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U.S. Foreign Aid Helps Prevent Genocide
There is an ongoing discussion in the United States surrounding the efficacy of U.S. foreign aid directed toward the economic and social development of developing countries.

The proponents of this arm of U.S. diplomacy sight the advantages as numerous. U.S-centric arguments in support of foreign aid cite economic and national defense benefits such as the expansion of new economic markets abroad and reduction of poverty-linked terrorism.

From a humanitarian point of view, U.S. aid and human rights initiatives have improved and saved the lives of millions of people around the globe. To narrow in on one aspect of that, studies have shown that the U.S. helps prevent genocide through foreign aid.

Roots of Genocide

According to a report published in 2010 by the U.N. Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, the root causes of genocide spur from societal identity-related conflicts. The report states that the differences in identity do not generate conflict, but the gross inequalities associated with those differences in terms of access to power and resources, social services, development opportunities and the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. 

Within this explanation lays an analysis of genocide as being primarily caused by economic inequality, lack of development and unequal access to power within a state. Following this train of thought, U.S. helps prevent genocide trough foreign aid in that it enables access to tools of empowerment (security, capital, health care, etc.) for impoverished people. By narrowing socioeconomic gaps in potentially violent areas, foreign assistance plays a role in minimizing root causes of genocide.

Matthew C. Waxman, the author of the Council on Foreign Relations special report, Intervention to Stop Genocide and Mass Atrocities, weighed in on how the U.S. helps prevent genocide through foreign aid and explained: “Once mass atrocities are unfolding, it is already too late, so early preventative action is key. Here is the human toll of waiting too long, but also practical reasons for early action, because once mass violence breaks out or human suffering reaches a certain point, there may be cascading effects.”

Rwandan Genocide as a Case Study

The Rwandan Genocide was a tragedy that occurred in 1994, in which over 800,000 Rwandans, primarily of ethnic group Tutsi, were killed by militia and government forces comprised primarily of the ethnic Hutu group. The conflict ignited between the Hutu majority group and the Tutsi minority group and lasted for 100 days. This conflict will be remembered as one of the darkest moments of the 20th century.

On the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, U.N. Security General Kofi Annan outlined a five-point action plan for preventing genocides in the future. The first strategy on the plan is to Prevent Armed Conflict. In an expanded explanation of this point, Annan states: “Addressing inequalities in access to resources constitute a critical prevention strategy” and that “economic and social development and alleviating poverty also make a substantial contribution to preventing conflict.”

Though, as Kofi Annan emphasizes in his five-point action plan, preventing armed conflict is first and foremost the responsibility of national governments, Annan also pledged for U.N.’s support to national efforts that seek to take preventative measures against genocide. In doing this, Annan implies that international and foreign institutions, like the U.N., can have a positive influence on individual nations by helping shape peaceful and equal relations within nations.

The U.S. and Its Role

As the former Security General pointed out and what has been proven to be true by the positive results of U.S. foreign assistance efforts in the past, foreign aid works in addressing inequalities between identity groups. In order to implement preventative action into potential conflict zones, Waxman suggests that development of effective early warning systems, engagement in active diplomacy to mitigate crises and usage of tools like foreign assistance and capacity- building programs to address causes of humanitarian emergencies are most important steps.

In 2011, in recognition of how the U.S. helps prevent genocide through foreign aid, President Obama pushed for the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), a high-level interagency body responsible for coordinating a whole government approach to preventing mass atrocities and genocide.

Additionally, the U.S. Agency for International Development published the “Field Guide: Helping Prevent Mass Atrocities”, a 64-page government document that acknowledges that the U.S. should be helping prevent genocide and outlines strategies for how to do so.

Based on the research published about genocides in the past, the global community seems to have a fairly clear understanding of the origins of genocide and what the warning signs are. With the understanding of how such a terrible event comes to be, many humanitarian efforts have been launched to address the root causes of mass violence and among those the U.S. has played a pivotal role.

However, recent political moves that threaten the future of U.S. foreign assistance program have been made. In a world where mass violence is ever-looming, it would be prudent for the policy-makers to consider how the U.S. helps prevent genocide through foreign aid and keeps that violence at bay.

