The Rwandan Genocide Summary & Facts.

Rwandan refugees cross the Rusumo border to Tanzania from Rwanda carrying their belongings, goats, mattresses and cows, May 30, 1994. The bloodshed that claimed 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu lives began 25 years ago.

Did Rwandan genocide result from deliberate hatred and fear fostered by the elite to keep itself in power?

How does this involve South Africa?

Something to think about… watch the film Hotel Rwanda here’s why...

Some history behind the arrival of the “New South Africa” - In September 1993, the South African legislature approved the setting up of a multi-party Transitional Executive Council (TEC) to manage South Africa’s transition to democracy. Two months later, the Interim Constitution under which South Africa was to be governed during the transitional period was approved. On 2 February 1994, State President FW de Klerk announced that elections were to be held. Political parties were given a specified time to register, and only 19 political parties registered. The 1994 elections marked the end of “Apartheid” (segragation) in South Africa. The country-wide elections were held on 27 April 1994, and were observed by a 60-member Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) under the leadership of a former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Michael Manley.

Nowadays it is often remarked that elections in South Africa were a diversion from the genocide in Rwanda which had existed from from 7th April to July 1994. Living in South Africa at the time not much was published about the atrocities in Rwanda. I lived in Cape Town and during the later part of 1994 the government for South Africa were permitting refugees from Rwanda. Initially officials using the word “Genocide” after the violence were banned by America. Today this atrocity has often been compared to the current situation in South Africa and the questions asked is – Can we expect a similar situation happen in South Africa to that in Rwanda?

A UN force (UNAMIR), which watched as people were killed in the streets, claimed: “We have no mandate to intervene.”

What Is Genocide? After the Holocaust, the United Nations created a new term — Genocide — and defined it as any of the following actions committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group:

Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Raphael Lemkin and Creation of the word “Genocide”

In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin sought to create a new term to describe Nazi policies of the systematic murder of Jewish people. Lemkin used the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing) to come up with the new word, “genocide.”

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that “affirmed” that genocide was a crime under international law, but did not provide a legal definition of the crime. Two years later, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which legally defined the crime of genocide for the first time.

LINK to video to listen.


On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying President Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Immediately after that, violence ensued. Exactly who killed the president - and with him the president of Burundi and many chief members of staff - has not been established.

Whoever was behind the killing its effect was both instantaneous and catastrophic

Under the cover of war, Hutu extremists launched their plans to destroy the entire Tutsi civilian population. Any Hutu moderate, suspected Tutsi, and Tutsi was systematically murdered. These killings took place in homes and even while Tutsis tried to flee.

Extremists set up roadblocks across the country during the genocide, effectively putting a stopper to any escape attempts. Women were systematically and brutally raped.

Between April and June 1994 (100 days), an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed.

Soldiers and police officers encouraged ordinary citizens to take part in the killings. Hutu civilians, forced by military personnel, were to murder their neighbors, friends, and even relatives.

Participants were given incentives, in the form of money, food, or land, to kill Tutsis; they could appropriate the land of the Tutsis they killed. An estimated 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the genocide.

Corpses in the countryside were covered with banana leaves to screen them from aerial photography.

The genocide organizers were actually very conscious of the risks of international scrutiny, and over the radio would constantly incite killers to continue, but asked that “No more corpses [be put]on the road.”

An unofficial militia group called the Interhamwe (meaning those who attack together) was formed after encouragement by the presidential guard.

At its peak, the group was 30,000-strong.

Unlike the genocides of Armenians in 1915, and Jews in 1941-5, the genocide in Rwanda was not kept secret.

Journalists would report what they saw, and even what was found after the genocide was over. A United Nations (UN) force (UNAMIR), which watched as people were killed in the streets, claimed: “We have no mandate to intervene.”

