Rwandan Genocide


The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800.000 people. Over the course of approximately 100 days from the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana on April 6 through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate. Other estimates of the death toll have ranged between 500.000 and 1.000.000, or as much as 20% of the country's total population. It was the culmination, largely influenced by the Belgian colonization which favored the Tutsi minority group because of their more "European" appearance, of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had controlled power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples, who had come to power in the rebellion of 1959-1962 and overthrown the Tutsi monarchy.


In 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group composed mostly of Tutsi refugees, invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda in an attempt to defeat the Hutu-led government. They began the Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime, with support from Francophone nations of Africa and France, and the RPF, with support from Uganda. This exacerbated ethnic tensions in the country. In response, many Hutu collected around Hutu Power.


As an ideology, Hutu Power asserted that the Tutsi intended to enslave the Hutu and must be resisted at all costs. Continuing ethnic strife resulted in the rebels' displacing large numbers of Hutu in the north, plus periodic localized Hutu killings of Tutsi in the south. International pressure on the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993. He was able to begin implementation of the Arusha Accords.


The assassinations of Habyarimana in April 1994 set off a violent reaction, resulting in the Hutus' conducting mass killings of Tutsis and pro-peace Hutus. Primarily responsible were two Hutu militias associated with political parties: the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi. The Hutu Power group known as the Akuza directed the genocide. It was the end of the peace agreement meant to end the war. The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, eventually defeating the government army and seizing control of the country.




For centuries, the Tutsi monarchy had controlled most of the power in Rwanda. The monarchy continued under colonial rule. Practices in the past were part of the culture of Rwanda; for instance, king Rwabugiri (1867–1897) instituted the hated carvée labor, which drew mostly from the majority Hutu. In addition, he elevated the use of violence as standard practice against domestic and external foes.

During the 1950s, the Hutu majority became more restive. In 1957, the Hutu Emancpation Movement (Parmehutu) published the "Hutu Manifesto" (sometimes called "Bahutu Manifesto"). It alleged that the Tutsi minority held a monopoly of power in Rwanda. By 1962, the Hutu overthrew the monarchy and established the Republic headed by Grégoire Kayibanda. His regime persecuted the Tutsi in turn, especially those previously in power, and many of the most educated fled the country for refuge in Uganda and other areas. General Juvénal Habyarimana, also ethnic Hutu, seized power in a coup in 1973, killing Kayibande and promising progress.


In neighboring Burundi, two episodes of massive violence had taken place since the country’s independence in 1962: the army's mass killings of Hutu in 1972, which was considered a Tutsi-initiated genocide because the ethnic group had controlled the government army. In 1994, the Hutu population arose and killed many Tutsi in Burundi.


Civil war

The Tutsi refugee diaspora was a coherent political and military organization by the late 1980s. Large numbers of Tutsi refugees in Uganda had joined the victorious rebel National Resistance Movement during the Ugandan Bush War and created a separate movement. Some 6,000 Tutsi refugee warriors invaded Rwanda to try to regain power, threatening the gains of the Hutu since independence and their revolutionary ideals.


The journal Kangura, a Hutu response to the Tutsi journal  Kangura, active from 1990 to 1993, was instrumental in incitement of Hutu disdain for Tutsis, on the basis of their ethnicity rather than their previous economic advantages. Hassan Ngeze, founder and editor of Kangura, published the widely read Hutu Ten Commandments, which called for the formal installment of Hutu Power ideology in schools and the establishment of an exclusively Hutu army. Among the commandments was the dictum, "The Hutu should stop having mercy on the Tutsi."


Tanzania (with the support of the West) brokered peace talks. In August 1993, the rebels and the Government of Rwanda signed the Arusha Accords peace treaty to end the civil war. The accords rolled back the authoritarian power of President Juvénal Habyarimana, vesting authority in the Transitional Broad Based Government (TBBG). The TBBG would include the RPF as well as the five political parties that had formed the coalition government, in place since April 1992, to govern until proper elections could be held. The Transitional National Assembly (TNA), the legislative branch of the transitional government, was open to all parties, including the RPF.


The extremist Hutu Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), nominally controlled by President Habyarimana, was strongly opposed to sharing power with the RPF and refused to sign the accords. When at last it agreed to the terms, the RPF opposed the accords in turn.] UN Peacekeepers were deployed to patrol ceasefire and assist in demilitarization and demobilization. A March 1993 report found that 10,000 Tutsi had been detained and 2,000 murdered since the RPF's 1990 invasion. In August 1993, Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN forces, made a reconnaissance trip to evaluate the situation and requested 5.000 troops; he was given 2.548 military personnel and 60 civilian police. He at first saw the situation as a standard peacekeeping mission.