– Clarke Hallum
Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in RwandaIt’s been over 20 years since the Rwandan Genocide and, while this event is how most know of the small African nation, a reexamination of human rights in Rwanda is well past overdue. In 1994, over the course of a hundred days, nearly a million Rwandans were executed in an ethnic conflict. However, over the next two decades an exemplary justice and reconciliation process unfolded. Due to these efforts, Rwanda’s reputation for human rights violations no longer fits the reality of human rights in Rwanda today. Here are some important facts regarding human rights in Rwanda:

Seven Facts About Human Rights in Rwanda

  1. The 1994 genocide was largely drawn on ethnic lines. Following the overthrow of the Tutsi Monarchy in 1959, the Hutus (who had an 85 percent majority in the country) ruled for the next three decades. In April of 1994, however, the Hutu president was killed in a plane crash prompting Hutu extremists and ruling party officials to begin the systematic execution of the Tutsis. One hundred days later, between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsis were killed and 250,000 women had been raped by militia forces.
  2. By the close of 1994, following the genocide, the U.N. Security Council established The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Over the next decade and a half, The ICTR oversaw the sentencing of 61 people and received thousands of hours of witness testimony. The ICTR is now regarded as one of the preeminent mass violence tribunals and has been used as a model for similar events since. Seeing as The ICTR was so widely and successfully implemented across Rwanda, it is not surprising to learn the attitudes of those leading Rwanda still reflect the lessons learned from The ICTR. Today, human rights in Rwanda is treated with the utmost efficiency with a serious consideration for truth-seeking.
  3. In order to ensure the remaining fugitives were held accountable following the completion of The ICTR, The U.N. Security Council established The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT). MICT oversaw what remained of both the Rwandan and Yugoslavian criminal tribunals. One of those sentenced by MICT was former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda – the first head of government to be convicted of genocide. This was a clear signal sent that human rights in Rwanda were now being taken extremely seriously by the international and Rwandan community.
  4. The ICTR and MICT have not been the only judicial bodies present in Rwanda. The Rwandan National Court System has tried over 10,000 suspects accused of violating human rights relating to the genocide and has remained committed to trying human rights abusers. Interestingly, in the midst of these genocide trials, Rwanda abolished the death penalty, which reflects the growing divide between the former Rwanda, ravaged by genocide, and the Rwanda of today. The Rwandan national court system today strikes this balance well. While they no longer utilize the death penalty, judges continue to strike harsh sentences against human rights abusers to set the precedent that such actions will not be tolerated in contemporary Rwanda.
  5. An essential factor in restoring peace and reconciliation in Rwanda to avoid further human rights troubles was the need to rectify the fates of low-level participants in the genocide. To accomplish this task, the national government reestablished traditional Gacaca Courts. There, community members were tasked with hearing the confessions of those involved in the human rights violations. Confessions were important to the community as they allowed many families to learn of the fates of many of their missing loved ones. While the Gacaca courts held thousands of trials, some of the confessing suspects were permitted to return home with mandated community service, others were sentenced to hard labor. Gacaca courts today continue to play an integral role in maintaining a free and fair Rwanda. Contrary to popular belief, human rights violations seldom begin as a national level conspiracy, but rather those in the communities feel drawn to participate through local influences. Gacaca courts fight this by addressing and prosecuting the instigators at the local level – before it becomes a national crisis.
  6. During the Rwandan genocide, human rights violations spread to Burundi and The Democratic Republic of Congo. This spread was largely due to the influx of fleeing Tutsi refugees across the Great Lakes region and the subsequent pursuit of those attempting to execute the Tutsis. Those intending harm to the Tutsis took advantage of Burundi and DRC’s own internal strife to sew chaos across the region. Today, however, Rwanda works closely with its neighbors, playing an active role in monitoring for and preventing human rights violations. This is one of the biggest lessons learned from the genocide. Rwanda, while a small inland country, is nevertheless an integral regional partner. As such, human rights abuses within the country can spread outward and external abuses can spread inward. Seeing as this is the case, Rwanda has put forth an incredible effort to stymie human rights abuses in its neighboring countries.
  7. While in 1994, the Rwandan government was the sponsor of the genocide, the government today is not only one of the freest and fairest governments but also the most diverse in the region. In fact, women make up a majority of the legislature in Rwanda with 49 out of 80 seats in the lower house and 10 of 26 in the upper house.

