president of rwanda

Genocide of Tutsi in Rwanda (1994)

I haven’t seen a post that really depicts the history of Rwanda yet. So here’s my little contribution. By the way, thanks for the posts you reblogged.

Before the colonization, Rwanda was made of three social classes : Tutsi (10-15%), Hutu (over 80%) and Twa (less than 1%). Tutsi (upper social class) were cattle breeders, Hutu were farmers and Twa (lower social class) were hunters. One could become Tutsi or Hutu by marriage for example. They all had the same language, same religion and same culture.

German settlers arrived in Rwanda in the end of 19th century. They thought that Tutsi were more intelligent and more beautiful (according to European beauty standards of course : tall, skinny, light-skinned, thin nose, thin lips etc.). They thought that Hutu were boor, stupid and ugly (again, according to European beauty standards : shorter, huge lips, large nose etc). Twa were very short and seen as a species between humans and monkeys. 
After losing WWI, Germany gave Rwanda (and Burundi, which is like the twin of Rwanda with same language, same social classes etc) to Belgium. Belgians thought the same as Germans and started to gather all Rwandans and measure their height, their nose, etc to see if they were from the superior race (aka Tutsi) or inferior race (aka Hutu (or Twa but Twa were a very small minority)). Because of that, some Hutu became Tutsi just because they “looked” Tutsi and vice versa. Belgians privileged Tutsi over Hutu. They said only Tutsi could rule the country because they were the only intelligent ones. Tutsi were privileged in administration, education etc. Eventually in the 50s, Tutsi Rwandans asked for independence and Belgians didn’t want to lose their colony so they started to talk to Hutu who’d been discriminated against for a few decades. They said : “Look how Tutsi despise you! They think only they can rule the country but this country is yours! They don’t even come from here, they stole your land (there’s a myth saying that Twa were the first inhabitants in Rwanda, Hutu came from West Africa and Tutsi were the last ones to arrive in Rwanda and forced Hutu to subject to them). You have to rebel against Tutsi supremacy!” So that’s what Hutu did in 1959. The Tutsi King fled. Hutu killed thousands of Tutsi with the support of Belgian settlers and Catholic church, and hundreds thousands of Tutsi had to flee to Uganda and Tanzania. Rwanda became a Republic in 1961 and Rwandans elected a Hutu president named Kayibanda. Finally Rwanda became independent in 1962.

The president Kayibanda was an extremist and under his leadership, thousands of Tutsi were killed in 1963 and in 1972, just for being Tutsi. Their homes were burnt, they were stolen and beaten up. They were fired from their jobs, fired from schools. And hundreds thousands of them fled outside the country. In 1973, a Hutu man staged a coup d'état and became president. His name’s Habyiarimana He seemed a little bit more accepting of Tutsi but he still didn’t want the Tutsi exiles to come back. Because of that, the Tutsi exiles with the help of Hutu political opponents who had also fled created an army called PRF (Patriotic Rwandan Front) to come back to Rwanda by force, in 1987. The PRF declared war against the Rwandan government in 1990 and the war went on until 1994. During those 4 years, innocent Tutsi were killed or imprisonned by the government every time PRF tried to attack the government army. There was a huge propaganda against Tutsi (through the Radio for example) and that propaganda made Hutu think that Tutsi wanted to take back the power like under the Belgian colonization. Therefore, every Tutsi was an enemy.

On April 6, 1994, the president’s plane was shot down. Hutu extremists might be responisble for that. The day after, moderate Hutu were killed by extremist Hutu and the genocide of Tutsi started, which made about 1 million victims in 3 months. Rwanda’s population was about 7 millions at that time. The genocide was planned and organised by the Hutu extremist government (as I said, the moderate members were killed) and executed by militia who recruited Hutu civilians and gave them machetes, grenades, and guns.