Preparations for the genocide

The killing was well organized by the government. When it started, the Rwandan militia numbered around 30,000, or one militia member for every ten families. It was organized nationwide, with representatives in every neighborhood. Some militia members were able to acquire AK-47 assaults rifles by completing requisition forms. Other weapons, such as grenades, required no paperwork and were widely distributed by the government. Many members of the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were armed only with machetes.


Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda revealed in his testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal that the genocide was openly discussed in cabinet meetings and that " cabinet minister said she was personally in favor of getting rid of all Tutsi; without the Tutsi, she told ministers, all of Rwanda's problems would be over." In addition to Kambanda, the genocide's organizers included Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, a retired army officer, and many top-ranking government officials and members of the army, such as General Augustin izimungu. On the local level, the genocide's planners included Burgomasters, or mayors, and members of the police.


Hutus and Tutsis were forced to use ID cards which specified an ethnic group. These cards served as symbols that the Interhamwe could check via the threat of force.] Skin color was a general physical trait that was typically used in "ethnic" identification. The lighter-colored Rwandans were typically Tutsi, the minority group, while the darker-skinned Rwandans were typically Hutu, the majority group in Rwanda. In many cases, Tutsi men, women, and children were separated from the general population and sometimes forced to be Hutu slaves. As for the Tutsi women, they were often referred to as "gypsies" and frequently fell victim to sexual violence.


Government leaders communicated with figures among the population to form and arm militias called Interahamwe, "those who stand (fight, kill) together", and Impuzamugambi, "those who have the same (or a single) goal". These groups, particularly their youth wings, were responsible for much of the violence.


Media propaganda

According to recent commentators, the news media played a crucial role in the genocide; local print and radio media fueled the killings while the international media either ignored or seriously misconstrued events on the ground. The print media in Rwanda is believed to have started hate speech against Tutsis, which was later continued by radio stations. According to commentators, anti-Tutsi hate speech "...became so systemic as to seem the norm." The state-owned newspaper Kangura had a central role, starting an anti-Tutsi and anti-RPF campaign in October 1990. In the ongoing Intrnational Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the individuals behind Kangura have been accused of producing leaflets in 1992 picturing a machete and asking "What shall we do to complete the social revolution of 1959?" – a reference to the Hutu revolt that overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and the subsequent politically orchestrated communal violence that resulted in thousands of mostly Tutsi casualties and forced roughly 300,000 Tutsis to flee to neighboring Burundi and Uganda. Kangura also published the infamous “10 Hutu Commandments” which regulated all dealings with Tutsis and how Hutus are to treat them. It communicated the message that the RPF had a devious grand strategy against the Hutu (one feature article was titled "Tutsi colonization plan").


Due to high rates of illiteracy at the time of the genocide, radio was an important way for the government to deliver messages to the public. Two radio stations key to inciting violence before and during the genocide were Radio Rwanda and Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). In March 1992, Radio Rwanda was first used in directly promoting the killing of Tutsi in Bugesera, south of the national capital Kigali. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a communiqué warning that Hutu in Bugesera would be attacked by Tutsi, a message used by local officials to convince Hutu that they needed to attack first. Led by soldiers, Hutu civilians and the Interahamwe attacked and killed hundreds of Tutsi.


At the end of 1993, the RTLM's highly sensationalized reporting on the assassination of the Burundi president, a Hutu, was used to underline supposed Tutsi brutality. The RTLM falsely reported that the president had been tortured, including castration (in pre-colonial times, some Tutsi kings castrated defeated enemy rulers). There were 50,000 civilian deaths in Burundi in 1993.


From late October 1993, the RTLM repeatedly broadcast themes developed by the extremist written press, underlining the inherent differences between Hutu and Tutsi, the foreign origin of Tutsi, the disproportionate share of Tutsi wealth and power, and the horrors of past Tutsi rule. The RTLM also repeatedly stressed the need to be alert to Tutsi plots and possible attacks. It warned Hutu to prepare to "defend" themselves against the Tutsi. After April 6, 1994, authorities used the RTLM and Radio Rwanda to spur and direct killings, specifically in areas where the killings were initially resisted. Both radio stations were used to incite and mobilize populations, followed by specific directions for carrying out the killings.


The RTLM had used terms such as inyenzi (cockroach in Kinyarwandan) and Tutsi interchangeably with others referring to the RPF combatants. It warned that RPF combatants dressed in civilian clothes were mingling among the displaced people fleeing combat zones. These broadcasts gave the impression that all Tutsi were supporters of the RPF force fighting against the elected government. Women were targets of the anti-Tutsi propaganda prior the 1994 genocide; for example, the "Ten Hutu Commandments" (1990) included four commandments that portrayed Tutsi women as tools of the Tutsi people, and as sexual weapons to weaken and ultimately destroy the Hutu men. Gender-based propaganda also included cartoons printed in newspapers depicting Tutsi women as sex objects. Examples of gender-based hate propaganda used to incite war rape included statements by perpetrators, such as, "You Tutsi women think that you are too good for us", and "Let us see what a Tutsi woman tastes like."


