TRIVIALIZATION OF GENOCIDE: THE CASE OF RWANDA.
From: Anatomy of Genocide: State-Sponsored Mass-Killings in the 20th Century,
eds.Alexandre Kimenyi and Otis L Scott. 2002.
Although the 1994 Tutsi genocide was already recognized officially by the UN
Security Council in October 1994, it is still being trivialized today as just
a little sad event in the history of Rwanda which has to be forgiven for the
sake of national unity , reconciliation and rebuilding the country. In its October
3, 1994 Report by the Commission of Experts of the UN Security Council, the
following statement was made: "The extermination of Tutsi minority by the
former Rwandan government was done in a concerted, planned, systematic and methodical
way and every provision laid out in Article III of the Genocide Convention has
been violated since April 6, 1994 to July 15, 1994. Even though it is difficult
to know the exact number of the victims of this holocaust, at least one million
people have been killed." The Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, however, despite
different reports by UN agencies, human rights organizations and books and articles
by many journalists and scholars is still belittled by some politicians, academicians,
churches and "human rights" organizations that have a vested interest
in doing so. This attitude is due to the role these individuals or institutions
played prior or during genocide or to the sympathy they have for genocide architects.
This minimization of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda can be seen in the deliberate
choice and use, misuse or abuse of linguistic expressions to refer to it, the
systematic refusal to use the word genocide, the justification and rationalization,
the attempt to explain it and the recourse to revisionist history.
The Edwin Mellen Press. Lewiston: New York.
The 1994 Tutsi genocide differs from others especially the Holocaust and the
Armenian genocide in speed and the involvement of civilians. It lasted three
months but within this short time period more than a million people were massacred.
This was due to a careful planning, the number of people involved in the killings,
and the methods used in these mass slaughters of defenseless civilians. The
military, especially the elite Presidential Guards were helped by armed militias
"Interahamwe" and civilians from the Hutu population including women
and children. The latter's major assignment was, with assistance of dogs, to
hunt down the victims and find their hideouts in bushes, swamps, fields, etc.
Genocide was not a spontaneous reaction as some have claimed. In section 1 of
this paper, I will debunk this myth of spontaneous violence and give evidence
that this genocide had indeed been planned for a long time. In section 2, I
give a typology of genocide trivialization cases and in section 3; I show how
this genocide is justified and rationalized.
The 1994 genocide was different from previous Tutsi massacres. In some areas,
only males were killed. Children and women were spared. Previously, Tutsi women
married to Hutus were not killed. This time, however, even wives of influential
individuals were also slain. There have been different cyclical waves of Tutsi
massacres in Rwanda. They started with the so-called Hutu Revolution when Belgians
were still in the country. The 1959-61 events can be described as "ethnic
cleansings". This is when the exodus of thousands of Tutsi flooded neighboring
countries. Many were able to flee with their cattle. Tutsi in the northern part
of the country, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, were removed from their homes, their
houses burnt down and their cattle slaughtered and were resettled with the escort
of Belgian police in thé-tsé fly infested swamps and bushes of
Bugeresera and Sake in Kibungo. In 1963, Tutsi massacres took place in the prefecture
of Gikongoro only. In 1964, it was Tutsi political leaders only belonging to
UNAR (Union Nationale Rwandaise) and RADER (Rassemblement Démocratique
Rwandais) parties and the so-called INYENZI suspects who were publicly executed.
In 1967, it was again Tutsi called Inyenzi sympathizers who were rounded up
and put in jail. (1) In 1973, it was Tutsi intellectuals only: high school and
university students, professionals and civil servants who were targets of massacres.
The majority was able to flee the country and found asylum in neighboring countries.
I. The planning of genocide
Evidence for a long planning of genocide comes from 9 specific early warning
signs provided in this section namely: (1) the existence of the death squads,
(2) the creation of the militias, (3) the distribution of weapons to the killers,
(4) the census of Tutsi in Kigali, (5) genocide pilot projects, (6) the use
of churches and soccer stadiums, (7) the set-up of roadblocks, (8)the destruction
of Tutsi homes and (9) the use of the medias.(2)
1. The creation of death quads. The creation of death squads known as Zero Network
(3) and which consisted mostly of very high ranking officials close to President
Habyarimana was created initially to assassinate political opposition leaders
but also to coordinate the killings and distributions of weapons to the killers
all over the country. Later on, it was responsible for the training of the Hutu
militias responsible for Tutsi genocide.
2. The training of militias. Before genocide started, many Rwandan newspapers
had reported the training of the militias known as "Interahamwe" on
military camps. At least 150 Interahamwe from each of the 141 communes had been
sent to military camps where they received extensive military training and these
trainees in turn had to go back and train more on their respective hills in
their home communes.
