Rwanda Recent History

By | October 27, 2021

From feudal society to colony

According to usprivateschoolsfinder, the population of the Twa and the Hutu who immigrated later was overlaid from the 14th century by cattle herders of the Tutsi ( Hima ) who immigrated from the north. A kind of feudal social structure with cattle-owning upper class and field-farming lower class emerged, which however enabled a certain social mobility and developed a common language with Kinyaruanda.

Since the 16th century, the Kingdom of Rwanda expanded its power with the Mwami at its head. It consolidated this in the 19th century with the help of Germany, which incorporated Rwanda into the colony of German East Africa in 1899, but did not affect the power of the Mwami. After the First World War, Rwanda and Burundi fell to Belgium, which administered both areas under the name Ruanda -Urundi 1919-46 as a mandate of the League of Nations and 1946-62 as a UN trustee area. Belgium in particular privileged the Tutsi minority population, favoring a significantly more accentuated social hierarchy and thus laying the foundation for the ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi.

Hutu-Tutsi power struggles in the independent state

Social and political differences escalated for the first time in the context of decolonization, when a Hutu revolt in 1959 drove tens of thousands of Tutsi into exile. With Belgian support, the Mwami was overthrown on January 28, 1961 and the republic was proclaimed under the “Parti du Mouvement de l’Émancipation Hutu” (PARMEHUTU, German “Party of the Movement for Equality of the Hutu”; dissolved after the 1973 military coup). On July 1, 1962, the UN released the state of Rwanda – separating them from Burundi – into independence. Since then, the ethnically accentuated conflicts in the two countries have influenced each other.

The continuing social tensions and attacks by Tutsi rebels led to the removal of the first President Grégoire Kayibanda (* 1924, † 1976) by Major General Juvenal Habyarimana (* 1937, † 1994) in a bloodless military coup in July 1973. Habyarimana leaned against a. on Hutu from the north and consolidated his power with the help of a new constitution in December 1978 (election for president 1978, 1983 and 1988) and with the help of the unity party MRND (Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement, German »National Revolutionary Movement for Progress«) founded in 1975), which fell apart after the 1994 genocide. Its members joined various rebel movements.

Escalation to genocide

In October 1990 the rebel movement FPR (Front Patriotique Rwandais, German “Patriotic Front Rwanda”) invaded Rwanda from Uganda. Predominantly borne by exiled Tutsis, it quickly gained large territorial gains in the north and destabilized the government. This, as well as pressure from Western donor countries, prompted Habyarimana in 1991 to introduce a multi-party system and to form a coalition government (1992). The Arusha Peace Agreement of August 4th, 1993 was supposed to end the fighting with the FPR. However, its implementation met with resistance. Hutu extremists launched a targeted hate campaign against Tutsi and Hutu willing to engage in dialogue. The death of Habyarimana together with the President of Burundi when their plane was shot down over Kigali on April 6, 1994, this led to the immediate start of genocide by the army and Hutu militias. Within a few weeks, 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and opposition Hutu fell victim to it.

State new beginning

The FPR victory at the beginning of July 1994 after fighting broke out again triggered a wave of refugees of more than 2 million Hutu to Burundi, Tanzania and what was then Zaire. Based on the Arusha Agreement, but dominated by the FPR under the leadership of P. Kagame, a transitional parliament and a coalition government were formed on July 17, 1994. The moderate Hutu Pasteur Bizimungu (* 1951) became President. The new leadership set itself the legal processing of the genocide and the reduction of tensions between Hutu and Tutsi to the goal (e.g. abolition of the proof of ethnicity in the identity cards). However, it was not able to cope with the existing conflicts between the ethnic groups and within the political leadership about the form and scope of dealing with the genocide. Until the gradual releases from early 2003 onwards, around 120,000 genocide suspects had been imprisoned for years; Around 60,000 prisoners had been released by the end of 2006, and a further 8,000 in February 2007. Due to the collapse of the judicial system in 1994, the sentencing initially turned out to be unfeasible, as the newly created special courts of law (Gacaca; Village courts with lay preachers) did not start their work until March 2005 in view of massive resistance from the population. In addition, the members of the former army who fled to what was then Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1994, as well as Hutu militias, posed a threat because they had re-formed in the refugee camps – supported by the government of Zaire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In terms of foreign policy, close to the USA and Great Britain, there were tensions with France, which had supported the overthrown regime to the end. The United Nations accused Rwanda of incompetence because the peacekeeping force (UNAMIR) they sent in 1993 was unable to prevent the genocide. The government was also reluctant to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal set up by the UN (so-called Rwanda tribunal) to investigate the genocide of 1994. The new start was made more difficult by the return of Tutsi refugees (mainly from Uganda) and Hutu refugees (mainly from Uganda) from Tanzania) and around 1 million Hutu who fled to what was then Zaire in 1994 as a result of the civil war in Rwanda, but after the ia also supported by Rwanda takeover of power by L. Kabila 1997 were expelled from there again. The resulting integration problems repeatedly led to domestic political tensions as well as mutual acts of revenge, human rights violations and bloody conflicts.

Rwanda Recent History