To promote an informed population and democracy in Rwanda, international agencies had promoted development of the media during the years leading up to the genocide. It appeared that promoting one aspect of democracy (in this case the media) may, in fact, negatively influence other aspects of democracy or human rights. International development agencies must be highly sensitive to the specific context of their programmes and the need for promotion of democracy in a holistic manner.



United Nations




On January 11, 1994 Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire (United Nations Force Commander in Rwanda) notified Military Advisor to the Secretary-General, Major-General Maurice Baril, of four major weapons caches and plans by the Hutus for extermination of Tutsis. The telegram from Dallaire stated that a top-level Interahamwe militia trainer directed demonstrations a few days before, to provoke an RPF battalion in Kigali into firing upon demonstrators and Belgian United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) troops into using force. He informed the UN about the plan.


The Interhamwe would then have an excuse to engage the Belgian troops and the RPF battalion. Several Belgians were to be killed, which would guarantee a withdrawal of the Belgian contingent, which was the backbone of the peacekeeping mission. The Tutsis would then be eliminated. According to the informant, 1,700 Interhamwe militia were trained in Governmental Forces camps, and he was ordered to register all the Kigali Tutsis. Dallaire made immediate plans for UNAMIR troops to seize the arms caches and advised UN Headquarters of his intentions, believing these actions lay within his mission's mandate. The following day, headquarters responded that his outlined actions went beyond the mandate granted to UNAMIR under Security Council Resolution 872. Instead, he was to notify President Habyarimana of possible Arusha Accords violations and his concerns and report back on measures taken. Dallaire's January 11 telegram was important in later review of what information was available to the UN prior to the genocide. On February 21, extremists assassinated the Minister of Public Works, and UNAMIR was unable to gain UN approval to investigate the murder.


On April 6, 1994, the RTLM accused the Belgian peacekeepers of having shot down–or of helping to shoot down – the president's plane. This broadcast has been linked to the killing of ten Belgian UN troops by Rwandan army soldiers.


The situation proved too "risky" for the UN to attempt to help. The RPF began to take control of the country. The UN-mandated French-led force, under Operation Turquoise, established and maintained a "safe zone" for Hutu refugees to flee to in the southwest. Eventually, after the UN Mandate of the French mission was at an end, millions of Hutu refugees left Rwanda, mainly headed to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). The presence of Hutu refugees (see Great Lakes refugee crisis) on the border with Rwanda, added to internal instability, contributed to the First and Second Congo Wars, with clashes between these groups and the Rwandan government continuing.


The UN's mandate forbids intervening in the internal politics of any country unless the crime of genocide is being committed. France has been accused of aiding the Hutu regime to flee by creating what is known as Operation Turquoise. Canada, Ghana, and the Netherlands provided consistent support for the UN mission under the command of Roméo Dallaire, although the UN Security Council did not give it an appropriate mandate to intervene. Despite emphatic demands from UNAMIR's commanders in Rwanda before and throughout the genocide, its requests for authorization to end it were refused, and its intervention capacity was reduced.



The Roman Catholic Church affirms that genocide took place but argues that those who took part in it did so without the permission of the Church. The Marian apparition known as Our Lady of Kibeho was seen in 1982. The Virgin Mary was said to have shown three visionaries a future blood bath and called for prayer and repentance. In 2001 the diocese approved the vision as "worthy of belief", indicating the Catholic Church's attitude regarding the Massacres.


Though religious factors were not prominent (the event was ethnically motivated), the Human Rights Watch reported that a number of religious authorities in Rwanda, particularly Roman Catholic, failed to condemn the genocide at the time. Some in its religious hierarchy have been brought to trial for their participation by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and convicted. Bishop Misago was accused of corruption and complicity in the genocide, but he was cleared of all charges in 2000. The majority of Rwandans, and Tutsis in particular, are Catholic, so shared religion did not prevent genocide.

Catalyst and initial events

On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu president of Burundi, was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali. Both presidents died when the plane crashed. Responsibility for the attack was disputed, with both the RPF and Hutu extremists being blamed. A later investigation by the Rwandan government blamed Hutu extremists in the Rwandan army. In spite of disagreements about the identities of its perpetrators, many observers believe the attack and deaths of the two Hutu presidents served as the catalyst for the genocide.


