THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE

The story of a massacre

By Andrea Schrøder Karlsen, Tim Diedrichs & Camilla Due Gitz

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INTRODUCTION

​Two ethnic groups, two missiles, and one plane crash.
On the 6th of April 1994, former president
Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down and he was killed along with eleven other people onboard. The people of Rwanda started one of the darkest periods their country will ever go through. 

 

Background

Since the middle ages Rwanda has been a country of different ethnic groups. When Rwanda became a German colony, the colonists believed that the minority race, Tutsi, were superior to the majority race, Hutu.

In WWI, Belgian took control of the country and they enforced the Tutsi supremacy and monarchy. Tutsis had all the high positions within society whilst the Hutus were seen as peasant workers

Just before the country's independence in 1961, the Hutus started a revolution against the Tutsi and Belgian rule. With increasing anti-Tutsi violence, a lot of Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries. The Hutus took the power in 1959 and created a one-party state. 

00:00 / 00:55
00:00 / 00:40

Belgian colonists in Rwanda

One-Party stateSimon Turner
00:00 / 00:31

The new Hutu president, Grégoire Kayibanda, created quotas for ethnicity in school. Only 9% were allowed to be Tutsis.


The government suppressed political opposition and executed Tutsi members.


Thousands of Tutsis fled the country.

Juvénal Habyarimana 

00:00 / 01:08

In 1973, Juvénal Habyarimana overthrew Kayibanda and
gained some Tutsi support by
abolishing the quota system. However, Hutus still felt like Tutsis were dominating professional fields like medicine and education.


At the same time, many of the Tutsis who had fled wanted to
come back to Rwanda, but they were told that the country
was full. They were not allowed back into the country.

 

Many Rwandans in Uganda then joined the Ugandan army and became a part of the life there. However, as anti-Rwandan sentiments started in Uganda, the Rwandan people were no longer welcome anywhere. One of these people were Paul Kagame.

United to fight for freedomMao
00:00 / 00:30

The Tutsis in Uganda created the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In 1990, they started planning an invasion of Rwanda from the North led by Paul Kagame. 

RPF soldiers in a bamboo forest in Northern Rwanda

00:00 / 00:58

In 1992, negotiations for a multi-state government started.

Despite some continuing conflicts, the Arusha Accords peace agreement was signed in August 1993. However, a few months later, the Hutu president of Burundi was killed which again sparked anti-Tutsi violence in Rwanda. This destabilised the peace agreements and the UN had to send in peacekeeping forces. Around 6 months later, one plane crash started one of the darkest periods of Rwanda's history.

 

The genocide

SAD HIGHLIGHT OF A CRUEL CONFLICT

The Genocide in Numbers

Approximately 800.000 people were killed

8.000 people died every single day (6 per minute)

70 percent of the Tutsi population died 

Between 250.000- 500.000 women were raped 

The genocide was exactly 100 days

Dead bodies durung th genocide in 1994

100 Days of hell

The darkest chapter of the Rwandan history is a short one, but an even more cruel one. The geno-cide in Rwanda began comparatively slow. While in the first days of the genocide, only few people were killed, this changed dramatically after the first days. 

Rwandans during the genocide

The genocide spread out in the whole country and it caused tragic killings in all villages in Rwanda.

Due to the poverty in Rwanda in this time, most of the people did not have firearms or guns, so the most people were killed by knives and machetes.

The Acts of Cruelity

During the genocide, friends, neighbours, and family members became the worst enemies. It was common that Rwandans killed other Rwandans, even though they were teaching the children together or they were trading goods just days before.

The horror of the genocide did also not stop at the families. Many hardliners killed their own families, because the were against the genocide or because they were Tutsis. Some Hutus also tried to protect themselves by killing their own family. Hutus, who were married to Tutsis were also targets for the murders. The consequences were terrifying.

Family killedFred Muvunyi
00:00 / 00:29

The Sad Role of the President

The official starting point for the Rwandan genocide in 1994 is the death of the ruling president Juvénal Habyarimana.
On 6th of April, his private jet was shot down next to the Airport in the Rwandan capital Kigali. 

Until today it is unproven, who killed the presi-dent in that night. 

On the following day the genocide in Rwanda started.

