Unearthing the genesis of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda

"….It seems illogical to apply logic to a human behaviour as heinous as genocide, Manus Midlarsky, a political scientist says in his book", The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century.

"….It seems illogical to apply logic to a human behaviour as heinous as genocide, Manus Midlarsky, a political scientist says in his book", The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century.

We are also beaten by the same belief, but owing to the necessity of shedding some light on the unfortunate history of Rwanda and for the benefit of the future generations, we have to talk about it.

It is again inevitable that when you want to talk about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, you give a brief history of the nation. Otherwise, a lot has been said and we do not need to go into details of the history.

It was not until late the 19th century that Rwanda was reached by Europeans’ colonial rule. Count von Götzen, a German, was the first European to enter Rwanda during the reign of king Rwabugiri in 1894. And he thus marked the beginning of the German rule in a historical context.

However, the German rule was mainly indirect and they used agents at the kings’ courts of the various local rulers to rule. That is why; the German influence was not so much felt and ended after the outbreak of the European war.

In 1919, as part of the Versailles Treaty, Rwanda was given to Belgium as a League of Nations trust territory. Further more, when the Belgian missionaries arrived in Rwanda, they brought with them another strand of Catholic teachings, known as the social justice theory of the Young Christian Workers. These priests and colonial officers selected a group of people to work with, and precisely worked with the, ‘Hutu’.

They quickly identified with them and introduced pure religious politics. Thus, a classification biased on the Hutu was done and made the order of the day. This culminated into in 1959, bloody uprising in which thousands of Tutsi were slaughtered and others forced into exile abroad.

In 1962, Gregoire Kayibanda, secretary to the Archbishop and founder of the Paremuhutu party, duly became the first president of the so called independent Rwanda.

The Belgians were later to be ‘very famous’ for their attitudes that prepared the ground for future violence and it was during their regime, that we saw racially based massacres of the Tutsi by the Hutu.

The majority Tutsis were killed and maimed and those who survived went into exile in neighbouring countries.

Elections were organised and in 1960 Hutu politicians triumphed with an obvious victory as they had no opposition practically.

Grégoire Kayibanda, one of the authors of the Hutu Manifesto as we said before, led the government from the interim period to ‘independence’. The subsequent presidential elections were automatically won by Grégoire Kayibanda, under the umbrella of his party, ‘the Parti du Mouvement de l’Emancipation du Peuple Hutu’ (Party for Hutu Emancipation). The name of the party itself tells up to today, its political agenda. It was a call to finish the Tutsi and nothing more.

There followed a period that was characterised by extensive Tutsi marginalisation and killings in Rwanda. In 1963, Kayibanda’s government declared a state of emergency, emphasising the need to ‘clear the bush’ of subversive elements that were presumably set to attack the country. He was referring to some Tutsi who were trying to resist forced exile in the neighbouring countries. A number of Tutsis were massacred in a well coordinated campaign.

The Belgians approach was not very different from other colonial rulers, but only had an unusual zeal to spread hatred amongst the people of Rwanda.

How hatred was implanted in the Rwandan people

Despite the fact that the relationship between different Rwandan peoples is constantly regarded as complex, the "Hutu" and "Tutsi" were not ethnic groups as some people prefer to call them up to today, until the Belgians came in.

They (Belgians) succeed in their hatred campaign especially, by using the Hamitic hypothesis. The significance of the hypothesis however, remains disputable. The hypotheses aimed at disputing the origins of Rwandan people, ultimately achieved its weapon of divide and rule.

The dichotomy was drawn from this background and a conclusion made that, Rwanda had two ethnic groups.

Furthermore, the Belgians infiltrated the Rwandan society and particularly their religion and religious beliefs. The Catholic Church was the principle actor on behalf of the Belgians and a number of priests used it (Catholic Church) to sow seeds of discord, among the children of Rwanda.

"In 1957, the Hutu catechist Gregoire Kayibanda, under the ideological patronage of J.P. Harroy, the Belgian Governor of Rwanda and Mgr. Perraudin, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda, publishes the ‘Hutu Manifesto’ demanding the political authority be granted to the Hutu majority", remarked Rainer Chr. Hennig .

The whole complexity of the Rwandan genocide is embedded in religion. It is through religion that the Hutu extremists managed to propel their hatred propaganda with maximum success.

Religion captures people’s mind and life to the extent that it allows one to be manipulated in a way he or she would not have liked. The blame on religion should not be taken from the surface point of view. It does not mean to hate religion but indoctrination. We are only against indoctrination rather than against religion. This is because indoctrination is many times worse than religion on its own; "It’s one of the most damaging things that you can do to an individual, and if people weren’t force–fed what they should believe and do, then things might generally be a lot better" remarks Epicurus.

Continues tomorrow.



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