Editor's Pick

31 March 2023
WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALAMY PHOTO
WORLD HISTORY ARCHIVE / ALAMY PHOTO

ON 6 APRIL 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda began a genocidal campaign that killed more than eight hundred thousand people, most of whom belonged to the minority Tutsi community. Around 2 million Rwandans fled the country, and over three hundred thousand children were separated from their families.

Although the Hutu and Tutsi had distinct histories and cultural practices, centuries of intermarriage and a common language made these identities fluid. However, German and Belgian colonists, who indirectly ruled Rwanda in the early twentieth century by propping up an absolutist Tutsi monarchy, accentuated the differences and inequalities between the two groups. A Hutu uprising in 1959, and a coup two years later, brought a violent end to Tutsi rule—twenty thousand Tutsi were killed, while over a hundred and fifty thousand fled the country.

Ethnic tensions periodically flared up, with massacres of the Tutsi being carried out in 1963, 1967 and 1973. In 1990, the Front Patriotique Rwandais, a militant group created by Tutsi exiles in neighbouring Uganda, invaded the country. Three years later, the Rwandan president, Juvénal Habyarimana, signed a peace treaty with the FPR that provided for power-sharing and the repatriation of Tutsi refugees.

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    Keywords: Rwandan Patriotic Front genocide
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