While Rwanda is internationally known for the horrific 1994 genocide, this picture does not clearly paint the reality of human rights in Rwanda today. Following the genocide incredible strides were made to bring not only justice but reconciliation to Rwandans. While no reconciliation process is perfect, Rwanda was successful in not only starting to heal the wounds of the past but also ensuring that human rights in Rwanda are taken seriously, so that there is no chance of such tragedies happening again.

– Sam Kennedy
Photo: Flickr

Post-Genocide Poverty Reduction
Genocides have occurred for decades; however, the aftermath of genocide lasts longer than the length of the genocide itself. One common problem for survivors is trying to deal with post-genocide poverty reduction. Many Jewish immigrants of the Holocaust experienced mass poverty that continues to be reported into this decade. In fact, he Telegraph reported in 2015 that more than one half million survivors are living in poverty.

After the Rwandan Genocide, Tutsis and Hutus alike had to deal with the ruins of their communities; many other populations across the world have experienced genocide and needed to focus on development and poverty reduction efforts in one way or another. The following three communities received significant organizational aid in poverty reduction methods after their respective genocides.

The Holocaust: Restitution and Aid

During the Holocaust, Jewish people were typically looted by Nazis or other community members. In 2009, the European Shoah Legacy Institute developed a two-day conference with 47 countries and the EU to urge restitution for the assets stolen from Jews during World War II, and also made efforts to ascertain social aid for poor Holocaust survivors.

France and Germany sold “heirless Jewish properties” to raise funds for social benefits; Germany established a $1 billion home care program for survivors; Austria and Poland pay pensions to survivors who suffered in their country yet live abroad. Efforts like this made the European Shoah Legacy Institute’s goals of poverty reduction and restitution in Holocaust survivors  realized.

The Rwandan Genocide: Empowerment

Inclusive Security is a noteworthy organization related to poverty reduction and female empowerment. After the Rwandan genocide, this organization empowered women to recognize their place at the table and to take initiative in rebuilding their communities.

Since the genocide, the country experienced 8 percent economic growth each year, is projected for further progress and millions of Rwandan citizens have been lifted out of poverty. Also, women have been motivated to take leadership positions and now 64 percent of elected parliamentary seats are held by women.

Inclusive Security states, “Women help create peace that lasts. When women are included in negotiations, the agreement is 35 percent more likely to endure for at least fifteen years.” Female empowerment has one of the driving factors of Rwanda’s successful transition out of genocide.

The Darfur Genocide: Education

In 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) started a project in Soudan called “The Youth Volunteers Rebuilding Darfur Project.” This project’s objectives are to:

  • Improve the environment for sustainable peace in Sudan through increased respect for rights and human security
  • Reduce poverty and increase equitable economic growth.

The approach is to train and equip youth and women to expand Sudan’s economy through businesses. This program also supports the future by educating on environmental sustainability. The UNDP’s future-oriented approach allows youth and women to gain tools to build a successful community.

Post-Genocide Poverty Reduction

These three case studies of the Holocaust in the 1940s, the Rwandan genocide during the 1990s and the Darfur genocide in the early 2000s illuminate various strategies for post-genocide poverty reduction. Restitution and aid provides a short-term solution to a long-term goal, as it allows survivors to immediately gain the assistance they need to reestablish themselves in society.

However, further steps are crucial to sustaining a life without poverty after a genocide. Empowerment and education are key steps to reducing poverty in the long-term. Overall, a combination of these three approaches is key to poverty reduction in the aftermath of a genocide.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Police Accountability in Rwanda
Police accountability promotes stability in nations and increases safety in security. Directly related to reducing poverty, police accountability mechanisms assist community members, specifically the poor and disempowered, to politically mobilize and exercise agency over the future.

In the context of Rwanda, corruption and brutality have been historically prevalent; however, massive improvements have been made in safety and security. Today, Rwanda has one of the highest ratings of citizens’ evaluation of safety, corrupt police officers have been largely eradicated and a strong partnership has been established between the citizens and their protectors. Police accountability in Rwanda is consistently improving and measures have been taken to reduce corruption.