From the beginning, despite claiming to be caught unaware by the killings, the United States and international community knew of the danger and disorder in Rwanda. But no actions were taken to stop the killings. Months before the killing began, General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN Peacekeepers in Rwanda, sent a now infamous “genocide fax”, warning of an “anti-Tutsi extermination” plot.

The media covered eyewitness accounts and direct stories from missionaries who were unable to save their Rwandan friends from inevitable death. Stories hit the front pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times, even with descriptions of six foot high piles of corpses. There were Defense Intelligence Agency reports that stated the killings were directly administrated by the government and intelligence memos that reported the ringleaders of the genocide.

Prior to the onset of the genocide, there had been at least ten clear warnings to the UN about the “Hutu power” action that was occurring. The UNAMIR commander had even sent a telegram to the then UN Secretary – General, Boutros Ghali, three months before the event.

The UN met in secret after violence broke out. Great Britain urged the pull out of UNAMIR, and later tried blocking an American proposal to send a fact finding mission when the death toll had reached 6 figures.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

The United States of America.

Had initially banned officials from using the term ‘genocide’ immediately after the violence. It is similar situation in South Africa today, for the last 25 years the use of the term "genocide" is met with disbelief and disdain." At first I put this down to ignorance but today I see the attitudes of some in a different context entirely.

Despite these reports, President Clinton specifically avoided calling the massacre genocide to avoid U.S. involvement.

The Clinton administration held on to the idea that there were no U.S. interests in Rwanda, so it was not their place to intervene. They also believed that U.S. credibility would be diminished if they deemed Rwanda acts of genocide and then did not step it to intervene.

A senior U.S. official described the decision to not intervene in Rwanda as “a foregone conclusion.” Military intervention was not on the table for discussion; it was automatically concluded that the United States would not take part in stopping the Rwandan genocide.

The International Community.

International leaders also refused to use their authority to challenge the legitimacy of the genocidal government. When disapproval was finally voiced, the perpetrators in Rwanda did not stop the killing. The whole world saw what was happening, yet refused to step in. Today it is the same attitude that continues today with South Africa.

An International War Crimes Tribunal had been set up in Arusha, Tanzania, to try leaders of the genocide. However, no death sentences could be given.

The civil war and the genocide only ended when the Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RBF), defeated the Hutu regime. Subsequently, President Paul Kegame took control.

After the RBF victory, an estimated two million Hutus fled to Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Local Rwandan radios would use propaganda, an act against international law, to incite Hutus to violence.

Sounds Familiar. Statements such as the beneath quote are all too familiar for ethnic minority South Africans often ranted by South Africa's best known hate-speech ranting villain Julius Malema, leader of Marxist political group Economic Freedom Fighters, as follows ...

Quote “You have to kill the Tutsis, they’re cockroaches. We must all fight the Tutsis. We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country. There must be no refuge for them,” were whispered into the ears of civilians across the country. (Sounds familiar doesn't it?) End of Quote

The killers, subsequently, were not fueled by drugs or violence but rather by a fanatic dedication to a political cause.

Worst atrocity in history of mankind, events went by unnoticed to the world!

Film Hotel Rwanda - 24 years ago some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind took place in the country of Rwanda--and in an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. In the face of these unspeakable actions, inspired by his love for his family, an ordinary man summons extraordinary courage to save the lives of over a thousand helpless refugees, by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages. Could South Africa become another atrocity?

LINK to view the HOTEL RWANDA (2004) - Official Movie Trailer >

“The river Kagera flows into a steep ravine that forms the natural border between Tanzania and Rwanda … it gathers into its currents huge clumps of elephant grass and numerous small trees. In the late spring of 1994 it was much the same with human corpses. They, too, twisted and turned, rose and dropped and came bouncing over the falls before they found the still water…” –Eyewitness Account

Sources: “Peace Pledge Union Information”, BBC, United Human Rights Council

Article - Published by Admin for Break The Silence About South Africa. Dated April 9th, 2018.

#Refugees #Escape #Persecution #Genocide

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