Dissertation Idea: Genocide in Rwanda

The genocide in Rwanda was the mass killing of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus by the Hutu majority population. During the approximate 100-day period from around 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed, who made up nearly 20% of the country’s total population and 70% of the Tutsi then that lived in Rwanda. The genocide was the work of   the main political elite known as the akazu. Nearly all were high-ranking members of the national government. The killer’s were from the Hutu militias and included Hutu civilians. The mass slaughter took place because of the Rwandan Civil War, and continuing conflict which began in 1990 between the Hutu-led government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front mainly consisted of Tutsi refugees whose families had taken refuge in Uganda following earlier incidents of Hutu violence against the Tutsi. International pressure on the Hutu-led government of Juvénal Habyarimana resulted in a cease-fire in 1993 with plans for implementing the Arusha Accords to develop a power-sharing government with the RPF.

This agreement was not acceptable to many conservative Hutu, especially members of the Akazu, who saw it as bowing before enemy demands. Among the broader Hutu populace, the RPF military campaign had also intensified support for the so-called “Hutu Power” ideology, which portrayed the RPF as an alien force intent on reinstating the Tutsi monarchy and enslaving the Hutus, a prospect met with extreme opposition.

Genocide in Rwanda

On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on while landing in Kigali, killing everyone on the plane.

The genocide killings began immediately when soldiers, police, and militia executed major Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans’ national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi.

These forces recruited and forced  Hutu civilians to arm themselves with large, heavy knives, clubs, blunt items and other weapons for raping and injuring  and kill their Tutsi neighbors. They also destroyed and stole their property. The genocide had a lasting and overpowering influence on Rwanda and its bordering countries. The extensive amount of war rape caused an increase in HIV infection, including babies born of rape to newly impregnated women.

The destruction of the road and rail network and a severe migration of the population severely damaged the economy, forcing the nascent government to begin immediate economic development to stabilize the country.

The violation of the peace agreement led the RPF to reopen their offensive to quickly gain control of the northern part of the country before capturing Kigali in mid-July, bringing an end to the genocide. During these events and in their aftermath, the United Nations (UN) and other countries were criticized for their inaction, including failure to strengthen the force and mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda.

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