France had been an ally of Rwanda since its independence. France helped Rwanda fight back against the PRF during the war until end of 1993. France also trained Rwandan soliders (the army was made of 5,000 men in 1990 and 35,000 men in 1994 because of France). France gave arms and ammunition to Rwanda even after the genocide started. France never asked President Habyirimana to stop discrimination and killings of Tutsi. Actually the French President and Habyirimana were good friends. In June 1994, France decided to take action in Rwanda, officially to save Tutsi but its intention is very contested today and we think their main goal was to not let the PRF win the war, because if they did, Rwanda would become English-speaking (PRF was made of people who grew up in Uganda and Tanzania so they spoke English) instead of French-speaking and France still wanted Rwanda to be French-speaking so that they could have an influence on it. The thing is the PRF was actually liberating Tutsi by chasing the Hutu extremist killers so fighting against them meant letting more Tutsi being killed. France or French politicians have never been sentenced for that.

Belgium also was an ally of Rwanda until 1991 when they stopped supporting Rwanda because of the murders of Tutsi.

While the genocide was happening, even though everyone knew it was a genocide, the UN didn’t want to admit it was, because otherwise they would have had to take action and almost no country wanted to send their soldiers to Rwanda.

I really, really, wanted to emphasize some things:
1. Colonization played a big role in Rwanda self-destruction
2. Tutsi were discriminated against and killed for years before the genocide of 1994 happened
3. The genocide didn’t happen because the president’s plane was shot down. Extermination plans were already known by France and UN for months/years. It is important to remember that, because in the West, people like to think that Hutu turned crazy just because their president was killed and it doesn’t really surprise anyone because “Africans are savage and violent and uncivilised anyways”. 
4. The genocide could have been avoided or at least there could have been way less victims if the UN and the rest of the world had cared about the 1 million innocent people who were being slaughtered (mostly Tutsi but also Hutu who tried to protect Tutsi)

If anyone wants to ask questions I’ll be glad to answer.

Btw, I am Belgian and Rwandan.

ibtimes.co.uk
DR Congo: 5 questions to understand 'Africa's World War'
DR Congo is home to the deadliest conflict since WW2.

1. Where is Congo?

Congo, which is one-fourth the size of the United States, shares borders with Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville), South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Its border with Rwanda is one of the most volatile and deadly in the world.

2. Why is the conflict in DR Congo nicknamed ‘Africa’s World War’?

With up to six million dead and over two million displaced between 1998 and 2003, DR Congo was home to the deadliest conflict since World War II. At the height of the conflict, nine countries were fighting each other on Congolese soil. Millions more have been driven to the brink by starvation in the country that is the size of Western Europe.

The victims died either as a direct result of fighting or due to malnutrition and disease. Additionally several million women and girls have been subjected to rape, which is used as a weapon of war. A 2011 study showed there are “1, 150 women raped every day, 48 women raped every hour, and four women raped every five minutes” in the DR Congo.

3. What started the war?

Mobutu Sésé Seko was president of the DR Congo, which was also known as Zaire for much of his reign from 1965 to 1997. Mobutu renamed the country Zaire in 1971 as part of his programme of “authenticité” to erase the last vestiges of colonialism.

While Mobutu, a dictator, was courted by the West for decades due to his staunch anti-communist stance, the seeds of DR Congo’s undoing lay in the 1994 assassination of Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana.

After Habyarimana died, a Hutu extremist regime − the “gouvernement intérimaire rwandais” which promoted the Hutu Power agenda− seized power and around 800,000 Tutsis were killed in a space of 100 days in what is now known as the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The leaders armed the Interahamwe and other militia groups, which ultimately carried out genocide acts against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

A Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was led by current president Paul Kagame, managed to drive the Hutu regime away but more than a million Hutu refugees fled into Zaire, as they feared revenge for the genocide.

As Rwanda welcomed a new Tutsi-led government, the presence of the Hutu Interahamwe and Mobutu’s support for his Hutu allies in Zaire precipitated the disaster that was to come.

The United Nations (UN) also played a large role in the conflict, as its UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) empowered the Hutu extremists as leaders of the refugee camps and gave them control of food distribution.

After Habyarimana died, a Hutu extremist regime − the “gouvernement intérimaire rwandais” which promoted the Hutu Power agenda− seized power and around 800,000 Tutsis were killed in a space of 100 days in what is now known as the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The leaders armed the Interahamwe and other militia groups, which ultimately carried out genocide acts against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.

A Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was led by current president Paul Kagame, managed to drive the Hutu regime away but more than a million Hutu refugees fled into Zaire, as they feared revenge for the genocide.