On April 6 and 7, the staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and Colonel Thoneste Bagosora clashed verbally with the UNAMIR Force commander Lieutenant General Dallaire, who stressed the legal authority of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana to take control, as outlined in the Arusha Accords. Bagosora disputed her authority, and Dallaire provided escort to Mrs. Uwilingiyimana to protect her and to allow her to send a calming message on the radio the next morning. By then, the Presidential Guard had occupied the radio station, and Mrs. Uwilingiyimana had to cancel her speech.


When the Presidential Guard stormed the building, they took the UN peacekeepers prisoner and confiscated their weapons. They assassinated Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana and killed the ten Belgian UN soldiers, after releasing the Ghanaian ones. In 2007 Major Bernard Ntuyahaga was convicted of these murders as the commanding officer. The Presidential Guard quickly assassinated other moderate officials who favored the Arusha Accords. Protected by UNAMIR, Faustin Twagiramungu escaped execution. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil, Dallaire recalled the events from April 7, the first day of the genocide:


"I called the Force HQ and got through to Ghanaian Brigadier General Henry Anyidoho. He had horrifying news. The UNAMIR-protected VIPs – Lando Ndasingwa (the head of the Parti Liberal), Joseph Kavaruganda [president of the constitutional court], and many other moderates had been abducted by the Presidential Guard and had been killed, along with their families [...] UNAMIR had been able to rescue Prime Minister Faustin, who was now at the Force HQ."


The Rwandan Military and Hutu militia groups, notably the Interahamwe, systematically set out to murder all the Tutsis they could reach, regardless of age or sex, as well as the political moderates among the Hutu. They incited Hutu civilians to participate in the killings or be shot in turn, using radio broadcasts to tell them to kill their Tutsi neighbours. Most nations evacuated their nationals from Kigali and abandoned their embassies in the initial stages of the violence.


As the situation worsened, the national radio advised people to stay in their homes. The Hutu Power station RTLM broadcast violent propaganda against the Tutsi and Hutu moderates. The militia put up hundreds of roadblocks around the country, using them to block off areas and attack the citizens. Lieutenant-General Dallaire and UNAMIR were in Kigali escorting Tutsis and were unable to stop the Hutus from escalating their attacks elsewhere.


Through the RTLM, the Hutu also attacked Lieutenant-General Dallaire and UNAMIR personnel . On April 8, Dallaire sent a cable to NY indicating ethnicity was the driving force of killings. The cable detailed the killings of politicians and peacekeepers (Chairman of Liberal party, Minister of Labor, Minister of Agriculture, and dozens more). Dallaire informed the UN that the campaign of violence was well-organized and deliberately conducted, primarily by the Presidential Guard.


On April 9, UN observers witnessed the massacre of children at a Polish church in Gikondo. The same day, 1,000 heavily armed and trained European troops arrived to escort European civilian personnel out of the country. The troops did not stay to assist UNAMIR. Media coverage picked up on the 9th, as the Washington Post reported the execution of Rwandan employees of relief agencies in front of their expatriate colleagues. On April 9–10, US Ambassador Rawson and 250 Americans were evacuated.


Killings quickly took place throughout most of the country. The mayor (burgomaster) of the northwestern town of Gisenyi was the first local official to organize killings on a genocidal scale: on April 6, he called a meeting to distribute arms and sent militias to kill Tutsis. Gisenyi was a center of anti-Tutsi sentiment. It was the homeland of the minority Akazu and a refuge for thousands of people displaces by the rebel RPF occupation of large areas in the south. While killing occurred in other towns immediately after Habyarimana's assassination, it took several days for officials to organize them on the scale of the murders in Gisenyi.


Butare Province was an exception to the local violence. Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana was the only Tutsi prefect, and the province was the only one dominated by an opposition party. Opposing the genocide, Habyarimana was able to keep relative calm in the province, until he was deposed by the extremist Sylvain Ndikumana. Finding the population of Butare resistant to murdering their fellow citizens, the government flew in militia from Kigali by helicopter, and they readily killed the Tutsi.


Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia typically murdered victims by machetes, although some army units used rifles. The Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings, and massacred them. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their neighbors, and those who refused to kill were often murdered on the spot. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself."


One such massacre occurred at Nyarubuye. On April 12, more than 1,500 Tutsis sought refuge in a Catholic church in Nyange, then in Kivumu commune. Local Interahamwe, acting in concert with the authorities, used bulldozers to knock down the church building. The militia used machetes and rifles to kill every person who tried to escape. Local priest Athanase Seromba was later found guilty and sentenced to life in prison by the ICTR for his role in the demolition of his church; he was convicted of the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity In another case, thousands sought refuge in the École Technique Officielle (Technical School) in Kigali where Belgian UNAMIR soldiers were stationed. On April 11, the Belgian soldiers withdrew, and Rwandan armed forces and militia killed all the Tutsi.


