Genocide in Rwanda 1994
Genocidein Rwanda 1994
Genocidetook place in Rwanda in the year 1994, and its occurrence wasattributed to ethnic hatred between Hutu and Tutsi. This hatred canbe dated back to colonial error when the German and the Belgiumrepresentatives in Rwanda gave leadership position to Tutsi wholeoppressing the Hutu.
Theinternational community failed to assume the moral responsibility inpreventing the occurrence of mass killings. For example, thesuperpowers (including France, Belgium, and the U.S.) had sufficientintelligence regarding the plans that were made by Hutu leaders tomassacre the members of the Tutsi ethnic group. Belgium and the U.S.chose to ignore the events taking place in Rwanda, which wasaccomplished by avoiding the use of the word “genocide” in orderto escape the moral obligation of intervening under the provision ofthe international conventions. France, on the other hand, took somemeasures, but its intervention either fueled the genocide orpropagated its geopolitical agenda.
TheUN, which is an international organization that would be expected totake the first step in preventing mass killing failed to supply thepeacekeeping troops with adequate resources. The scope of thesetroops was also limited to an extent that they could not apply forceto protect the minority group from being murdered.
Bothpolitical and business leaders failed to observe ethical principlesand influence their leaders in a way that could enhance cohesion.Similarly, the media, especially the radio and the newspaper, wasused a platform to propagate ethnic hatred that culminated in themass killing. The civil society tried to enlighten Rwandese abouttheir rights, which fueled genocide. However, this was a positivemeasure, which was taken wrongly by the incumbent government that wastyrannical.
Genocidein Rwanda 1994
Crimesagainst humanity have been taking place in the entire history of theworld. The continuous violation of human rights is an indication ofthe fact that measures (including the development of laws) that havebeen taken at the national as well as the international levels areineffective in protecting human life. Most of the incidents thatdemonstrate serious violation of human rights take place indeveloping nations and countries with multiethnic populations(Maddox, 2015). Rwanda genocide is one of these types of events thathave claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Itoccurred in the year 1994 starting from April 6 and took 100 days(Maddox, 2015). The genocide started when the country’s president,Juvenal Habyarimana was killed in a plane crash that was caused by amissile. The president had run a totalitarian regime the oppressedthe minority Tutsi, which created a perception that militias from theminority group were responsible for his death. This paper willadvance an argument that a failure on the part of the keystakeholders (including the international community, the UnitedNations, the state, leaders, and the media) to prevent the occurrenceof genocide in Rwanda was a political issue, where those with powerrefused to offer protection to the powerless.
Theterm “Rwanda Genocide” is popular around the world, since it isused to describe one of the key events that demonstrate the lack ofrespect for human rights. It refers to the mass killing of over800,000 members of the Tutsi ethnic group as well as theirsympathizers from the Hutu community (Maddox, 2015). Hatred betweenthe two communities started during the colonial error, where Germans,who were the first group to colonize Rwanda though that Tutsis hadmore characteristics (such as height and skin color) that made themmore like the Europeans than the Hutu.
Tutsiswere given more responsibilities and leadership roles. Belgium, whichtook the leadership of Rwanda after the First World War continuedwith the same trend, which upset the Tutsi. The Tutsi people madewere about 10 % of the national population, but the colonialgovernment gave them all leadership positions that were set aside forthe African citizens (Maddox, 2015).
Duringthe struggle for independence, the Hutu targeted both the whitesettlers and Tutsi leaders, who were being used by the government tooppress them. This resulted in the massacre of about 20,000 Tutsi andexile of hundreds of thousands (Maddox, 2015). The growth ofdemocracy and the emergence of strong civil rights groups startedadvocating for the return of the Tutsi Rwandese who lived in theneighboring countries as refugees. This idea reminds the Hutu oftheir experience the Tutsi during the colonial error. Consequently,the anti-Tutsi sentiments that were being propagated prior to theonset of the genocide were intended to ensure that they do not regainthe political power in the country once again.
