Genocide Of The Tutsis In Rwanda In 1994

The genocide (1994 Genocide of Tutsis) in Rwanda between April 7 and July 4, 1994 (within about 100 days), when more than 1 million Tutsis were killed, along with the moderate Hutus, made its mark in history as one of the most brutal and savage slaughters that human history has ever witnessed.

The genocide (1994 Genocide of Tutsis) in Rwanda between April 7 and July 4, 1994 (within about 100 days), when more than 1 million Tutsis were killed, along with the moderate Hutus, made its mark in history as one of the most brutal and savage slaughters that human history has ever witnessed. The fact that this small East African country, which has a surface area of approximately 26 thousand km square (approximately the surface area of Ankara), is remembered with the genocide in its past, is an important indicator for the extent of the tragedy and trauma experienced.

Genocide against Tutsis on April 7 – July 4, 1994

During this high-tension period, President Habyarimana's aircraft, returning from Tanzania on the evening of April 6, 1994, was shot down with anti-aircraft missiles while it was about to land in Kigali. Although it is still not fully revealed who shot it down (the official view of the Rwanda government is that the aircraft was shot down by the extremist Hutu militia to initiate the genocide), then Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira and the French crew of the aircraft lost their lives along with Habyarimana who were on board the aircraft that was shot down. Just after the plane was shot down, the Rwanda Presidential Guards and Hutu Force-Interahamwe-Impuzamugambi militias started to block roads in Kigali, the capital, and kill Tutsis and moderate Hutus according to their execution lists. In the initial attacks, Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was murdered with the accompanying 10 Belgian UN soldiers and the leaders of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, and the President of the Rwanda Constitutional Court were also killed. As can be seen, anyone who could take a preventive role in the Tutsi genocide started to be seen as an enemy and killed. Under the leadership of General Paul Kagame and RPF leader Pasteur Bizimungu, the RPF announced that it ended the ceasefire and reinitiated the war on April 8, 1994. Thus, civil war broke out again in Rwanda.

Following President Habyarimana's death, the FAR seized Rwanda's control, and a new cabinet was formed. In line with the new system created, orders were given to capture and kill Tutsis to the extent of Rwanda's lowest administration. As can be understood, genocide is not only a reactive wave of violence implemented by the mentioned militias, but a planned organisation led and instigated by state administrators.

The wave of violence that lasted for 100 days came to an end when the RPF entered the capital city Kigali on July 4, 1994, and the "brain cadre" that took part in the genocide started to flee to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Thus, the 100-day genocide officially ended, but it cost the lives of approximately one million Tutsis. As of July 18, the RPF dominated all the cities in the country, and RPF President Pasteur Bizimungu, who is originally Hutu, was declared the new president of Rwanda on July 19. General Paul Kagame assumed the role of the Deputy President – a role which was not available in the past, but newly created – and became the Minister of Defence. Kagame has been ruling the country as the President of Rwanda since 2001.

Rwanda After the Genocide

The genocide in Rwanda is a concrete example of how a society that speaks the same language and has the same culture and historical memory can be divided and made hostile enough to slaughter each other. Today, the Republic of Rwanda has declared everyone as "Rwandan" instead of dividing the people as Hutu, Tutsi or Twa, and has forbidden the information about ethnic identity in id cards. After the great massacre, Rwanda tries to bury its pain but keep its historical memory alive so that the aforementioned events do not happen again. The country's political and social system has been built around the purpose of not letting the genocide repeat.

The Attitude of France Before, During and After the Genocide and the United Nations

France sought to relieve the trouble caused by its colonies in Africa gaining their independence one by one by keeping close political, economic and military relations with its former colonies and other formerly colonised Francophone nations that were not the colonies of France (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda), even trying to assume the role of their protector.

