History of Mass Genocide in Rwanda

In 1994, there was a mass genocide between the Hutus and the Tutsis of Rwanda. Rwanda is located near Uganda, Congo, and Tanzania. These countries are located in Africa. Due to the location of Rwanda it caused controversy because many countries surrounding it wanted to take control over it. It caused tension between multiple countries and sparked a war which lead to a genocide. There are three groups in Rwanda – Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The Twa group was initially the first group to settle in Rwanda and was soon followed by the Hutus and then the Tutsis, who came from Ethiopia.

Once the Tutsis and Hutus took over Rwanda, there were always profound social differences between the two groups. The Tutsis gained social, economic, and political ascendency over the Hutus, who were primarily agriculturists. (Britannica, 2012) Other than these differences, there were no other differences between the Hutus and the Tutsis because there was intermarriage and use of common language between the two groups. The difference between the two was not apparent and therefore was never recognized.

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Because the Hutus were agriculturists there were agreements made that the Hutus would raise the crops for the Tutsis took over economically and politically. Germany took over Rwanda in 1894 and continued to control Rwanda until after World War I when they lost the colonies in 1933 to the Belgians. Once the Belgians took over, they gave all leadership positions to the Tutsis because according to the Germans and Belgians they looked the most European of the two groups. This irritated the Hutus because Rwanda at the time was 90% Hutu and 10% Tutsi and giving them leadership positions was unfair.

Belgium also mandated that every person was to wear an identification card that stated if they were Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa (which are a very small group of hunter-gatherers in Rwanda). Rwanda continuously struggled for independence from Belgium, which then lead Belgium to switch the roles of leadership. Facing a revolution instigated by the Hutus, the Belgians let the Hutus become the leaders of Rwanda instead of the Tutsis and then Belgium left Rwanda. When the Hutus became the leaders of Rwanda, this started controversy between the two groups.

Since the Hutus were in charge of the new government in Rwanda, the Tutsis began to make revolutionary movements to gain back control of Rwanda. Over a few decades, these controversies lead to one of the most dramatic genocides (aside from the German genocide during World War II) in history – the Rwanda Genocide. “At 8:30 p. m. on April 6, 1994, President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda was returning from a summit in Tanzania when a surface-to-air missile shot his plane out of the sky over Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali. All on board were killed in the crash. (Rosenberg, 2003) Since 1973, Habyarimana ran a totalitarian regime in Rwanda that excluded all Tutsis from participating. On August 3, 1993, Habyarimana signed the Arusha Accords which weakened the Hutu hold on the government and allowed Tutsis to participate.

This aggravated the Hutus greatly and sparked controversy. Though it was never determined who assassinated the President, Hutus took over the government and blamed the Tutsis because Habyarimana excluded the Tutsis in the past. The war between the Hutus and the Tutsis began and so did the beginning of the Rwanda genocide. 1 years after the 100 days of genocide in Rwanda the community has come together despite their differences and try to settle the cases. The communities formed Gacaca Courts which is an alternative to Rwanda’s judicial arm since they were overloaded with cases. So the Rwandan judicial arm gave all the cases to the community and therefore the Gacaca Courts were created. The courts were named Gacaca Courts because gacaca means grass and the courts are held on the grass with everyone sitting in a circle. (De Brouwer, 2010) The first sociological theory pertaining to the Rwanda Genocide is conflict theory.

Conflict theory “suggests that human behavior in social contexts results from conflicts between competing groups” (Chegg, n. d. ) Due to the conflict theory, it is believed that this would result in significant economic disparity and structural inequality in education, labor market, housing, and health care delivery. Primarily, society is divided between the privileged (dominant group) and the exploited (subordinate group). When Belgium first took over Rwanda, they made the Tutsis head of the government only because they looked more European than the Hutus.

Of course since this stirred up controversy, there was tension and no equalization between the two groups. The Tutsis were educated by the Belgians in Catholic schools which created a larger ethnic rift between the two groups. Because the Tutsis were educated this gave them even more authority over the Hutus because the Tutsis were literate and the Hutus were not. When Belgium was becoming threatened by the Hutu group, they left Rwanda and made the Hutus in charge of the government. When Rwanda was left to the Hutus, the Tutsis began to feel like they needed to revolutionize and get their country back.

