800,000 People in 100 Days

Rwanda is a small country in Africa bordering Uganda, Burundi, Zaire (D.R. Congo), and Tanzania. The country has two major ethnic groups: The Hutus and Tutsis. The Hutus and Tutsis have been able to live in peace for six hundred years with no problems. They have shared land, language, and traditions. Some of them have even married. However, when Rwanda was taken over one ethnic group was favoured over another. Then began one of the worst genocides known in history.
In 1919, Belgium seized control over Rwanda. The Belgium’s favoured the Tutsis more than the Hutus, giving them better jobs and higher ranks. They made Identification Cards for the Rwandan people to tell what ethnic group they were from. The Tutsi people began to get use to it and started treating the Hutus like peasants. When Belgium gave back Rwanda its independence in 1962, there was tension between the two ethnic groups. When elections went up, Parmehutu (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutu) won. Kigali, who hated the Tutsis, was there leader.
When Kigali came into office, thousands of Tutsis fled, those who stayed behind were tortured and killed. Most of them were killed with machetes and clubs. Hutus were encouraged to kill their neighbours, friends, and even family members (if they were Tutsi). It was estimated that ten thousand Tutsis were killed each day. People would see bodies in the Kigara River heading towards Lake Victoria. The UN had an emergency meeting in New York; however, they only had two-hundred soldiers in Rwanda. Most Tutsis had to defend for themselves.
Tutsi refugees formed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a guerrilla army. The RPF attacked Rwanda many times, but failed. In July 1994, the RPF were able to able to capture Kigali and stop the killings. When the RPF took control, two million Tutsis fled. The country was in ruins, the genocide left millions of orphans, widows, widowers, disable, and homeless. However, the most effected were young women and teenage girls who were abused.
The RPF encouraged the Hutus to return back to Rwanda; however, it took a long time before they did return. Even today, Rwanda is still repairing its past and rebuilding the relationships of the two ethnic groups. It will take awhile before the two ethnic groups will be able to trust each other again. However, Rwanda is on the road to recovery.

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~ by Katie on May 22, 2009.

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