Background of the Genocide against the Tutsi
The meaning of Genocide and its Preparation
1. What is Genocide?
According to Samuel Totten and Paul R. Bartrop, the authors of The Genocide Studies Reader 11, the word Genocide was coined by a Jewish lawyer, Raphael LEMKIN, and he derived it from the Greek word “genos” meaning tribe, another Latin word Cãedere the Latin word for “to kill”. When he coined this word Raphael LEMKIN, wanted to explain the difference between Genocide and other crimes against humanity. This crime involves deliberate planning to exterminate a certain group based on their tribe, religion and residence.
Genocide victims are killed or eliminated not because they are directly involved in fighting or wars but because of their race and other discriminatory criteria. The perpetrators often dictate or decide the criteria upon which they are based when they want to eliminate a certain group of people or ethnic.
The UN Conventions on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide (UNCG)] adopted by the united nations assembly on 9/12/1948 and later implemented on 12/01/1951 as a united nations general assembly resolution sought to define genocide and its major characteristics. The convention states that genocide can be described as any of the following acts with the intent to destroy in part or in whole, a national, racial, or a religion.
a) Killing members of a group of people
b) Cause serious bodily mental harm to a group of people
c) Intentionally endanger or inflict poor conditions of life on a group of people aiming at their physical destruction in part or whole.
d) Initiate and impose measures that will stop births among the members of a group of people
e) Taking the children of one group away by force and giving them to another group that is unknown and unrelated to them.
The provisions of the convention are also stipulated in article 91 of the organic law No 68/2018 of 30/08/2018, instituting the penal code because the states that have ratified these conventions must have responsibilities that establish laws punishing the crime of genocide.
N.B. For the genocide to happen, the government must also support it. The government deliberates intentionally to eliminate part of its citizen and ensure that the plan is successfully executed. The government intending to commit genocide put in place effective plans and measures to achieve the crime. The victims are killed not because of the crime they have committed but as a result of belonging to a group of people meant to be eliminated or unwanted.
Every genocide has its own set agenda and therefore brings together those with the same ideas and goals to commit genocide. The agenda to carry out these commitments is referred to as “Genocide ideologies.” The genocide ideology is promoted and spread among the people through propaganda to the extent that it becomes stronger and more convincing for the people to implement the Genocide.
Genocide never happens abruptly or under no circumstances. It involves organization and deliberate planning. Public anger, which is often referred to as the root cause of genocide, is preceded by well-organized and prepared campaigns which are very instrumental in executing the genocide. According to genocide scholar, Gregory Stanton demonstrated that genocide is a process for this crime to be implemented; its planning and preparations are manifested in 10 chronological stages.
1. Genocide planners divide the people into two groups (us against them). Based on nationality, ethnicity, origins, or beliefs. While those planning the genocide knew and understood the negative impacts of divisionism on citizens, they would convince the people that there was nothing wrong with them being divided and would not face any consequences later despite the opposite being the reality.
2. The second stage involves lab the divided groups and using the names to distinguish these groups and Rwanda an example, was divided into Hutu and Tutsi, Nazi and Jewish in Germany and so on across the world. The divisionism was emphasized by the hatred led campaign that were meant to increasingly divide these groups to the point where the targeted group becomes the enemy in its society.
3. This is a discriminatory stage where the powerless group or targeted groups are denied their basic rights.in Rwanda, Tutsi were denied both access to education and public employment.
4. when the targeted groups are identified, they are stripped off their humanity status or dehumanize and start to be compared to animals and insects. The Tutsi in Rwanda were compared to cockroaches and snakes.
5. The fourth stage also involve various activities and strategies aiming at executing the genocide. Most of these activities include promoting hate propaganda among the citizens, acquiring the needed arms (machetes and clubs) to carry out the planned killings, and train the militia groups for instance the Interahamwe and impuzamugambi in Rwanda before and during the genocide against the Tutsi.
6. The fifth stage is when the Genocide perpetrators identify the moderate groups or those opposed to genocide and intimidates them so that they can remain silent and fail to interfere with the already planned genocide.
7. The targeted group is identified and death list of the targeted group prepared and made ready.
8. When the death lists have been drawn up, the massacres begin with the intention of eliminating the targeted group.
9. This is the persecution stage and the acts of genocide are conducted against the targeted group. In Rwanda the innocent Tutsi were occasionally subjected to persecution and killed in part for some time.
10. The Genocide perpetrators seek methods to cover up the truth and evidence so that, denying that they committed any crimes, intimidating and attacking the genocide survivors and many other efforts to block investigations that could reveal those who planned and executed the genocide.
The difference between Genocide and the war
The two have different intentions: The intention of the war is to win the war and take over the defeated. The intention of the Genocide is never to win and take over the defeated, it rather intends to wipe out the targeted group.