On April 6, 1994, the Hutu President was assassinated on his plane ride home from a summit in Tanzania. This sparked the beginning of the 100 days of genocide. Genocide is “the deliberate, systematic killing of an entire people or nation. ” (Schaefer, 1979) The mass killings were a result of the murder of the Hutu leader. (Rosenberg, 2003) According to the conflict theory, this was a result because of the conflicts and competition between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Not only did conflict occur between the two groups but so did discrimination.

Discrimination is “the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups because of prejudice or for other arbitrary reasons. ” (Schaefer, 1979) Before the Belgians gave up Rwanda to the Hutus, there was heated tension between the Hutus and Tutsis and soon grew discrimination. “Karl Marx’s idea of conflict theory is that he believed there were two social classes: a ruling class and a subject class. The ruling class derives its power from its ownership and control of the forces of production.

The ruling class exploits and oppresses the subject class. As a result there is a basic conflict of interest between the two classes. ” (Sociology Guide, n. d. ) Karl Marx’s conflict theory explains what happened between the Hutus and Tutsis during the change of government from Belgians to the Hutus. The second major sociological concept that relates to the Rwanda Genocide is the theories of prejudice. Because of the growth and division of the social classes, this also caused a lot of prejudice to occur.

Prejudice and discrimination between the classes and the ethnic groups occurred. The Scapegoating Theory is when “a person or a group is blamed irrationally for another person’s or group’s problems or difficulties. ” (Schaefer, 1979) When the Hutu President was assassinated, or so they say, the Tutsis were blamed for it because they had shown signs of jealousy and hatred toward the Hutus before the event occurred and the Hutus believed the Tutsis had motive to kill President Habyarimana. The Tutsis became society’s victims after the President’s assassination.

Another theory of prejudice is the Authoritarian Personality Theory which states it is “a psychological construct of a personality type likely to be prejudiced and to use others as scapegoats. ” (Schaefer, 1979) Prior to Belgium colonizing Rwanda, the Tutsis were very authoritative when they ruled over the Hutus. Though sources say the Hutus agreed to raise crops for the Tutsis, it is said that the Tutsis were authoritative over the Hutus and forced them to raise the crops for them and serve the Tutsis as slaves. (A Brief History, n. d. The third theory of prejudice is the Normative Approach which is “the view that prejudice is influenced by societal norms and situations that encourage or discourage the tolerance of minorities. ” (Schaefer, 1979) Because Rwanda was made up of 90% Hutus and 10% Tutsis, the Tutsis were known as the minorities of Rwanda. Therefore the Hutus treated the Tutsis like minorities according to the Normative Approach theory. After the Hutu President was killed, the Hutus blamed the Tutsis for the death of the President because they had the most hatred in the past towards the Hutus for taking over the government from the Tutsis control.

Overtime, the Hutus grew to hate the Tutsis when they were in charge of the government because of the way they ruled the Hutus over the Hutu-dominated Rwanda. Due to the large amounts of hatred of the Tutsis, the Hutus would kill any Tutsi that would trespass onto their land. Because of social influences and the spread of the Tutsi hate from the Hutus this resulted in intolerance of the Tutsis. The third sociological concept is the Colonialism Theory which is “the maintenance of political, social, economic, and cultural dominance over people by a foreign power for an extended period. (Schaefer, 1979) Colonialism describes the Belgian Colonization of Rwanda after World War I when Belgium controlled Rwanda/ Hutus and Tutsis for 46 years from 1916 to 1962. (A Brief History, n. d. ) Belgium influenced their own economic, social, political, and cultural statuses while dominating Rwanda. Belgium made everyone, Hutu or Tutsi, to wear identification cards displaying which group they were in. The Belgians also stripped some of the tribe members of their own ethnic group and fit them in with the ethnic group which created controversy and many disagreements.

These tribe members were uncomfortable with their rival tribe and it did not sit well with the groups so the Hutus decided to threaten the Belgians to leave Rwanda and release their power or they would declare war on Belgium. Not only did Belgium strip the ethnic groups of Rwanda away from their own groups but they also “stripped a portion of the German territory, never a part of the Kingdom of Rwanda, from the colony and attached to Tanganyika, which had been mandated by the British. ” (Emileelime, n. d. Due to all of the colonizing of tribes from original tribes to foreign tribes, this created tension between all of the tribes including all of the Hutus and Tutsis. Little did Belgium know but they were creating a war by splitting up these tribes. The fourth Major Sociological Concept of the Rwandan Genocide is genocide. As stated earlier, genocide is “the deliberate, systematic killing of an entire people or nation. ” (Schaefer, 1979) The Rwanda Genocide lasted for 100 days and during that time, the Hutus and Tutsis tried to push each other out of the land.