FailureOn The Part Of the International Community
Althoughthere are no specific laws that force members of the internationalcommunity to intervene in cases where human rights are violated inother states, they cannot escape the blame for their failure toprevent incidents of genocide. The world is made of different nationsthat are dependent on each other in terms of economic, social, andpolitical development. Under normal circumstances, it would beexpected that countries that are considered as super powers will takethe necessary actions that seeks to maintain order and ensure thatthe human rights of the minority groups are respected in the lesspowerful nations (Chhabra, 2014). However, there is sufficientevidence to show that all super powers that had direct as well asindirect connection with Rwanda failed to take actions that couldprotect the members of the Tutsi community from being killed by Hutu.
FailureOn The Part Of Belgium
Rwandawas colonized by Belgium, which implies that the country would beexpected to have some interest in the internal affairs of its formercolony. Although Rwanda gained her independence in 1962, Belgium hasmaintained some strong ties with her in terms of economic partnership(Maritz, 2012). Most importantly, the government of Belgiumdemonstrated its keen interest in political issues affecting Rwandashortly before the occurrence of Genocide. For example, Belgium madethe largest contribution during the establishment of the UnitedNations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) in 1993 (Maritz,2012). This close connection between the two nations created aperception that Belgium had a role to play in preventing genocide.
Inaddition, Belgium is among the developed countries that understoodthe dynamics and the nature of conflicts that took place in Rwanda.The fact that the countries initiated and supported the formation ofUNAMIR is a clear indication of the fact that it understood thenature of ethnic conflicts that culminated in Genocide (Faustin,2016). Belgium’s weaknesses in playing its role as a developedcountry with a perceived mandate of maintaining order in its formercolony became evident one day after the onset of genocide. Duringthis time ten of the Belgium’s peacekeepers were killed (Maritz,2012).
Insteadof pushing the strengthening of UNAMIR, the government of Belgiumadvocated for its termination and complete withdrawal from thepeacekeeping mission in Rwanda. This decision was based on differentreasons, including the fact that other developed countries hadrefused to support UNAMIR and a drastic change in public opinionregarding the existence of the Belgium’s military in Rwanda(Maritz, 2012). A majority of the Belgium citizens felt that theirgovernment’s engagement in Rwanda’s ethnic conflicts was anunnecessary burden and risk to its soldiers.
Thegovernment of Belgium had to weigh the options and decide whether toprevent genocide or safeguard its name at the local level. Belgiumchose to ignore the atrocities taking place in Rwanda, in spite ofunderstanding that one ethnic group was at the risk of experiencingmass murder in the absence of assistance from an external source. Itis evident that Belgium had the sufficient intelligence to predictthat genocide would take place (Shine, 2014). It also had thecapacity to prevent the mass killing of the Tutsi in order to helpthe government maintain its political image by pursuing the interestsof voters at home, who pushed for the withdrawal of the Belgiumsoldiers out of Rwanda.
FailureOn The Part Of the United States
Therole played by the United States in advocating for the respect ofhuman rights has made many people to consider her as the world’spoliceman or the prefect. Therefore, many people in the modern worldbelieve that the United States should be blamed for her inactionRwanda. According Maritz (2012) no international action had beentaken in the absence of a leading role of the U.S. since the end ofthe Cold War in 1992. Ordinarily, it would be expected that the U.S.would follow the same trend and prevent mass killings in Rwanda.
