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Genocides: Rwanda

HISTORIC GENOCIDES #5: The Rwandan Genocide, 1994

The Rwandan Genocide took place between 7th April 1994 to July 1994, started and endorsed by the Rwandan political party, Interhamwe.

The origins of the genocide was Interhamwe’s ideology of Hutu Power. Hutu Power was an ethno-supremacist ideology that called for “lesser” other Rwandan cultures to be exterminated, like the Tutsi. This all came to a head with the Rwandan Civil War. The Rwandan Patriotic Front, who sought to overthrow the ruling Rwandan party, Interhamwe, was labelled by President Juvenal Habyarimana as Tutsi creating an ethnic crisis. On April 6th 1994, Habyarimana was assassinated after a ceasefire was negotiated with the RPF. This was the immediate trigger for the genocide with key political and military Tutsi figures executed in retaliation before the massacre moved into villages and towns.

Due to the ethnic boundaries and differences within the towns, many Tutsi were murdered by their neighbors or acquaintances with machetes or rifles. Sexual assault was also used as a tool by the Hutu on the Tutsi population, and any Tutsi sympathizers. HIV positive prisoners were freed to form “Rape Squads”, and cripple future generations of Tutsi. This was all enabled through months of anti-Tutsi propaganda where they were professed to be a disease for the Hutu population by radio stations such Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines.

The most common forms of murder were through seeking out hiding groups, mainly in churches and schools, of Tutsi and butchering them with machetes and rifles, before leaving the corpses in the street, out of disrespect and psychological warfare.

Once this news of the genocide reached the RPF, their war against Interhamwe resumed. In total, around 500,000 – 1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, with 250,000-500,000 victims of sexual assault.