The Justification Of The Rwandan Genocide

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No logic, no reason, no explanation. Just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment we will start to gather clues as to the whys the whats the whens and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare we’ll only explain it because this is the Rwandan Genocide. The Rwandan Genocide was an ethnic cleansing in the Rwanda following the death of its Hutu president with deep political, social and historical meaning that shows just how far peoples can be pushed until they’ve reached other breaking point and simply lose it. The goal of this essay is to prove that the government of Rwanda claimed to have justified the attempted extermination of its ethnic Tutsi minority in 1994 by claiming that it was necessary in order to end the instability in Rwanda, by exterminating the Tutsis the government claimed that it was justified due to the Tutsis relations with their past colonial overlords and felt that their crimes were justified due to long standing ethnic differences that had been building up over the years.

The first body paragraph will explain how the Hutu peoples of Rwanda felt towards the idea that it was because of the Tutsi that most problems were happening in Rwanda. This connects to the thesis because it views how the Hutu peoples viewed the minority and how the majority led government (a Hutu government was in charge of Rwanda at the time) was able to justify their crimes against humanity by claiming that by getting rid of the Tutsi minority that all of the people’s problems would simply disappear with them. For starters, it was widely believed at the time that their economic problems and unemployment rate skyrocketing were due to the Tutsi minority of the Rwanda and not due to any other factor. At the time The Hutu majority still believed that even after losing most of their influence throughout the years leading to a majority led government, they were still convinced that the Tutsi minority had better access to education, land, as well as rights under the colonial rulers from the 19th to the 20th century due to racial bias and how the local hierarchy was set up at the time[footnoteRef:1]. The local hierarchy was set as the Tutsis were considered the upper classes and the rest were considered peasants. Furthermore to add to the belief that ridding Rwanda of the Tutsis would benefit the Hutus was the overall difference that the Tutsis had over the Hutus. The Tutsi and the Hutu, although sharing the same religion, language and culture for centuries, the colonial officials of Germany divided them into two groups: the “whiter” Tutsis and the “blacker” and therefore inferior Hutus[footnoteRef:2]. This division of groups not only allowed the colonials to have better control over the two main ethnic groups and in doing so, turned the groups against each other so that they could not unite under a single force and hence, the Tutsi minority was viewed as a great evil to the majority of the country due to their abusive power and control over the country. The last point that justified this clause was that of the way that the ruling class was set up. Before the 14th century, the Hutus were the leading class of the region until the arrival of the Tutsis and then the Hutus became the lower class whereas the Tutsi became the wealthy landowners. The Tutsi were already the leading class in Rwanda long before the Germans and Belgians came to take over the country, but the colonial authority only made it worse. Under colonial administration, the Hutus were heavily separated from the Tutsi elite and were left with very few options in terms of betterment of livelihood and education and so caused massive unemployment amongst the lower classes during the time of Rwanda’s foreign occupation. This minority led administration and way of life has caused many issues amongst the Hutu community of Rwanda since the most important jobs were given to the Tutsis or foreigners while leaving the Hutus out of the picture which angered them and due to the economic distress the country went through from 1962 to 1993 it was blamed on the Tutsis having control of the economy prior to them and so it must have been their fault. In conclusion, the Government of Rwanda justified their atrocities on their ethnic minority by claiming that it would rid them of not only their past privileges, their chosen status as representatives over the rest of Rwanda and their past positions that they held which they blamed for their troubles which occurred throughout the years. [1: ‘What You Need To Know About The Rwandan Genocide.’ Vox. N. p., 2014.] [2: NewsHour, PBS, and PBS NewsHour. ‘The Heart Of The Hutu-Tutsi Conflict.’ PBS NewsHour. N. p., 1999.]

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The second body paragraph will talk of the colonial administrators who were in charge of managing the Rwanda at the time used the already established monarchy of the region in order to help bring order to their rule over the country. These relations between colonizers and Tutsis almost completely alienated the Hutus and left them out with very few opportunities to advance in society and were quite segregated by the colonials and the Tutsi hierarchy[footnoteRef:3]. This connects to the thesis because it explains one of the main reasons for why the Hutus hated the Tutsis and why the government resorted to crimes against humanity. During that time, most of Europe believed in a racial theory called the “Hamitic theory” which was the theory that the indigenous tribes of fairer skin must be superior to those of darker skin. The European settlers were quite biased when it came to determining who to choose as administrators in their stead in the Rwanda. They went to the Tutsi peoples because they were fairer of skin, taller and were already considered to be part of the wealthy and ruling class in the Rwanda. Under Belgian rule this was extended by taking measurements of body parts in order to determine who was a “Tutsi” or a “Hutu”. Second point to mention as to why the European occupants only worsened the tensions between the ethnic groups, the Belgians officially took over Rwanda after WW1 as part of the “treaty of Versailles”. In 1933, the Belgians held a consensus and decided to further divide the Hutus and Tutsis by classifying them and further using the Hutus for labour while expanding the privilege of the Tutsis and further degrading the Hutus and treating them like objects. Furthermore, the Belgians used a classic technique called “divide and conquer”. When the Belgian authorities took over they used Hutus as extra labour to be sent into mines or to various plantations throughout the Belgian territories. This only further angered the Hutus since the Tutsis were viewed as a ruling class and so were not subject to forced labour and were permitted to rule over the Hutus with colonial backing.[footnoteRef:4] In conclusion, the European treatment towards the ethnic groups in Rwanda were used as a justification to attempt and eliminate the Tutsis due to colonial favouritism, their classification of ethnic groups in the region and specifically the division of groups, favouring one to rule and one to plow. [3: Hutu, Tutsi, and the Germans: Racial Cognition in Rwanda under German Colonial Rule, Anton Sholz 2015] [4: Hutu/Tutsi Relations Before The Genocide In Rwanda | Imaging Genocide.’ Genocide.leadr.msu.edu. N. p., 2018. ]

