This paper talks about the Rwandan Genocide. In April 1994 an event would take place scarring thousands of people around the world. I used this genocide to gain insight into what genocide is and why people choose to participate in them. Also, to talk about the severity of this event.
The first have of this paper will provide information on what genocide is. I will then go onto talk about when the genocide started and why it took place. Also, stating a few facts about what brought about the genocide. Next going more in-depth about what happened the first couple of days and what people already in Rwanda did. I also talk about a lady named Laura Lane who tried to evacuate as many people as she could and how a man named Carl Wilkins played a big part in the genocide.
Lastly, I talk about what happened after the genocide was over. What others in Rwanda are doing today to honor the victims that are found. Furthermore, talk about if the perpetrators are sentenced for their actions or left free. If Rwanda is still in shambles or working on rebuilding.
A Historical Tragedy
Throughout the past three decades, the world has experienced a multitude of genocides. The Rwandan genocide being one of the top 10 horrific ones. For the most part, it is was intentional act towards the Tutsi. “Genocide is understood by most to be the gravest crime against humanity it is possible to commit. It is the mass extermination of a whole group of people, an attempt to wipe them out of existence.” (BBC News, 2017)
The Rwandan genocide took place on April 7, 1994, and lasted a gruesome 3 months (July 1994). It was an act to slaughter the Tutsi. The Hutu and the Tutsis were enemies because the Hutu were put in charge in the early 60s. The Tutsis didn’t take a liking to that because they wanted to run Rwanda themselves. Eventually, they would have to come to an agreement and run Rwanda together. What started as coalition then took a dreadful turn on April 6, 1994, when an aircraft carrying Juvénal Habyarimana the president of the Hutu was stroke by a missile, it still unclear to this day who targeted the plane. However, the Hutu used this event as an excuse to eliminate their enemy. A Hutu informant then planned of attacking the Tutsi and all of their leaders. They would also go onto killing the Belgian soldiers. The next day “[a]round 3,000 Tutsis sought safety at the base of a Belgian contingent in Kigali. But after 10 commandos were killed by forces from Rwanda’s regular army, Belgium decided to pull its troops out. The Tutsis were left with no protection, and thousands were slaughtered on April 11 on a hillside called Nyanza.” (Daniel Pelz, 2009).
What happened next was something that can never be forgotten. “The Rwandan genocide witnessed the death of nearly 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans, accounting for nearly 20% of the country’s population and 70% of the country’s Tutsi populace.” (Nag, 2018). Troops were sent in to save Caucasians and the Rwandans were told that they couldn’t be taken to safety. Sooner or later all the Americans and anyone else in the country began to evacuate. Laura Lane who was a counselor officer for the U.S. embassy in Kigali and a contact between the U.S. ambassador and the Rwandan government sought out to get as many people out of Rwanda before all the conveys left she said “I remember calling all the Americans and saying here’s your evacuation point – here’s where you need to go, and I remember making the call to Carl and he said, ‘Laura, there’s people here, they’re depending on me. I can’t go.” (Micheal Montgomery, 2004). Carl Wilkins one of the few Americans that stayed to help as many people as he could with the help by partner Romo Alex who volunteered to deliver food and water to people who rooming the streets. After most of the Americans left the Tutsi were left with little to no help. “On July 4th, 1994, Tutsi rebels seized Kigali. That’s when United States troops finally arrived.” (Micheal Montgomery, 2004).
After the genocide was over the United Nations persecuted people who were involved. The United Nations “[c]onducted more than 70 tribunal cases, Rwanda’s courts have tried up to 20,000 individuals, and the country’s Gacaca courts have handled some 1.2 million additional cases.)” (Board, 2014). Most of the Hutu extremist went into hiding to not be sentenced. Some still live among the victims today. Few perpetrators apologized to the victim’s family others went about their life with no remorse for what they had done. The thousands that stayed began to start their new life. “World Vision began working in Rwanda in 1994, providing life-giving emergency aid to displaced people and helping them to resettle. The organization cared for many children who had lost their parents.” (Reid, 2019). The RPF was determined to take control of Rwanda. No one wanted the United Nation to take over again due to the fact that when the genocide began there first action was to evacuate and not send anyone to help. Bodies are still being found and when they are found they are brought to a church that stores more than 40,000 victims killed during the genocide. They also keep the clothes and personal belongings found of the victims to honor them. To this day Rwanda is still trying to rebuild what was destroyed during the massacre.
In conclusion, the Rwandan genocide was one of the most horrific events to take place in history. It was also an act to deliberately get rid of anyone associated with the Tutsi. All because someone shoots down a plane with the Hutu president abroad. Not knowing who targeted the plane it was a chance for the Hutu to get rid of the enemy including millions of innocent children. Some believe that the genocide could have been avoided if the United Nations would’ve stood their ground and fought.
- BBC News. (2017, March 17). How do you define genocide? BBC News, pp. 1-6.
- Board, T. E. (2014, April 8). After Rwanda’s Genocide. The New York Times.
- Daniel Pelz, D. C. (2009, July 4). Rwanda: Why the international community looked away. Worlds.
- Micheal Montgomery, S. S. (2004). The Few Who Stayed. Minnesota: American Public Media.
- Nag, O. S. (2018, May 5). The Worst Genocides In History. World Facts.
- Reid, K. (2019, March 1). 1994 Rwanda genocide, aftermath: Facts, FAQs, and how to help. From the Field.