Because of the chaotic situation, there is no consensus on the number of people killed between April 6 and mid-July. Unlike the genocides carried out by Nazi Germany and by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, authorities made no attempts to record deaths. The succeeding RPF government has stated that 1,071,000 were killed, 10% of whom were Hutu. The journalist Philip Gourevitch agrees with an estimate of one million, while the UN estimates the toll as 800.000. Alex de Waal and Rakiya Omar of African Rights estimate the number as "around 750,000," while lison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch states that it was "at least 500.000." James Smith of Aegis Trust notes, "What's important to remember is that there was a genocide. There was an attempt to eliminate Tutsis — men, women, and children — and to erase any memory of their existence."


Out of a population of 7.3 million people–84% of whom were Hutu, 15% Tutsi and 1% Twa–the official figures published by the Rwandan government estimated the number of victims of the genocide to be 1,174,000 in 100 days (10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute). Other sources put the death toll at 800.000, 20% of whom were Hutus. It is estimated that about 300.000 Tutsi survived the genocide. Thousands of widows, many of whom were subjected to rape, are now HIV-positive. There were about 400.000 orphans and nearly 85.000 of them were forced to become heads of families.


Several individuals were active in attempting to halt the Rwandan genocide, or to shelter vulnerable Tutsi, as it was taking place. Among them there are Pierantonio Costa, Atonia Locatelli, Jaqueline Mukansonera, Paul Rusesabagina, Carl Wilkens, and André Sibomana.

War rape

In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda made the landmark decisions that war rape in Rwanda was an element of the crime of genocide. The Trial Chamber held that "sexual assault formed an integral part of the process of destroying the Tutsi ethnic group and that the rape was systematic and had been perpetrated against Tutsi women only, manifesting the specific intent required for those acts to constitute genocide." Although no written orders to rape were found, evidence suggests that military leaders encouraged or ordered their men to rape Tutsi as well as condoning the acts taking place, and made no efforts to stop them Compared to other conflicts, the sexual violence in Rwanda stands out in three ways:

  • the organized nature of the propaganda that contributed to fueling sexual violence against Tutsi women;
  • the public nature of the rapes; and
  • the level of brutality toward the women.

In his 1996 report on Rwanda, the UN Special Rapporteur Rene Degni-Segui stated, "Rape was the rule and its absence the exception." He noted, "Rape was systematic and was used as a weapon" by the perpetrators of the massacres. This conclusion was based on the number and nature of the victims as well as from the forms of rape. Estimates were that between 250.000 and 500.000 Rwandese women and girls had been raped. A 2000 report prepared by the Organization of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that "we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it".


Men were seldom the victims of war rape War rape during the genocide was also directed against Hutu women considered moderates. Sexual violence against men included mutilation of the genitals, then displayed as trophies in public. The Hutu militia, the "Interahamwe ", were the chief perpetrators, but RAF soldiers, including the Presidential Guard, and civilians also committed rape against mostly Tutsi women.

UNAMIR and the international community


The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was hampered from the outset by resistance from numerous UN Security Couceil members, who were reluctant to have the UN become involved. This applied both to the Arusha Accords process and to preventing or suppressing the genocide.  Only Belgium had asked for a strong UNAMIR mandate. After the murder of ten Belgian peacekeepers protecting the Prime Minister in early April and the failure of the Security Council to act, Belgium pulled out of the peacekeeping mission.


The UN and its member states did not respond to the realities on the ground. In the midst of the escalating crisis for Tutsis, they directed Lt. General Roméo Dallaire to focus UNAMIR on evacuating foreign nationals from Rwanda. Due to the change in orders, Belgian UN peacekeepers abandoned the Dom Bosco Technical School, filled with 2,000 refugees. Hutu militants waited outside, drinking beer and chanting "Hutu Power." After the Belgians left, the militants entered and massacred everyone inside, including hundreds of children.


Four days later the Security Council voted to reduce UNAMIR to 260 men, by Resolution 912. Following the withdrawal of the Belgian forces, Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Canadian, Ghanaian, and Dutch soldiers in urban areas and tried to provide areas of "safe control". His actions saved the lives of 20.000 Tutsi. The administrative head of UNAMIR, former Cameroonian foreign minister Jaques-Roger Booh-Booh, has been criticized for downplaying the significance of Dallaire's reports and for holding close ties to the Hutu militant elite.]


The US was reluctant to get involved in the "local conflict" in Rwanda and refused to label the killings as "genocide". Then-president Bill Clinton later publicly regretted that decision in a Frontline television interview. Five years later, Clinton stated that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500.000 lives could have been saved.