Apartfrom the general perception that the U.S. takes action on any issueof the international interest, the country had access to sufficientintelligence to prove that a terrible ethnic war was underway inRwanda in about one year before its occurrence. The report of aninvestigation conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in1993 showed that warned the stakeholders of an imminent massacre thatwould claim the lives of about 800,000 people in Rwanda (Verpoorten,2012). While discussing about the amount of information Verpoorten(2012) stated that the U.S. government had access to classifieddocuments that provided a clear picture of incidents, motives, andperpetrators some months before the actual genocide. These classifieddocuments were published by the National Security Archive. Thesereports support an argument that the U.S. government knew enoughabout the possibility of genocide taking place, but failed tointervene in time in order to save lives. Other reports show the U.S.security agencies used the word “genocide” 16 days prior to theonset of the genocide, but failed to apply it in public since thepresident had demonstrated his unwillingness to intervene (Dowell,2013). Similar reported that were obtained through the U.S. Freedomof the Information Act indicated that the cabinet had been briefedabout what was called “the final solution to the elimination of allTutsis” (Dowell, 2013). During the genocide, which took about threemonths, the president, Bill Clinton, received briefings about thekillings, but failed to apply the military intervention to stop it.
Thereare several factors that have been cited to explain the reasons forthe U.S. inaction. The first one is the need to appeal to the public.The public opinion for the U.S. involvement in African civil wars hadchanged significantly following the increase in the number of theU.S. military officers who were killed in the war torn countries,including Somalia. According to Maritz (2012) President Clinton wasworried about the decline in poll ratings after taking back body bagsof officers who were murdered in the African missions.
Thesecond reason for the U.S. inaction is the requirements that areoutlined in the Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25), which isa document indicating the conditions under which and regions in whichthe U.S. president is allowed to intervene in civil conflicts (Kaya,2015). Unfortunately, Rwanda was not one of the countries that theU.S. president would consider under the PDD-25. However, the use ofPDD-25 to justify the U.S. inaction is insufficient, given thatmembers of the international community are obliged by the GenocideConvention of 1948 to take the necessary actions to prevent or stopgenocide (Kaya, 2015). The government refused to use the wordgenocide while describing the situation in Rwanda in order to avoidappearing ridiculous for acknowledging the gravity of the matter andfailing to act.
Thethird reason is the general perception that civil and ethnicconflicts were common occurrences in the continent of Africa. Whiledescribing this perception Maritz (2012) stated, “These people dothis from time to time” (p. 1). It has been used to advance anargument that the U.S. had no reason to be proactive since ethnicconflicts were not extraordinary events. However, the three keyreasons used to justify the U.S. failure to act do not hold since theneed to protect human rights should have been given a priority. Inoverall, the excuses given by the U.S. government can be consideredas the desire to pursue national interests before addressing theinternational challenges.
WhyFrance Is Responsible For the Severity of the Rwanda Genocide
Frenchis among the super power countries that had significant militaryoperations in Rwanda prior to the occurrence of genocide (Cameron,2013). It has the longest as well as the deepest political influencein the country, which suggests that it had a moral obligation tointervene and save the lives of the most vulnerable citizens. Whilemost of the aforementioned superpowers (including the U.S. andBelgium) have been accused of failing to act on the intelligenceinformation that they had regarding the plans for genocide, Francetook actions that contributed towards the onset and the severity ofthe event. The government of France understood that Rwanda sufferedfrom the risk of ethnic wars, but continued offering military as wellas political support to the interim government that was dominated byHutu leaders (Cameron, 2013). Ironically, the genocide was beingorganized and its plan executed by the key government officials andexperienced military generals. Therefore, the France’s support thatwas provided in the forms of weapons and training contributed to thesuccess of the genocide plan.
Inaddition, the French military officials were accused of training thelocal militias by giving them technical skills that were later abusedby being used in the implementation of the genocide plan. In 1992,France set weapons and troops to Rwanda, with the objective ofprotecting a francophone ally from an invasion by an Anglo-Saxon (theRwandan Patriotic Front) from Uganda (Maritz, 2012). The same studyreported that the French military officers trained the members ofInterahamwe militia how to assemble guns and throw knives. Thesetechnical skills and weapons were instrumental in the implementationof the genocide plan.
Basedon its actions, France has been accused of fueling the genocide whileplaying the games of Geo-interests and geopolitics. For example, thedecision to support militias and a government that had no respect forhuman rights was fueled by a fear that France would lose itsinternational stature and prestige in the face of the Anglo-Saxoncountries (Cameron, 2013). By pursuing these political interests,France contributed towards the loss of lives in Rwanda.
