Terror, as described in context of the African continent in the previous article was, but just a brief glimpse into the sagaciously terrible world of terrorism. The subsequent articles delve into the three facets of terrorism with a desire to comprehensively present the entire picture.
As the Europeans did not consider the ethnic composition of their colonies when dividing land amongst themselves, rival tribes were often placed in the same colony and members of the tribe were put in different colonies. When the colonies graduated to independent nations, establishing the government and law and order became an uphill task. For the countries in which rival tribes often fought for power, the process of establishing a fair power structure proved to be rife with tension. Numerous times, in an attempt to redress grievances or consolidate power through means of terror, one ethnic group has massacred another and thus committed genocide.
Genocide is of a nature and an order of magnitude different from the acts of terrorism which we usually take as “bombings”. The world has known an unending torrent of violence, repression, slaughter, carnage, massacres, and pogroms (official, organized, persecutions or massacres of minorities). Terrible as they all are, none is on a par with genocide.
The most notable African genocide that spread terror throughout the country and across the continent is that of Rwanda. Rwanda is a country that is marked by tensions between its two major ethnic groups—the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority. Throughout the period of colonization, the Hutu were given a large amount of control in the country and thus, over the next several decades there was a mass Tutsi Diaspora into many of the surrounding countries—especially Uganda. In 1985, the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was established by Paul Kagame in Uganda and in 1990, the RPF invaded Rwanda from Uganda. The invading force demanded better treatment of the Tutsis still living in Rwanda and the nearly half a million that had been forced into exile in other nations. This invasion increased the tension between the two groups and lead to an increase in the violence against Tutsis in Rwanda.
In an attempt to create consensus between the Hutus and the Tutsis, the Arusha accords were established and moderated by various nations. In the end, the violence only intensified as the Hutu-dominated armed forced began to stockpile weapons in preparation for the extermination of the Tutsis and any moderate Hutus. On 6 April 1994, a plane carrying the Hutu president of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana and the Hutu president of Burundi was shot down. This proved to be the trigger for the unspeakable.
While the Hutu government blamed this on the Tutsis, much evidence exists to suggest that radical Hutus had orchestrated the attack to present an impetus to start the cleansing of the Tutsi race. Many intricacies exist that made the situation even more interesting and much harder to understand, but the major point is that from 7 April to mid-July 1994, an extremist Hutu militia, which had tens of thousands of members, marched around the entire country, butchering Tutsis and any moderate Hutus that were not assisting in the genocide. In all, between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people were massacred over the course of a few short months, spreading fear throughout the country and the continent in an attempt to solidify ethnic solidarity and control.
Almost the entire world stood by and watched the genocide happen. Influential outsiders worked closely with the perpetrators. The victims were betrayed repeatedly by the international community, often for the most craven of reasons. At times, examining other atrocities throughout history and throughout the world, we have had much cause to wonder about humankind’s humanity. Still, in the end, the genocide in Rwanda was an aberration, that killers are made, not born, and that such tragedies need never happen again. It is in the world’s hands to make sure that it will never happen again.
[Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laur1/276390076/]