Attitude of France and UN

A. The Attitude of France

France sought to relieve the trouble caused by its colonies in Africa gaining their independence one by one by keeping close political, economic and military relations with its former colonies and other formerly colonised Francophone nations that were not the colonies of France (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda), even trying to assume the role of their protector. Within the framework of this policy, France considered the other former Anglophone African colonies and the countries that gained their independence as a kind of puppet governments supported by Britain and the USA. And it interpreted the British-US approaching moves to Francophone African countries, which it regarded as its "backyard", as an "Anglo-Saxon conspiracy" against France's dominance in the region.

In the process following the withdrawal of the Belgians and declaration of its independence, the Rwandan Hutu government under the rule of Grégoire Kayibanda, which was in power until 1973, and France developed economic and especially military relations, and France became the most important partner and ally of Rwanda. It is a historical fact that while developments were taking place in bilateral relations, the separatist policies determined and implemented by the Hutu government against the Tutsis were overlooked, and in the period of Juvénal Habyarimana, who came to power with a coup in 1973, bilateral relations continued to develop at full speed.

With this understanding, Francophone Rwanda, the former colony of Belgium, was seen by France as an outpost to be defended in East Africa, against Anglophone Uganda and Tanzania, possibly backed by Britain and the USA. The Kayibanda and Habyarimana governments, which implemented racist and discriminatory policies, were supported in the international arena as well as in the military and economic fields. This support can be observed in the example of "Opération Noroît", in which France sent military support to the Habyarimana government after the RPF attacked in January 1990. Although the purpose of the French troops landing in Kigali was determined as protecting the French citizens in the country and ensuring their return to France, the French army stayed in Rwanda until the middle of 1993 and provided military training, ammunition and advisory support to the Rwandan Army Forces (RAF).

During the 1994 genocide, as the siege of Kigali by RPF troops was going on, France launched a military intervention in the south-west of the country (in the triangle formed by the cities of Cyangugu-Kibuye-Gikongoro) with the "Opération Turquoise" in June 1994, thanks to its own forces and the authority granted by the UN. Thus, a safe zone was established in 20% of the Rwandan territory called the "Turquoise Zone", and a safe buffer zone for those who had been displaced from their homes due to the conflicts and become refugees in their own country. France showed this operation as a humanitarian intervention made by its own initiative while the whole world remained silent to the events. Those who took refuge in the zone were planned to be transferred to the border cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Goma and Bukavu, under the supervision of the French army. However, while defeating the genocidal Rwandan army of the RPF and the Interahamwe militia and taking Kigali under siege on its way to dominating a large part of the country, the fact that France carried out the operation on the escape route of the Hutus, who were fleeing for fear that the aforementioned militias and RPF would take revenge, instead of carrying out in places where the Tutsis densely lived at the beginning of the genocide and in places where there was a high risk of conflict raised questions. The Opération Turquoise took on a form that protected those who perpetrated the genocide, not the victims of the genocide. Thus, together with the overwhelming majority of fleeing Hutu civilians, the Interahamwe militia and the members of the Rwandan government and army were able to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo with their weapons under the protection of France.

As a result of the civil war, the RPF dominated Rwanda and established its government and cabinet on July 19, 1994. France refused to recognise the new government in the international arena for a while and tried to exclude it from conferences held at the international level.

After the genocide, a Commission was established in the French Parliament to investigate the allegations regarding France's role in the 1994 genocide. The Commission published its report on December 15, 1998. Certifying that there were uncertainty and confusion regarding the approach of the French and the UN, the report acknowledged that the timing of Opération Turquoise was too late, but noted that the steps taken were better than nothing. The Commission came to the conclusion that there was no evidence of France's direct participation in the genocide and cooperation with the militias, and that the French operations were partially successful. In the report, it was acknowledged that France was mistaken about the Rwandan army and the extent of the danger before the genocide, relied heavily on the UNAMIR mission and conducted inadequate diplomacy, and nevertheless, it was stated that France was the country that made the most effort to prevent the genocide.

