A-M u s i n g s

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

“Father, for­give them, for they know not what they do.” - Luke 23:34

The ear­li­est in­hab­i­tants of Rwanda were pygmy hunter-gath­er­ers, the Twa. Im­mi­gra­tion was prob­a­bly slow with in­com­ing groups in­te­grat­ing into, rather than con­quer­ing, the ex­ist­ing so­ci­ety. The Tutsi herded cat­tle. The Hutu farmed the land. Al­though the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa share a com­mon lan­guage, the Tutsi evolved as the lead­ers. Af­ter World War II, a Hutu eman­ci­pa­tion move­ment emerged. Catholic mis­sion­ar­ies were con­cerned more with the un­der­priv­i­leged Hutu than the Tutsi elite, lead­ing to the for­ma­tion of a size­able ed­u­cated Hutu clergy that coun­ter­bal­anced the es­tab­lished political or­der.

In 1960, elec­tions re­turned an over­whelm­ing Hutu ma­jor­ity. The king was de­posed, a Hutu dom­i­nated re­pub­lic cre­ated, and the coun­try be­came in­de­pen­dent in 1962. As the rev­o­lu­tion pro­gressed, Tutsi be­gan leav­ing the coun­try to es­cape the Hutu purges un­til, in 1993, they were awarded po­si­tions in a Broad-Based Tran­si­tional Govern­ment. Al­most ev­ery party had a "Power" wing from which rad­i­cal youth mili­tia groups of Killer Kids emerged that even­tu­ally car­ried out mas­sacres across the coun­try.

The army be­gan arm­ing Hutu civil­ians with weapons, such as ma­chetes, and train­ing the Hutu youth in com­bat, of­fi­cially as "civil de­fense". Rwanda also pur­chased large num­bers of grenades and mu­ni­tions; fu­ture UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Boutros Boutros-Ghali in his role as Egyp­tian for­eign min­is­ter fa­cil­i­tated a large sale of arms from Egypt. The “Hutu Power” be­gan com­pil­ing lists of "traitors" to be killed; they founded a pop­u­lar ra­dio sta­tion, RTLMC, which broad­cast racist pro­pa­ganda, ob­scene jokes and mu­sic. By one es­ti­mate, 10% of the vi­o­lence dur­ing the Rwan­dan geno­cide can be at­trib­uted to this sta­tion.

In Oc­to­ber 1993, the coun­try's first ever Hutu pres­i­dent was as­sas­si­nated by Tutsi army of­fi­cers. The as­sas­si­na­tion caused shock­waves, re­in­forc­ing the no­tion among the Hutu that the Tutsi were their en­emy and could not be trusted. On Jan­uary 11, 1994, Gen­eral Dal­laire sent a "Geno­cide Fax" to UN Head­quar­ters stat­ing that a high level in­for­mant, a lo­cal politi­cian, had been or­dered to reg­is­ter all Tutsi in Ki­gali so that up to 1,000 Tutsi could be killed in 20 min­utes, lead­ing to their ex­ter­mi­na­tion.

On April 6, 1994, the plane car­ry­ing the Rwan­dan Pres­i­dent and the Hutu Pres­i­dent of Bu­rundi, was shot down as it was land­ing in Ki­gali, killing ev­ery­one on board. The large-scale killing of Tutsi be­gan within hours. Mil­i­tary lead­ers or­dered the Hutu to "be­gin your work" and to "spare no one”. The Hutu pop­u­la­tion, which had been pre­pared and armed dur­ing the pre­ced­ing months, main­tained the Rwan­dan tra­di­tion of obe­di­ence to au­thor­ity, and car­ried out the or­ders with­out ques­tion.

Dur­ing the first six weeks, up to 800,000 Rwan­dans were mur­dered, a rate five times higher than dur­ing the Nazi Holo­caust. In ru­ral ar­eas, where Tutsi and Hutu lived side by side and fam­i­lies knew each other, the Hutu eas­ily iden­ti­fied and killed their Tutsi neigh­bours. In ur­ban ar­eas, where res­i­dents were more anony­mous, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion was fa­cil­i­tated us­ing road­blocks; each per­son pass­ing the road­block was re­quired to show their na­tional iden­tity card, which in­cluded eth­nic­ity, and any with Tutsi cards were slaugh­tered im­me­di­ately. Lo­cal of­fi­cials and govern­ment-spon­sored ra­dio sta­tions in­cited cit­i­zens to kill their neigh­bors. Those who re­fused to kill were mur­dered on the spot. "Ei­ther you took part in the mas­sacres or you were mas­sa­cred your­self." 1,500 Tutsi sought refuge in a Catholic church but the au­thor­i­ties used bull­doz­ers to knock down the build­ing. The mili­tia killed ev­ery per­son who tried to es­cape. The lo­cal priest was later found guilty and sen­tenced to life in prison for his role in the de­mo­li­tion of his church; he was con­victed of the crime of geno­cide and crimes against hu­man­ity.

Hutu ex­trem­ists re­leased hun­dreds of pa­tients suf­fer­ing from AIDS from hospi­tals, and formed them into "rape squads." The in­tent was to in­fect and cause "slow, in­ex­orable death". Thou­sands of women who were sub­jected to rape are now HIV-pos­i­tive. Tutsi women were tar­geted with the in­tent of de­stroy­ing their re­pro­duc­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Sex­ual mu­ti­la­tion with ma­chetes, knives, sharp­ened sticks, boil­ing wa­ter, and acid oc­curred af­ter rape. Men were sel­dom the vic­tims of war rape, but sex­ual vi­o­lence against men in­cluded mu­ti­la­tion of the gen­i­tals that were then dis­played in pub­lic as tro­phies.

Out of a pop­u­la­tion of 7.3 mil­lion, the of­fi­cial Rwan­dan govern­ment fig­ures es­ti­mated the num­ber of geno­cide vic­tims to be 1,174,000 in 100 days or 10,000 ev­ery day, 400 ev­ery hour, 7 ev­ery minute.

Most of the killings were car­ried out by child sol­diers some of a very ten­der age. Could it be that chil­dren can­not, do not, un­der­stand the value of life? Could it be that the many mur­ders in this coun­try are com­mit­ted by peo­ple who are ei­ther too young to care, or too im­ma­ture to know what they do? Is not the care of our youth the key to our fu­ture?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.