Steps in the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda

This is the third of a series of articles we shall be bringing you everyday from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, in their concerted desire to fight the genocide ideology from the world, and Africa in particular.

This is the third of a series of articles we shall be bringing you everyday from the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, in their concerted desire to fight the genocide ideology from the world, and Africa in particular.

Distant roots of the genocide ideology

The ideology of genocide of the Tutsi has its roots in the writings of the explorers, missionaries, and European colonisers of the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century.

Since they arrived in Rwanda, these Europeans, who were neither anthropologists, nor ethnologists or historians, started differentiating the human groups they found on the ground.

Just by looking at their faces, their heights and the way they talk, they begun writing their essays such as “A study of races, their origins and the time of living in Rwanda”.

This gave birth to the theory of Hamite and Bantu races. It was an occasion to these authors to come up with other different origins of people:

- The Tutsi Hamites came from Abyssinia, Ancient Egypt, they are Caucasian, from the Decca plateau;

- The Bantu Hutu are said to have come from West Africa, Chad and Cameroon for some, and for others from Oceania;

- The Twa pygmies from equatorial forests. From their point of view, the Twa were the first to inhabit Rwanda, the Hutu came in after and the Tutsi were the last to arrive.

Apart from this differentiation and classification according to origin and time of arrival, were labeled other prejudices. and stereotypes of the Tutsi and the Hutu.

At the beginning of colonialism and evangelisation 1900-1930, based on these prejudices, the colonial administration and the Church opted to choose the Tutsi as collaborators who could easily facilitate them to accomplish their mission of civilisation and salvation.

Below are illustrations from some authors who did studies on the role of the Church in the Rwandan conflicts. Many analysts consider Bishop Jean Leon Classe as having played a major role in the future of Rwanda. Bishop Classe’s role is today considered negative in regard to the tragic events that befell Rwanda in 1994.

Indeed, while he aimed at baptising as many people as possible in Rwanda, he used the Tutsi (whom he considered a superior race) and favoured them politically and culturally to the detriment of the Hutu (whom he considered an inferior race).

“As for us, from the point of view of religion, we believe from our experience that the Tutsi element if much better, more active, more convinced, the most apt to perform the role we want.”

For Bishop Classe, the Tutsi is an element to be used for support not only for spreading faith, but also for developing the country because they are naturally endowed with the qualities required for the task.

In his letter to the Resident Governor in Rwanda Mr Mortehan in December 1927, Bishop Classe wrote:

“Currently if we wish to be practical and in the interest of the country, we would go along with the Mututsi youth. They constitute an incomparable element for progress.”

On November 1931, Bishop C1asse deposed King Musinga and sent him in exile, accusing him being anti-European and anti-Catholic. His son Rudahigwa replaced , him under the royal title Mutara III.

In his quest to show that his policy was different from his father, he was baptized on October 17, 1943, and significantly chose the Christian name of his proteges:

Charles Leon, Pierre, (Charles the Good, Count of Flanders, Leon, his patron Bishop Classe and Pierre; patron of Ryckmans, Governor General of the Belgian Congo).

The Queen Mother on the same occasion took the Christian name of Radegonde, Queen of France. As the same magazine points out, King Rudahigwa left nothing behind - in religion and administration – that was not Belgium or France.

A good Christian, King Rudahigwa consecrated his kingdom to Christ Kings in 1946. There were many conversions following that event. The Catholic Church started playing an important political role in a country that had become catholic.

An alliance between Belgian colonial rule, the Church and the Aristocratic Tutsi was now created. The Belgian Administration deposed all Hutu chiefs. The traditional elites started massive  conversion to Catholicism and sent their sons to catholic schools.

During the colonial times, how can this differentiation, this discrimination, and this attribution of different origins and this successive arrival in the country be considered as being a source of genocide ideology?

Differentiation and classification of Tutsi and Hutu into groups created a complex superiority towards the former and complex of inferiority towards the latter.