Within the scope of the investigation carried out in France regarding the downing of the plane of the pre-genocide President Juvénal Habyarimana and the President of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira and the death of three French crew members, the French judge accused the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame's nine close colleagues in November 2006. No charges were brought against Kagame, as he had immunity since he was a Head of State. After that, Kagame cut off diplomatic relations with France, stating that the accusations were political and could not be accepted. He ordered the establishment of another Commission composed of Ministry of Justice officials of Rwanda in order to prove France's involvement in the genocide. Based on the testimony of Rwanda's former Ambassador to France, the Commission came to the conclusion that the Opération Turquoise protected the perpetrators of the genocide. However, it was later claimed that this person was one of the charter members of the RPF and a close friend of Kagame, and was the Ambassador first in Belgium and then in France in 2001, not during the genocide period. In the report published on August 5, 2008, The French government was accused of training Hutu militias, even though they knew about the genocide preparations, and 33 French military and political officials were accused of being involved in the genocide, including the then President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During his visit to Rwanda in 2010, Sarkozy admitted that France made "mistakes" during the genocide.

Lastly, in April 2019, French President Macron ordered the formation of a group of experts to conduct archival work to examine France's involvement in the genocide. This initiative was welcomed by Rwanda. On the other hand, it was also noteworthy that President Macron, who was invited by his Rwandan counterpart to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide, preferred to be represented by the Rwandan (Tutsi) Hervé Berville, a deputy from the ruling party LREM, instead of attending the aforementioned ceremonies.

Even though the two countries have found the middle ground on various issues that can bring them closer together and strengthen their cooperation, the French Embassy in Rwanda is currently at the charge d'affaires level. Efforts have been made to strengthen the relations between the two countries, especially in the fields of culture and development.

B. The United Nations

The facts that the United Nations (UN) was ineffective and inactive in the face of the genocide and that the genocide was carried out in front of the whole world even though the UN forces were in Rwanda continue to be a subject of heavy criticism by the international public.

The UN intervened in the civil war in Rwanda in 1993 at the urging of Rwanda and Uganda during the negotiations of the Arusha Peace Agreement. The United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda (UNOMUR) was commissioned in June 1993 to control the RPF's Uganda-Rwanda border crossings and prevent arms smuggling. In October of the same year, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was established by UN Security Council Resolution 872. Thus, a military unit consisting of Ghana, Bangladesh and Belgium forces, a UN Peacekeeping Force with a total of 2500 people, was deployed in Rwanda. The aim of UNAMIR was designated as supervising the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement.

On April 7, 1994, the genocide and on April 8 the Rwandan civil war resumed, but UNAMIR remained idle in applying the ceasefire in the said Accords. In fact, during the conflict and massacres, it was decided to reduce UNAMIR's military power to 270 soldiers on April 21 with the UNSC resolution. Such a decision taken by the UN while the genocide was going on, led the forces that committed the genocide to gain more self-confidence. On May 17, with the UNSC resolution, it was decided to increase the number of Peace Force Soldiers to 5000, but it took six months to gather this number of soldiers. UNAMIR remained in Rwanda until March 1996.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was established in Arusha, Tanzania with the UNSC resolution on November 8, 1994, and it was aimed to prosecute those responsible for the 1994 genocide and serious human rights violations. The Court, which continued its work and trial of the aforementioned persons until 2012, left its responsibilities to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on July 1, 2012. Since 1995, 93 persons alleged to have seriously violated international humanitarian law have been indicted, and 62 of them have been punished. Rwanda still continues its calls to the international community for the prosecution of genocide criminals who are fugitive or for their extradition to Rwanda.

Presented by Rwanda to the UN General Assembly, amending the resolution 58/234 adopted at the General Assembly in 2003, the draft, in this context, proposes the name of the international day on April 7 to be changed from "International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda" to "International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda", was adopted by consensus at the General Assembly on January 26, 2018. Our country also supported the adoption of the mentioned draft with consensus.

Félicien Kabuga, one of the fugitive accused convicted within the scope of the Rwanda Genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and referred to as the financier of the genocide, was caught and tried in France on May 16, 2020.