Afew days after the onset of the genocide, France chose to withdrawits military officers from Rwanda, instead of deployed them in themost affected areas to keep the peace. It was reported that theFrench embassy was left vacant with pieces of documents, since thegovernment had evacuated its officials (Cameron, 2013). A fewsoldiers who were left in the country played the role of handing outfirearms to militias, which was a clear indication of reluctance ofFrance to advance a humanitarian agenda in Rwanda.
Electionin the country were to be held in the year 1995 and politicalcampaigns had started in 1994 (Maritz, 2012). The incumbentgovernment and opposition leaders took the issue of genocide inRwanda as a political item and used to show how they could advancethe humanitarian agenda. This changed the position of the governmentand it was followed by the redeployment of the military officer inRwanda (Faustin, 2016). This action was intended to send a positivesignal about the commitment of government in the French speakingNations, but it did not save the lives of the vulnerable Tutsis.Therefore, the available data shows that the actions taken by theFrench government either fueled the genocide or protected theinternational statute of France, but it did not lead to theprotection of lives.
FailureOn The Part Of the United Nations
TheUnited Nations is a credible international organization that had themoral obligation to play the leading role in stopping genocide inRwanda. The role of the United States was changed at the end of theCold War, where it was mandated to not only to enhance peace betweenstates, but also within countries (Maddox, 2015). This changesuggests that the U.N. had been given authority to intervene indomestic events that threatened human life by the year 1994, when thegenocide took place in Rwanda. Based on this information, it could beargued that the world was more optimistic in the UN’s effectivenessin pursuing humanitarian endeavors.
TheUN’s inaction was attributed to many factors, but one of the mainreasons is the lack of efficient flow of information about theSecurity Council from the Secretariat. The superpower nations(including the U.S. and France) had more intelligence data and wellinformed about events taking place in Rwanda than the UN SecurityCouncil (Fisseha, 2013). Consequently, all non-permanent members ofthe Security Council participated in the gatherings with partialinformation, which implies that their contributions focused onprevention of an event that was of less significance compared to thegenocide. Studies have shown that over 80 % of the time spend in theUN Security Council’s meetings was spent addressing the need towithdraw the peacekeepers while the remaining 20 % was used todiscuss the importance of reaching a ceasefire (Maritz, 2012).
TheUN secretariat as well as the Security Council did not allocate anytime to discuss the issue of genocide since they were not furnishedwith the correct information. In addition, members of the UNSecurity Council refused to use the word “genocide” whilediscussing the events taking place in Rwanda. The use of the wordgenocide was avoided intentionally since the member states understoodthat they would be obliged to intervene under the provisions of theGenocide Conventions (Williamson, 2012). By creating a perceptionthat mass killing in Rwanda had not reached the threshold ofgenocide, the UN had an excuse not to apply the militaryintervention.
Itis evident that the UN Security Council has succeeded in avoiding theuse of the word genocide in order to escape the responsibility ofbeing obliged to prevent the onset of mass killings. However, itwould be expected that drastic actions would be taken ones thereports of thousands of people who were being murdered on a dailybasis started reaching the international media houses. On thecontrary, the Security Council approved the request to withdrawmilitary units that have been sent by various countries under the UNpeacekeeping mission. One of these decisions was made in a documentthat was referred to as the Resolution 912, which led to the declineof the troops working under UNAMIR by 90 % (Maddox, 2015).Surprisingly, the resolution was made as the mass killings continued.It reduced the capacity of the UN to control the widespread civil warin the country.
