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Rwanda: Conflict, Genocide

and Post Genocide


By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)


Bio Other articles in this series...

Transcend Africa Network: Report on Refugees


War and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the Great - Lakes Region of Africa


Africa in the Face of the Development of Others


International Migration and Development Revisited


Ghettoization or Globalization of African Literature


Sudanese Internal Displaced People


Great Lakes Region of Africa - Burundi


Child Rights Associations/Youth Movements in Rwanda


Assistance, Bi-lateral Cooperation and Humanitarian Interventions


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A conflict leads to destruction. It is also a driving force in the history of humanity and  a powerful motivation in the peace-building process. For instance, in the first half of the 20th century, Europe was the most violent region of the world. With the creation of the European Economic Community(EEC) and the European Union in the second half  of the 20th century, today the continent has became one of the freest, most secure and most prosperous regions of the planet, despite the threats of  terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and their allies. It is vital that the Rwanda conflict not be everlasting, in spite of the massive destruction it has caused and the huge difficulties interfering with its effective resolution.

 The existence of a conflict reflects the presence of antagonisms which, by and large, originate from a difference of interests between or among parties. For the conflict to break out, the parties should not only have or pursue incompatible interests, but they should also, more importantly, become aware of that situation. Consequently, the process of building a sustainable peace in Rwanda should consider as vital the knowledge of the conflict, its nature and causes--direct and indirect, or challenges and opportunities for Rwandan society.

The Rwanda genocide plan

The evil started with the arrival of colonial masters, specifically the Belgians (after Germany) who divided Rwandese people into three different ethnic groups (according to them): Hutu, Twa, and Tutsi. Amazingly, the difference was only related to the tallest people and forms of nose or just numbers of cattle possessed. Biologically-apparently, there wasn’t any difference between Rwandese people. But the science and technology of those missionaries and colonial masters helped them a lot in measuring noses, skull and faces of Rwandese, and finally gave them what they called “IDENTITY”.

Question: Before their arrival, what was the identity of the Rwandese?

Answer: BANYARWANDA – which means Rwandese, nothing else.

 As usual, in order to strengthen the ideology of ethnicity, the white missionaries educated all students from primary schools in the whole country regarding the difference between Hutu and Tutsi as major ethnic groups, producing Division, where hatred begins.

100 days of Tutsi massacres

The opportunity to put their plan into action came on April 6th 1994, when an airplane was mysteriously shot down. That aircraft was bringing both Habyarimana (the former president of Rwanda) and Ntaryamira (the president of Burundi, a neighboring country). In front of, and in the eyes of  the U.N. mission  for Rwanda, with heavy weapons and enormous combat helicopters, more than 1,000,000 of Tutsi and Hutu moderates cruelly perished within a matter of weeks. But until now international media says the number was only about 800,000. Why? Was this a lack of information or was it just to minimize or ignore the number of Rwandese who perished.*

Why genocide in Rwanda?

Honorable Pr .Johan Galtung,  in his famous book TRANSCEND AND TRANSFORMATION, an introduction to conflict work, p.89-90, says… “There are many factors behind the genocide in 1994. Much of it goes beyond Rwanda. The labels ‘Tutsi’, ‘Hutu’, with moderate Hutu, point to race , class and people afraid of losing power and profit. Some roots are located in Germany colonialism and Rassenkunde (RACE SCIENCE), favoring the Tutsi over Hutu and both over the Pigmies, being taller. The Belgian successors to the German colonialists after the fist world war favored the Hutu…..

…another aspect of the conflict ,is  the projection of the Anglo-French European tribal feud over linguistic, cultural and economic influence in Africa.”

When we look at the dimension of the Rwanda conflict, we find that so many countries were involved actively, indirectly, and directly. A big country like France and its president Mitterrand is the one who fueled the genocide, just accomplishing the idea created by colonialists (Germany and Belgium). Remember that in the 1994 genocide, the identity books brought  by Belgians in 1931-35 played a major role in determining “whom to kill or whom to let go”.

The vital role of France was to give military support to the French-speaking government (weapons, training, and battlefield support on front line), and they were present on roadblocks as well. Other countries, like the USA, UK and others, were there too, helping directly or indirectly the English speaking rebels.. This really shows how the so-called “powerful countries" often used to destroy the so called “poor countries” with the aim of gaining respect over other countries, and raising their celebrity status. In this issue of the Rwanda conflict, English speaking countries were against France and Belgium, former colonialists of Rwanda. At this time Rwanda was directly or indirectly on the English speaking countries’ side as well.

Now, who won? Who lost? French or English speakers? What is the destination of bilateral cooperation in the post-1994 genocide? Who is helping remarkably in reconstruction of Rwanda? And why? Do we have any proof that genocide will never happen again in Rwanda or elsewhere in the world? What do we do in order to prevent it?

Let’s think about it!

May peace prevail in Rwanda and in the entire world!




* In the year 2000 or 2001, the IBUKA (means remember) Genocide Survivors Association, in conjunction with some other organizations of civil society and international NGOs and the government of Rwanda, conducted research on the number of Tutsis who perished during 100 days of genocide. At that time the research concluded that 1.257.000 people were killed during this evil period.

But unfortunately, international media and the UN still talk about 500.000 or 800.000 people being killed.


So, there is this question:


1.shall we keep the 500.000 that used to be cited by some so called "experts" of the Great Lakes Region/Rwanda", even though they never did any research in the field.?
2.Shall we choose 800.000 killed people as from UN, even though the UN never carried out any research on this matter?
3.Is there any problem if we agree with the outcome of results from research conducted in this matter, and keep the number at more than 1.200.000 killed people?
1.I believe the international community itself is ashamed to talk about the real number because it has been said, and written down in their books, that "What Happened in 1994 Will Never Happen Again." .So, they really failed.
2.Some powerful countries, like France and the USA, played a major role in fueling this genocide, especially France, and the higher numbers of victims must make France people feel concerned and ashamed.
3.Koffi Athan Annan, at the time of the genocide, was the chief of the UN Security Commission. Previously, in 1994, before genocide started, UNAMIR Commander General Romeo Dalere asked for a mandate to be able to tackle the problem, but UN Headquarters refused. In the middle of the genocide. The same commander asked for more troops to protect Tutsis and to stop genocide, but UN Headquarters refused, and withdrew a large number of UN soldiers instead. Note: more information on this can be find in book called "I shake hands with devils,.....humanity" by Lt. Gen.. Romeo Dalere)
4.International media: Rwanda, is the smallest country in the heart of Africa. Some few journalists only knew of or had heard about Rwanda. So, the Rwanda 1994 genocide actually went on without media coverage. On this basis, how can the media misstate the real number of perished people or victims? Just imagine that roughly 500.000 people were killed within 100 days. Only that is enough to start explaining this atrocity.