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Historical Roots Of The Rwandan Genocide

Even though it can be difficult to identify a single factor or cause for any historical event in Rwanda, one of its most prominent causes is 1916. This was the year that Belgium began to govern Rwanda after World War I. It is important to note that Germany was responsible for the creation of the Tutsi superiority theory. The Rwandan Genocide was the result of this clear race preference.

Like many other colonized nations in the past, Rwanda was also seen by Belgium as a way to achieve a wealthy goal. Tensions began to grow between Tutsis Hutus Belgium. Some Tutsis even attempted a revolt against the colonizers. The race of the Tutsi would be officially recognized on their identification papers, separating the inferior from superior. Mutara, the king of Rwanda who reigned from 1931 to 1959, tried to bring down the tensions between Hutu’s and Tutsi’s. Mutara passed away in 1959. Rumors immediately spread that the Hutus were the perpetrators. Some believed it was a Hutu attempt to reduce Tutsi influence in Rwanda. Hutu attacks were violent after the Hutu assassinated Mutara’s brother and killed a Hutu political leader. Tutsi killed in the violence ranged anywhere from 20,000 up to 100,000. The hatred between both groups was further intensified. The Belgians held municipal elections in 1960, and Hutu officials were elected with a huge majority by Rwandans.

Rwanda’s independence in 1962 was accompanied by violence. The tensions between the two factions were still high. In 1973, Juvenal Habyarimana took control of the country through a coup d’état. In 1989, Rwanda’s population had reached 7.1 million. The Rwandan Civil War began in 1990, despite a better economy. Habyarimana was killed in a plane accident in 1994, after a short cease-fire in 1993. Hutu blamed Tutsi. Thus began the Rwandan Genocide. Over 100 days it lasted and approximately 800,000 Tutsi died (as did Hutu sympathetic to Tutsi). UN peacekeeping force was sent but when Hutu learned that soldiers could not fire, they were disappointed. Rwandans were not helped by many countries. Only the USA, Belgium and Canada saved their nationals.

RPF took back control of the country and it was soon peaceful again. The ICTR came into being. The genocide was unfortunately responsible for approximately two millions Hutus leaving the country. This resulted to refugee problems within neighboring countries. Rwanda’s economy is still improving, and there are no longer any ethnic tensions, so the barriers between the two sides have disappeared. Now a Presidential Republic they are ranked as the third least corrupt country in Africa. They have improved the relationship between Hutu, Tutsi and other ethnic groups, making sure that another genocide, like the one of 1994, will not happen. Rwanda’s inability to cope with events that arose from independence can be traced back to its division into Hutu vs Tutsi. Rwanda started to flourish once the RPF was in charge and they had put aside their differences. After the troubles, they were able deal with them well, but for the most part, they had trouble finding solutions.


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