Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hutu vs. Tutsi

Hundreds of years ago, the Hutu and the Tutsi lived together in Rwanda. Most were farmers, some raised cattle. The word Tutsi was first used to describe this elite group of people with more wealth and power. The Hutu were the others, the common people. When the Europeans arrived in Rwanda, the terms began to be used more generally. Because the Hutu and the Tutsi usually reproduced within their own group, each group came to have their own common features. The Tutsi tended to be tall, thin, lighter skinned with narrow noses. The Hutu people tend to be shorter, stocky, and dark skinned with wide noses. The different groups had identification cards issued to them indicating which class they belonged to, Hutu or Tutsi.
In the 1930’s the Belgians removed the Hutu from positions of power. Instilling the hatred towards the Tutsi that many Hutu rebels grew up with and thus setting the stage for the events in 1994 Rwanda. In 1946, Rwanda became under United Nations trusteeship and Belgium was to prepare them for independence. In 1952, the United Nations required that the King increase the number of Hutus in the Rwanda administration. Just before that, the Belgians were set to leave Rwanda in 1959 when they began putting the Hutu back into power positions. The Hutu goal was to take over control of Rwanda. This led to violence against the Tutsi where thousands of people died and even more fled the area. For the next 30 years, and some, there were repeated attacks of violence against the Tutsis that could have predicted what was to come in the future. The years that the major killings of Tutsi took place were as follows: 1963, 1973, and 1975, 1990-1993.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front and the Government, in 1993, signed the Arusha Peace Agreement. After the agreement was signed, on April 6, 1994, the plane carrying President Habyarimana and the Hutu President of Burundi was shot down. It remains unclear who was actually responsible for shooting down of the presidents plane but we know that the assassination acted as a signal to begin the mass murders of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and many Hutu as well.


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