The new Rwandan government, led by interim President Théodore indikubwabo, an ethnic Hutu, worked to minimize international criticism. Rwanda at that time had a seat on the Security Council. Its ambassador argued that the claims of genocide in the country were exaggerated and that the government was doing all that it could to stop it.


The UN conceded that "acts of genocide may have been committed" on May 17, 1994.


By that time, the Red Cross estimated that 500.000 Rwandans had been killed. The UN agreed to send 5.500 troops, mostly from African countries, to Rwanda. This was the original number of troops requested by General Dallaire before the killing escalated. The UN also requested 50 armoured personnel carriers from the United States; the US Army charged $6.5 million (USD) for transport alone. Deployment was delayed due to arguments over their cost and other factors.


French role

In the analysis of Linda Melvern, documents recently released from the Paris archive of former president Francois Mitterand show how the RPF invasion was considered as clear aggression by an Anglophone neighbour on a Francophone country. The documents are said to argue that the RPF was a part of an "Anglophone plot", involving the President of Uganda, to create an English-speaking "Tutsi-land" and increase Anglophone influence at the expense of French influence. In Melvern's analysis, the policy of France was to avoid a military victory by the RPF. The policy had been made by a secretive network of military officers, politicians, diplomats, businessmen, and senior intelligence operatives. At its centre was Mitterrand. French policy had been unaccountable to either parliament or the press.


On June 22, with no sign of UN deployment taking place, the Security Council authorized French forces to land in Goma, Zaire on a humanitarian mission. They deployed throughout southwest Rwanda in an area they called "Zone Turquoise," quelling the genocide and stopping the fighting there, but often arriving in areas only after genocidaires had expelled or killed Tutsi citizens. Operation Turquoise was charged with aiding the Hutu army against the RPF by Jaques Bihozagara, the then-Rwandan ambassador to France, who later testified, "Operation Turquoise was aimed only at protecting genocide perpetrators, because the genocide continued even within the Turquoise zone."


Following an investigation of the plane crash of April 6, 1994 that killed both the Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryarimira and precipitated the genocide, and in which three French crew had also died, the French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière indicted eight associates of Rwandan president Paul Kagame on November 17, 2006. President Kagame himself was not indicted, as he had immunity under French law as a head of state. Kagame denied the allegations, decrying them as politically motivated, and broke diplomatic relationships with France in November 2006. He then ordered the formation of a commission of his own Rwandan Justice Ministry's employees that was officially "charged with assembling proof of the involvement of France in the genocide".


The political character of that investigation was in turn further averred when the commission issued its report solely to Kagame–symbolically on November 17, 2007, exactly one year after Bruguière's announcement–and the head of the Rwandan commission, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, stated that the commission would now "wait for President Kagame to declare whether the inquiry was valid."


In July 2008, Kagame threatened to indict French nationals over the genocide if European courts did not withdraw arrest warrants issued against Rwandan officials, which by then included broader indictments against 40 Rwandan army officers by Spanish judge Fernando Andreu.


Findings of the commission were released at Kagame's order on August 5, 2008 and accused the French government of knowing of preparations for the genocide and helping to train the ethnic Hutu militia members; named 33 senior French military and political officials of involvement in the genocide, including then-President Mitterrand and his then general secretary Hubert Védrine, then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, then-Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, and his chief aide at the time, Dominique de Villepin.


A statement accompanying the release claimed that "French soldiers themselves directly were involved in assassinations of Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis... French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivors", though the latter was not documented in the report. A BBC report commented that French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, denied French responsibility in connection with the genocide but said that political errors had been made. Another BBC report delved into the motivations for the Rwandan report and stated that


Chief among them has been an iron determination to keep the world's attention focused on the genocide, rather than on the role of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the force that took power in 1994, bringing President Paul Kagame to power. In recent years uncomfortable questions have been raised about the war crimes the RPF are alleged to have committed during and after 1994. While stressing there can be no equation between genocide and war crimes, Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch says RPF leaders do have a case to answer. "Their victims also deserve justice," she says.


French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda

The suspicions about United Nations and French policies in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 and allegations that France supported the Hutus led to the creation of a French Parliamentary Commission on Rwanda, which published its report on December 15, 1998. In particular, Francois-Xavier Verschave, former president of the French NGO Survie, which accused the French army of protecting the Hutus during the genocide, was instrumental in establishing this Parliamentary commission.


The commission released its final report on December 15, 1998. It documented ambiguities and confusion in both the French and UN responses. Regarding Operation Turquoise, it regretted that the intervention took place too late, though it noted that this was better than the non-response from the UN and the opposition by the U.S. and U.K. governments to such a response. The report documented mixed success at disarming the Rwandan Army and militias, but a definite and systematic attempt (though not fast enough as far as then-General Paul Kagame of the opposing RPF forces was concerned, in documentation of the latter's communications with the French forces).