3. Machetes, hand grenades and nail-studded clubs which were used in the killings
had been distributed to the militias by the government before the killings.
4. In October 1994, just after the RPF attack, the government hatched a scheme,
and many gunshots were heard in the middle of night, in the capital city, Kigali.
This fight was simulated to convince people that the RPF fighters had infiltrated
the capital with help from Tutsi traitors. This was of course an excuse to round
up thousands of Tutsi under the pretext that they were collaborating with the
enemy! (ibyitso). The mayor of the city, Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, did a census
of the Tutsi living in the capital and all the Tutsi houses were identified
and marked. Since the government was accusing all Tutsi as being collaborators
and sympathizers of the enemy "ibyitso", people found this practice
by the government normal as a preemptive measure to discourage RPA guerrillas
from infiltrating and using Tutsi homes for raids on government forces.
5. Genocide pilot-projects. Prior to 1994 genocide, local massacres of Tutsi
were done in Bugogwe, Kibirira, Kibuye and Bugesera in which the Italian missionary
Antonia Locatelli was murdered. These "pilot-projects" were done to
test the weapons that were going to be used, to find out which were the most
efficient methods in mass killings, to see the reactions of the victims, and
finally to see how the international community would react. The non-retaliation
by the Italian government in the slaying of Antonia Locatelli sent a clear message
to the genocidal regime that killing foreigners sympathetic to the Tutsi minority
will not cause condemnation from their respective governments. It is the reason
why, the first day of genocide, 8 Belgian UN blue hermits were gunned down in
broad day light by the Presidential Guards.
6. Use of churches and soccer stadiums as butchering places. 95% of Rwandan
churches were used as killing places. (4) This was not accidental or coincidental.
It had been planned. First, the government knew that many people would run to
these churches to seek sanctuary because in the previous massacres these places
of worship had saved many Tutsi being hunted down by Hutu killers. Churches
were indeed considered by many Rwandans who the majority happens to be catholic
as sacred places and desecration was considered sacrilegious, ensuring hell
for eternity! In the 1993 Bugesera genocide pilot project in which the Italian
missionary was also killed, Tutsi had run to these churches. This time, with
the conspiracy of many church leaders, the victims were lured into these killing
places. Killing people in the church was no longer taboo, because this time
the Revolution had to be completed by an "a final solution". Putting
Tutsis in one place would facilitate mass killings and as well as dumping them,
some of them alive, in mass graves. Those who did not go to these gathering
places were ordered to do so by the local authorities and the military using
the ruse that it was for their own protection from the killers. Had the Tutsi
refused to go to churches and soccer stadiums, many lives, for sure, could have
7. Setting up roadblocks and sealing borders. In the previous massacres, Tutsi
were able to hide or flee the country. When the 1994 genocide started, many
roadblocks were set up in all the Rwandan roads at every half a mile. The borders
were sealed as well. Obviously, this could not have been spontaneous. It had
8. The destruction of Tutsi houses. As soon as Tutsi families were slaughtered,
their houses were immediately destroyed in order not to leave any single trace
or memory of the victims. This again demonstrates that genocide had been planned
for a long time.
9. The media: Kangura, the extremist Hutu newspaper edited by Hassan Ngeze and
the infamous radio, Radio Télévision des Milles Collines, which
were very efficient during genocide, started writing and broadcasting hate messages
inciting to Tutsi killings way before the April genocide. This vilification
of Tutsi and hate messages were sanctioned by the government. Many human rights
organizations complained but the government replied that it could not stop them
for the sake of protecting their freedom of speech
II. Genocide Trivialization
The number of genocide victims is by all accounts more than one million people.
At least 95% of Tutsi residing in Rwanda were slaughtered and all their houses
were destroyed. What is shocking and troubling , however, is that until today,
many respected international newspapers, major news services, politicians, academics
and diplomats still stubbonly stick to the 500, 000 figure as the number of
the 1994 genocide victims. This figure was arrived at around the end of April
1994 by the US State Department .(5) These mass killings did not stop in April,
however. They continued in the months of May, June and July. July was the month
when RPA defeated the genocidal regime but it failed to stop the killings. The
massacres of survivors continued and have not stopped because murderers want
to kill all the witnesses and destroy testimony as the new leadership is made
of Tutsi from the diaspora.(6) Reducing the number of victims is belittling
Calling the Tutsi genocide just "massacres" without mentioning ethnicity
is also trivialization and negation because this implies indiscrimate killings.