Apartfrom the passage of a resolution reduced the population of troops,there are two other factors indicating that the organization had nointention to intervene. First, Resolution 872, which was passed in1993 to define the mandate of the UNAMIR, held that the foreigntroops could only conduct investigations, provided assistance tolocal forces, or monitor events (Maddox, 2015). Under thisresolution, foreign troops were only permitted to apply force whenrescuing foreign citizens or acting in self-defense. This trendcreated a perception that UNAMIR, which acted under the UN was onlyintended to protect the lives of the whites, while leaving the blacks(including the Tutsis) to suffer in the hands of the militias andgovernment officers. Secondly, UNMIR was an ill equippedorganization, which limited its capacity to organization to controlthe militias. The NAMIR had a limited supply of ammunitions, heavyweapons, food, and medicine. Troops that were deployed under theorganization had to watch the unfolding of mass killing helplessly.
Leadersplay a significant role in protection as well as the propagation ofthe ethical practices that guide the society on the path of morality.Decisions and actions taken by leaders should demonstrate ethicssince they have the capacity to influence their followers to actpositively or negatively. In the case of Rwanda, both political andnon-political leaders played a critical role in spreading hatred.Three former cabinet ministers were among the people who were takenbefore the UN tribunal for the alleged role that they played in theoccurrence of genocide (Maddox, 2015). The cabinet ministersrepresent the executive arm of the government and shareresponsibilities with the head of state. Consequently, these cabinetministers had a lot of influence in the society and the country. Foran instant, eye witnesses held that one of the convicts, DieuKamuhanda, who was a minister in charge of higher education andculture in 1994, led militias that killed people taking refuge inchurches.
Similarly,the business leaders failed to demonstrate ethical leadership andfocused on making a negative influence in the country. For example,Felicien Kabuga was a renowned business leader who contributedtowards the bankrolling as well as the foundation of RTLMC, which isthe media house that aired most of the inflammatory statements(Mitchell, 2014). This leader had the authority and the platform toadvocate for a peaceful coexistence of Hutu and Tutsi, but made anunethical decision to allow journalists to use the radio to spreadhatred. One of the greatest lessons learned regarding the issue ofethics and leadership is that leaders have the power to make apositive or negative influence on their followers. Good leaders makechoices that have positive consequences to the society, while theunethical ones use their resources and power to destroy the moralfabric that hold members of the society together.
Genocideand the Role of the State
Theprimary mandate of every state and its government is to defend itscitizens from local as well as external threats. In 1994, thegovernment of Rwanda acted contrary to this mandate. The state wasgoverned by the Hutu, who took power in 1961 after killing about20,000 Tutsis and forcing another 200,000 members of the same ethnicgroup to go into exile (Schneider, 2016). By 1994, the exiled Tutsishad started pursuing their rights to be allowed to go back to theircountry. This was a threat to the Hutu-led government that tookadvantage of the situation to push for the murder to the Tutsis, withthe objective of preventing them from taking over the state onceagain. The government officials, where the majority came from theHutu group, joined the media in propagating hatred against the Tutsisin order to preserve power. This is a clear indication that the statefailed in its mandate.
Priorto the occurrence of the mass killing of Tutsi, the government hadtaken some initiatives that created a perception that the statemattered in the everyday life of the ordinary citizens. For example,the state had established the obligatory labor programs. Under theseprograms citizens could be recruited to work in support of thegovernment efforts (Saidi, 2015). Therefore, the majority Hutucitizens were easily influenced by the state officials to take partin the process of murdering the Tutsis. Most importantly, thedomination of the state’s leadership by Tutsi had influenced theperception of the citizens regarding the power relations. Bycontrolling the states, the Hutu regime had managed to facilitate theemergence and growth of many hardliners, who perceived that thekilling of Tutsis could be associated with authority (Faustin, 2016).These hardliners were willing to murder the Tutsi at the slightestprovocation or incitement. The key lesson learned from this data isthat the deviation of the state from its core mandate of providingsecurity to its people can lead to the loss of innocent lives.
