RWANDA: DO THE SCARS EVER FADE 2 OF 3

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RWANDA: DO THE SCARS EVER FADE PART 2 OF 3

In 1919, Rwanda became a protectorate of Belgium. The Belgian authorities exploited and expanded the idea of a superior Tutsi aristocracy. Using discredited racial science, an artificial divide between Rwandans was created. When Tutsis clamored for independence in the late 1950s, the Belgians switched allegiances. In elections organized by the Belgians, the majority Hutus won landslide victories. A violent backlash against Tutsis ensued.

When Belgium finally granted Hutu controlled Rwanda independence in 1962, forty years of power struggles and institutionalized racial hatred shaped the policies of the new government. In 1990, a civil war erupted between Hutus and Tustis. Extremists in the Hutu government exploited fear of Tustis to the general population. Soon, anti-Tutsi hate sermons from political leaders became common.

After the Rwandan President’s plane was shot down in April, 1994, Hutu extremists launched the genocide. They exploited the President’s killing and used it as an opportunity to wipe out the all Tutsis. Radio broadcasts urge ordinary Hutu citizens to take up machetes and firearms arms and kill their Tutsi neighbors.

As images of the slaughter were broadcast to the world, the United Nations and world governments, including the United States, did almost nothing to stop the violence. Legal wrangling and debates over the definition of the term “genocide” were taking place while the death toll mounted.

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