This is the strategy that has been taken by the Vatican which refers to the
Tutsi genocide as "the dramatic ethnic massacres". Similarly, the
French National Assembly exculpated the Mitterand government in the Tutsi genocide
after a parliamentary inquiry into the French government's role in the "Rwandan
tragedy". When the American Embassador to Rwanda, David Rawson, on his
way back with the embassy staff, was asked by reporters about the identity of
the killers, he answered that he was aware of the massacres but did not know
who was killing whom. The "Rwanda massacre" label doesn't differ very
much from the so-called "double-genocide" theory, created by François
Mitterand. According to him, RPA committed genocide of Hutu as well. When I
was in Paris on my way to Rwanda after the seizure of Kigali by RPA, I turned
on TV on Antenne 2 while Mitterand was being interviewed by the anchorman of
the station about genocide in Rwanda. His response was: "Which genocide
are you talking about?". René Lemarchand, who seems to have espoused
the Hutu Power ideology, echoes Mitterand's statements when in the paper he
presented at Yale University entitled: "Genocide? Which genocide? (7) This
theory continues today. The Interahamwe and defeated FAR are still claiming
that the present government is also systematically killing Hutus! The solution
to the post-genocide Rwanda, according to the Vatican is forgiviness and reconciliation.
Repentance, acceptance of guilt are not are a prerequisite because the Holy
See believes that both Tutsi and Hutu are victims and criminals.(8)
RPA is said to have "massacred" Hutus in the combat zone. Even if
this were true, this situation would not qualify for genocide. There are indeed
some Hutu civilians who were victims of the war because the government was using
them as human shields, forcing them to fight with the rebels without providing
them weapons or military training. There are some RPF soldiers, revenging themselves,
who killed Hutus who they were told had participated in the killings if their
families like the soldier who killed the archibishop of Kigali Vincent Nsengiyumva.
Those soldiers who took justice in their own hands either killed themselves
or were executed by the government soldiers or incarcerated. In Kibeho, many
people died in the exchange of bullets between RPA soldiers and former government
army and militias when the new government was trying to close down the camps
in the former Zone Turquoise that the French set up for defeated government
soldiers and militias. In Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, former government soldiers
and militias who were forced to return from Zaîre had been terrorizing
that part of the country, killing genocide survivors and RPA soldiers. Again,
Hutu civilians were caught in the crossfire. The killing of innocent Hutu by
RPA soldiers was due to the fact of being held hostage by former government
soldiers and Interahamwe militias. This fact which is deplorable by itself because
it involves the loss of human lives doesn't qualify to be labeled genocide.
The double genocide theory follows the same logic as the "ancient ethnic
hatreds" school of thought. According to Rwandan experts, the genocide
was a climax of ancient deep-rooted hatreds which have existed from times immemorial
between Hutus and Tutsis. This is not true, however, because there was a very
high intermarriage between the two groups which have lived as neighbors for
centuries. There were no segregated areas for Hutus or Tutsis. There was no
such as thing as Tutsiland or Hutuland. This notion of cyclical and incessant
internecine feud between the two groups is a distortion of Rwandan history.
Rwanda was a stable and a strong kingdom before the arrival of Europeans. It
is the only country which was able to defeat Arab slave traders. People didn't
live on cliffs, villages or fortified compounds to protect themselves against
any kind of enemy. They were dispersed on the thousands rolling hills which
characterize the Rwandan landscape. Genocide in Rwanda did not occur as a result
of "civil war" either. Civil war implies two groups fighting each
other to settle a national problem. Only two civil wars pitting members of the
royal families against each other have been recorded. The casualities of these
wars were members of the Tutsi aristocracy. (9) Civil war is universal and can
occur any time, anywhere, and therefore the international community doesn't
have any business interfering in internal affairs because people have a right
and a responsibility to settle their own domestic and internatl conflicts. Many
countries have also gone through this painful experience. People are thus expected
to die and there is no moral judgement because civil wars are like other wars
where casualties are expected. Calling Tutsi genocide in Rwanda civil war is
really belittling it and therefore a deliberate refusal to condemn the perpetrators.
The Tutsi genocide was one-way killing where defenseless civilians (men, women,
children, etc.) in non-combat zones were brutally and savagely slaughtered because
of their ethnicity.
