Genocide Paper

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genocide

Genocide


According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide, this inhumane act, known as Genocide, is briefly defined as follows, "...acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or
religious group..." (Journal of Peace). Unfortunately, throughout history, such acts seem
to be intervened upon when it is merely too late. In the country of Rwanda, over a period
of one hundred days, over 800,000 people were murdered over their ascribed race. A similar
situation is currently taking place at this moment in time in Sudan, where 30,000 people
have recently been killed and the numbers are still rising. However, the international
community has not yet responded to prevent further killings. These two countries seem to
share similar histories which may have lead to the horrifying, ethnically grounded acts of
genocide and racial cleansing. In this paper, we will compare and contrast the similar
historical and social-political conditions of these two countries. We will also evaluate
the international community's response to the current situation in Sudan and the
likelihood of a resolution.

In 1994, genocide lasted in Rwanda for merely 100 days, killing over 800,000 people. "This
was the fastest, most thoroughly ruthless programme of ‘racial killing' yet implemented
in the world" (Journal of Peace). The victims were those who had the ascribed identity of
a Tutsi. Those who belonged to Rwanda's military or were of the Hutu identity, carried out
these inhumane acts of racial purification. There has been conflict between these two
identity groups of Rwanda dating back to pre-colonial times. Many blame the act of
genocide on Rwanda's past history between these two identity groups. Let us now take a
brief look at Rwanda's history and examine the accuracy of this argument.

The pre-colonial era of Rwanda consisted of expansion of the country into neighboring
areas, belonging to both Hutu and Tutsi kingdoms. Class stratification of these two groups
was unclear and based largely upon social status. As Rwanda began to develop, the term
Hutu and Tutsi became status terminology rather then an ethnic identity. The Tutsi
resembled those of the higher status, and within this class stratification you could even
belong to bother the Hutu and the Tutsi, namely the Twa. Prior to the arrival of the
European colonizers, social solidarity seemed to be much greater. As the European
colonizers arrived, so did conflict.

As the Belgians began to colonize Rwanda, they believed the Tutsis were superior to the
Hutus and Twa. The Hutus and Twa became inferior to the Tutsis as Belgians and Tutsis
excluded them from office under the system of indirect rule. Soon later, in 1933, identity
cards were issued which, ascribed the racial origin of the individual, as being either
Hutu or Tutsi. This was one of the premier steps to the separation of society into two
different ethnic groups. The birth of racist ideologies sprung as each group developed
growing hatred and stereotypes toward one another. The majority of those killed in the
1994 genocide were the Tutsi of the south, having absolutely no difference with their Hutu
neighbor except for their identity. Unfortunately, at this time, the Hutu and Tutsi
characterization was embedded into their culture and the chance of having just a Rwandan
identity had little hope. So, what then, was actually the cause of Genocide? Was it really
just a hatred between two mere indescribable identities placed upon the people of Rwanda?
There seems to be a lot more to the scenario then just that.

In the early 90's, Rwanda's economic condition started to go downhill fast. The sale of
coffee, one of their major exports, was cut by two thirds in the year 1986. This seemed to
be the spark of Rwanda's worsening economy. In 1990, the national currency of Rwanda was
devalued by two-thirds in one year. "According to an EIU report of early 1994, the
economic situation was worsened by the government's failure to install full democratic
government in like with the Arusha Accords agreed between 1991 and 1994 with international
and African community" (Journal of Peace, 34). Political problems began to arise, as
divisions of political parties set a split between the North and South. The Hutu of the
North held most of the power over the entire country. Corruption among the Rwandan
government ran vamped as the media and journalists were bought over to stay quiet. Soon,
the Rwandan Hutu was forced to believe that they had one common enemy, the Tutsi who now
were a totally different enemy race. People who use to be so similar, and achieved the
status of being a Tutsi or Hutu by the Belgians, were now ethnic enemies. All other
political and economic conflicts were now put aside as this, somehow historically
inevitable, conflict arose.

Many believe that Genocide in Rwanda occurred because the Rwandan people had the tendency
to do what they were told. The Rwandan government used the Hutu's collective memory to
their advantage as they achieved a widespread compliance that killing the Tutsi was a
civic duty of all Hutu, rather then an act of cruelty. There arose a racist ideology that
the Tutsi were traders and a threat to the Hutus and Rwanda. They even believed that women
and babies, even in the womb, were corrupt and should be executed. These acts were carried
out in a very efficient manner as both the Rwandan military and also the Hutu population
arose against this now traitor Tutsi population, killing over 800,000 Tutsi in a matter of
merely one hundred days.

It seems that in times of political and economic conflict, "nothing unites a divided
society so effectively as a common enemy" (Journal of Peace, 50). As these political and
economic conflicts arose, it was decided that the only way out of this struggle was to
eliminate the Tutsi population. Many of the Tutsi population could not be saved, only a
few survived as they fled to neighboring countries or hid in ceilings or swamps. This is a
horrifying part of our history and why it wasn't stopped sooner is unknown. Unfortunately,
genocide usually only ends when it is too late. As we have seen in our past history of the
Holocaust, and now Rwanda, Genocide needs to be stopped before it can be categorized as
Genocide. And yet, we still have not learned from our history as we begin to experience a
very similar situation today in Sudan.

Continues for 5 more pages >>




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