History of the Rwandan Genocide

In order to understand the context of police accountability in Rwanda, a brief background of the genocide that occurred in the 1990s is necessary. Before the genocide, Rwanda’s ethnic makeup was dichotomized: a large majority (around 85 percent) identified as Hutu, and the minority remaining were Tutsi. When Belgium colonized Rwanda, they put the faction of Tutsis in positions of power to rule over the Hutu.

Tensions continued to be exacerbated, even before the colonial rule ended. A Hutu revolution occurred in 1959 that caused over 300,000 Tutsis to flee and eventually resulted in Rwandan independence. Racialized violence continued for years until extremist Hutu leaders began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), consisting of mainly Tutsi refugees, responded with reciprocal violence, which continued until finally a coalition government was formed.

During the genocide, an estimated 800,000 were murdered, a majority of which were Tutsi. Much of the violence of the genocide was gender-specific, and it is reported that in the course of 100 days over half a million people were sexually assaulted. The aim of this violence was to tear apart communities, and it succeeded in that.

After-Effects of the Genocide

After the genocide, Gacaca courts were established in an effort to promote truth-telling and create a unified state. Gacaca courts, in the short term, disrupted women’s efforts to reestablish normal social relations in local communities, and in the long term delivered justice for some and established at least a partial truth about what happened, but many Rwandan women and men felt they were denied justice.  

These courts were flawed in their process of acknowledgment and straddled the line between restorative and punitive justice in many communities. The Rwandan government aimed to keep down mass incarceration levels after the genocide, and the Gacaca courts seemed like a good solution.

There were many shortcomings of the Gacaca tribunals. Several recent accounts of the courts’ performances reveal an egregious lack of due process protections, damaging the fairness of punishment as well as the prospects of reconciliation, according to leading scholars. Many judges of these courts, usually village elders, received minimal training and no lawyers were involved in the trials. Reports of false testimony were common and sentences neither followed a system nor were consistent.

Many Rwandans, nevertheless, served time in prison due to the determinations of these judges. Some have even said that these courts are an example of when a society so strongly yearns for reconciliation, citizens put justice before truth.

The legacy of these tribunals, and the tension that still exists for many Rwandans, led to the corruption and brutality that was perpetrated by the police in the early 2000s. Extrajudicial executions, meaning killing prisoners without legal process or judicial proceedings, were common and frequently made the news.   

Improved Police Accountability in Rwanda

Much has changed since then. Reform and a focus on security and accountability have been successful, and in Transparency International’s latest survey in 2017, Rwanda was ranked sub-Saharan Africa’s third least corrupt country. 200 police officers who were implicit in extrajudicial executions and implicated in corruption were dismissed from duty and the government has been hailed as one with no tolerance for corruption.

Police accountability in Rwanda has been condemned by leaders, and Rwanda police spokesperson Theos Badege said there would be “no mercy” upon corrupt officers in the police. “It is a national policy to ensure zero tolerance to graft,” Badege said, adding that accountability and integrity are among the core values expected of police officers while on duty. The past does not define this nation; instead, it helps shape the nation’s brighter future.

– Jilly Fox
Photo: Flickr

gender barriers
Equality between men and women still remains a struggle in the majority of countries around the world, but the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth is becoming more evident in the world’s fastest-growing economies. In addition to fueling the principle of equality, women’s economic participation is a vital, often overlooked, piece to the labor force.

Female Economic Participation

According to the International Monetary Fund, the importance of female economic participation mitigates the shrinking labor force in developing countries. The more opportunities women have increases the likelihood of the gender contributing to broader economic development. Such outcomes are often seen through higher enrollment numbers for education.

Currently, in the Middle East and Northern Africa, women account for 21 percent of the labor force. Often these gaps lead to significant GDP losses. Countries that have acquired such losses include Qatar, Oman and Iran, and all three nations have a projected GDP loss estimated at 30 percent or higher.

Many of these countries pose a legal threat to women — women signing contracts, traveling abroad and negotiating finances are not common. However large the losses, there are significant macroeconomic benefits to eliminating gender barriers. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improvements in financial analytics
  • Economic inclusion and data collection
  • Reformative fiscal policies that integrate equality into law

One U.N. study claims that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth by fostering an additional $89 billion into the Asian Pacific economy per year.