As Rwanda welcomed a new Tutsi-led government, the presence of the Hutu Interahamwe and Mobutu’s support for his Hutu allies in Zaire precipitated the disaster that was to come.

The United Nations (UN) also played a large role in the conflict, as its UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) empowered the Hutu extremists as leaders of the refugee camps and gave them control of food distribution.

No longer backed by the United States and France, Mobutu was forced to flee and the Rwandans installed Laurent-Désiré Kabila in his place in Kinshasa. Kabila reverted Zaire’s name back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 1998, Kabila and Kagame, who was then vice-president, fell out and Rwanda invaded DR Congo, again. Kabila recruited some of the former Rwandan Hutu forces, which angered Kagame and prompted the war. Angola and Zimbabwe teamed up with DR Congo, while Uganda and Burundi lined up alongside Rwanda.

4. Are Congolese still fighting?

A fragile peace deal in 2002 initiated the withdrawal of foreign armies from DR Congo, but local rebel groups tied to the Rwandan government continued to control much of the east of the country.

In 2000, Hutu extremists in eastern Congo launched a new armed group, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The group counts among its number the original members of the Interahamwe that carried out the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Under Kabila, the FDLR were used as a proxy force against the foreign armies, such as the Rwandan Patriotic Army and Rally for Congolese Democracy, backed by Rwanda.

In 2002, FDLR units moved into North and South Kivu, border regions with Rwanda that are still volatile today, where residents live in fear of death, rape or displacement. Its members are mainly former soldiers of the National Congress for the Defence of the People.

In March 2005, the FDLR announced that they were abandoning their armed struggle and returning to Rwanda as a political party. The same year, United Nations Security Council ordered the FDLR to disarm and leave the DR Congo. By 2007, however, the FDLR was still fighting against the Congolese army.

In 2008, both the DR Congo and Rwanda decided to disband the FDLR and the Rwandans entered Congo to round up FDLR fighters.

A year later, Congo mounted a joint operation with Rwandan troops to weaken Rwandan rebel Hutu militias active in eastern DR Congo. After the peace agreement was signed in 2012 in DR Congo, a group of Congolese army mutineers − mainly Tutsi survivors of the genocide and former soldiers of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) − began an offensive under the name M23 in the eastern regions.

In early 2013 the UN secured a regional agreement to end the M23 rebellion in eastern areas, and the group’s alleged founder Bosco Ntaganda surrendered to the International Criminal Court to face war-crimes charges.

The UN accused Rwanda and Uganda, which border DR Congo to the west, of having supported the M23 rebels, but Kigali and Kampala have both denied the claims.

Human rights groups also claimed M23 fighters have been responsible for widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes and the forced recruitment of children.

5. Is the conflict mainly political?

No. It also has an economic side, as DR Congo is potentially one of the richest countries on earth with an estimated $24 trillion (£15.5tn, €21.1tn) of untapped mineral resources.

With the world’s second-largest river flowing through it, DR Congo has limitless water and vast mineral wealth, including abundant deposits of copper, gold, diamonds, cobalt, uranium, coltan and oil. The country also boasts vast energy resources and the World Bank notes that “with a 40GW potential, Inga is the world’s largest hydropower site and its proper development can make it the African continent’s most cost-effective, renewable source of energy with an estimated generation cost of $0.03 per kilowatt hour.”

The country said it aims to double tax revenues from minerals but investors warned that an overhaul of the mining code could remove incentives to invest there.

Many neighbouring countries, such as Rwanda, have been accused of profiting from the anarchy to plunder natural resources.

Despite its resources, DR Congo is also the world’s third poorest country per capita ($700, £452, €615), just above the Central African Republic and Somalia

“If I were president, I would help the most vulnerable.”

The Guardian interviewed eight girls from around the world, asking them about their hopes and dreams for the future. One girl, Ana from Peru, aspires to be a psychologist; another, Caro from Kenya, dreams of becoming a journalist. Many of the girls also revealed deep-seated desires to create positive change in society. Muskan from Pakistan promises to “wipe out terrorism” if she were to become president, while Cindy from Rwanda “would help the most vulnerable and marginalized, and people with HIV.”

Learn more about these girls via The Guardian