What happens when a few selfish people turn a once peaceful nation into a death zone? This deadly genocide was started by a few people who thought murdering one tribe would save the country; the sad fact is that most of them are free and living large while millions cry years on. More than a million people died in 1994 in one of the world’s worst genocides. A whole tribe of the minority Tutsis was almost wiped out. Time is supposed to heal wounds, but the world couldn’t move from this, it was just too sad. Decades of inquiries and accusations have never revealed everything that happened. These are the ten shocking revelations surrounding Africa’s most disturbing story.
1. It Was All Based on a Lie
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president and the leader of the RPF, blamed the Hutus for killing their president to start a war. Some people blame RPF for the incident, either way, no one told the people the truth about the crime that started the fight. The MRDN and CDR were the main political parties that supported the Hutu power Ideology. This extremism allowed the party leaders to convince the people the Tutsis whom they named as cockroaches had killed the president. There was no strong, pure Tutsi front with enough firepower to shoot down the presidential plane leave alone the intelligence. The only groups with access to the power were the Hutu government and the RPF which was operating from outside the Rwandan borders.
The inquiries never revealed the actual culprit that shot down the plane. However, whoever it was, the common Tutsis had nothing to do with it; the RPF was made of multi-ethnic fighters, the Hutu government officials blamed Tutsis for the crime. Most of the people who died in the killings that ensued after the incitement only learned of the president`s death on the news. The Civilians involved in the massacre also heard news from the same Hutu power supporting government which did not care for peace. They made the president’s death sound like the job of a whole minority tribe which had nothing to do with it.
2. The President May Have Been Killed by His Own People
Kill one to save everyone was the cause of the genocide at least according to the RPF. The story that saved the day and later prevailed was the tale of the Rwanda Patriotic front which took over the government after the Genocide. They declared that the Hutu extremists shot the deadly missile which killed president Juvenal Habyarimana and his Zaire counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira in 1994. It was a conspiracy perpetrated by the Pro Hutu power government to gain the support of the majority. This shooting came a short time after the UN had brokered a peace agreement between Habyarimana’s extremist government and Kagame’s Minority Tutsi and moderate Hutu rebel group.
The Hutu political leaders widely criticized the agreement to create a transitional government. They felt the government was supporting the very people that worked with Belgium, their former colonizer. The Belgian government favored the minority Tutsis where the then Rwandan Monarch hailed from, and this had caused tensions for years leading to the violence that preceded the genocide. The president’s killing by his own tribesmen to stir an ‘ethnic cleansing’ was, however, an extreme move just expressing how cruel the perpetrators were. Most of them escaped after the genocide and blamed Paul Kagame for the crime.
3. The Mass Arms Imports Were Never Flagged
Rwanda imported more than $100 million worth of arms in two years leading to the genocide. While France supplied the bulk of the weapons, Belgium and China provided a fair share of these killer tools. The mystery lies on whether no one found this suspicious considering the country needed more peace than arms at the time. Considering the main economic activity of most Rwandans is farming, Pro Hutu businessmen led by Felicien Kabuga took on a new method of cheaply arming the Interahamwe Hutu militia, machetes.
Machete supplies from Egypt, France, China, and Belgium flooded the country. One man importing 500,000 machetes will strike any government as suspicious. That was way beyond the Agricultural need of Rwanda. However, the countries claimed that the weapons were arming both sides of the conflict and therefore no one stood up to stop it.
4. Most of the Masterminds Walked Free
More than 150,000 cases were given to the chief prosecutor in Rwanda most of them against low-level actors. Most of the masterminds who funded and facilitated the killings walked free for decades after the genocide. A tribunal was set up in Arusha Tanzania to bring perpetrators of the genocide to justice, but the culprits somehow found their way out and sought safe Havens in Congo, Kenya, Belgium, and other nations. People had died in the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide but not at the rate of the Rwandan Genocide.
It was an intentional genocide planned with everything in place except the bodies. When they found the opportunity, the key politicians and businessmen put their plan in action with weapons, incitement, transport, and incentives spreading fast bringing about the fastest murder rate in the world. Felicien Kabuga the chief financer who used his companies to import machetes provided weapons and uniforms to the militia was never arrested. He was the owner of the Mille Collines radio station that was used as the center for inciting Hutus.
5. Civilians Were Given Incentives to Kill Their Neighbors
More than 2,000,000 civilians fled the country at the end of the genocide in fear of retribution from the Tutsi led rebel force that ended the genocide. However, only 200,000 civilians are believed to have taken up arms against the Tutsis, but the results were still catastrophic. With control over government resources and mainstream media, the Pro Hutu power government and the Interahamwe militia had an effective way of communicating.
