Sharp machetes, iron rods, axes and sticks. With this weapon, the Rwandans destroyed each other at a rate several times faster than the murder rate in German concentration camps. In an instant, the country's population was divided into victims and executioners. What made the two nations, for centuries peacefully living side by side, brutally exterminate each other? On the International Day for the Remembrance of the Genocide in Rwanda, we tried to answer this question. Elena Buhteeva reports.
Imagine that each continent has a characteristic feature - just like an old friend. So, for Africa, these are ongoing ethnic conflicts. Between 1965 and 2005, more than 10 civil wars happened here. Economic distress plays a significant role, but there are other explosive factors. Most states are ethnic motley. Each ethnic group has carefully protected traditions and culture. There are several hundreds of small nationalities on the territory of the continent. Tribal feuds for Africa are commonplace.
The colonial section only added fuel to the fire. In the XIX century, the so-called "race for Africa" began, when the continent was divided among themselves by the European powers. At the same time, the historical settlement of the peoples they cared the least. They formed the boundaries of their territories, without considering this factor. Moreover, the colonialists skillfully manipulated popular enmity, fueling it in their own interests. Ethnic conflicts only helped the conquerors to establish total control.
It happened in Rwanda.
Divide and rule
Historically, Rwanda was inhabited by Hutus and Tutsis (a minority) who managed to live in relative peace. Moreover, in the country the process of merging these ethnic groups proceeded slowly. They began to use one language. The ethnic category gradually shifted to the social plane. Tutsi is now called the rich stratum of society. Having achieved well-being, the Hutu representative could well become Tutsi.
Who knows how the history of Rwanda would have turned if Belgium had not captured it during the First World War. The Belgians were the least interested in the homogeneous population of the country, which, that look, will begin the liberation struggle. It was much more profitable to weaken some and strengthen others. Colonialists bet on Tutsi. The merger of the two nationalities has become the goal unattainable. Now all families had to designate their ethnicity. In the passport of every Rwandan a “nationality” count appeared.
Passport of Rwanda
After some time, the Belgians decide they miscalculated. Tutsi officials were too independent (read - inconvenient to manage). In the late 1950s, they were gradually replaced by Hutu representatives. Hatred smolders between the two nations.
After World War II, most African states will be free. Rwanda is no exception. In 1962, the Belgians would leave it, transferring power to the Hutus. Riots will break out in the country, but so far local.
Tutsi, who fled to Uganda, will create there in 1988 the Rwandan Patriotic Front. It will include Hutus with moderate views. After 2 years, the front will try to organize a military coup in Rwanda, but these attempts will not be crowned with success. With the mediation of Belgium, France and Zaire (Congo), the war can be kept on a local scale until 1994.
“Black” propaganda in the country of a thousand hills
One can hardly argue with the fact that genocide is a form of mass madness. The uncontrollable wave sweeping away any laws and human norms in its path. But in order for the people to go crazy, they need authority to justify a massacre. In Rwanda, leading media have become such an authority.
They zombie society, and so gripped by hatred. No justification and reasoning: only orders to kill. Tutsi was called nothing but "cockroaches" that should disappear from the face of the Earth. On the cover of one of the popular magazines depicted machete with a provocative signature. It was a direct indication of how to kill enemies.
Rwandan armed with machete
Especially tried "Radio and television thousands of hills." Given that we are talking about an illiterate country, it is terrible to imagine what influence the radio had on Rwandans. It is characteristic that the leaders every time emphasized: there will be no punishment for killing "cockroaches". The thing is right. The addresses on which the Tutsis lived were indicated on the air. When the genocide unfolds, they will give the following instructions over the radio: cover the corpses so that they cannot be detected by aerial photography; dump the victims in the river Kagera, which will take them to the distant Lake Victoria. Subsequently, the Hutus will learn to perfectly cover their tracks.
100 scary days
State power with difficulty restrained ethnic conflict, and after the death of President Juvenal Habyariman, any hopes for a truce evaporated. The plane was shot down by unknown persons. Responsibility for this was laid on Tutsi.
April 7, 1994 is a rainy day in the history of Rwanda. It was then that the massacre began. Representatives of Tutsi were killed with extreme cruelty: they first disfigured the body, then cut off the head. The victims offered money to the Hutu soldiers, begging them to immediately shoot them. Women and girls, before killing, raped. Children were killed with the same cruelty as adults. Hutu especially cared that the rising generation of Tutsis disappeared from the face of the Earth. Places in which the enemy could hide, burned. Hutu fathers killed their Tutsi-born children. Streets filled the corpses - hundreds, thousands of mutilated bodies.
Fortunately, the Hutus remained, not blinded by the mass madness. They tried to save fellow citizens. Hundreds of people sheltered Hutus in their homes, hospitals, and schools. This is the story of Paul Rusesabadzhin, whose memories formed the basis of the film “Hotel“ Rwanda ”. Despite the huge risk to his family, he hid more than a thousand Tutsis inside the hotel. To protect them, he “coaxed” the police with huge bribes.
Where did the peacekeepers look?
When it comes to the division of national wealth, wanting to intervene a lot. But those who want to participate in the carnage, no. Fascinated by the Bosnian war, the world community was in no hurry to look back towards Rwanda. When the genocide began, the UN Security Council recalled a significant portion of the peacekeepers. Of the 2,500 soldiers in the African country, only 270 remained. Perhaps this decision was due to the brutal murder of the Belgians who defended Prime Minister Agathu Uvilingiyman. Agatha was one of the first victims of the genocide. Before her death, she was cruelly tortured and raped.
How could a handful of peacekeepers stop the killers? In addition, the soldiers were shackled by an observant mandate strictly regulating the use of firearms.
In May 1994, the scale of the Rwandan disaster became apparent. The UN Security Council voted to increase the size of the peacekeeping mission to 5,500 people, but the resolution was postponed. In June, France launched Operation Turquoise, but this did not stop the genocide. Only the offensive of the Rwandan Patriotic Front helped to stop the carnage. You probably guess what followed this. Tutsis came to power (Rwandan Front). Now only they determined the policy of the country. There was no question of admitting Hutus to top positions. If the latter held public office, their power was nominal.
Many Hutu representatives, fearing the trial, fled the country. The UN Security Council established the International Tribunal for Rwanda. Several Hutu militia leaders and Prime Minister Jean Kamband were sentenced to life imprisonment. Planning Minister Augustin Ngirabatvare was sentenced to 35 years in prison. A huge number of cases have been submitted to the national courts of Rwanda.