In addition, on May 22, 2020, in the statement made by Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, it was noted that Augustine Bizimana, one of the other fugitives wanted within the framework of the legal process carried out by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, died in the Republic of Congo in August 2000.

It was reflected in the press reports that Ladislas Ntaganzwa, who was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015 and extradited to Rwanda in 2016 and has been on trial for genocide, murder and rape in Rwanda since then, was held responsible for the deaths of more than 25,000 Tutsi by court judgement held on May 28, 2020.

At the regular six-month review meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the  International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) held on June 8, 2020, the Prosecutor Brammertz told that the Republic of South Africa (RSA) Government did not cooperate to the required level on the fugitive (Protais Mpiranya ) known to be in the RSA; and noted that if the request for cooperation submitted by IRMCT in August 2018 had been fulfilled in time by the RSA authorities, another fugitive would have been captured. The prosecutor further stated that, with the capture of Félicien Kabuga and confirmation of Augustin Bizimana's death, two of the three main fugitives sought by the Mechanism had been removed from this list.

A Brief Overview of Rwanda in the Pre-Colonization and German Colonialism Years

The Hutu-Tutsi distinction in Rwanda does not, in essence, refer to a race or a distinction between two nations or races from different backgrounds, but a classification that can be called a social status or caste system that exists between the tribes.

Historical Background Rwanda

The Hutu-Tutsi distinction in Rwanda does not, in essence, refer to a race or a distinction between two nations or races from different backgrounds, but a classification that can be called a social status or caste system that exists between the tribes. The noble, wealthy or cattle-owning families and tribes who took part in the administration of the Kingdom were called the Tutsi, while the tribes and tribal members who served them and originally worked on agriculture and dependent on the land were called the Hutu. Tribal members who owned a few cattle based on the social culture existing in the Kingdom (before the colonial period, trade was made by barter, not with money in Rwanda) could transfer from being a Hutu to being a Tutsi. In addition, Hutus, who showed heroism during the wars and made great services to the Kingdom, were deemed worthy of the Tutsi title by the King.

The Berlin Congress, held among the European colonial states between November 1884 and February 1885, constituted a turning point in the context of the African geography, its people's fate, and the shaping of African countries' borders. The African geography was shared around a table where the European countries' representatives came together, and during the 'struggle for Africa' initiated in Rwanda; the part of German East Africa was turned into a colony. At the end of the 19th century, the German colonists started colonialism in the country by establishing despotism in Rwanda under the rule of King Kigeli Rwabugiri of Tutsi origin. The social structure and traditional administration of the Tutsi Kingdom, which existed in Rwanda during the German colonial rule, continued in form.

During the First World War, which broke out in 1914, Rwanda was invaded by the Kingdom of Belgium in 1916 and under the supervision of the agreements reached, and the League of Nations established as a result of the war, Rwanda was officially under the mandate of Belgium in 1919.

Rwanda Colonised as the Belgian Mandate and the Basics of Ethnic Tension

Having a say in the administration of Rwanda since 1919, Belgium has implemented various reforms in the administration of the country beginning from 1921 and started to govern the country directly with the governors it appointed. Within the framework of the reforms, the Tutsis, who were regarded as the 'natural leader of the country' by the Belgian administrators, were given great privileges in the country's administration, military, political, economic, education and social areas, while Hutus were almost treated as second-class people. With the great support of the church, which came to the country with the German colonialism and became established in the country with Belgian (Walloon, French origin in the first years) missionaries; Tutsis had a say in the administration, became rich economically, went to the best schools in the field of education, and achieved a socially superior status. On the other hand, Hutus were excluded from the state's ranks and had a lower level of living standards compared to Tutsis. Moreover, the compulsory and free-of-charge public service brought to the Hutu peasants has paved the way for deepening the social and economic difference between the two groups and the formation of hatred caused by social injustice.

