Essay On Genocide In Rwanda

Genocide in Rwanda Essay

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Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, ethnic, political, or cultural group”. In Rwanda for example, the Hutu-led government embraced a new program that called for the country’s Hutu people to murder anyone that was a Tutsi (Gourevitch, 6). This new policy of one ethnic group (Hutu) that was called upon to murder another ethnic group (Tutsi) occurred during April through June of 1994 and resulted in the genocide of approximately 800,000 innocent people that even included women and children of all ages. In this paper I will first analyze the origins/historical context regarding the discontent amongst the Hutu and Tutsi people as well as the historical context as to why major players in the international…show more content…

Genocide is “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, ethnic, political, or cultural group”. In Rwanda for example, the Hutu-led government embraced a new program that called for the country’s Hutu people to murder anyone that was a Tutsi (Gourevitch, 6). This new policy of one ethnic group (Hutu) that was called upon to murder another ethnic group (Tutsi) occurred during April through June of 1994 and resulted in the genocide of approximately 800,000 innocent people that even included women and children of all ages. In this paper I will first analyze the origins/historical context regarding the discontent amongst the Hutu and Tutsi people as well as the historical context as to why major players in the international community chose not to intervene. Second, the actor/agent using political violence, in this case the Hutu, will also be analyzed into segments that include the characterization of the Hutu people, as well as their goals, tactics of violence used and resources administered that allowed them to accomplish the genocide against the Tutsi. Finally, how the Tutsi respond to the violence against them, what resources they had in deterring the Hutu and the outcome of the Rwanda genocide will also be discussed. To begin with, the Tutsis and the Hutus have been in conflict with each other ever since the Tutsi monarchy had control of Rwanda from 1853-1895. During this time the Hutus were forced into slave labor. The determination of why the Hutus were

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The Effect of the UN on the Rwandan Genocide

Gun shots! Chanting killing songs! There are dead bodies everywhere. That’s what one would see if one took a trip to Rwanda in the year 1994. There was an enormous amount of people who were being killed in Rwanda. This broke out to be a civil war against their two major ethnic groups. The account of all of the killings became known as the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda’s people were in great danger, and no one was there to help. The United Nations, which is a global organization with a mission to promote peace throughout the world, failed to help the people of this country. The UN failed to end the Rwandan Civil War by ignoring the warnings that there could be massive killings breaking out, also by decreasing the number of troops that were in Rwanda during the civil war, and sending the number of troops that were needed in Rwanda after the war ended. 

On the official UN website, it states, “The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines genocide as any of the followings acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group:…” The Rwandan Genocide killings started the day after the Hutu president was shot down out of an airplane and was killed on April 6, 1994. There was an outbreak between the ethnic groups of Rwanda. Rwanda’s population consisted of seven million people and was composed of three ethnic groups. The three main ethnic groups were Hutu (85% of population), Tutsi (14% of population), and Twa (1% of population). According to the United Human Rights Council, they believe that most of the energy of the people behind the killings came from the leaders of the war promoting hatred toward the Tutsi’s (Genocide in Rwanda). The Tutsi’s were the target mainly because they were the minority, but the Hutus had blamed them for ethnical, political, and social pressure, and also for helping the Tutsi dominated rebel group (RPF). The Hutus goal was to exterminate the Tutsi’s existence.

There were approximately 200,000 Hutus participating in the killings, and they killed at least 800,000 Tutsis (3/4 of the Tutsi population). The killings stopped once the RPF took over the leaders that were in charge of the killings, and there was a new president put in place.

The United Nations have groups of troops called Peacekeepers. Their job is to go into countries that are in need of help, to help them and create a sense of peace. As of right now in 2013, the UN have 15 peacekeeping operations to four continents. Even though the UN has been sending the Peacekeepers out to help these war torn countries, there is no way that they can guarantee success, because many of these countries are in conditions that the UN cannot overcome. It states on that, “Peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.” It is noted by the United Nation’s website in their article about peacekeeping, that peacekeeping in the UN has three major principals which are consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate.  

The United Nations was formed in October after World War II in 1945. The official UN website describes what the United Nations does very clearly by saying, “The purpose of the United Nations is to bring all nations of the world together to work for peace and development, based on the principals of justice, human dignity, and the wellbeing of all people.” As of right now the UN (United Nations) has a total of 193 members from all over the world. It is stated on that, “Six official languages are used at the United Nations – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.” These members come together in a gathering called the General Assembly. Some people say that the General Assembly is the closest thing to a world parliament. When they are at the General Assembly the members of the United Nations discuss world problems and vote on what to do to resolve these problems. Their headquarters is in New York City, but there are many other buildings around the world where the UN works. The United Nations have their own symbol, which is a picture of the world being held in olive branches of peace.

The United Nations already had peacekeepers (UNIMIR) in Rwanda before the killings started because they had recently signed a peace treaty and they were in Rwanda to make sure everything was going smoothly. It is reported that the UN was well aware of what was going on in Rwanda and what could happen. They ignored the fact that Rwanda was on the radar for a massive killing spree break out. If the UN would have paid more attention, maybe I wouldn’t even be writing about this genocide.

When the civil war broke out between the Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s, the peacekeepers were right in the middle of it. The troops that were in Rwanda did not have well-functioning material and were not trained well enough to stop genocide from happening, but they took as many Tutsis as they could to a local hotel and tried to protect them there. When the UN heard about how many people were being killed, they ordered the peacekeepers to come home. Sadly, many of those peacekeepers were killed at the airport on their way home.

