Genocide in Rwanda: Insiders and Outsiders


Genocide refers to an act of intentional and planned destruction of a given tribe, race, nationality or even ethnicity. The intended destruction could be with respect to the whole considered group or part of the group. The genocide in Rwanda was a mass killing of a tribe in the country of Rwanda. This paper seeks to discuss the Rwandan genocide. The paper will look into the Rwandese pre genocide history, factors that led to the genocide, the execution of the genocide and impacts of the genocide.

Before the Rwandese genocide

The genocide that took place in Rwanda was a result of a conflict between two communities in the country. The communities which are the Tutsi and the Hutus are considered to majorly contribute to the country’s population and had coexisted in the region with technical rivalry between them.

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Quiet a number of events had been identified between the two communities over time before the 1994 genocide. Cases like the forceful change of governance that was a result of the Hutus overthrowing the Tutsi from power in the year 1959 was one of the early instances that revealed tension between the two communities. Other events such an attempted coup in the year 1965 and a mass murder of the Hutu community in the year 1972 were also characteristics of tension between the Hutus and the Tutsis (Thompson 281).

The history of Rwanda however reveals a peaceful coexistence between the two communities in the pre colonial period. This was particularly notable by the fact that the country was ruled by the Tutsi minority over the majority Hutus. The Tutsi are estimated to have been less than fifteen percent of the country’s total population at the time. The majority Hutus who formed about eighty five percent of the country’s population however seemed to have been comfortable with the Tutsi rule and no wars or conflict over leadership was reported.

The peace that existed between these communities passed the test of time during the first face of the country’s colonial period under the Germans. The situation, however, changed after the First World War when German lost its control over Rwanda to Belgium. Under its colonial rule, Belgium adopted the divide and rule system in which they favored the Tutsis over the Hutus.

This difference in treatment that the two communities were accorded formed an initial difference between them with the Hutus developing a sense of hatred over the Tutsis. Things were however under control until the aftermath of the Second World War when Rwanda, like other African countries started the fight for independence.

The Tutsis following their basic dominance over the Hutus were on the fore front leading the fight for the country’s independence from Belgium. This again turned events heightening the conflict between the two communities as the colonial Belgium changed their favoritism towards the Hutus community (Jones 1).

More education started being accorded to the Hutu community after the year 1950 and their inclusion in the government was also increased. The Hutus were then motivated to overcome the dominance that had been practiced by the minority Tutsis in the country.

Consequently, the Hutus launched a campaign in the year 1957 to counter this Tutsi dominance of the country’s governance initiating violent attacks against the Tutsis in the year 1959. An electoral process was held in the country in the year 1960 followed by a post independence election that was won by a Hutu candidate as the president leading to the abolition of the monarch governance system that had been held by the minority Tutsis (Huijboom and Gruenfeld 31).

The post colonial Rwandese government was not at all favorable to the Tutsis. The government that was formed by the Hutus community was actually harsh to the Tutsis forcing many of the Tutsis to flee the countries into neighboring countries like Uganda and Burundi as refugees.

A further military government that was a result of a coup in the year 1973 fostered a dictatorial government that never bothered to consider the plight of the oppressed Tutsis. Tutsis who had fled to Uganda meanwhile organized into a military starting a civil war in northern Rwanda in the year 1990. A peace deal was then signed for power sharing between the two communities but its implementation failed (Socsci 1).

The assassination of Burundi’s president, who was a Hutu, in the year 1993, was widely celebrated by Tutsis in Rwanda also raising ethnical tensions with the Rwandese Hutus. The Tutsi majority in the Burundi’s army then forced Hutus to flee to Rwanda. It was the death of the Rwandese president together with the president of Burundi after the plane they were flying in was bombed as it landed in Kigali. Hutus then started the mass massacre of Tutsis and opposition Hutus (African Union 62).

The genocide

The plane crush that occurred on sixth April of the year 1994 was a land mark in the history of Rwanda. The crash was immediately followed by violence in the country as it was a clear point that the president was bombed.

Under the cover of the violence, Hutu leaders took the advantage and planned for attacks that were meant to clear out the whole tribe of Tutsi which they had been blaming for pressure in the country. Reports indicated that the number of those who participated in the attacks were about two hundred thousand. The attacks were launched at the Tutsis and those who were suspected to belong to the tribe in their homes where they were killed and women were raped.