This trivialization is also seen in the insensitivity of politicians who refuse
to understand the pain and suffering of survivors. After the defeat of the genocidal
regime, survivors have been trying to collect bones of their loved ones and
give them a decent burial. This ritual is still going on. Three months in this
office, however, Mr. Faustin Twagiramungu, then Prime Minister of the Broad-Based
Government, declared that three months of mourning was too much and too long
, that people should forget what happened, go on with their lives and put their
energy together to rebuild the country.For some reason, the present RPF-led
government of National Unity, has been appointing to high positions some Hutu
with a suspicious past. When Boniface Rucagu who had been identified as a member
of the death squads by Professor Reytjens was named governor of Ruhengeri and
his selection was questioned by IBUKA, the association of genocide survivors,
it was immediately labeled a Tutsi extremist group. When Mr Elysée Bisengimana,
was selected to be a member of Parliament representing the Rwandan Patriotic
Front from the prefecture of Cyangugu and genocide survivors asked why a genocide
suspect was appointed, the Secretary General of RPF, Mr. Charles Murigande,
sent a communique to the media which was also broadcast on National Radio, stating
that "... genocide survivors are using genocide as a strategy to stop a
certain section of Rwandese people [HUTU] from doing well and having access
to promotion." The two people who accused him were put in jail before investigation
was made to find out whether their accusations were valid or false.(10) General
Paul Kagame, Vice President and Minister of Defense, when he was asked on National
Radio on July 1, 1999 about IBUKA's complaints on the government's appointment
of genocide suspects to important positions, he replied: "Who Genocide
survivors and IBUKA think they are? They think they are so important... They
should put their feelings aside. They sould find a place where to put them,
a cupboard, and lock them inside. They should not be sentimental." (11)
This trivialization was started by the Clinton administration which refused
to call it genocide. The State Department officials were instructed not to utter
the word genocide in the Tutsi killings in Rwanda but use "acts of genocide"
instead. This was motivated, apparently, by the fact that the administration
understood the legal, political and moral implications of the acceptance of
this term as signatory of UN Geneva Convention on Genocide. Had it admitted
that genocide was taking place, The United States, the only superpower today,
would have to intervene immediately to stop it . It thus refused to utter the
word because the physical extermination of Tutsi in Rwanda did not jeopardize
US interests. The trivialization of Tutsi genocide is epitomized by many individuals
and organizations who preach forgetting, forgiveness and reconcialiton as the
only viable solution to post-genocide Rwanda. Christophe Mitterand, François
Mitterand's son who was responsible for African Department during his father's
government, has also categorically denied that Tutsi genocide took place. "Massacres,
yes, but genocide, no," he said. (12)
III. Justification and rationalization of genocide
All attempts to jusfify and rationalize genocide in Rwanda by social scientists
and others not only trivialize genocide, but also do they condone it because
doing so removes the responsibility and minimizes this despicable act. Genocide
is seen as either a self-defense reaction, a natural behavior in this dog-eat-dog
world, a continuation of the Hutu Revolution and an attempt to get rid of evil.
The 1994 Tutsi genocide is said to have been a natural spontaneous violent reaction
of Hutus triggered by the mysterious crash of their "beloved president"!
To them, the mysterious plane crash which killed both the president of Rwanda
and Burundi, both Hutus, was masterminded by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a
Tutsi armed political opposition, which ousted the genocidal regime. To its
sympathizers, massacring all the Tutsi was seen as normal. Habyarimana, however,
who was supposed to be the President of all Rwandans not just Hutu was not the
only beloved leader of this century, who has been assassinated. The victims
of political assassinations include the Kennedy brothers, the Gandhis, mother
and son, both prime ministers of India, Polome the prime minister of Sweden;
the attempted assassination of Pope Jean-Paul II and the US president, Ronald
Reagan. The governments did not bother the families and relatives of the murderers
because they did not have any responsibility in the killings. Only individual
killers were apprehended. Africa itself has had many popular leaders murdered
and this didn't result in the mass-killings of people related to the murderers.
We have the mysterious death of King Charles Mutara III Rudahigwa in Rwanda
, the assassination of Prince Louis Rwagasore in Burundi, the assassination
of the Congoles Premier Patrice Lumumba, the mysterious plane crash of Mozambique's
president Samora Machel, the assassination of Thomas Sankara, the young Pan-aAricanist
president of Burkina Faso, the Congolese president Mariam Ngouabi, the Nigerian
president Murtala Muhamad, the Guinea Bissau president Amilcar Cabral, the Egyptian
president Anuar Sadat,etc. To attempt to explain this beastly behavior is obviously
a case of justification and rationalization and thus trivializing genocide as
a natural behavior.