The UN wasn’t really taking this civil war seriously when, “Two weeks after the killings began, the Security Council voted to reduce UNIMIR from 2,000 to 270 soldiers.”(100 Days of Genocide). Even when soldiers and generals tried to bring attention to the Security Council that there were mass killings going on in Rwanda, they still refused to send out more of their militia. In total the UN’s troops saved 30,000 people, but out of a country of seven million many more were killed. The Security Council finally started to take notice in this quote from, “As the scale of the killings became apparent, the Security Council in Mid-May of 1994 authorized the dispatch of some 5,500 UN troops, but few arrived before the massacres ended when the Uganda-based, Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front took control of the country.” Throughout the United Nations website they make an emphasis on how they failed to carry out any type of plans to rescue the people of Rwanda.

The book, Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibagiza, it is hard to hear the heart-wrenching stories that she had been through. One really gets a good look at how things actually were for the Rwandans during this time. A quote from this book which makes me get goose bumps is when Immaculee Ilibagiza says, “My heart jumped into my mouth. My anger vanished, and once again all I felt was fear.”(Ilibagiza 274) Ilibagiza is an amazing woman who survived this genocide, and she is the one of thousands of people who were facing terrible events.

 Help came late for Rwanda, but the RPF took control and elected a new president which stopped the killings, and was going to start re-building Rwanda. BBC reported little was done by saying, “The international community did little to stop the killings…” The official UN website declared, “On 15 December, 1999, an independent inquiry that the Secretary-General commissioned – and which was chaired by a former prime minister of Sweden, Ingvar Carlsson, – diagnosed a number of failings in the UN’s actions during the genocide in Rwanda.”

On December 23, 2005 the UN started The Outreach Program for Rwanda. The Outreach Program for Rwanda focuses on the troubles Rwanda had a made a note to learn from their mistakes. The UN takes the lessons that they learned and applies them when they are working with countries much like Rwanda. This program realizes the challenges survivors of the Rwandan Genocide are still facing today, and they raise awareness so that they can help those people be the best off as they can. The UN wants to help prevent other countries going as far as Rwanda did with the killings. “In 2000, the then 189 Member States of the Organization pledged in the United Nations Millennium to “expand and strengthen the protection of civilians in complex emergencies, in conformity with international humanitarian law.”

The Rwandan Genocide really tore up the country itself. The businesses were down, people were out of jobs, cities were destroyed, and on top of all of that many people were dead. Every once in a while there is an outbreak of terrorist attacks or a small fight, but Rwanda has calmed down most of that by now. It is exciting to see that Rwanda has shown a great amount of progress by investing in better healthcare for their country. They are rebuilding their country from the ground up this time, and health care is a great place to start for them. In an article from the New York Times, there is a quote which says, “Nevertheless, getting those basics right are only the foundation of the nation’s broader plan to become a middle-income country by 2020.” This is very exciting for Rwanda after all they have been through, they just need to keep up the standards and one day they will reach their goal.

When I found out and researched more about what the UN was doing through-out the period of the Rwandan Genocide, I decided to declare in my opinion that the UN failed in saving many lives of innocent Rwandans. I am not saying that they did not help at all because they did have 270 soldiers in Rwanda, but instead of increasing that number, they took more soldiers out. They failed when they ignored the fact that there was a high possibility of there being mass killings in Rwanda. The UN also failed when they decided to send in thousands of troops, but they were too late. I am not blaming the UN for this Genocide, because there were many of people in the UN who were trying to get help to Rwanda, but the Security Council would not approve of it. On the positive side, the UN’s troops saved a total of 30,000 people, which is much better than none. I believe that if the UN was to have acted earlier there would have been a greater number of lives saved. I am grateful that they were able to save some of the Rwandans, but I wish that there was more action and help going to Rwanda in their time of need. I think we as humans need to take a step back and think that the people that are dying for no reason at all in these wars, are people just like us, and we should not have to think twice as whether or not to help them.

The reason why the Rwandan Genocide ended being genocide is because so many people were killed and there was no one there to help take control. The UN would have been able to help with all of the equipment and troops they have access to, but unfortunately they didn’t decide to use them quickly enough. First not paying attention to the warnings, then decreasing the amount of troops that were on the ground in Rwanda, and bringing in help a little too late did not help Rwanda as much as they could have. I think that it is important to bring to attention that there are a lot of other countries that are going through the same type of conflict as Rwandan did, and we need to bring awareness to them so that they can find help and find to peace.

Works Cited

"Genocide in Rwanda : Backgrounder." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>.

Ilibagiza, Immaculée, and Steve Erwin. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Carlsbad, Calif: Hay House, Inc., 2006. Print.

"Introduction to the United Nations." UN News Center. UN, 2000. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>.

Nicholas D Kristof, 16 Years after the Genocide Rwanda Continues Forward Comments. The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2010. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Rwanda, Genocide, Hutu, Tutsi, Mass Execution, Ethnic Cleansing, Massacre, Human Rights, Victim Remembrance, Education, Africa." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>.

"United Human Rights Council." United Human Rights Council. N.P., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>

"What Is Peacekeeping? United Nations Peacekeeping." UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2013. <>

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