to a hutu controlled republic. Extremist Hutu began killing tutsi and the Twa where marginalised. Many fled to neighbouring countries. Tutsi’s from fought back from other countries, which in turn made the hutu government opress the tutsi’s still living in Rwanda. Juvénal Habyarimana took power in Rwanda in a coup in 1971, through use of propaganda the government made the hutu remember the past years of tutsi opression. The Hutu hated the tutsi.
The Rwandan patriotic front (RPF) was a rebel group made up of tutsi refugees who invaded Rwanda in 1990 iniating a civil war. On the 6th of April 1994 president Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. The government blamed the RPF however evidence suggests extreme hutu’s shot the plane down to spark a genocide.
The Killing began next morning. The police and the army killed and raped and burned tutsi settlements. Any moderate hutu’s were killed. The government encouraged the hutu majority to arm themselves with clubs, pitch forks, machetes and bats. Neighbours killed neighbours. The UN dispatched a peacekeeping force and France set up refugee camps and safe zones for displaced tutsi’s. However the French army had orignially backed the hutu government and helped train hutu militia.
Despite the ongoing genocide the RPF won the war and set up a tutsi majority government lead by paul kagame. This caused 2 million hutus to flee into the democratic republic of Congo, which in turn started the congo wars. Reffered to as the “African world war”.