Reflection on “Rwandan Genocide”

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The United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution designating 7 April as the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda and encourages “all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other relevant international organizations, as well as civil society organizations, to observe the International Day, including special observances and activities in memory of the victims of the genocide in Rwanda.” The “Rwandan Genocide” refers to the 1994 mass slaughter in Rwanda of the ethnic Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu peoples. The killings began in early April of 1994 and continued for approximately one hundred days until the “Hutu Power” movement’s defeat in mid-July. The genocide was carried out primarily by Hutu supremacist militia groups, co-perpetrated by the state government of Rwanda, the Rwandan Army, and Rwandan civilians in compliance with the “Hutu Power” movement. By its conclusion, at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered, along with thousands of Tutsi sympathizers, moderate Hutus, and other victims of atrocity. Some estimates claim anywhere between 800,000- 1,000,000 killed, with another 2 million refugees packed in disease-ridden refugee camps of neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire. Hutu nationalist group Parmehutu led a social revolution in 1959, which overthrew the Tutsi ruling class, resulting in the death of around 20,000 Tutsis and the exile of another 200,000 to neighboring countries. Rwandan independence from Belgium would follow in 1961, marking the establishment of a Hutu-led Rwandan government. The Tutsis remaining in Rwanda, mostly due to intermarriage or other family ties, would be discriminated against as racially “lesser” citizens by the new Hutu government.

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