Moreover, the Belgian mandate, by reducing the difference between the two social groups to a race-only difference and coming up with a theory that the monarchy in the country was a product of the intelligence and governance skills of the Tutsi and that, on the contrary, the Hutu people, who were weaker and shorter than the Tutsi in terms of physical traits, were in need of being ruled and governed; paved the way for the race-based division in the country. In 1932, this distinction was formalised, and the people of Rwanda had to have "Tutsi", "Hutu", or "Twa" written on their identity cards. Accordingly, about 85% of the country was designated as Hutu, 14% as Tutsi, and the remaining 1% as "Twa". Thus, the distinction that existed as a social caste was transformed into "the power competition of two completely different races". As a result, this outlook, where, on the one hand, there were the Tutsi who got quality education at good schools, lived in good conditions and raised their children at good schools and became wealthier, and, on the other hand, there were the Hutu who became poorer, were used as a free source of labour, and humiliated race-wise, were the first milestones on the road to the Rwandan genocide.

Belgium supported the Tutsi administration until the end of 1950s, which deepened the social segregation, injustice and the isolation of the Hutu from the state administration and social services. The independence movements that followed the Second World War encouraged the ruling Tutsi people to implement more independent policies and align with the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Tutsi, who grew rich and developed in all areas, started to rise against the Belgian mandate government and bring the churches in Rwanda under their control through religious officials they raised. This also disturbed the Belgian government-backed European Christian religious officials in Rwanda and started to be perceived as a threat to the "Western hegemony" over the church.

The church became an important actor in the colonisation, Christianization of Africa and Rwanda, and thus easier governance of the country. The church, working together with the mandate government, was not only an authority in the religious sense, but also took on the task of shaping the society in the fields of education and health. The church and the Belgian mandate government, troubled by the aforementioned power competition, sent the pro-Hutu Flemish religious officials in place of the pro-Tutsi Walloon priests to Rwanda, started to gradually support the Hutu instead of the Tutsi, completely reversed the ruling order in Rwanda, and thus paved the way for a wave of social crisis and sentiment of revenge.

Independence of Rwanda, Policies Adopted, and the Road to Genocide

The Belgian government's "change of heart" about the Tutsi and its support for the Hutu in this regard was the trigger that set off a social movement that led to the establishment of a new order, called the "Social Revolution", in Rwanda in 1959. The Hutu, who rebelled against the Tutsi rule, demanded equal and just rule, and the Belgian mandate government took a step to turn the "Social Revolution" into a "game of power that changes hands between the two races" by transferring the right to rule the country from the Tutsi to the Hutu. From 1959 to 1962, during the events of the "Revolution", the Tutsi began to kill the Hutu people, and tens of thousands of Tutsi people had to migrate to neighbouring countries, European countries and the United States if they had the financial means. On July 1, 1962, Rwanda gained its independence and Grégoire Kayibanda, who distinguished himself as the "sole representative of the Hutu people" in the country, began to rule Rwanda as President.

Under the Kayibanda administration, the people's financial problems and poverty were tried to be covered by Hutu-Tutsi tensions in Rwanda, where people suffered from political and economic instability due to its overcrowded population, small land area, ethnic tensions, and insufficient underground resources. The administration system, which existed in favour of Tutsi before 1959 and was based on Tutsi monopoly in all areas of the country, was raised on the Hutu monopoly and anti-Tutsi stance. From then on, a new Hutu narration was created against the Tutsi narration made up by the Belgian colonialism, and this new trend became the official ideology of the state based on race. In line with this mindset, it was claimed that Hutus, who were the real owners and the majority of the country, deserve to rule the country on their own democratically, and the Tutsi who came from foreign countries and "occupied" Rwanda represented the previous administration and were a feudal tribe completely foreign to Rwanda. In this sense, it was argued that every Rwandan Hutu needed to defend their country against the Tutsi so that the "racial humiliation" experienced in the past would never happen again. This propaganda carried out by the state over the public for years was the only factor in receiving the support of the Hutu peasants for the genocide in Rwanda.