The Parliamentary Commission did not find any evidence of French participation in the genocide, of collaboration with the militias, or of willful disengagement from endangered populations, to the contrary. It documented multiple French operations, all at least partly successful, to disable genocide-inciting radio broadcasts, tasks which the UN and the United States had rejected calls for assistance with.


The report concluded that there had been errors of judgment pertaining to the Rwanda Armed Forces, but before the genocide only; further errors of judgment about the scale of the threat, at the onset of the genocide; over-reliance on the UNIMAR mission without awareness that it would be undercut by the United States and other parties; and ineffective diplomacy. Ultimately, it concluded that France had been the foreign power most involved in limiting the scale of the genocide once it got started, though it regretted that more had not been done.


In 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged that France made "mistakes" during the genocide, although, according to a BBC report, he "stopped short of offering a full apology".


U.S. role

Prior to the war, the U.S. government had aligned itself with Tutsi interests, in turn raising Hutu concerns about potential U.S. support to the opposition. Paul Kagame, a Tutsi officer in exile in Uganda who had co-founded the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) in 1986 and was in open conflict with the incumbent Rwandan government, was invited to receive military training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home of the Command and General Staff College. In October 1990, while Kagame was at Fort Leavenworth, the RPF started an invasion of Rwanda. Only two days into the invasion, his close friend and RPF co-founder Fred Rwigema was killed, upon which the U.S. arranged the return of Kagame to Uganda from where he became the military commander of the RPF. An article in the Washington Post of August 16, 1997, authored by its Southern African bureau chief Lynne Duke, indicates that the connection continued as RPF elements received counterinsurgency and combat training from U.S. Special Forces.


In January 1994 NSC member Richard Clark developed formal US peacekeeping doctrine, Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25).


There were no U.S. troops officially in Rwanda at the onset of the genocide. A National Security Archive report points out five ways in which decisions made by the U.S. government contributed to the slow U.S. and worldwide response to the genocide:


1.     The U.S. lobbied the U.N. for a total withdrawal of U.N. (UNAMIR) forces in Rwanda in April 1994;


2.   Secretary of State Warren Christopher did not authorize officials to use the term "genocide" until May 21, and even then, U.S. officials waited another three weeks before using the term in public;


3.   Bureaucratic infighting slowed the U.S. response to the genocide in general;


4.   The U.S. refused to jam extremist radio broadcasts inciting the killing, citing costs and concern with international law;


5.   U.S. officials knew exactly who was leading the genocide, and actually spoke with those leaders to urge and end to the violence but did not follow up with concrete action.

Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) renewed invasion

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) battalion of Tutsi rebels stationed in Kigali under the Arusha Accords came under attack immediately after the shooting down of the president's plane. The battalion fought its way out of Kigali and joined up with RPF units in the north. The resulting civil war raged concurrently with the genocide for two months. The nature of the genocide was not immediately apparent to foreign observers, and was initially explained as a violent phase of the civil war. Mark Doyle, the correspondent for the BBC News in Kigali, tried to explain the complex situation in late April 1994 thus:


"Look you have to understand that there are two wars going on here. There's a shooting war and a genocide war. The two are connected, but also distinct. In the shooting war, there are two conventional armies at each other, and in the genocide war, one of those armies, the government side with help from civilians, is involved in mass killings."


The victory of the RPF rebels and overthrow of the Hutu regime ended the genocide in July 1994, 100 days after it began.


Approximately two million Hutus, participants in the genocide, and the bystanders, with anticipation of Tutsi retaliation, fled from Rwanda, to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and for the most part Zaire.


Thousands of them died in epidemics of diseases common to the squalor of refugee camps, such as cholera and dysentery. The United States staged the Operation Support Hope airlift from July to September 1994 to stabilize the situation in the camps.


After the victory of the RPF, the size of UNAMIR (henceforth called UNAMIR 2) was increased to its full strength, remaining in Rwanda until March 8, 1996.


In October 1996, an uprising by the ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge people in eastern Zaire marked the beginning of the First Congo War, and led to a return of more than 600.000 to Rwanda during the last two weeks of November. This massive repatriation was followed at the end of December 1996 by the return of 500.000 more from Tanzania after they were ejected by the Tanzanian government. Various successor organizations to the Hutu militants operate in eastern DR Congo until today.


Political development

After its military victory in July 1995, the Rwandan Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President  Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994. Called The Broad Based Government of National Unity, its fundamental law is based on a combination of the constitution, the Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. The MRND party was outlawed. Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003 respectively.


