Rwanda genocide is one of the fastest and most atrocious cases of Genocide in modern history.
Arguably, the Rwanda genocide is one of the fastest and most atrocious cases of Genocide in modern history. The Genocide saw the killing of around one million Tutsis, and it was a government agenda since the Hutu are the ones who formed the government (Abimbola & Dominic, 2013). Just like other genocides, the Genocide in Rwanda used conflict as a trigger. The Genocide began after the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprian Ntayamira of Burundi was shot down as it descended in Kigali. It was a deliberate and well-executed plan whose aim was to kill the Tutsi and the Hutu, who were politically moderate. The Hutu extremists who were behind the murder were well organized and mobilized mass participation among the civilians to develop a killing machine of the most fundamental nature (Abimbola & Dominic, 2013). These persons were primarily armed with machetes, and neighbors turned on neighbors and Rwandans on Rwandans. The Genocide meant to destroy a group seen as a threat to the ruling power. The Tutsis had become a threat to the government of Juvenal Habyarimana, and to consolidate his power, he only put the Hutu in office. Having only the Hutu in the highest office in the land meant that the president alienated the Tutsi
Media and RTLM
Before the start of the Genocide, Rwanda had two national ration stations, which were Radio Rwanda and RTLM. At that time, RTLM, which had been established in 1993, was the most popular radio station in the nation (Dallaire, 2019). Radio Rwanda which was government-owned too had a significant audience, and it continuously broadcast anti-Tutsi propaganda before the Genocide. However, it is RTLM which led the campaign against the Tutsi. It had the most extreme and inflammatory messages. There was also the print media, but it dint have as much influence as radio because of the low literacy rates in the rural areas of Rwanda. Therefore, the radio was the only source of news for a majority of Rwandans (Dallaire, 2019). One of the strongest supporters of the RTLM radio was President Habyarimana, who supported it until his assassination. Also, the owners of the radio were Hutu, and one of them was Ferdinand Nahimana, who had once been the director of the institution mandated to regulate the mass media. Ferdinand helped found RTLM radio and had an activating role in choosing the content of the broadcast, writing editorials, and even giving the journalists scripts to read. Therefore, there was a significant connection between RTML radio and top government officials. After the assassination of President Habyarimana, the radio essential became the voice of the government. The radio continued to support the government during the Genocide and its propaganda against the Tutsi until when the RPF rebels took power in mid-July 1994.
Moreover, the main propaganda of the RTML radio was that the Tutsi needs to be exterminated, and they were only being killed in self-defense (Dallaire, 2019). The radio wanted the Rwandans to believe that the Tutsi were involved in a conspiracy war and that the RPF wanted to have power and control over the Hutus. Important government officials spoke to the public using the RTML radio, and one of them was Prime Minister Jean Kambanda. Also, the broadcasters and guests to the radio station used a language that dehumanized the Tutsi and often referred to them as cockroaches. Further, the radio made it clear that the Rwandan government had no intention of protecting the Tutsi during the Genocide, and not one would be held accountable for their killings.
Radio Rwanda’s message to the public was somehow different from RTML. It is why the audience found radio Rwanda somehow suspicious but believed in the content of RTML. Radio Rwanda offered little information about the Genocide and inactive since it didn’t want to be found on either side of the power struggles (Dallaire, 2019). For instance, after the assassination of the president, Radio Rwanda only played classical music while RTML provided news about the situation. Also, Radio Rwanda wasn’t so focused on propaganda against the Tutsi, and that is why when the International Criminal Tribunal probed the Genocide, no one from Radio Rwanda was prosecuted. The tribunal acknowledged that the media had played a significant role in the Genocide (Dallaire, 2019). According to the organized, some sections of the press had motivated the militia groups by continuously sending them messages about how the Tutsi were an enemy of the Rwandans and needed to be eliminated.
Paul Rusesabagina and his role
Moreover, the movie Hotel Rwanda looks at the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (Melvern, 2011). Rusesabagina was an inspirational Rwandan who wasn’t afraid of facing the militia killing the Tutsi and some of the Hutu families. He sought to protect families that were being terrorized by sheltering them at his five-star hotel known as Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali. Because of his effort, he saved hundreds of families from death and torture. The hotel was owned by a Belgium firm known as Saben, and one of its advantages is that it had an outside telephone line. The hotel became an obstacle for the government during the Genocide since it protected those who were considered political opponents of the Hutu government. Also, the western press focused on the hotel and hoped that they would use it to tell the story of the Genocide to the world (Melvern, 2011). Further, several high-profile persons sheltered in the crowded rooms of the hotels. The people in the hotel were from all walks of life, and they included opposition politicians who were either Hutu or Tutsi, lawyers, doctors, and even a senator. The then prime minister, known as Jean Kambanda, complained to his cabinet that the hotel was drawing a lot of attention from international media (Melvern, 2011). He had even gotten a telegram from the United States government seeking to protect the persons sheltering in the hotel. Therefore, the government ensured that the militia spared those persons inside the hotel so that they didn’t attract unwanted international media attention. Other international organizations that were focused on the hotel were the United Nations and Red Cross. Before the Genocide, Rusesabagina had been working in another hotel in Kigali known as Hotel des Diplomates. His previous workplace was near the army barracks, and it was a favorite place for the militia and Hutu leaders in support of the Genocide (Melvern, 2011). Rusesabagina was one of the persons who served them since he prepared food and served them one when the interim government was sworn in after the assassination of the president. His role in supporting a government that oversaw Genocide has overshadowed his heroism of saving numerous lives. Rusesabagina is often associated with how he didn’t want United Nations military observers in Rwanda and how he had tried to have the United Nations peacekeepers removed from Rwanda. His supporters accuse president Kagame’s regime of tarnishing his name, but the United Nations has confirmed that some of his actions supported the Genocide.
In conclusion, Rwanda seems to be a country that has moved forward since its 1994 genocide. Without a doubt, a lot of developments have been made since, currently, Rwanda has a great degree of physical and social growth, and its economic growth is among the highest in Africa. However, underneath the successful story, there are still scars and wounds that remind the Rwandans of their unforgettable past. A significant number of the Rwandan population is still suffering in silence as they still wait for their human dignity to be restored. The humanitarian relief that various governments and organizations offered immediately after the Genocide to ease people’s suffering only lasted for a short time. Therefore, the government needs to develop a strategy that will ensure everyone gets justice and that the community is rebuilt completely.