The 1994 genocide was seen also as a legitimate continuation and "completion"
of the Hutu Revolution. The desire to return from exile to their motherland
by Tutsi who had
been stateless for more three decades and the invasion of RPA were seen by Hutu
Power as a threat to the fruits of the Hutu Revolution. The extermination of
Tutsi was thus seen as the only logical solution to this problem. According
to this view, there was nothing wrong killing thousands and thousands of civilians
in the name of the Revolution. Revolutions are always celebrated and commemorated
because they are seen as the unerdogs liberating themselves from tyrannical
regimes. Previous massacres of Tutsi were called revolutions and there was no
condemnation from the church and the international community. Those who organized
the killings were hanndsomely rewarded in the previous two Hutu republics. The
1959 Tutsi massacres are still referred to as the "Hutu Revolution".
To the Belgian authorities of that time and the Catholic Church, there was nothing
wrong for Hutus mass-slaughtering innocent civilians, men, woman, children,
the elderly, burning down their houses and killing their cattle as long as they
were Tutsi because the French had done the same. The Russians likewise. These
senseless massacres are not only called Hutu revolution but also 'social' and
'moral revolutions'. Jean-Paul Harroy, the Belgian Resident of Rwanda and Colonel
Logiest, in their self-congratulatory autobiographical books boast of having
"assisted" this revolution. They are not ashamed, remorseful or apologetic
about their involvement in these senseless massacres. The criminals in the eyes
of the international community were seen as heroes and the victims were demonized
as enslavers, who had denied the majority their human, civil and constitutional
rights. Tutsi, a numerical minority, write the experts, had been able to dominate
and subjugate the Hutu majority because of their superior intelligence, the
use of ruse, their physical size and their military prowess. When in 1973, Tutsi
massacres took place again, a New York Times article read: "Hutu have slaughtered
again their former giant Tutsi masters!". This title didn't arouse sympathy
for the victims. The murderers were seen as heroes instead. When Mitterand was
asked why he was sending the French troops to help the genocidal Hutu regime,
he replied that: "Tutsi are known to be great warriors". The Tutsi
during the colonial period didn't have any power, however, since all decisions
came from the Belgian authorities. Indeed between 1924-1931, the Belgians in
what is known as Mortehan's Plan, changed the whole traditional government system
and removed traditional leaders. They could name or remove anybody anytime they
wanted. In 1930, for instance, they removed King Yuhi IV Musinga who had refused
to convert to christionality and banished him to exile in Congo where he died,
not being able to come back and see his country again. It is they who coronated
his son Mutara III Rudahigwa who died mysteriouly when they found out that he
was seeking independance for his country. It is also they who decided that only
the Tutsi aristocracy should exercise administrative functions.It has been exaggerated
by even Rwandan scholars when they write that during the colonial regime only
Tutsi had educational and administrative privileges. This is far from the truth.
It is only the Tutsi aristocracy, less than 1% of the entire population which
were beneficiaries of these privileges. Only sons of chiefs could be admiited
to the administrative school in Butare high school known as Groupe Scolaire
or Ecole de la Charité. There were 44 chiefdoms in the whole country.
Children of subchiefs went to Nyanza in what was known as Bwanakweri's school
where they were taught reading and writing and Kiswahili.(13) Otherwise both
Tutsi and Hutu children could attend other schools which the majority happened
to be vocational schools without a normal complete high school education. Students
who graduated from these schools received certificates of assistant doctor,
assistant veternary, assistant agronomer, assistant to the clerk of the court
(greffier), office clerk (commis), and monitor (teacher). Only Europeans could
be doctors, agronomers, veternerians, teachers. During the colonial period,
Tutsi even suffered more than Hutus. All Rwandans were forced to pay body tax.
Every male adult who was 18 years old, whether he had a job or not, land or
any other property, had to pay body tax. Every male also had to do forced hard
labor called uburetwa in Kinyarwanda to build roads, administrative buildings,
churches, schools, hospitals, etc. Those who failed to show up received corporal
punishment. In addition to that, those who had cows, who were mostly Tutsi,
not only did they have to pay cow taxes, but also provide milk for free to whites
and other government officials! This milk that all cattle owners had to give
to whites was called umugogoro.(14) The cow owners had also to give their cows
to count Bertrand de Burgrave for butchery, to provide meat to whites in the
country and for exportation to Belgium. For this reason, many Tutsis especially
the ones who lived near the borders, fled to British colonies, mostly in Tanzania
and Uganda. The tsé-tsé fly which killed thousands of cows in
Bugesera and Kibungo is believed to have been brought by Belgians to punish
residents of these areas who were also hiding from the forced labor duties to
tend to their cattle.(15) The humiliation, the exploitation and the oppression
of both Hutu and Tutsi inside Rwanda by a vicious and ruthless Belgian colonial
regime was blamed on Tutsi who were victims themselves.(16)
Ubuhake, a system that was used by offering one's services to somebody to receive
cows from him, called "feudalism" by Europeans, was not seen as bad
by Rwandans because it was the only way that time one could accumulate wealth.
