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The Hutu-Tutsi Conflict in Rwanda

Rwanda experienced one of the most terrible and awful mass murders in the world. This happened in the year 1994. There were three kinds of mass murders happened in the said event. One was the killing of soldiers by their fellow soldiers. The other one was slaughtering of Hutu citizens who lived and worked with Tutsi by fellow Hutu people, together with the military and paramilitary. The third one was the carnage of Tutsi citizens by Hutu people because of their race. Therefore, it was believed by the author to be genocide.

Furthermore, the author claimed that history, ecology, culture, economics, and politics ahs something to do with the mass murder and the genocide (Saha). Rwanda is one of the smallest countries of Africa with thick population density. By the year 1993, the Rwanda people experienced famine due to recurrent drought and other natural phenomena. In the history of Rwanda, Hutu population first dominated the land of Rwanda. However, between the eleventh to fifteenth centuries, a group of more aggressive pastoral people came to Rwanda, the Tutsi.

Eventually, as more skilled in fighting and more suited for military purposes, the Tutsi population conquered the central Rwanda. Hutu became more dominated by Tutsi during the reign of a Tutsi warrior who became a king. During his regime, almost all the cattle chiefs and land chiefs were Tutsi. Therefore, Tutsi became more aristocrat than Hutu people. Meanwhile, as Tutsi celebrates with bounty, Hutu’s land became insufficient and some had even lost their land properties. For the Hutu to survive, they had had contracts with the wealthy Tutsi. These contracts fall into two types: the uburetwa and the ubuhake.

As the famine and drought was continually experienced by Hutu people due to harsh ruling of the Tutsi king, their protein-poor diet became more prevalent (Saha). These two different groups had their own cultural uniqueness. They shared the same religion which amalgamates them socially and at the same time differentiates them culturally. They also had different custom diets or food culture (Saha). After the World War I, Belgium became the ruler of Rwanda and Burundi (now Tanzania). Under their administration, the two countries had changes in political systems.

Rwanda became a republican country under Hutu political leaders and exiled Tutsi monarch. However, the Germans take over Rwanda indirectly. This became possible through the Tutsi monarch and the chiefs. This, again, increased the chiefly power of Tutsi population. The Europeans were impressed by the ruling of Tutsi and favored them. They had even believed that Tutsi people were not really sub-Saharan Africans and were superior to Hutu. Additionally, Belgians replaced Hutu chiefs with Tutsi. Consequently, Hutu people developed inferiority complex and became more antagonistic and indignant (Saha).

Late in 1950s, Belgians’ discrimination had changed. They became favorable with Hutu due to the certain dominance of majority of them. Hutu scholars then published a manifesto which was called “Hutu Manifesto”. This claimed Tutsis as foreign invaders. The manifesto also promoted the Hutu population in all fields. Expectedly, Tutsi people protested and condemned the royal administration to be responsible in the conflict between the two ethnics (Saha). In July 1, 1962, Rwanda became independent. This was brought about by the national election organized by Belgian authorities and was monitored by UN.

Hutu outnumbered Tutsi in political positions. In the second republic of Rwanda in 1973, Major Habyarimana, who is a northern Hutu, became the president. He had always favored and considered the Hutus in north-west of Rwanda, neglecting the other parts of the countries. They always had the fair share of resources compared to others (Saha). Other primary conflict that Habyarimana’s regime faced was the issue on refugees. A large number of Tutsi and Hutu from Rwanda had been moving to neighboring countries. Habyarimana never allowed these refugees to return home since Rwanda had less lands and resources to offer.

Eventually, many Rwandan Tutsi refugees joined the military troop of Uganda, one of the countries they moved to. They undergone military trainings and became officers. They formed their own troop together with the Rwandan Hutu refugees. They aimed and committed to return to their homeland. This troop was then called the Rwandan Patriotic Front or RPF. They attacked Rwanda causing many Habyarimana’s people died. Because of this, Habyarimana became more intense with repressing Tutsis. His own security men incarcerated and maltreated Tutsi people just because of their ethnicity.

He believed that these Tutsis were accomplices of the RPF. The assassination of Tutsi was not merely because of the threats imposed by RPF in the north. It was also seen that radical indoctrination had something to do with it. A certain Hasan Ngeze published in his newspaper the “Ten Commandments of the Hutu” which stated that “The Hutu must stop feeling pity for the Tutsi”. This was the eighth commandment which was summoned without mercy in the 1994 genocide (Saha).

Reference: Saha, Santosh C. Perspectives on Contemporary Ethnic Conflict: Primal Violence or the Politics of Conviction? : Lexington Books, 2006.

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