Hence throughout the colonial period, the colonial attitude of favouring the Tutsi progressively generated hatred among the Hutu. The theory of different origins was used by the colonial administration to affirm that the two groups had nothing in common.

However, Rwandan tradition said that the two groups have the same descendant, Kanyarwanda, son of Gihanga. The different times of arrival by different groups to the country led the colonisers to affirm that Rwanda belonged to the Hutu who had occupied it for centuries.

The Tutsi group which arrived last was alien. It must be chased from Rwanda and sent back to where it had come from, notably Abyssinia.

The alliance between the Tutsi and the colonial masters was broken in 1956­-1957 when the elite Tutsi group started to claim autonomy and independence.

The colonial masters changed the language: they started to label the formerly favoured group as colonisers. A new alliance between the Hutu and the colonisers started, and there was now a coalition between them against the Tutsi, who were labeled as enemies of the Hutu and anti-white.

At that time the anti­-Tutsi ideology was conceived, developed and propagated. Close causes: Republican Democratic Party for the Emancipation of Hutu (MDR-PARMEHUTU) ideology.

Considered by many analysts as a distant cause of the Genocide perpetrated on the Tutsi in 1994, MDR-PARMEHUTU ideology is based on the myths, prejudices and stereotypes contained in the literature of explorers, missionaries and colonisers.

It inspired the policy of the two first republics and became the catechism of the “Hutu Power” to commit the most barbaric crime of the 20th century.

The racist ideology of MDR-PARMEHUTU comes from the policy of “divide et impera”, common to all regimes which are not founded on legitimacy.

It is based on the writings of explorers, missionaries and colonial authorities, according to which the Tutsi are not Rwandans but invaders who came from Asia through Abyssinia to dominate the legitimate inhabitants of Rwanda. The Tutsi are then considered as secular enemies of the Hutu.

This MDR ideology is conceived on the premise of super human (Tutsi), dominator, oppressor, despiser of others whom he considers as under humans to be despised and mistrusted (Hutu).

Under the pretext of self protection, the holders of this ideology developed a visceral hatred against the Tutsi. This ideology and hatred found their strength in the writings of amateur historians, anthropologists and ethnographers of the colonial period.

These amateurs had labeled the super being as proud, tricky, arrogant, cruel, venomous and thus to be destroyed.

The MDR-PARMEHUTU was basically an ideology forged to discriminate the Tutsi from all key sectors of power: army, administration, and government. It made the Tutsi people second class who deserved nothing.

In everyday life including the media, they designated them by all sorts of humiliating names: snakes, cockroaches, with impunity.

Propagation of the Genocide ideology

From 1954-1959, the genocide ideology has been propagated through the media which was at the time still backward, and through Catholic and colonial pastoral letters.

The colonial administration had broken alliance with the Tutsi and formed a new alliance with the Hutu. In their view this amounted to correct their mistakes for the past 40 years.

Following a letter written by Catholic Bishop Perraudin on the occasion of Lent in 1959 it said: “In this Rwanda of ours, the racial differences, and in this sense, political and judicial powers are proportionally concentrated in the hands of people of one race.”

And the Special Resident Governor for Rwanda Col. Logiest had this to say: “Today after twenty years, I was wondering as to the motives why I have to work with such determination. It is undoubtedly the will to give people their dignity; it is perhaps the desire to expose the duplicity of the offensive aristocratic injustice. Why have I entered into this affair? It is my love for humble, hardworking and respectful people.”

In short, in all colonial circles where the Hutu went, the language was: All Tutsis are enemies of Hutu, they are anti-white. They are as cunning and venomous as vipers.”

Many Tutsis were killed between November 1, 1959 and 1973. The survivors were molested, abused, imprisoned, and many crossed borders and were forced into exile.

Those who remained in the country lost their right to citizenship, the right to jobs in public administration, the right to vote and the right to public education, or to serve in the army.


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