A Rwandan Success Story

Some countries have fought hard to relinquish the negative stigma associated with women in their economies. From innovative coffee plantations in Rwanda to legislative change, alleviation of bias is slowly filtering its way through exclusive boundaries.

For instance, Rwanda has recently become a powerful leader in the gender equality sphere. Policies regarding gender empowerment and budgeting of public services are setting precedents for many Sub-Saharan African countries. In addition, the Ministry for Gender and Family Promotion is the largest gender equality organization in the country. Its commitment is centered on gender-based budgeting and fighting gender-based violence.

Rwanda and Gender

Post-Rwandan Genocide culture opened many doors for women just as World War II did for Americans. President Paul Kagame recognized the need for women’s labor and in 2003 passed legislation requiring 30 percent of parliamentary seats to be reserved for women. Kagame battled to revitalize the torn country with a labor force that was unheard of for many Eastern African countries.

As of January 2018 and thanks to President Kagame, 64 percent of seats in Rwandan legislature were held by women. This is a feat highly praised by most Rwandan women, but still remains a slight issue with Rwandan males and traditional females who choose to ignore the fact that removing gender barriers fuels economic growth.

Though Rwandan history has uniquely paved the way for female empowerment, many countries still lag behind the concept of gender equality. If barriers continue to be eliminated, economic success is sure to follow. Perhaps global powerhouses, like the U.S., can learn from Rwandan history, gender equality and culture, and bring gender equality to the forefront.

– Logan Moore
Photo: Flickr

Western media often misrepresents the developing world. This is unfortunate, given the media’s role in modern society. Mainstream media serves as an everyday citizen’s window into other corners of the world. Reporters don’t always produce the full profile of a developing nation and how that country may be improving themselves politically, socially and economically. This article will discuss how the media misrepresents Rwanda, a lushly green mountainous country in East Africa.

The Media’s Failure: Genocide

Many know Rwanda for the horrific genocide in the spring and summer of 1994, which was been widely reported across global news outlets since the killings took place. Ironically, the media has been chastised for its failure to cover the genocide in a timely manner. As for the current news, simple internet search results display the common western perception of Rwanda as another impoverished African nation. This is just one example of how the media misrepresents Rwanda.

Taking Sides: Trade Dispute

On March 30, 2018, Rwanda made headlines as it was involved in a small trade dispute over used clothing being bought and sold within the country. The U.S. suspended the selling of its secondhand clothing in Rwanda after Rwandan political leaders raised the import tariff on the clothing from $0.20 to $2.50, implementing what the used clothing trade industry calls a de facto embargo. The article does not shed light on the Rwandan perspective in raising the tariffs but rather cites statistics produced by U.S. institutions. 

How the media misrepresents Rwanda can be seen in the article as it refers to Rwanda as a poor African country. However, the World Bank shows Rwanda has sustained economic growth rates for the past decade as part of its strategy to become a middle-income country by 2020. 

A different article reporting on the trade dispute explains that Paul Kagame, the prime minister of Rwanda, stated it will maintain the de facto embargo in hopes of growing a textile industry within the country, contributing to its recent economic growth. This article also fails to offer the Rwandan perspective on why it wants to stop the import of U.S. clothing and what growth looks like in Rwanda.

Misrepresentation Aside: Rwanda’s Improving Economy

Today, Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is known for being the cleanest city in Africa. Each month there is one day where driving cars in the city is banned. On the day of the ban, the government conducts free exercise classes as well as health check-ups to those who participate in the exercise classes.

Rwanda also has made strides in turning Kigali into a tech hub for the East African community. In 2017, Rwanda partnered with South Korea, who is investing heavily in Rwanda’s technological sector. The Rwandan government has ambitious plans to create more than 100 information, communication and technology companies valued at $50 million by 2030.

Overall, Rwanda is doing strong work to distinguish itself as a leader in tech within the East African community. Unfortunately, these more recent developments in the countries economic growth are not the most salient images in the media and minds of media consumers. In the end, this is the image Rwanda wants to create for itself and dispel how the media misrepresents Rwanda.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Flickr

Foundation RwandaThe saying goes, “History is decided by the victors”, but there are some events in history where there are no winners, only survivors. The Rwandan genocide was a horrific event, but for many living in Rwanda, the struggle has not ended. Foundation Rwanda is a nonprofit that works to aid these survivors as well as ensuring that these events will not be forgotten.