The administration of Kayibanda and Juvenile Habyarimana government overthrowing Kayibanda through a coup in 1973, put into use the mentioned idea as a tool in every economic, political and social crisis and problem, and always portrayed the Tutsi as the source of all these troubles. The state ignored the aggressive attitude, and bloody attacks occasionally carried out by Hutus, who became radicalised almost by the state's hand, against Tutsis.

The Tutsi fleeing the massacres and political pressure to neighbouring countries (Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) endeavoured to form various resistance organisations and began to carry out several attacks on Rwanda through these organisations. As a result of these attacks, the ethnic tension in the country escalated, and the attacks on the Tutsi intensified. Tutsis, who had to leave their country, continued to become organised in the hope of returning to their country one day.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was established in October 1990 in Uganda, to liberate the Tutsis in Rwanda from the repressive regime and to return the Tutsi who took refuge in the neighbouring countries to their homeland, launched a sudden attack from the south of Uganda to the north of Rwanda. France, which has trained the Rwanda Armed Forces (Forces Armée Rwandaises - FAR) since the country's independence and provided political and economic support to the country, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Zaire at the time) rushed to help Rwanda. The RPF's attack was repulsed, but the clashes also gave a trump card to the Habyarimana government in the context of intensive propaganda about how great the "Tutsi danger over Rwanda" was. The reinforcing army deployed by France in Rwanda continued to remain in Rwanda until the end of 1993 and then continued to train and arm the FAR, which trained militias that would later play an active part in the genocide.

Recovering after the mentioned defeat, the RPF continued to fight with the FAR through guerrilla warfare, thanks to the military and economic support it received from Uganda. The clashes in question continued from 1991 to 1993, and radical changes occurred in Rwanda during this period.

A new constitution also allowing for the establishment of new political parties in Rwanda was adopted on June 10, 1991. Up to this date, Rwanda was under a single-party administration, and all citizens were required to be members of this party. The new parties emerging after this amendment wanted to become a partner with the political power, yet the extremist Hutu nationalists within these parties later separated and established the militia organisation called the "Hutu Power" that would take part in the 1994 genocide. The Habyarimana regime also tolerated these parties' internal separation and the extremist Hutu nationalist "Interahamwe" and "Impuzamugambi" militia organisations that emerged with the mentioned militia to find more political support. These organisations were at the forefront of the initiation of the genocide, and in the propaganda activities carried out for the Hutus in the country to participate in the genocide.

Besides the developments that occurred, the "Arusha Peace Agreement (Arusha Accords)" also represents the last turning point on the path leading to genocide. President Habyarimana agreed to join the peace talks with the RPF due to the FAR that started to pull back against the RPF, and the pressure applied by France and other countries. The related negotiations and agreements made in the Tanzanian city of Arusha were conducted from July 1992 to August 1993, and an agreement was reached on all topics, including the declaration of a ceasefire by the RPF, performing democratic elections in Rwanda, and sharing the ministry seats in the cabinet with other parties in the country and the RPF, the readmission of Tutsi refugees in the neighbouring countries to Rwanda and solving the refugee issue, and the RPF's laying down its arms and merging with the FAR. Peace negotiations and the political demands of the RPF during this period deeply disturbed the extremist Hutu nationalists and militias, and the first seeds of the "final solution" plan, which envisaged the killing of all Tutsi to solve the "Tutsi issue" in the country, were sown during this period.

President Habyarimana continuously postponed the implementation of the conditions agreed upon in the peace talks, and thus the tension in the country escalated climbed to a great extent. Violence in the country began to escalate, and the civil war was likely to be retriggered. Even death lists were prepared for the "final solution" to be implemented against the Tutsi during this time. These lists also referred to those who were not against the Tutsis and RPF but opposed the Habyarimana regime and the "Hutu Power" as "moderate Hutus," and they received their share of the genocide.

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