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. .