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The three Stages of Conflict can be illustrated using examples from the Rwanda conflict.
|Case Study: Rwanda - Part 1|
Click here for a more detailed history of events
related to the Rwanda conflict.
|Phase 1 - Separation - focus on difference
The Hutu and Tutsi make up the two main ethnic groups in Rwanda. They appear
to have co-existed relatively peacefully until the Belgian colonists arrived
in 1916. The colonists chose to ignore the similarities of a common language
and traditions between the Hutu and Tutsi. Instead they focused on differences,
particularly of economic status, and produced identity cards classifying
people according to their ethnic group. The Belgians considered the Tutsis
superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea.
For the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities
than their neighbours, aggravating the differences between the two groups.
This favouring of the Tutsi led to increasing resentment among the Hutus
culminating in a series of violent riots in 1959 demanding equal rights.
20 000 Tutsis were killed, and many more fled to the neighbouring countries
of Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.
When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962,
the Hutus took their place. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed
as a danger and the scapegoats for every crisis.
|Phase 2 - Divergence - focus on position
a 32 year old Hutu man, describes how the Hutu position was presented as
propaganda and eventually led to genocide.
'The previous government started mobilising us in 1992, holding meetings,
training groups of young men like me to kill when the time came. They called
us the Interahamwe (which means those who attack together). But the most
important thing was that they planted fear and hatred in our hearts. Ever
since I was a small boy, they had told us on the radio, even at school,
that the Tutsis weren't real Rwandans, that they had come originally from
Ethiopia and we Hutus were the real Rwandans, the superior people.
They told us we were under attack. That the RPF cockroaches were coming
to kill us all, that we must fight and push them back, or die. And that
we must finish them all off, every last Tutsi, because they were devils
and if we did not wipe them out, the threat would always remain.
On 10 April 1994, they told us the time had finally come. The enemy was
attacking. They reminded us that all Tutsis were our enemies, all now were
cockroaches, including our neighbours - which was the message we had been
hearing more and more in previous months on the government radio. There
were about 400 of us at the meeting, all young and strong. From the meeting,
we went to our homes, collected our pangas (machetes), regrouped and then
we set out and started cutting people.'
Source: 'Could you
share a pint with a man who killed your family?' by John Carlin
New Statesman, Sept 15 2003.
|Phase 3 - Destruction - focus on damage
The 1994 genocide was planned and executed by the then Government of Rwanda.
The goal was to exterminate all Tutsis and any Hutus or foreigners who opposed
this goal. Everyone killed in the Rwandan genocide was on a list. Under
orders from central Government in Kigali, the local authorities in each
village and town, had gone through birth certificates and other official
papers to create a census of the people condemned to die - meaning every
Tutsi in the country. The planning was meticulous. Part of it was to denounce
as collaborators - and therefore also to condemn to death - those Hutus
unwilling to participate in the slaughter.
a Hutu man, married to a Tutsi woman, tells part of his story demonstrating
the collapse of normal values during this time.
'The killers arrived at my home on 14 April, about a week after the genocide
stared. There were about 60 of them, all armed with pangas (machetes) or
clubs. They surrounded the house so there was no possibility of escape.
We had been expecting them. My wife was on a list. Her family was a big
Tutsi family in this part. They were all on the list.
They grabbed my wife and hit her over the head, they cut her with a panga.
But she was still standing. She was still okay. The leader of the group
told me I had to finish her off. I had to kill my own wife. I resisted.
I said I could not. She had just given birth to a baby. The baby was two
days old.They would not listen. They became enraged. The leader said, 'Take
this panga. Kill her or we will kill you.' I took the panga. I gripped it
hard, but I dropped it. It fell to the floor.
They said that if I did not kill my wife they would kill all my children
and destroy my home, before killing me. A group began to chase after the
children, who my eldest daughter was leading to a spot behind some banana
trees where they could not see the house My wife looked at me, desperate.
She pleaded, 'Kill me! Please kill me now!' I picked up a hoe. I was like
a blind man. I could not see. I hit her, and then I hit her again, in the
back of the head. Until she died.'
Source: 'Kill or be killed'
by John Carlin, Herald, August 30-31, 2003, B18.
Rwanda Case Study - Part 2.