The war has a set of laws governing it in a way that whoever among the conflicting parties does not abide by the provisions of those laws is subjected to penalties.
Whoever disarms willing and beg for pardon is forgiven and not killed whereas there are no laws governing Genocide. There is no pity with the genocide.
The war has war prisoners, whereas the genocide intends to exterminate the targeted group. There are no Genocide prisoners.
The war involves only military officers and men. It does not involve ordinary citizens.
For genocide, it is a different case as it involves both military officers and men and a huge number of ordinary citizens as it was the case for the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in 1994
During the war, it is prohibited to act against civilians, especially children, women, elders, sick people, people with disabilities and any member of the opposing people who disarm and beg for forgiveness even though there are always victims of the war.
Genocide intends to wipe out the targeted group with no single member of the group spared. War has both positive and negative consequences, whereas Genocide brings only bad consequences.
3. Difference between Genocide and other crimes of massacres
There are different crimes of massacres: there are retaliation massacres, massacres meant to punish, massacres caused by anger and felony massacres, among others.
The government does not plan such killings. The government does not incite a part of its population to commit such killings over the rest part.
These massacres do not intend to exterminate a group of people targeted by the government.
Genocide is different from other felony crimes like war crimes and other crimes against humanity as the later result from the war whereas victims of the Genocide are killed based on the way they were created.
Genocide bases on institutionalized discrimination and segregation kept abreast and included in government agenda.
4. Imprescriptibility of penalties of Genocide crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes
After differentiating the crime of Genocide from other crimes against humanity and war crimes, we want to recall on the nonprescription of such crimes as stipulate by article 106 of the above stated organic law instituting the penal code of Rwanda.
The article states, “The crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as penalties for these crimes are not subject to prescription.”
5.Preparation of the Genocide against the Tutsi and its particularity
5.1. Preparation and execution
1. classification of Rwandan in ethnic lines (Hutu and Tutsi)- introduction of ethnies in the National Identity Card (writing Hutu/Tutsi in the identity card), teaching that they have different origins and are not equal.
2. Symbolisation (Hutu and Tutsi) Tutsi have long noses, are parasites characterized by felony, hypocrisy and feel superior to be served.
3. Dehumanization – calling Tutsi Snakes, cockroaches, saying that they have queues, and wavering ears, granting killing and bestowing the killers.
4. Organization of killers: Hutu power, Interahamwe, institutionalizing killers and distribution of weapons, campaigns inciting for killing, elaborating and disseminate the list of people to be killed, etc.
5. Polarization: identifying those to be killed. Our common enemy is the Tutsi.Ref. “10 commandments of Hutu published in Kangura No 0 6, October 1990” 4).
6. Preparation: radio stations, especially RTLM, list of suspects and of those to be killed, training military officers and men, training troops of killers and accustom them to killing, conducting trial killings, and informing the public that something is soon to happen, etc.
7. Extermination: generations to come will ask how was the Tutsi
8. Genocide denial: Double Genocide, the death of the “father” Habyarimana, self-defending,
5. 2. Other indicators of preparation of the Genocide
Troops of killers were established Réseau zero (Zero Network): a gang of killers amongst high politicians that was operating clandestinely.
• Amasasu (Bullets): a group of high-ranking military officers opposing the Arusha accord
• Interahamwe (MRND)
• Impuzamugambi (CDR)
• Abakombozi (PSD Power) and others.
Leaders distributed weapons among ordinary citizens with the intention to wipe out Tutsi.
Several roadblocks across the country were set to prevent Tutsi from fleeing the country.
Tutsi were grouped and assembled in churches, schools and other public places for the killers to ease their extermination.
Several killings occurred before 1994, led by both civil and military officials: Kibirira in 1990, Murambi in 1990, Mutara in 1990, Bigogwe in 1991, Nasho 1990-1991, Bugesera in1992, Kibuye in 1992, Gisenyi in 1993, …
5.3. Particularity of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda
A big number of people were killed in a few days (about 1,070,014 Tutsi killed in only 100 days) as shown by the Ministry of Local Government in its 2002 research. However, after this time, many other corpses of genocide victims were recovered due to information provided during the Gacaca Courts or due to information provided by individual persons. Others corpses were recovered in other ways including during roads and building constructions. This shows that the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi claimed more than one millions lives
A huge number of ordinary citizens were involved and killed their neighbors, their church mates, those with whom they used to exchange spouses and others. The killers and those being killed shared the same cultural values and spoke one language. People killed their relatives.
Traditional weapons were like clubs, used hoes and others were used to torture the victims.
Much of acrimony: digging his own grave and burying oneself, hitting children against wars, transmitting HIV to raped women, eating persons and drinking their blood. All government institutions, religious institutions and various organizations were involved in the killings. The United Nations (UN), the international community and other human international human rights organizations stood aloof and abandoned Rwanda.