Kigali Genocide MemorialJune 18, 2017 in Rwanda
I don't think I fully understood the concept or extent of what had happened during the Kigali Genocide even after going to the memorial and being given all the information I am unable to fully comprehend. I have so many unanswered questions and I left the memorial centre feeling numb and lost for words.
The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed during the 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi population.
The genocide itself, the large scale killing of Tutsi on the grounds of ethnicity, began within a few hours of Habyarimana's death. Military leaders in Gisenyi province announced the president's death, blaming the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and then ordered the crowd to "begin your work" and to "spare no one", including babies.
The Hutu population, which had been prepared and armed during the preceding months and maintained the Rwandan tradition of obedience to authority, carried out the orders without question.
It is estimated that during the first six weeks, up to 800,000 Rwandans may have been murdered, representing a rate five times higher than during the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.
Most of the victims were killed in their own villages or in towns, often by their neighbors and fellow villagers. The militia typically murdered victims with machetes, although some army units used rifles. The Hutu gangs searched out victims hiding in churches and school buildings, and massacred them. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their neighbors, and those who refused to kill were often murdered on the spot. "Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself."
Road blocks were set up and people were obligated to present their identification card, if they were Tutsi they were slaughtered.
The genocidal authorities were displaying the French flag on their own vehicles but slaughtering Tutsi who came out of hiding seeking protection.
Rape was used as a weapon, during the conflict, Hutu extremists released hundreds of patients suffering from AIDS from hospitals and formed them into "rape squads." The intent was to infect and cause a "slow, inexorable death" for their future Tutsi rape victims. Tutsi women were also targeted with the intent of destroying their reproductive capabilities. Sexual mutilation sometimes occurred after the rape and included mutilation of the vagina with machetes, knives, sharpened sticks, boiling water, and acid.
The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed RPF led by Paul Kagame took control of the country. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.
The systematic destruction of the judicial system during the genocide and civil war was a major problem. After the genocide, over one million people were potentially culpable for a role in the genocide, nearly one fifth of the population remaining after the summer of 1994. After the genocide, the RPF pursued a policy of mass arrests for the genocide, jailing over 100,000 in the two years after the genocide. The pace of arrests overwhelmed the physical capacity of the Rwandan prison system, leading to what Amnesty International deemed “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.” The country’s nineteen prisons were designed to hold about eighteen thousand inmates, but at their peak in 1998 there were 100,000 people in detention facilities across the country.Read more