The Rwandan Genocide

By: Connor Kwiat, Joe Stover, Drew Ronski

Causes and consequences

The Rwandan Genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on April 6th, 1994. Everyone on board was killed. The government forces and Presidential Guard were fighting fugitives who fled Rwanda, while the citizens of Rwanda were trying to flee. The death toll for this genocide ranged from about 500,000 people to a 1,000,000. About 70% of the Rwandan population was killed after the RPF ended the civil war that was against government forces. As for the tribes, 500,000 Tutsi people were killed and villages across Rwanda were totally demolished. Another effect was that a new president was elected and the dictatorship that lasted for hundreds of years in Rwanda finally ended. The country was on the brink of an economic collapse after the genocide ended. All the farms and crops that roamed the country were either burned or destroyed. There were no workers to start a reconstruction of their country, since the population decreased over 70%. Rwanda is still dealing with rebels and other countries that are mad at them.

Eyewitness testimony

Rwanda has been called the tropical Switzerland in the heart of Africa for many years now. It is about a third of the size of Belgium. Most of the Rwandan population belong to the Hutu ethnic group, which are traditionally crop-growers. A long time ago the Rwandan people attracted the tutsis people which were mainly herdsmen. Together they have shared their nationality, many of the same cultures and the same languages. In years to come the tutsis people became landowners and the hutu people began to work for them on their properties. On April 6th 1994 a plane carrying Rwanda’s president was shot down, it was thought to be a work of an extremist (An extremist is a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action). This was all it took for the Hutus people to get to a final solution of the crash. The tutsis people were accused of shooting down the plane. The Hutu people heard of this accusing by word of mouth and by radio, and they were told to wipe out the tutsis people. First before the tutsis people were killed, the hutu people who were anti-tutsis should be killed along with their wife and husband.
Rwanda Genocide 1994

How the United States responded to the incident.

President Bill Clinton’s administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by Genocide in april 1994, but buried the information on the matter. This is according to the classified documents made available for the first time. Senior officials privately used the word Genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided to not intervene.

Jacqueline Murekatete survivor of the genocide living in the United States

Jacqueline Murekatete was only nine years old then. She survived because she was in another village visiting her grandmother. From there, she sought refuge in an Italian missionary. Her journey ended in the United States, where an uncle adopted her. Over the years, she has shared her story to educate people about crimes of genocide and mass atrocities. In her opinion, genocide is the greatest crime that a human being could commit against another. It just says that she lives in America now and nothing in specific.

Three actions to prevent the genocide from happening again

Preventing mass atrocities requires political will first and and foremost. We must speak up and demand that government leaders make the right choices to prevent and stop atrocities.Perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities cannot succeed without the support of other governments and corporations. We follow the money and apply public pressure to shame and stop companies and governments that finance mass violence. We call to account any nation that would welcome or reward a perpetrator of mass atrocity. In April 2012, president Barack Obama announced a series of actions to ensure the United States is better able to prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities. The landmark announcement came after years of pressure from activists and organizations working to ensure that the United states’ failure to adequately respond to past to atrocities will not be repeated.