Cows had a very important value in the Rwandan society and represented wealth.
Ubuhake was also the only schooling system that existed. It was there that people
learned manners, history, poetry, oratory, dance, etc. Ubuhake affected Tutsi
more than Hutus. Nobody was forced to be subjected to this system. Only people
who needed cows did it. It was mostly Tutsi whereas Hutus preferred to go into
agriculture. There was a worse system, however, which continued even after independence
during the two Hutu republics which was practiced in the North known as ubukonde.
The land belonged to the Hutu aristocracy and the majority of Hutus to survive
had to work for these landlords who in turn would loan them some lots to plant
their own crops. It is this ubuhake "exchange of cows economical system"
that Rwandan experts have called feudalism and enslavement. (16)
A columnist whose name I don't recall, in an April 1994 New York Times article,
claimed that genocide was a revenge by Hutu who had been enslaved by Tutsi before
the Europeans' arrival in Africa.
The 1994 genocide was thus a continuation of the Hutu genocide. The 1959 massacres
were labeled "social revolution", the 1973's "moral revolution"
and the 1994 genocide "final solution" or "final revolution".
In 1990, La Libre Belgique had a headline which read "Rwanda: Révolution
inachevée". This time it had to be completed by all means. Failing
to do so would bring back monarchy and feudalism and take back Rwandan to the
Middle Ages and create a Tutsi-Hima empire in the whole of central and sourthern
Africa.(17) The Tutsi as an alien: Not ont did the Tutsi dominate Hutu, they
are also "aliens" who belong to a "different race" having
come to Rwanda from a distant place many centuries after the Hutus had settled.
The idea of Tutsi belonging to a different race from the Hutu comes from both
Archibishop André Perraudin and Grégoire Kayibanda, the first
president of Rwanda and founder of the ruling party Parmehutu (Party for Hutu).(18)
Many textbooks claim that Hutu preceded Tutsi in the migration to Rwanda. Everything
happens to be pure speculation, however, because the true history of Rwanda
has not been written yet. Tutsis are supposed to have originated from Ethiopia
and this was prompted Léon Mugesera to tell Hutu mobs to "send Tutsi
back to their homeland by the quickest way possible via the river Akagera".(19)
Other researchers such as Christophe Mfizi claim that Tutsi are Semitic people
who migrated from Saudi Arabia.(20) Perugia thinks that Tutsi descended from
the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt.(21) This nativist ideology based on revisionist
history, obviously, justifies not only the denial of basic human rights of Tutsi
but also their physical annihilation because they are depicted as coloniasts
and impostors. From 1959 to 1994, Tutsi not only had a second class ciziten
status, becoming marginalized, stigmatized, but they really became the pariahs
of the society,and an outcast group.
Economics has been used by social scientists also to trivialize genocide by
rationalizing it. Rwanda is described as the smallest country on earth, the
poorest, landlocked and overpopulated. This same argument was used by the previous
Hutu republics as to why Tutsi refugees should not be allowed to come back.
This analysis doesn't hold, however, because there are many countries which
are poorer than Rwanda and which happen to be overpopulated as well but where
people from diverse ethnic backgroungs live in harmony. After genocide, the
Rwandan population including 1959 refugees numbers only around 8 million. A
city like New York or Cairo in Egypt has more than that. Clearly all these genocide
justifications should not be taken seriously. The dehumanization of Tutsi started
with the genesis of the hutu supremacist ideology in the early 60's when the
labels coachroaches (inyenzi) and snakes(inzoka) were used. These two labels
had been accepted by both Hutus and Tutsis, the way for instance, nigger was
an accepted term during American slavery of blacks and Black Africans during
the colonial period. These terms were used during genocide on radio , especially
the infamous radio RTLM and nespapers especially KANGURA with the infamous 10
Hutu commendments. These two animals are hated by the Rwandan society and they
always have to be killed wherever and whenever they are spotted. It is thus
very clear, that the pertpetual use of these words conditions people to react
to them accordingly by not only instilling hate towards them but also wanting
to annihilate them. Dehumanization goes hand in hand with demonization. Coachroaches
are annoying and snakes bite or spit at people. Their poison is deadly. The
vilification of Tutsi is also supposedly due to their cunning, exploitative
behavior and low morals. Tutsi-bashing and scapegoating for all society's ills
was the zeitgeist of politicians and Hutu intelligentsia of both Hutu republics
from 1959 to 1994. In 1973, for instance, it was fellow high school and university
students who killed and chased away Tutsi teachers and students. Wherever genocide
has occurred social scientists and the media always find "ancient hatreds"
between the predators and the prey to be the cause. They always fail to see
that the real cause is always a supremacist ideology which dehumanizes and demonizes
the victims. For criminals to accomplish their vicious acts of exterminating
an entire group because of race, ethnicity or religion, use all the institutions
and are encouraged by an unresponsive international community which is manipulated
by the propanda machinery of the perpetrators which characterizes these killings
as casualties of a civil war.
