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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The genocide

Mulamba Jean Paul
In October 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), consisting of mostly Tutsi Rwandan refugees who grew up in Uganda, invaded Rwanda. A year later, the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana opened peace talks about a transitional government, including the RPF and in 1993 ceasefire was officially reached through the so-called Arusha Peace Agreement. Habyarimana adopted several Tutsis into his government and started introducing a multiparty system.

On 6 April 1994, Habyarimana’s private plane was shot down, also carrying the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira . The death of Habyarimana ignited a murderous spree by extremists from the majority Hutus against Tutsis and those Hutus who had opposed the government in the past or who had supported the peace accords. Within 100 days, somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million Rwandans were massacred. However, several reports, including the famous ‘Gersony report’, identified a pattern of massacres by the RPF rebels of Hutu’s in the months right after the genocide, killing between 25,000 and 45,000 people, and killing tens of thousands as well in 1995, 1996 and 1997 in eastern Congo.

It remains unclear who was behind the assassination of Habyarimana. At the time, the Hutu Power media claimed the plane had been shot down on orders from RPF leader Paul Kagame, who would have sacrificed his people for the sake of power. Others, including the RPF, accused militant Hutus from within Habyarimana’s party of orchestrating the crash in order to provoke anti-Tutsi outrage while simultaneously seizing power. Since the aircraft had a French crew, a French investigation had been conducted; in 2006 it concluded that Kagame was responsible for the killing and demanded that he be prosecuted. The response from Kagame was that the French were only trying to cover up their own part in the genocide that followed. A more recent French probe, with a team of French investigators and two French judges concluded, in a January 2012 report, that the missiles could not have come from a military base occupied by Kagame supporters, and appears to exonerate Kagame’s role in the assassination.

Mulamba Jean Paul / Author & Editor

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