Background and History

In 1994, 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda over a span of just 100 days. The genocide was the result of a conflict between Hutu extremists and the Tutsi minority that had been building up for decades. A number of atrocities were committed during the genocide in addition to murder, leaving few unscarred. However, the founders of Foundation Rwanda did not purposely set out to address this.

“In February of 2006, photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik traveled to East Africa with then-Newsweek health editor Geoffrey Cowley to report on a story for Newsweek magazine about the 25th year anniversary of the inception of HIV/AIDS,” Rwandan program director Samuel Munderere told the Borgen Project. While in Rwanda, Torgovnik met and was moved by Margaret, a genocide survivor who had been raped and as a result gave birth to a child and contracted HIV. Munderere states that Torgovnik “began feeling incredible parallels between the Holocaust, in which his grandfather was murdered, and the Rwandan genocide”.

Torgovnik later returned to Rwanda with co-founder Jules Shell and discovered that an estimated 20,000 children were born as a result of rape during the genocide. Many of the mothers of these children also became HIV positive and were forced into poverty after becoming social pariahs within their own communities and families.

Their Work

Most of these women are unable to afford to send their children to school, but Munderere says they have a “desire for their children to have a brighter future”. This is where Foundation Rwanda comes in. The organization works to help sponsor these children so that they may attend school and have the access to the uniforms and supplies they need. They have supported over 830 children in attending secondary school, and 500 of them have graduated.

Foundation Rwanda also works to help the mothers who lived through the atrocities of the genocide. They have helped 420 women to receive support through psychological counseling as a part of their community counseling initiative. In addition, they have partnered with Indego Africa, an organization that supports female artisans and entrepreneurs, to help these women create their own sources of income.

Needs for the Future

Foundation Rwanda has done incredible work for these survivors and their children, but their futures are vulnerable. “Due to funding challenges, we are unable to meet the needs of many of the people we support,” says Munderere. Co-founder Jules Shell states that “a minimal amount of $150,000 would complete our education program.” If Foundation Rwanda is to continue to make a difference in the lives of these Rwandan citizens who have already suffered so greatly, they must be supported.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

rwandan genocide factsThe Rwandan genocide sprung from a complex web of factors spanning hundreds of years. This compendium of 15 Rwandan genocide facts illustrates the most important things to understand about the genocide.

Top Rwanda Genocide Facts

  1. The Dates
    The Rwandan genocide began on April 6, 1994, and ended approximately 100 days later on July 16.
  2. The Death Toll
    According to U.N. estimates, between 800,000 and one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. As many as 10,000 people were killed per day. Seventy percent of the Tutsi population was wiped out, and over 10 percent of the total Rwandan population.
  3. Major Players – The Hutus
    The Hutus are the majority ethnic group in Rwanda. At the time of the genocide, they made up 85 percent of the population. Historically, the Hutus were farmers who occupied a lower social status than their Tutsi neighbors. They took control of Rwanda after the nation gained its independence in 1962.
  4. Major Players – The Tutsis
    The Tutsis traditionally owned cattle, which allowed them to achieve more wealth and social power than the Hutus. Compared to the Hutus, the Tutsis were taller and thinner. Though the minority, the Tutsis benefited from their elite status under Belgian rule.
  5. The President
    On April 6, 1994, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was killed in a plane crash. While it has never been determined exactly who was to blame, both Hutu extremists and the rebel Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) were accused of the crime. Less than half an hour after the crash, the Hutu presidential guard began shooting Tutsi civilians.
  6. The Prime Minister
    On April 7, the day after the fatal crash, Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana was assassinated, along with ten Belgian peacekeepers assigned to protect her. Other moderate Hutu leaders were murdered as well.
  7. The Role of Radio
    Hutu leaders used radio broadcasts to incite genocide, broadcast misinformation and identify Tutsi targets and locations. Ten percent of the violence can be attributed to the radio broadcasts.
  8. Rape
    Hundreds of thousands of women were raped, including nearly every survivor over the age of 12. For the first time, rape was listed as an official act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
  9. AIDS
    Hutus released AIDS patients from hospitals in order to form rape squads. Though men were quickly killed by the attackers, rapists intentionally infected their female victims and told them that they would die slowly and painfully from AIDS. As a result, more than 67 percent of rape victims are now HIV-positive.
  10. Communities
    Leaders handed out kill lists to militias familiar with local communities, so they had no trouble locating their victims. Neighbors killed neighbors, and some Hutu husbands even murdered their Tutsi wives out of fear for their own lives. Religious institutes provided no respite; priests and nuns were convicted of killing those who sought sanctuary in churches. Militias targeted those taking refuge in churches as well, sometimes killing thousands with grenades, fire, machetes and firearms.
  11. The Rest of the World
    The rest of the world watched the Rwandan genocide in horror, but did very little to stop it. U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali lamented that “in Rwanda nobody was interested.” Bill Clinton, U.S. President at the time of the massacres, admitted that the genocide was “one of history’s great failures” and “one of my personal failures.”
  12. The End
    The killings ended when the Tutsi RPF took control of Rwanda on July 16, 1994.
  13. The Aftermath
    After the RPF took control, two million Hutus fled into the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. There, Hutu militias caused years of conflict and were responsible for up to five million deaths.
  14. The Trials
    In December 1996, proceedings began in Rwanda’s first genocide trial under the ICTR. Additionally, local courts tried almost two million people for their roles. Lower sentences were given when defendants showed remorse and sought reconciliation.
  15. New Language
    Because they had no vocabulary to adequately convey the magnitude of post-traumatic stress and grief endured by survivors, Rwandans coined a new term: “ihahamuke.”