Notes and referencees
1. Many students at various schools in the country such as the National University,
Collège Saint-André in Kigali, Groupe Scolaire in Butare, Ecole
Sociale at Karubanda (Butare) were arrested and sent to prison where they were
incarcerated for a whole year.
The detainees that I recall were Alexis Rwamwaga, a medical student at the National
University, Albert Rudacogora who was killed in the 1994 genocide with his wife
and children, a student at the national university also, Rosalia Ndejuru, who
lives in Canada now and whose father was killed in the "Hutu Revolution",
then a student at Ecole Sociale at Karubanda. From my home place two people
were arrested and incarcerated, namely, Ladislas Nishaka and Nziraguseswa, who
was killed in 1994 in Ruhango after a slow torture.
Collège du Christ-Roi at Nyanza where I went to school was the only one
that was spared because of the influence and refusal of the Collège Rector,
Chanoine Eugène Ernotte. This angered Hutu students. One of the students,
Dismas Nsengiyaremye, who will later on become Premier Minister before genocide,
convened a Hutu meeting to organize the Tutsi fellow students massacre. Accidently,
I fortunately broke into this meeting when I was looking for my friend, Innocent
Rwanyagasore, former lieutenat-colonel in the government army who died under
suspicious circumstances. I informed Chanoine Ernotte. This evil plot was stopped
but Dismas Nsengiyaremye who was influential because he came from the same place
as the then President Grégoire Kayibanda, retariated by making sure that
no Tutsi from our school will be accepted into the national university. Only
one Tutsi, Laurent Nkusi, now professor at the national university in Rwanda
was admitted because he was the first of the class. Professor Nkusi survived
genocide because he was out of the country, but his wife and children were killed.
When RPF invaded the country, he was also among the ones who were rounded up
and put in the prison of Ruhengeri as "ibyitso". He got out when RPA
stormed the prison and released all the prisoners inside. I was also admitted
in the second semester at the National Pedagogic Institute when Unesco which
was financing the school complained about the underenrollment at the school.
I was admitted in the Institure because I was considered less evil than my fellow
2. Agnès Ntamabyariro and Aloys Habimana who both were connected with
the genocide planners told me on the phone that if RPF doesn't stop the war
against the government that a lot of blood of innocent civilians will flood.
When I talked to her in 1993 on her visit to Washington, D.C. in 1993, Agnès
Ntamabyariro was that time Minister of Gender and belonged to the Liberal Party
which included many Tutsis such as Landoard Ndasingwa who was Minister of Social
Affairs.His entire family was killed during genocide Agnès Ntamabyariro
later on shifted to Hutu Power. Aloys Habimana was then a doctoral student in
the US and had played important roles in the ruling MRND party. During the International
Conference on Rwandan Refugees organized by the US Committee for Refugees and
the Association of Banyarwanda in Diaspora, he was sent by the Rwandan Embassy
as an observer. Since then we kept contact and talked very often on the phone.
When RPF attacked, he called me to tell me that all Tutsi will be sorry because
a lot of blood was going to be shed. Obviously a real threat.
3. Libération 9/2/1993 by Stephen Smith. The most important actors of
Zero Network were: Joseph Nzirorera, former minister and deputy from Ruhengeri,
Protais Zigiranyirazo, former governor of Ruhengeri and brother-in-law of Habyarimana,
Séraphin Rwabukumba, CEO of Centrale and brother-in-law of Habyarimana,
Colonel Laurent Serubuga, former army chief of staff, Colonel Elie Sagatwa,
personal secretary of Habyarimana and his brother-in-law, Mrs. Dr. Chantal Rushingabigwi,
Alphonse Ntirivamunda, director of roads and bridges and son-in-law of Habyarimana,
Captain Pascal Simbikangwa, staff at the Presidency and brother-in-law of Elie
Sagatwa, Colonel Bagosora, Chief of staff in the Ministry of Defense, Boniface
Rucagu, Deputy from Ruhengeri, Major Léonard Nkundiye, Commander of Presidential
Guards, and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, Chief of military intelligency.