The airplane of Habyarimana after the attack

Rwandan Hate Radio

The role of media and radio in the Rwandan genocide is not to underestimate. While newspapers and TV-stations were not widespread and popular, the radio stations very influencial and popular. In this time the term "Hate Radio" was created. The reason for that was the biggest radio station of the country, RTLM. This radio stations was one of the main reasons for the huge dimension of the Rwandan genocide is the "Rwandan Hate Radio". 

Importance of the radioFred Muvunyi
00:00 / 00:28

Cruel propaganda amongst famous pop and rock songs was the daily routine for the biggest Rwandan radio station RTLM. The radio hosts called up for violence against Tutsis or Hutus who are were for the peace in Rwanda.

Today is Sunday, the 19th of June 94 and it is 4:22 pm Kigali time in the studios of RTLM. 

Message to all the Cockroaches now: Rwanda belongs to those, who really defend the country. You cockroaches are no real Rwandans. Everyone is up in arms to defeat you cockroaches. Everyone! From our military officers, to young people, adults and all men and women. So you Cockroaches should understand: You have no way out. 

It is our good luck, that we only have so few Tutsis in our country. They are no longer at ten percent, they are now at eight percent. 

*singing* So come and rejoice, friends! Cockroaches are no longer here! Come and rejoice, friends! God is merciful *stop singing*

If we exterminate all of the cockroaches, nobody will judge us, cause we are the winners!

"

"

RTLMunknown radio host
00:00 / 01:35

The End of the Genocide

Since the first day of the genocide, the Tutsi rebel group RPF tried to take over the government in Rwanda. While the UN did not support the rebel group in the fight against the genocide, only the Ugandan military supported the rebels. The former US president Bill Clinton regrets, that he did not try to stop the genocide with the US army.

Bill Clinton aboot the genocide in Rwanda

In less than one month, the RPF was able to control huge parts of the country. Before the rebel group tried to attack the capital, they already stopped the genocide in the regions Byumba and Kibungo. Six days after the genocide stared, the government already decided to leave the capital because of the nearing rebels. Two and a half months later, the RPF took over the full control and stopped the genocide immediately.

Rwandans during the genocide

 

AFTER LIFE

Rwanda today is a country that flourishes. The economy is good, there is a low level of crime and the government is strong.

While the government encourages the people of Rwanda to build a nation together, they are discouraging people from talking about the genocide. 

Kigali

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The current situation - Simon Turner

Rwandan people during the genocide 

Grouping people as Hutu and Tutsi are now banned. It has led Hutus to have more opportunities.

They can go to school, be member of parliament and the army. Tutsis are no longer in power of everything. 

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Hutu and Tutsi- Simon Turner 

Rememberance

Every year the people of Rwanda has two holidays to mourn. From the 7th April to the 4th July (Liberation day). This period is called Kwibuka which means remembrances. The week following the 7th April is an official week of mourning known as Icyunamo.

During Icyunamo there have been a walk of remembrances in the last few years and the president have lit the flame of remembrances. It will burn for one hundred days.

While this is a period is to mourn the dead and remember what happened, some that still believes in the ideology that stared the genocide use this as a time to address that.

Rwandan people celebrating liberation day

Still challenges- Fred Muvunyi

To this day people still do not know or understand how people could be convinced to kill their neighbors, friends and family. The people of Rwanda is still lacking answers about what happened and are worried something like it could happen again.

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Opting for peace- Fred Muvunyi

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Don´t feel safe- Richard Uwizeye

Richard and his family in Rwanda

 

Credits

Writing and editing

Interviewees

Podcast

Visuals of characters

Contact points and information

Supervisors

Andrea Schrøder Karlsen

Tim Diedrichs

Camilla Due Gitz

Déogratias Mucocori (Mao)

Fred Muvunyi

Simon Turner

Richard Uwizeye

Christobal Mora

Tim Diedrichs

Jørgen Warvik Lyngvær

Amandine Ollier

Martin Dövenspeck from Uni Bayreuth

Joel Glasman from Uni Bayreuth

Amanda Hammar from University of Copenhagen

Ana Luisa Sanchez Laws from HiVolda

Stian Cornelius Fagerlid from HiVolda

Web Documentary 2020

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