These 15 Rwandan genocide facts shed light on the atrocities committed in the African nation in 1994. Hopefully, they serve as a reminder of the international community’s duty to prevent similar horrors in the future.

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

Rwandan GenocideThe Borgen Project sat down with Brian Endless, a political science professor at Loyola University Chicago and an academic expert on the Rwandan genocide. Since 2007, Endless worked closely with Paul Rusesabagina, the inspiration for the film “Hotel Rwanda,” to raise awareness about misconceptions surrounding the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

How and why did you initially become interested in the Rwandan genocide?

“[My interest] started around the time I started grad school. I had always focused on the Security Council, and I had a lot of experience with it. I was immersed in the genocide from the beginning from an international perspective. I knew what was happening and saw it as a huge failure of the U.N. I saw everything from the perspective of the outside world.

I didn’t really know how little I knew about Rwanda until 2007, when I met Paul Rusesabagina, who had become an international spokesperson for Rwanda. I had no idea about the history of the civil war and internal conflicts that led up to the genocide. From 2007 on, I went on a pretty steep learning curve, picking up everything that I could about what was happening inside of Rwanda.”

Can you summarize your experience learning about and advocating for awareness of the genocide after 2007?

“From extensive talks with Paul and members of the Rwandan expatriate community, I learned that while the international public saw the situation as Hutus killing Tutsis, what was actually happening was the latest in a series of civil wars. I was surprised by the fact that an enormous number of Hutus died during the genocide, and that a Tutsi dictatorship had replaced a Hutu dictatorship, and that a small percentage of Tutsis was ruling and committing substantial human rights violations.

I did an enormous amount of academic reading and I followed a lot of court cases as things came into the public press. I started actively working with Paul and writing speeches for him and things to be published and publicly disseminated. The Hotel Rwanda Paul Rusesabagina Foundation was first campaigning to inform the public that there were still problems. The situation was really just, ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ with a population that was being discriminated against. Rwanda was also a very friendly government to the United States, so it was difficult getting information out and advocating for truth and reconciliation in Rwanda.”

What were the biggest driving factors behind the genocide?

“It’s a story that dates back to pre-colonial times. By 1990, a Hutu government was in charge but didn’t have enormous control over the country. Tutsi groups in Uganda started a civil war to take back the country. Tutsis were largely winning the war in 1993, and there was a peace plan. By early 1994, the peace plan was breaking down. Hutu extremists started to bring out negative views against the Tutsis. In part, it was a plan to try to stop the Tutsi invasion by encouraging Hutus to demonize Tutsis. They focused especially on internally-displaced youth who were pushed out of their homes as the Tutsis invaded.