The final paragraph will talk about the ethnic differences that were mainly kept in check prior to 1994 by either colonial forces, tribal groups or strong dictatorships. These ethnic tensions go more over than territorial disputes, it goes even further beyond to the point of religion, past ruling classes and even the time at which the ethnic groups settled the land. To begin with, Huts and Tutsis do share a religion and it is christianity, although that religion is only shared by 60% of the populaces. 39% are known to still practice traditional religions and 1% practice Islam. [footnoteRef:5] This can be seen as a long standing issue since the population is fairly divided amongst themselves and so extremist groups would tend to rise up and tend to enact their own version of justice which is an issue which would heavily divide the two groups. Religion isn’t the only thing that separated the two groups in Rwanda. The past was still a fresh feeling to the heart of the Hutus and Tutsis alike in the terms that a lot of Hutus still resent the Tutsis for proclaiming themselves superior to the Hutus and Twas but for also proclaiming themselves the monarchs of the Hutus. [footnoteRef:6] This caused issues amongst the Hutu majority government and population due to extremist propaganda that was meant to harbour hatred towards the Tutsi peoples in Rwanda in order to solidify not only their rule but their alleged “birthright” which was the Rwanda. The long standing argument of which group first dominated the region of Rwanda is still being debated although from historical evidence it is largely believed that the Hutus were first to settle the region and around the 14th century AD, the Tutsis arrived and quickly came to subdue the Hutus and then became the “wealthy class” whereas the Hutus became part of the “lower class”. [footnoteRef:7] This can still cause some issue amongst the groups since some Hutu nationalists were still angry over the fact that the minority Tutsis took over the region and so would not accept that fact. Taking into consideration that the government of 1994 was a Hutu led government and so the fact that the Tutsis once ruled them and couldn’t accept any types of claim to their power. [5: .independent.co.uk/news/world/history-of-ethnic-tension-between-hutus-and-tutsis-in-one-of-worlds-poorest-countries-1] [6: Rwanda: The Origins Of Social Class.’ Teaching.quotidiana.org. N. p., 2018. ] [7: ‘History Of Hutu – Tutsi Relations.’ The Rwandan Genocide. N. p., 2012.]

In conclusion, the Rwandan Government justified their crimes against humanity and their own people in 1994 by claiming that it was not only to settle long standing ethnic differences, the overall colonial segregation of the two major ethnic groups in the region, forever separating them and never to be the same and to the Hutu extremist government that blamed the Tutsi minority for all of their problems and believed that if the Tutsis were to simply vanish than so would their problems. No logic, no reason, no explanation. Just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. We have gathered the necessary clues as to the whys the whats the whens and the wheres. We did not end the nightmare we only explained it because this is the Rwandan Government’s justification for their crimes against humanity.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Arnot, Chris ‘What caused the genocide in Rwanda?.’ the Guardian. 30 Nov. 2010.
  2. Encyclopedia Britannica. ‘Rwanda genocide of 1994.’ Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d.
  3. Writepass. ‘Examine the causes of the Rwandan genocide. – The WritePass Journal.’ The WritePass Journal. 7 Mar. 2015. Web.
  4. Outreach Programme on the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations.’ Un.org. n.d.
  5. What You Need To Know About The Rwandan Genocide.’ Vox. N. p., 2014.
  6. NewsHour, PBS, and PBS NewsHour. ‘The Heart Of The Hutu-Tutsi Conflict.’ PBS NewsHour. N. p., 1999.
  7. Hutu, Tutsi, and the Germans: Racial Cognition in Rwanda under German Colonial Rule, Anton Sholz 2015
  8. Hutu/Tutsi Relations Before The Genocide In Rwanda | Imaging Genocide.’ Genocide.leadr.msu.edu. N. p., 2018.
  9. .independent.co.uk/news/world/history-of-ethnic-tension-between-hutus-and-tutsis-in-one-of-worlds-poorest-countries-1
  10. Source 10: Rwanda: The Origins Of Social Class.’ Teaching.quotidiana.org. N. p., 2018.
  11. ‘History Of Hutu – Tutsi Relations.’ The Rwandan Genocide. N. p., 2012.

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