Rwanda genocide: 100 days of slaughter
Published4 April 2019Related Topics
In just 100 days in 1994, about 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists. They were targeting members of the minority Tutsi community, as well as their political opponents, irrespective of their ethnic origin.
Warning: Contains graphic images.
How did the genocide start?
About 85% of Rwandans are Hutus but the Tutsi minority has long dominated the country. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and tens of thousands of Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries, including Uganda.https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.36.2/iframe.htmlmedia captionBetween April and July 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the space of 100 days.
A group of Tutsi exiles formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and fighting continued until a 1993 peace deal was agreed.
On the night of 6 April 1994 a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana, and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi – both Hutus – was shot down, killing everyone on board.
Hutu extremists blamed the RPF and immediately started a well-organised campaign of slaughter. The RPF said the plane had been shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide.
How was the genocide carried out?
With meticulous organisation. Lists of government opponents were handed out to militias who went and killed them, along with all of their families.
Neighbours killed neighbours and some husbands even killed their Tutsi wives, saying they would be killed if they refused.
At the time, ID cards had people’s ethnic group on them, so militias set up roadblocks where Tutsis were slaughtered, often with machetes which most Rwandans kept around the house.
Thousands of Tutsi women were taken away and kept as sex slaves.
Why was it so vicious?
Rwanda has always been a tightly controlled society, organised like a pyramid from each district up to the top of government. The then-governing party, MRND, had a youth wing called the Interahamwe, which was turned into a militia to carry out the slaughter.
Weapons and hit-lists were handed out to local groups, who knew ex