The current government prohibits discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race or religion. The government has also passed laws prohibiting emphasis on Hutu or Tutsi identity in most types of political activity.


In March 1998, on a visit to Rwanda, U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to the crowd assembled on the tarmac at Kigali Airport: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred" in Rwanda. Four years after the genocide, Clinton issued what is now known as the "Clinton apology," acknowledging his failure to efficiently deal with the situation in Rwanda, but not formally apologizing for inaction by the U.S. government or the international community.


Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms, the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output and to foster reconciliation. In March 2000, after removing Pasteur Bizimungu, Paul Kagame became President of Rwanda. On August 25, 2003 Kagame won the first national elections since the RPF took power in 1994. A series of massive population displacements, a nagging Hutu extremist insurgency, and Rwandan involvement in the First and Second Congo Wars in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts.


Economic and social developments

The biggest problems facing the government are reintegration of the more than two million refugees, ending the insurgency among ex-soldiers and Interahamwe militia fighters and the Rwandan Patriotic Army in the north and southwest of the country, and the shift away from crisis to medium and long-term development planning. The prison population will continue to be an urgent problem for the foreseeable future, having swelled to more than 100.000 in the three years after the war. Trying this many suspects of genocide will tax Rwanda's resources sorely.


The long-term effects of war rape in Rwanda for the victims include social isolation (social stigma attached to rape meant some husbands left wives who had become victims of war rape, or that the victims were rendered unsuitable for marriage), unwanted pregnancies and babies (some women resorted to self-induced abortions), sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS.


The Special Rapporteur on Rwanda estimated that between 2.000 and 5.000 pregnancies resulted from war rape (between 250.000 and 500.000 Rwandan women and girls had been raped). Rwanda is a patriarchal society and children therefore take the ethnicity of the father, underlining that war rape occurred in the context of genocide. The main issue involving reintegration is the fact that the violence that had occurred often involved neighbors; people lived next to rapists, murderers and torturers. It was very difficult right after the genocide for Tutsis to trust Hutus, whether or not they had any involvement in the genocide.


International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

With the return of the refugees, the government began the long-awaited genocide trials, which had an uncertain start at the end of 1996 and inched forward in 1997. In 2001, the government began implementing a participatory justice system, known as Gacaca, in order to address the enormous backlog of cases. Meanwhile, the UN set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, currently based in Arusha, Tanzania. The UN Tribunal has jurisdiction over high level members of the government and armed forces, while Rwanda is responsible for prosecuting lower level leaders and local people.


Tensions arose between Rwanda and the UN over the use of the death penalty, though these were largely resolved once Rwanda abolished the punishment in 2007. However, domestic tensions continued over support for the death penalty, and the interest in conducting the trials at home. In ten years the Arusha tribunal only succeeded in sentencing 20 people.


In 2003, in an attempt to redress this mismanagement, the UN appointed Hassan Bubacar Jallow chief prosecutor with exclusive jurisdiction over Rwanda. Faced with the local criminal system's inability to cope with a number of detainees awaiting trial in Rwandan jails reaching 90,000, in 2000 a series of popular tribunals called gacaca courts were setup. The convicted are invited to admit their guilt in exchange for significant reductions in their sentences.


On Thursday, December 18, 2008, Theoneste Bagosora was found guilty of crimes against humanity. He was charged by UN judge Erik Jose, and sentenced to life in prison. The court also found Bagosora responsible for the deaths of former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingi Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers.


Accusations of revisionism

The context of the 1994 Rwandan genocide continues to be a matter of historical debate. There have been frequent charges of revisionism A "double genocides" theory, accusing the Tutsis of engaging in a "counter-genocide" against the Hutus, is promulgated in Black Furies, White Liars (2005), the controversial book by French investigative journalist Pierre Péan. Jean-Pierre Chrétien, a French historian whom Péan describes as an active member of the "pro-Tutsi lobby," criticizes Péan's "amazing revisionist passion".


On May 27, 2010, American law professor and attorney Peter Erlinder was arrested in Kigali and charged with genocide denial while defending presidential candidate Victorine Ingabire against charges of genocide.


Another person accused of genocide revisionism with respect to Rwanda is the Montreal writer Robin Philpot, whom Gerald Caplan identified in a 2007 Globe and Mail article as believing that "many people were killed in 1994 by both sides making those who carried out the genocide and their enemies morally equivalent." He further charges that Philpot argued "[t]here was no one-sided conspiracy by armed Hutu forces and militias against a million defenceless Tutsi, he says. Since the evidence completely contradicts these assertions, Mr. Philpot churns out a strange, incoherent series of assertions, rumours and speculation tied together solely by his unwavering determination to deny the truth."