Roleof the Media in the Occurrence of Rwandan Genocide
TheRwandan genocide was heavily instigated by the media, especially thenewspaper and the radio. The two were the major sources ofinformation in the country. Most of the popular local media houseswere dominated by Hutu presenters, who used them as platforms toadvance hatred against the Tutsis. The renowned ones include RTLM andRadio-Television Libre (Mitchell, 2014). The two media houses maderabble-rousing broadcasts that played a critical role in promotion oftorture and murder of Tutsis. Prior to the occurrence of the deadlyevent, RTLM had consistently reported that the Tutsis has a made aplan to murder the key Hutu politicians (Mitchell, 2014). Similarly,the newspaper named kangura spewed hate for Tutsi by spreading fakenews that was intended to promote violence against them. Although itcannot be denied that hatred and political rivalry existed betweenthe two major ethnic groups (including the Tutsi and Hutu) sinceindependence, the media promoted preexisting tension to a full-blownmass killing.
Issueshave been raised regarding the role of the media houses in recruitingjournalists who are able to observe professionalism in their work. Inmost cases, hatred is spread through the media by politicians whoseek their popularity in their respective ethnic groups. However, thecase of Rwanda was different since over 75 % of the inflammatorystatements that were shared through the media were made by individualjournalists in the absence of political guests (Mitchell, 2014).Broadcasters tried to show the Hutu ethnic group that the Tutsis ofthe time were similar to the old ones who ruled the country with aniron fist. Sentiments against the Tutsis spread faster because theHutu feared that they would be oppressed in case their rival tribetook political power once again. This information shows that themedia failed to play the role enlightening, entertaining, and unitingmembers of the society. This data shows that the media is asignificant source of information that can either make a negative ora positive impact on the society. It can serve as an instrument forenlightening the people or a weapon for the destruction of thefabrics of the society.
Outof all the key stakeholders who had some roles in the controlling themass killing of Tutsis, it is only the civil society that assumed itsresponsibility. During the 1990s, most of the African countries wereexperiencing the growth of democracy at an extremely high rate.Rwanda was not an exemption, and the civil society was instrumentalsince it helped citizens understand their rights and responsibilitiesin the state. For example, the issue of giving the exiled Rwandesethe opportunity to return to their home country was a few yearsbefore the onset of the genocide was being pushed by the civilsociety (Herndon, 2013).
Thecivil society was comprised of the moderate Hutu and Tutsi, whobelieved that the Tutsis living in Uganda, DRC, and Tanzania had theright to return to Rwanda since they went to these countries to savetheir lives during the 1961 massacre (Herndon, 2013). Although thisidea contributed towards the spread of hatred between the two majorethnic groups living in Rwanda, the civil society had carried out itsrole in pushing for the respect of human rights. The civil societyalso played a critical in advocating for the rights of Rwandese whosurvived the mass killing. Therefore, it is evident that the role ofthe civil society is to enlighten the members of the society abouttheir rights, irrespective of the underlying circumstances.
Mostof the key stakeholders (including the international community, theUnited Nations, the state, leaders, and the media) in the social,political, and economic development in Rwanda failed to prevent theoccurrence of genocide in the year 1994. The incident was fueled bypolitical ambitions and ethnic hatred that began during the colonialerror. The two major ethnic groups fought to retain the politicalcontrol of the state. Although most of the superpowers (such as theU.S. and Belgium) did not have a lot of interest in Rwanda, they hadthe moral responsibility of preventing the occurrence of masskilling. The superpowers refused the use the word “genocide” todescribe events that were taking place in Rwanda. This is because aclassification of mass killings in Rwanda would automatically makethe superpowers responsible. They would be required under theinternational laws and conventions to take the necessary actions withthe view of preventing the genocide. These countries had a lot ofinformation indicating the possibility of genocide, but failed to actin time to reduce its impact. The limited capacity of the UN tointervene can be attributed to the fact that the permanent member ofthe Security Council was the same superpowers who had failed toprevent the incident. Therefore, the genocide is an illustration ofthe situation in which the powerful stakeholders choose to watch as aviolation of the rights of the powerless take place.
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