Measures were also taken to trap the Tutsis who were trying to escape the genocides by placing roadblocks upon where fleeing people were similarly murdered. The killings were continued over time until a rebel group that was mainly dominated by the Tutsi community overpowered the Hutus (United 1).

In a span of three months, the mass attacks on Tutsis and Hutus who were considered to be neutral or on the side of the Tutsis were conducted before the watch of the international community. The United Nations, the African union as well as the neighboring countries to Rwanda played a passive role as people.

Immediately after the death of the president from the crash, the presidential security personnel launched a massive attack killing opposition leaders with an almost simultaneous recruitment of armed personnel that was sent all over the country for a avenge president’s death.

Organized by Hutus extremist political class together with individuals who dominated the business sector and government security agencies, a large force was mobilized to undertake the genocide. The force was even further aided as civilian Hutus later joined the wave to clear off Tutsis and their allies. Cases were even reported where Hutus who were never willing to kill their Tutsi neighbors were forced by the military to undertake such killings.

The government, or rather political and military forces that had been allied to the slain president even offered payments as motivation to those who participated in the Tutsi genocide. The only hope of the Tutsis which was international peace keepers were also withdrawn from the country after some of their officers were killed in the process of the attacks. The killings continued as rebel forces that was led by Mr. Paul Kagame, and which was accused of the attack on the president’s plane increased its attacks on government military forces.

Though the United Nation made efforts to establish negotiations to end the killings, the efforts were fruitless and the attacks both by Hutus on the Tutsis and those by the rebel forces on government military continued until the rebel forces defeated government military and Mr. Kagame established as the country’s president (BBC 1).

Causes of the Rwandan genocide

The causes of the genocide can be viewed in two perspectives, those factors that originated from Rwanda as well as the factors that originated from outside Rwanda. The immediate cause of the genocide is much attributable to the death of the then president of Rwanda, Habyarrimana, at least from the outset. The death of the president then led to the organization of forces by those who were close to the president as a revenge mission.

Another internal factor was the role that the rebel forces are accused of playing in the death of the president which as a result led to the revenge mission as the alleged killers was from the Tutsis community. Hutu politicians and military officers as well as the business class can as well be blamed for the onset of the genocide (Clark 14). The genocide however attributes its deepest roots from forces that originated outside Rwanda.

Events such as Hutu leaders mobilizing their forces, the mobilization of the Rwandan rebel group or even the killing of the then president plus the previous civil war was an aftermath of the hatred that was culminated between the Hutus and the Tutsis by the colonial regime and the introduced church in the colonial period (Kayumba 1). Events in neighboring countries such as the Hutus Tutsis conflict in Burundi (Socsci 1) and the accommodation of the rebel group in Uganda also contributed to the genocide (Crawford 119).

Effects of the genocide

The immediate impact of the genocide was the deaths that included ten foreign United Nation soldiers. About a tenth of the Rwandan population died from the genocide. The effects in the country included economic instability with an almost fifty percent drop in the country gross domestic product. It also affected international trade in countries that depended on Rwanda for coffee. It also affected the normal operations in the country at the time (Akresh 3).


The Rwandan genocide which occurred in 1994 was a result of long term forces that were cultivated by the colonial rulers. The actual genocide was however conducted by Rwandan citizens. Both insiders and outsiders were thus responsible for the calamity that consequently had adverse effects on the country as well as international trade.

Works Cited

African Union. Rwanda: the preventable genocide. African Union, n.d. Web. May 5, 2011.

Akresh, Richard. Armed Conflict and Schooling: Evidence from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. New York: World Bank Publications, 2008. Print.

BBC. Rwanda: how the genocide happened. News BBC, 2008. Web. May 5, 2011.

Clark, Phil. The Gacaca Courts, Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda: Justice Without Lawyers. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Crawford, Gordon. Foreign aid and political reform: a comparative analysis of democracy assistance and political conditionality. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. Print.

Huijboom, Anke and Gruenfeld, Fred. The failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda: the role of bystanders. Leiden, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2007. Print.

Jones, Adams. Case study; genocide in Rwanda, 1994. Gender, n.d. Web. May 5, 2011.

Kayumba, David. State Sovereignty versus Individual Human Rights in the Case of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Florida : Universal-Publishers, n.d. Print.

Socsci. Pre-genocide history of Rwanda. Sicscie, n.d. Web. May 5, 2011.

Thompson, Allan. The media and the Rwanda genocide. Canada: IDRC, 2007. Print.

United. Genocide in Rwanda. Web. May 5, 2011.


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