The Rwandan-American Community of the Midwest and the Peace Center for Forgiveness and Reconciliation hosted a Symposium on Genocide at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana on April 26 and 27, 2019. This year’s commemoration marks the 25th anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda when an estimated 1 million people were killed over a 100-day period from April to July 1994.
The first session on Friday was titled “Genocide Awareness and Prevention” and featured a panel of four speakers. Jean-Marie Kamatali, professor of law and director of the Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law at Ohio Northern University Law School, addressed the ways colonialism incited conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi over the decades leading up to the genocide. According to Kamatali, before colonialization, the inhabitants of Rwanda fell into three main groups: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. These were largely considered social classes until Rwanda came under German rule in the late 1800s. Colonialism brought with it ethnic theories based on differences in physical appearance like nose length and height, with the colonists viewing the Tutsi as racially superior and favoring them for roles in government. Then, in the early 1930s, the government introduced ID cards that labeled the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa as different ethnicities. These actions caused oppression among the Hutu who in 1959 staged a revolution and overthrew the Tutsi regime, causing many Tutsi to flee to neighboring countries. Hutus came to power and reigned for the next three decades, despite opposition from the Rwandan Patriot Front (RPF), led by exiled Tutsis.
Time - Ideology - Division - Media - Outlets
During this time, the ideology of division became stronger, channeled through extremist media outlets that promoted anti-Tutsi propaganda like the Hutu Ten Commandments. What happened in 1994 didn’t happen by accident, Kamatali told the audience. It was a direct result of...
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