Rwandan genocide

Essay by goudd May 2005

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On April 6, 1994, Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira were killed when their plane was shot down by a missile believed to have been launched by the Hutu military rulers. The killings of the Tutsi by the Hutu began half an hour later.

Within 24 hours of Habyarimana's jet being shot down, roadblocks began to appear around Kigali, Rwanda's capital. The Tutsis were separated from the Hutus and were beaten to death with machetes, or knives. Thousands were killed on the first day, and more than 800,000 were slaughtered over a period of three months. On April 8, 1994, the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front), which was made up of about 14,000 Tutsi refugees, initiated a major campaign to end the genocide and rescue 600 of its troops around Kigali. In July 1994, the RPF takes over Kigali, which forces the Hutu government to flee to nearby Zaire (now called the Congo).

Before the genocide, Hutus made up about 85% of the population, the Tutsis 14% and the Twa group 1%. The Hutus wanted to get rid of the minority Tutsi, or "Inyenzi" (the Kinyarwanda word for "cockroach") forever, and they almost succeeded. This "ethnic cleansing" was carried out with extraordinary cruelty. People were burnt alive, thrown dead or alive into pits and often forced to kill their own friends or relatives. The survivors were tracked down all over the country, even into hospitals and churches. Some of the worst slaughters were aimed at people seeking refuge in churches. The women were also tortured and raped.

According to a human rights report released in March of 1999, the United States, Belgium, France, and the United Nations all had previous warnings about plans for the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, and could have prevented it.

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