Their first broadcasts encouraged civilians to take up arms against any Tutsi. The campaign took just a few hours to bring the speed of the genocide to about 10,000 deaths per day. They then moved from village to village killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus including those who refused to kill Tutsis. With the fear of death, some Hutus were forced to either kill their Tutsi neighbors or give them up. The militia went ahead to tell the nation that they could take any property of the Tutsis they killed. This turned the nation into total anarchy forcing desperate Tutsis to flee because there was nowhere else to hide.
6. The Media Advised Killers to Hide the Bodies
The body count would have triggered global attention, but no one got the figures right until it was too late. Many people were being killed at roadblocks and the streets. After the first months of the killings, the numbers hit hundreds of thousands. When the perpetrators realized that exposure would have dire consequences, radios started advertising that the graves were not full yet but there should be no more bodies on the roads. Many people were being buried in mass graves while others were thrown into the river their bodies found as far as Uganda. With bodies susceptible to aerial view covered in banana leaves, there was no way to express the actual figures. As a result, the killing continued while the international observers gave conflicting reports.
7. Help Delayed Because of the Definition of “GENOCIDE”
The UN security council led by Kofi Anan could not agree on when to call the Rwandan situation a genocide. The Whitehouse also lacked a clear explanation of the situation. President Bill Clinton in his confession after the genocide directly confirmed the complacency of his government to the plight of the Rwandan people leading to the name “bystanders to the genocide.” If the chaos had been identified as a genocide within the first month when 100, 000 deaths were reported by the Red Cross, UN envoys would have entered the country early to address the emergency.
The US State Department spokeswoman told the media that all factors that make a genocide had not occurred in Rwanda. Even after 0.5 million people had been reported dead, both the UN and US still removed the word “Genocide” from their statements. With the wordplays and the disputes on who would fund a military intervention, the killings continued while the world watched and did nothing.
8. More Than 800,000 People Died in the First Two Months
Even with the bombings and shootings in WW II, people did not die this fast; it was entirely out of control. The reports of tens of thousands being killed in some provinces on a single day reached the UN, but no one acted on them. The worst of the genocide happened in 60 days between April and June 1994. The problem wasn’t just the militia; the violence spread faster with the recruitment of civilian help and attacks on refugee shelters including churches.
The roadblocks allowed the government-supported militia to waylay caravans of fleeing Tutsis and slay them on the roadside. The leaders laid supplies for the militia all through the countryside enabling them to penetrate the most remote areas rounding up people and killing them. That is how the 8,000 people per day murder speed were arrived at. The Holocaust and the Cambodian genocides were the other instances close to this genocide, but they never occurred at such a high rate.
9. UN Peacekeeping Envoys Were Pulled Out and Reinforcements Blocked
The killing of US military servicemen in the 1992 Somalia invasion had made the Clinton regime skeptical of getting involved in African conflicts. However, the UNAMIR forces and the Belgian troops tasked with protecting the prime minister were on the ground while the genocide was planned and executed. After failing to attack the weapons stockpile in Kigali three months before the violence escalated, the UN ordered their troops to leave the country leaving only 270 people on observatory mission.
The US, France, UK, and Belgium airlifted their citizens together with UN employees leaving even their embassy employees who were locals to their fate. Earlier that year when general Dallaire, the head of the UNAMIR troops, called for reinforcements, no one responded, he was instead ordered to leave a few months later. Mr. Kofi Anan the secretary of the then UN Security Council later said that there was nothing they could do with the small number of troops surrounded by so much violence especially after the Belgians left.
10. President Kagame the “hero” May Be the Main Culprit
Ever heard of starting a war then ending it to become the people’s hero? That is the main controversy surrounding the RPF and their leader Mr. Paul Kagame who would later become the Rwandan president after declaring an end to the genocide. The role of the RPF in the bringing down of the Hutu extremist filled most interviews, but the tales of their role in the killings was never made clear. While the human rights watch only condemned the RPF of killing innocent Hutus, which were dubbed “collateral damage” a French judge directly blamed Paul Kagame for starting the genocide by shooting down President Habyarimana’s plane. That was the fatal shot that started the killings.
President Paul Kagame denied it although many convicted perpetrators continued to blame him for the act. Mr. Kagame`s rebel group supported by the Ugandan army fought off the militia and government forces to retake control of the government. It the process, they killed more than 60,000 Hutus most of whom were accused of taking part in the killings. He would later emerge as the hero bringing the country to reconciliation and healing, but the stain remained.