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Rwanda's Genocide Case: The longstanding effect of colonialism on Rwanda

Human remains are compiled still compiled throughout Rwanda
Human remains are compiled still compiled throughout Rwanda

Background information

Th Rwandan Genocide is a product of Eurpean colonialism and still prvelenct in Africa. When the Belgiun came to Rwanda, it ruled 30 years and through out the 30 years it ruled Rwanda, Belgiun divided the ethnicities into different categories and racialized. Tutsi who are nilotics were prefered by the Belgium colony over Hutu and Twa ethnicities. The Belgiun colonial rule also assigned each person in Rwanda IDs they could identify themselves with these ethnicies. Tutsi people benefited the most of this ethnic classifacation as they were considered better looking and less inferior compared to ther ethnicities. They had a range of advantages including political power and economies. This prestige status created resentments among the Hutus hence would lay the foundation for genocide. Hutus particularly faced discrimination as they were favored lesser by the Europeans and had less access to all the prestigiuous position in government even though they made up the majority of the population. Hutus revolted and took over the rule of Rwanda. when Hutu took over the political rule of the country they used both racial jsutification and discrimination for excuting Tutsi people from Rwanda. This ultimated mounted to the in 1994 geneocide.

The Political rule of the Hutu

Rwandan's mass migration during the genocide
Rwandan's mass migration during the genocide

In November 1959, Hutu Peasant Revolt took place and it lasted for 2 years. The cause of the Hutu appraisal was to end the discrimination it faced during the Belgium rule and Tutsi's prestigious government positions. Hutu apprasing resulted the death of thousands of Tutsis and 330,000  of them sough refuge outside of Rwanda. By the time Belgium gave independence to Rwanda in 1962, majority of the government officials were Hutus. Tutsi people had to flee to neighboring countries as they were systematically killed by the Hutu extremists and only half of the Tutsi populaiton remained in Rwanda, those that endured the most violence. The Hutu used Hamitic Hypothesis, a racist ideology that subjugated Tutsis to inhuman treatements. When Hutus took over the government, Hutus radical leaders facilitated widespread of discrimination against Tutsi. The Hutu government recognized Tutsi as foreigners and exiled most of the Tutsi leaders to Uganda. They imposed education quotas and excluded Tutsis from prominent careers. Worsening discrimination by the Hut caused thousands of the Tutsi population to flee other countries. In the 1960s the Hutus cemented its power. Tutsi people fought for government positions, however the Hutus were adamant in letting a Tutsi to rule the country. As a result civil war broke out in in 1990 between the government’s armed forces and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Tutsi exiles in Uganda. The ongoing civil war accompained with many actors led to anti-Tutsi propaganda that spread throughout the country. According to the University of Minessota's Holocause and Genocide Studies on Rwanda, Hutu extremists used radio channel called Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (TLM) perpetuated anti-Tutsi and functioned through out the the years leading upto the genocide. When the Arusha Accords was signed between Hutu and Tutsi leaders to mitigate violence and share the political power in 1993, Hutus were extremely against it. The agreement became a significant factor for the cause of the genocide. The extremist Hutu radio also portrayed the agreement as unfair to the Hutu population and disseminated hatred ideas against the Tutsi population. The radio contributed to the spark of the genocide as well as it announced the killing of both the Rwandan and Burundian presidents On April 6 1994. The radical Hutu radio channel announced the death and urgued Hutus to “go to work” inciting the Hutus to start attacking the Tutsis. From April to July 800,000 in 1994, Tutsis were killed and many moderate Hutus were also massacred.

How did the Hutu extremist carried out the Genocide.

The most genocidal acts took place south of Rwanda, but throughout the nation, the places Tutsi resided were always targeted.
The most genocidal acts took place south of Rwanda, but throughout the nation, the places Tutsi resided were always targeted.

Hutu extremists planned out a campaign to incite the spark of the Genocide. They killed prominent Hutu leaders and accused the Tutsi population of the killings. Those in the political power helped import large amont of immunitions, including of fire arms and machets and distributed among their allies during the early stages of the genocide. Some of the Tutsis took in refuge in schools, hospitals and churches. These places later became where they are mostly massacred. In Kigali, for example, a group of Tutsi, 2, 500 took refugee in school called Ecole Technique Officielle, a previous belgium school protected by belgian troops and the UN. Accordin to the U.S. Holacause Memorial Museum, on April 1994, the Belgian troops and the UN peacekeeping troops withdrew amid the genocide leaving the Tutsi civilians at the hands of the Hutu extremist armies who invaded by the minute killing all the of Tutsi in one day. Approximately 200,000 were part of the Hutu extremists whom carried the genocide. 8000 of people have being butchered daily during the Genocide. When foreigners were rescued from the violance, innocent Tutsis were left behind even though they were at high risk of being killed. In three days of rescue mission of the foreigners, According to the Atlantic, "20,000 Rwandans were killed."

The effect of the Genocide and the International Community responses

Despite the prevalance of the violence with media headlines reporting and the numbers of people dying pilling up, the UN and U.S. refused to use the term genocide and didn't intervene until 1million people were killed toward the end of the Genocide. The U.S. and the UN took part of the ongoing genocide as they both denied any assistance to help the genocide and systematically worked to cover up the number of people killed. General Romeo Dallaire, UN Peacekeeping commander in Rwanda had the mission to report Rwanda's affairs. The UN and the U.S. completely blocked any of his requested to the UN and the U.S. for immidiate interference of the genocide. General Dallaire graphically testified the notorious act of the genocide and also months before the genocide happened, he warned the international community the posibility of the genocide; however, the UN and U.S. both denied the warning. During the genocide, the UN has not passed any resolution for Rwanda, in fact during the Kigali massacre, the UN withdrew American and European personnel while leaving the Tutsi people behind. In the U.S., the Clinton administration neglected the genocide in Rwanda. According to Bystanders to Genocide by the Atlantic, Power argues that through many interview conducted with multilevel officials, the United States was atmost bystander of the genocide in Rwanda. In 1998, President Clinton, visited Rwanda to officially apoligize for the lack of intervention. Both the UN and the U.S. had done more effort to removing the peacekeeping troops than actually ending the violence. Accordin to the Atlantic, the U.S. not only did it knew the ongoing genocide, the U.S.

Aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements. It refused to use its technology to jam radio broadcasts that were a crucial instrument in the coordination and perpetuation of the genocide.


The colonial effect of the Belgium had left Rwanda and its people in vulnerable state. The division of the different ethnicities related to political power. Something that was apparent since the Rwanda's independence was the systematic killings of Tutsis which had been ongoing for years up to the 1994 genocide. The Internartional community had little to nothing to intervene the violence before the genocide and during the genocide even though big media reported the intentions Hutu exremists of the extermination of the Tutsi population.


Power, S. (2019, September 8). Bystanders to genocide. The Atlantic.


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