That’s effectively where the genocide started. The genocide officially started when the plane carrying the president of Rwanda and the president of Burundi was shot down in early April 1994. That triggered the genocide, and Hutu Power radio began to say, ‘It’s time to chop down the tall weeds,’ which was code to kill the Tutsis.”

How did the international community fail to become involved in the Rwandan genocide?

“We had just come out of Somalia, where 18 U.S. army rangers had been killed. The Clinton Administration used this as an excuse to pull us out. What happened was the U.S. public became more against using forces in places they didn’t understand or that weren’t strategic. Rwanda was a place where nobody had close ties. There were really no great natural resources, thus we let it happen and let it go on. People in the U.S. and in Europe didn’t realize it until we saw it on CNN, and our politicians had no interest in getting us involved in another war that could end up like Somalia.”

What do you think should have been done?

“Really the question is: If we’re going to say ‘never again’ after a genocide, we have to decide if we mean it or not. So far, we haven’t meant it. We’re not willing to put resources on the ground even when we know what’s happening, and in the case of Rwanda, we absolutely knew that genocide was happening.”

What do you think can be done to prevent future genocides around the globe?

“I think in the future, a piece of it is: how can we make the American people more interested and more knowledgeable about what happens in other parts of the world? If the press chose to highlight these things, they would become more important. Advocacy groups need to convince both press and politicians that these are issues of interest to Americans. People need to understand that we have some culpability because we have our fingers pretty much everyplace in the world. People too often think, ‘Oh, that’s not our problem,’ or, ‘Oh, they should solve their own problems.’ A big piece of our own problem is that we don’t look at things from a humanitarian perspective.”

Endless continues to advocate for the elimination of genocide by working with Paul Rusesabagina’s foundation and teaching classes at Loyola University Chicago. Endless’ insights into the Rwandan genocide offer a path to an international community that can genuinely say “never again” to genocide.

Peyton Jacobsen

Photo: Flickr

r2p
The Responsibility to Protect doctrine, also known as R2P, was created by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty in response to the genocide in Rwanda. R2P argues that the international community has the responsibility to protect civilians in states that are unwilling or unable to do so, therefore re-defining the pillars of state sovereignty. Two basic pillars of the Responsibility to Protect include state sovereignty to responsibility for the protection of its people lies within the state itself, as well as the international responsibility to protect populations suffering serious harm from internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure through humanitarian intervention.

The Responsibility to Protect includes the responsibility to prevent, react and rebuild. To prevent includes addressing both the root causes and direct causes of internal conflict and other man-made crises putting populations at risk. The responsibility to react describes the duty of either the state or international community to utilize coercive measures like sanctions and international prosecution, and military intervention as a last resort in response to situations with dire humanitarian consequences. The responsibility to rebuild includes providing full assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, usually after a military intervention.

There are six criteria for military intervention: just cause, right intention, last resort, proportional means, reasonable prospects and right authority. Military intervention is difficult to justify, not only because of the criteria for intervention, but due to state sovereignty and United Nations Security Council vetoes. The conflict in Syria demonstrates the difficulty of implementing R2P and humanitarian intervention.

In addition to issues of sovereignty between the governments, the lack of cohesive intervention from the beginning has contributed to the conflict significantly, for early attempts at intervention were neither swift nor effective.  Due to the humanitarian situation, a UNSC Resolution or unilateral intervention justification would have proven legitimate in regard to the International Convention on Human Rights and the Responsibility to Protect, for the Assad regime was not being held accountable for the mass atrocities being committed within his territory. In addition to a lack of UNSC approval, the Chinese and Russian veto of the transfer of the case to the ICC has proven a hindrance to the international capacity to alleviate the conflict and further promotes the proxy war debate.

The lack of international capacity to alleviate the conflict in Syria has illuminated several tensions for the Responsibility to Protect and the future of humanitarian intervention. The conflict further demonstrates how R2P continues to be dependent on national interests, rather than the presence of “atrocities that shock the conscience.” The international community ought to acknowledge their mistake for not intervening in Syria in pursuit of assuring this non-intervention is a deviation from the norm to protect rather than implementation of a new precedent in order to restore the legitimacy of the Responsibility to Protect and humanitarian intervention.

Neti Gupta

Sources: Stand, Responsibility to Protect,  Global Center2p
Photo: Global Solutions