See also press conferences of Professor Reyntjens 9/10/1992 and 10/2/1992
See also the letter of Prime minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye to President Habyarimana
of 11/17/1992. Reprinted in Impuruza Nº18-19, 78-80
4. See African Rights.1994. Rwanda: Death, despair and defiance. London: UK;
Gérard Prunier. 1995. The Rwanda crisis: History of genocide. New York:
Columbia University Press.
5. At the 4th Annual Conference of the African Studies Coalition at California
State University, a representative of the State Department gave this figure.
6. Even today, survivors are still being hunted down. The most known case is
the 1997 massacre of Mudende at a Tutsi refugee camps were massacred by the
Interahamwe militias. The official number of casualties given by the Rwandan
government is 300 people. Initially it was 200. Independent observers, journalists
and human right organizations who visited the scene of the massacre put the
number of victims at 1500. The government reduced the number apparently on purpose
in order not to sow panic in the population.
7. See also Kamongi in this volume: "Why the international community has
8. Isidore Munyeshyaka. 1999. "Osservatore Romano: Génocide Rwandais:
Dernier Act". Wihogora Rwanda Nº5, pp3-6. It is also posted on firstname.lastname@example.org
internet discussion list. It can be found in its archives.
9. There are only two historical recorded civil wars in Rwanda. One was around
the 15th century during the reign of Ndahiro Cyamatare who was killed by his
brothers with the help of the king of Bashi, Nzira and his army Abakongoro.
His son Ruganzu Ndori was the one who was able to bring back stability in the
country. The other one is known as Rucunshu. It involved the royal family when
again pro Rutalindwa troops, the legitimate heir to the throne, were defeated
by pro Musinga forces led by his uncles Kabare and Ruhinankiko.
10. See African Rights' letter to Murigande written by Rakiya Omaar which was
reprinted in Wihogora Rwanda Nº5, pp.38-42 and the one by Rwandese in Diaspora
written to Murigande also. This one is also reprinted in Wihogora Rwanda Nº5,
11. General Paul Kagame's comments were posted on email@example.com in July
1999 and can be retrivied from the archives.
12. Africa Confidential 1995
13. Valens Kajeguhakwa&Gahigi Denis. 1999. "Amoko y'Abatutsi mu Bugoyi",
Wihogora Rwanda Nº5, pp47-52. In this article the authors clearly show
that, Tutsi who did not belong the ruling articratic families were excluded
from these schools. One known example is that of Kagabo who was sent back to
school when King Musinga found out that he had been kicked out of school. The
king told the school authorities that Kagabo was his son and he was then readmitted
13. My other brothers whose families have been killed in the genocide namely
Berkmans Gahamanyi, Frederic Kabandahe and Placide Gatete were beaten many times
either because the milk they delivered was spilled, or they were late. We could
not drink milk at our house because all the milk had to be delivered to the
subchief who in turn had to send it to the Belgian authorities.
14.I got this information from Paul Gumira. He was a subchief in Ruhengeri.
He is now dead. His wife Mukankusi was killed in Kigali with his daughter Colette
Byagutunga wife of businessman Evariste Sissi. Colette Byagutunga's children
were also killed. Evariste Sissi survived because he was on a business trip.
He had been imprisoned in Ruhengeri among the so-called ibyitso when RPA invaded
15. Jan Linden. 1977. in Church and revolution in Rwanda. Manchester: Manchester
University Press was the first scholar to show how the church and the colonial
regime shifted the blame of the atrocities of colonialism to the Tutsi.
16. Jacques Macquet. 1961. The premise of inequality in Rwanda. London: Oxford
University Press. Catherine Newbury. 1988. The cohesion of oppression: clientship
and ethnicity in Rwanda 1860-1960. New York: Columbia University Press.
17. Augustin Banyaga, a professor of mathematics at Pen State University in
his open letter to Prime Minister Dismas Nsengiyaremye which was reprinted in
IMPURUZA Nº19, he threatens him of popular insurrection accusing him for
having betrayed the Hutu Revolution by "giving the minority Tutsi 50% of
all civil servant positions and for accepting to sign a peace treaty with the
18. Bernard Lugan. 1997. Histoire du Rwanda: De la préhistoire à
nos jours. Paris: Bartillat.
19. Léon Mugesera's speech can be found in IMPURUZA Nº19.
20. Christophe Mfizi. 1983. Les lignes de faite du Rwanda indépendant.
Kigali: Office Rwandais d'Information.
21. Paul del Perugia. 1970. Les derniers rois mages. Paris: Gallimard. see also
Lacger, Louis de. 1939. Le Rwanda: aperçu historique. Kabgayi: Rwanda,
Vicariat Apostolique du Rwanda.