The Hutu Masses Rise-up Against the Tutsi
The Hutu versus Tutsi massacres were based on tribal differences between the minority Tutsi ‘upper class’ and the majority Hutus ‘lower class’ in Rwanda. Tutsi aristocratic domination during the colonial period ended in 1962 with the independence of Rwanda and the installation of a Hutu majority government that promptly began persecuting the Tutsis leading to a mass Tutsi exodus.
The Tutsis in exile formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and then invaded Rwanda resulting in a civil war in 1990. Peace talks brokered in 1993 led to the cessation of hostilities and an uneasy peace where both communities began organizing militias across the nation. On April 6, 1994, the presidential aircraft carrying the Hutu Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down sparking the genocide. The Hutu-dominated government encouraged Hutu militias and organized genocide of the Tutsis with the active participation of the Rwandan army and government officials. The Hutus likened their action not as genocide but as a civil war where the patriotic Hutus had taken action only in self-defense. In the ensuing struggle, the Tutsi RPF finally gained control in July 1994 leading to the cessation of the genocide.
The reasons why the Rwandan genocide took place stemmed from tribal rivalry, conflicting national interests of external powers, and the inability to arrive at a consensus at the UN. Prevention of genocide in Africa and internationally would require the participative representation of all stakeholders in the power structure, non-interference by external actors, consensus at the international level such as the UN to take positive action such as deploying a larger number of UN peacekeepers and controlling financial assets of the warring sides.