The Tutsis eventually won against the Hutus and claimed the land and then killed more Hutus because the Hutus were blaming the Tutsis for killing the Hutu President. The Tutsis eventually tried forcing the Hutus to deport from Rwanda and cause an ethnic cleanse. “An ethnic cleanse refers to the deportation of people, accompanied by systematic violence. ” (Schaefer, 1979) During the genocide not only did the Hutus kill the Tutsis but the Hutus killed their neighbors, friends, and even their own family members. Also during the genocide, 75% of all Tutsis were murdered.

There was a reported 500,000 cases of rape and over 300,000 children were orphaned during those 100 days. Hutu authorities demanded extermination of the people they call “Tutsi cockroaches” and convinced hundreds of thousands of people to murder the Tutsis. The Hutus aimed to kill 1,000 people every 20 minutes. They would go out and down into the swamps and attack people as if they were animals. (Curry, 2005) The Rwanda Genocide displayed an array of deliberate and systematic killing of a nation, Rwanda. The fifth and final sociological concept is competition. Competition grows out of the fact that human needs and desires appears to be insatiable and the goods, prestige, and perquisites that are the rewards for successful competition always are in short supply. ” (Sociology Guide, n. d. ) The competition between the Hutus and Tutsis all began in the beginning when the Tutsis took over Rwanda and forced the Hutus to raise crops for them. Not only were the Hutus competing to get their land back but after the Tutsis forced themselves onto the land then the Hutus had to worry about not losing their lands and homes to the Tutsis.

Competition between the two groups ranged from land possession to possession over the government. Not only did competition spark the genocide and almost created it because the genocide occurred because the groups couldn’t agree to live together and were always competing each other for land. Because Belgium colonized Rwanda, they taught education to the Tutsis in a Catholic School setting which in turn caused competition between the Hutus and Tutsis for a dominant religion in the country. The Belgians converted the Tutsis and the Tutsis tried converting the Hutus when the Tutsis ran the government.

Though it failed, the controversy still went on and the Hutus grew more hatred over the Tutsis. The Hutus and Tutsis were always in competition over religion, land, political stances, and social class. In conclusion, to recap the fiver major sociological concepts: conflict theory, theories of prejudice, colonialism, genocide, and competition. Conflict Theory explains the genocide to almost the full extent because the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis was based off of social class in the beginning before Belgium took over.

The Conflict Theory that occurred between the social classes also caused discrimination which was a factor of the genocide in 1994. Three of the theories of prejudice include: scapegoating theory, authoritarian personality theory, and normative approach. The scapegoating theory defines why the Tutsis were blamed for the killing of the Hutu President. The Tutsis were the scapegoats of the assassination. In the beginning, the Tutsis used authoritative force against the Hutus and forced them to raise crops for the Tutsis.

The Tutsi ruling was unacceptable to the Hutus due to the fact that they were the natives to that land before the Tutsis came in. It wasn’t fair to the Hutus that they had to sit back and let a random ethnic group rule their country that they knew nothing about. After the Hutu leader died, the Tutsis were blamed due to the amount of hatred that the Tutsis showed towards the Hutus for gaining their country back after Belgium left. It was easy for the Hutus to blame the Tutsis.

The Normative Approach is when a person or group influences another person or group to think a certain way about society and some of its members and therefore causes discrimination. Colonialism described the time when Belgium took over Rwanda for 46 years and influenced their politics, economy, society, and education upon the people of Rwanda. It was either learn the Belgian way or leave. The Tutsis were taught education and the Catholic religion by the Belgians and the Hutus refused any influence of the Belgians. The genocide sociological concept discusses what happened during the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 and that had occurred for 100 days.

The deliberate killings of the Tutsis by the Hutus were clearly defined as genocide by the world. Over a million people died during those 100 days and countless people were forgiven their crimes in the recent years of 2005 and earlier due to the Gacaca Courts. Competition was the foundation of the Rwanda conflicts and was the base reason why the genocide occurred. Competition between the Hutus and Tutsis was massive and included competition between which religion should be dominant and which ethnic group should rule the country of Rwanda.

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History of Mass Genocide in Rwanda. (2017, Jan 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/rwanda-genocide/