Special Sub-Topic: Rwanda's Genocide
|In what year did the Rwandan genocide take place?|
1994. The genocide began on April 6 and continued through mid-July. The genocide erupted out of the tense peace that had been achieved through the Arusha Accords, negotiated as an answer to the long running Rwandan Civil War in August 1993.
The genocide was carried out almost entirely by well organized Hutu militias and perpetrated primarily against the Tutsi minority, although a significant number of Hutu moderates or perceived Tutsi sympathizers were also killed.
|The countries around Rwanda have all played strong roles in its politics, including the genocide. Which of the following is a correct list of the countries bordering Rwanda?|
Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi. Rwanda sits in the middle of what is known as the Great Lakes region of Africa. Most of the states surrounding Rwanda lack stability (Tanzania is an exception.) This has created a situation in which ethnic organizations cross national borders to establish bases from which to carry out attacks on their home country. This is especially problematic in the eastern DRC.
Namibia is bordered by Angola, Botswana, and South Africa.
Ethiopia is bordered by Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Kenya.
Libya is bordered by Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Egypt.
|About how many people were killed in the Rwandan genocide?|
800,000. Estimates range from 800,000 to 1,000,000. A precise number is of course impossible to achieve; however, this range is believable. Whatever the number, the genocide killed a massive chunk of Rwanda's pre-genocide population of approximately 7,000,000. Well over half of the Tutsi population of Rwanda was murdered in the genocide.
|The series of events that led to Rwanda's genocide was initiated by the assassination of Rwanda's president. Who was this president?|
Juvenal Habyarimana. Juvenal Habyarimana was assassinated along with Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Their airplane was shot down as it approached the airport in Kigali. Who actually shot their airplane down is disputed and will likely never be known.
The event served as a catalyst for the genocide because Habyarimana was a Hutu and Hutu groups blamed the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front for the assassination. This served as a spark for the Hutu militias to initiate the genocide (planning for the genocide had been ongoing well before the assassination.) Others have suggested that Habyarimana was assassinated by Hutu partisans with the intention of seeing the RPF blamed and generating an excuse for violence against the Tutsis.
Either way, within 24 hours of the assassination, RPF forces were under attack and mass killings were being carried out.
|What two ethnic groups dominate Rwanda and were the primary participants in the genocide?|
Hutu and Tutsi. Hutus are the majority ethnic group in Rwanda. While some have argued that the two groups were invented by colonial powers as a means of dividing and controlling the population, there is evidence that they have existed as distinct groups since pre-colonial times. The evidence indicates that the Hutus were among the first groups to migrate into the Great Lakes area and existed as farmers. The Tutsis are thought to have arrived later and adopted a pastoral mode of living. Both groups are historically Bantu speaking, although Rwanda today is considered a Francophone nation.
The Tswana and Boers are groups in Botswana and South Africa, respectively.
Shiites and Sunnis are the two main divisions in Islam (which does not have a significant presence in Rwanda.)
All of Rwanda is sub-Saharan. Supra-Saharan Africa is the part of the continent found north of the Sahara Desert, which is primarily Arab.
|One particular event that occurred before the Rwanda genocide is generally considered to be responsible for American inaction in Rwanda. What was it?|
the Somali attack on U.S. soldiers providing aid in Mogadishu. The attack on American forces in Mogadishu, featured in the movie and book "Blackhawk Down," weighed heavily on the foreign policy calculus of the Clinton administration. The Mogadishu killings included video of the dragging of slain American servicemen through the streets, resulting in immediate and strong public opposition to American involvement in Somalia. In the wake of Somalia, the Clinton administration was very hesitant to take the risk of casualties in conflicts that could not be directly associated with core American interests. There is considerable evidence that the Clinton administration willfully ignored the genocide, refused to recognize it as such, and impeded the United Nations' response so as not to get dragged into a situation almost certain to generate casualties.
The Marine barracks were bombed early in the Reagan administration, and while they led to the American withdrawal from Lebanon, they are generally not linked to the American response to Rwanda.
The 1993 World Trade Center bombing had no bearing on Rwanda.
The Oklahoma City bombing took place two weeks after the onset of the genocide, and while it may have distracted attention from Rwanda in the news media, it did not have significant bearing on American foreign policy.
|Which European former colonial power has been accused of being complicit in the genocide?|
France. A series of massacres in the 1950s led to the creation of a Tutsi diaspora in the Great Lakes region, notably in Uganda (to the north of Rwanda.) Uganda is an Anglophone nation and Rwanda is a Francophone nation. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (the Tutsi military force in the Rwandan Civil War) was formed in Uganda and launched its invasion of Rwanda from Ugandan bases. The controversy revolves around suspicions that France and the U.K./U.S. have sought to manipulate events in the region to spread their influence.
Given the Tutsi association with Anglophone Uganda, many have suggested that France assisted the Hutus in carrying out the genocide to eliminate a strong Anglophone institution. While most analysts tend to conclude that France committed sins of inaction similar to those of other international powers, as opposed to actively supporting the genocide, the accusations remain highly charged.
|Who commanded the United Nations military forces in Rwanda before and during the genocide?|
Romeo Dallaire. Dallaire (of the Canadian army) recognized the genocide forming and issued strong warnings to the U.N. His warnings were ignored. Despite his critical shortage of personnel and equipment, he managed to protect some civilian populations in his area of control. After the genocide, Daillaire suffered severe depression and bouts of alcoholism. He has come to be recognized as one of the singular heroes of the genocide, both for loudly bearing witness to what was going on and taking risks to save as many people as he could.
Mobuto Sese-Seko was the dictator of Zaire (later to become the Democratic Republic of the Congo) from 1965-1997.
Boutros Boutros Ghali, an Eqyptian, was the 6th Secretary General of the United Nations, holding the post from 1992 through 1997.
Kofi Annan, of Ghana, was the Secretary General of the United Nations after Ghali, serving from 1997 through 2007.
|About how long did the Rwandan genocide last?|
100 days. While the total number killed in the Rwandan genocide may give the superficial impression that it was small compared to other instances of genocide, the sheer fury and speed of it is unmatched. Approximately 10,000 people were killed per day during the course of the genocide, on average. For perspective, that is about twice the average daily death toll of the Holocaust of the Jews in 1941-1945.
While the outside world almost certainly turned its back on the genocide well past the point when it had every ability to know what was happening, the killings did begin with a rapidity nobody could have expected.
|Which of these did the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide use in order to organize the genocide?|
radio. There was no shortage of extremist media in the run-up to the genocide. There were racist journals on both sides seeking to dehumanize the opposing ethnic group and justify its marginalization or outright extermination.
However, radio was by far the most important factor in organizing the mass population to participate in the genocide. There were two primary radio stations: Radio Rwanda and Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines. The radio stations served to polarize and militarize ethnic identity prior to the genocide, and then quite actively called on Hutus to take part after the killing started.
Large swaths of the Rwandan population were illiterate at the time, rendering written appeals ineffective at achieving mass organization. Television was not common in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, and aircraft were not significant factors in the genocide - the most common weapon was the machete.
If you have not studied the Rwandan genocide, you should. It took place a half century after the world declared "never again" in the wake of the Holocaust, when the entire world had agreed to a statute mandating an international response to known genocide. Watch "Hotel Rwanda" if you have not seen it. Watch the "Frontline" documentary. Read Samantha Power's "A Problem From Hell."
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