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  • Micheal N.

Rwanda Genocide

Reflecting on the 30th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide is a somber reminder of the horrors humanity is capable of, but it also serves as a testament to the resilience and progress that can emerge from tragedy.

The Genocide

In the East-African country Rwanda, there are three ethnic groups, between which tension simmered for many centuries. The smallest group, the Twa, make up 1% of the population, while the Tutsis constitute 14%, and the Hutus make up 85% of the population. During German and Belgian colonial rule in Rwanda, there was a monarchy of Tutsis who imposed laws that treated the Hutus as second-class citizens. From 1959 to 1961, fighting broke out between the two groups, labeled as the Rwandan revolution, leading to Rwanda becoming an independent republic in 1962. Since then, Rwanda was ruled by Hutu presidents. Many Tutsis migrated to Uganda in the north, and they formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front in 1987. In 1990, they started the Rwandan Civil War and tried to overthrow the Hutu Government. The Genocide started on the 6th of April 1994 after the Hutu President was assassinated when his plane was shot down. Hutu extremists blamed not only the RPF but all Tutsis. The RPF, in turn, blames the Hutu extremists for shooting down the plane to use it as an excuse for genocide. The youth wing Interahahmwe of the government was turned into a militia to carry out a 100-day genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 Tutsis were killed.

Aftermath of the Genocide

The RPF, with the backing of the Ugandan Army, invaded Rwanda and quickly assumed control. Already fearing revenge, millions of Hutus fled to Tanzania in the east, Burundi in the south, and the majority to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then called Zaire. The RPF followed the Hutus into Zaire, searching for those responsible for the genocide. According to Human Rights Groups, the RPF killed many Hutus who were unresponsive for the genocide. The RPF backed rebel groups in Zaire fighting the Congolese army and Hutu militias, and they overthrew the President of Zaire. The unstable government led to the First Congo War from 1996-1997, also known as Africa’s World war, which involved many African armies and militias and the backing of countries from other continents such as the United States, France, China, and Israel. The war was then followed by the Second Congo War starting in 1998 and ending in 2003.

Looking Back and Rwanda Today

Since its turmoil, Rwanda has prospered. Kigali, the country’s capital, is famous for being one of the cleanest in Africa. The country has the highest number of female politicians in parliament, with over 60%. Rwanda's economy has grown by more than six times since 2000 when the first Tutsi President Paul Kagame from the RPF took over. He was born in Rwanda, but his family fled to Uganda when he was only two years old, and he joined the RPF during its time when it started the Civil War until today. The President won the last election with a majority of 98%, but it is presumed that the number is not real, and he is seen as an authoritarian ruler. In Rwanda, talking about ethnicity is illegal; the government said it is to avoid bloodshed and conflict. This, however, means that people can’t talk about the genocide, and it is still a very sensitive topic. On Sunday the 7th April, President Kagame and many other politicians such as Bill Clinton and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attended to commemorate. Emmanuel Macron did not attend, but the French Foreign Minister did. Rwanda accused France of not preventing the Genocide and training Hutu militants. Macron did record a video for the commemoration saying that France and their allies failed to prevent the genocide because they lacked the will to do so.

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