Friday, October 31, 2008

Current Situation

Rwanda has taken many steps to improve their situation, but the country is still scarred. The genocide affected and continues to affect most everyone in and surrounding the country, including: survivors, the government, returning refugees, killers, and even surrounding countries such as Congo.
Many survivors are facing severe poverty because everything they had was destroyed and many of the people in their lives were killed. They also face serious health problems such as HIV/AIDS. Some of the people in the Tutsi minority are still attacked by the Hutus, and fear lives in almost all of them. It is difficult to rebuild your life next to the person who recently tried to kill you.
The post-genocide government has a policy of "unity and reconciliation." They have made many advances, including Gacaca, a form of local justice inspired by tradition, which was created to handle the hundreds of thousands of crimes during the genocide. (Many of the Hutus have fled to neighboring countries to avoid the consequences of their actions). The government has also given women a little bit of power through legal reforms. The government has also promoted participation in the government which has increased economic growth and stability; they have also adopted a new constitution. However, most of the power remains in the hands of former leaders of the Tutsi-dominated RPF and freedom of speech is limited. The first post-genocide elections were in August 2003. Former RPF general Paul Kagame was elected to serve a seven year presidential term.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Response to Mr. Cavellier's Comment on the Background Information

Around the 14 century, the Tutsies migrated to Rwanda from Ethiopia because they were cattle-herding warriors and therefore traveled and migrated to follow their cattle and give them the best place to live. There is evidence that the Hutus were pastoral, not nomadic, prior to the arrival of the Tutsies. Many Tutsies stayed in Rwanda once they arrived and changed their way of life from cattle-herding to farming. The Tutsies did not come into Rwanda all at once, it was a gradual migration that was mostly peaceful. The Tutsies used their cattle ownership (because cattle are a symbol of power and wealth) and advanced fighting skills to gain economic, political, and social control over the Hutus. Soon after the Tutsies settled in Rwanda, a Tutsi king came into power. Eventually, land ownership was taken away from the Hutus and given to the Tutsi king, called the Mwami.

Although colonizing countries saw the Tutsi people as superior, some of the Tutsies do not believe this. Yes, they accepted the privileges and superior treatment given to them but some of them did not view the Hutus as inferior. However, some Tutsies did see themselves as superior and this caused conflict between the two groups. I do not think you can get an exact number on how many people felt or believed they were superior to those who did not because even if you took a poll (or counted in some way) many people would most likely not give the answer they truly believed.

Yes, I think the Hutu and Tutsi people are similar to the Civil War slaves in America. The colonists (which would correlate with the slave owners in the Civil War) saw the Tutsies were taller, lighter skinned, and had bigger skulls and therefore gave them positions of power and more privileges than the Hutus. The Tutsies are similar to the light skinned slaves who were house slaves and were given better jobs. The Hutus are like the dark skinned slaves who had to work on the field and perform the difficult jobs.


Friday, October 17, 2008

United States Refugee Resettlement Program and Mopendo International

The United States Refugee Resettlement Program was actualized under the power of Title IV, Chapter 2 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Refugee Assistance Extension Act of 1986 was signed into law in November 1986. This program provides social services, cash, and medical assistance to eligible refugees and their families through sub-grant arrangements with community-based nonprofit organizations. This program also has programs that focus on employment, job placement, English language training, and support services. This program has helped change the lives of many refugees that have come from many different countries and have experienced a variety of horrific things in their lifetime. One person who has been helped by the United States Refugee Resettlement Program and who has been a hero for many people, including Susan Sarandon, is Rose Mapendo.
Mapendo is a Tutsi woman who, along with her husband and seven children, were put in a Congolese death camp in 1998. The people in this camp were starved, tortured, and systematically killed because of their ethnicity. During her time in the camp, she was pregnant with twins and had to endure these hardships and prepare herself and her babies for childbirth. Her husband died in the camp so she did not have his strength or support during this time. Her twins did not survive the birth but she did and she says, "That is the day I survived. Something came as a joy in my heart; I don't fear. At the time I gave birth, I said, 'God, I'm alive.'" This woman is uniquely amazing not only for surviving in the camp, but what she did while she was there and what she did after. After giving birth to her twins, in an act of forgiveness she named them after the commanders charged to kill her family. She declares that this was "the first in...a miraculous chain of events that ultimately resulted in her family's rescue and resettlement in Phoenix, Arizona through the United States Refugee Resettlement Program in 2000. Mapendo is now a U.S. citizen and has learned to speak and write English. Her life has changed due to the United States Refugee Resettlement Program, for she says "When I came here, I found out there was life. I never thought I could be like who I am today. Resettlement saved my life."

However, Mapendo's story does not end with this. She made a decision to help others the way she had been helped, and in 2005, along with Sasha Chanoff, she founded Mapendo International. Chanoff is the contractor who found and rescued a group of 32 refugees in need (including Mapendo and her children) while on a government relief program. This organization works with the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations to identify and help African refugees in danger. Mapendo International has helped over 2,000 refugees into the United States Refugee Resettlement Program and has given over 3,000 people medical care through the organization's health clinic in Kenya.

Mapendo International Mission Statement:

"Mapendo International works to fill the critical and unmet needs of people affected by war and conflict who have fallen through the net of humanitarian assistance. This commitment is expressed through targeting individuals, families and groups of people overlooked by existing aid programs. Mapendo strives to alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health, and to raise awareness for these vulnerable people."

(Picture above: Rose Mapendo with her seven children; Picture below: Rose Mapendo with Susan Sarandon)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


During the Habyarimana presidency, the media created four newspapers and one radio station (Radio Rwanda). One of the periodicals, called Kanguka ("wake up"), was first distributed in 1987 and was owned by a Tutsi and edited by a Hutu. In its pages it declared that Rwandan poverty and social imbalance is not a result of Tutsi domination (as the Hutus believe), but of the government's economic policy and its network of northern Rwandan clan loyalties. The paper was very popular but it threatened the akazu (anti-Tutsi Hutus) power. The akazu had a strong hold on national affairs and did not want to share any of their power with the Tutsies. In order to combat this influential paper, the Hutus created a paper called Kangura, which means "wake them up." The name is extremely similar and so was the layout style and tone of the paper. The Hutus did this to confuse readers and to make readers dislike, misunderstand, and criticize the Tutsi people and the RPF.

Hassan Ngeze, a correspondent for the Kanguka, was hired as the editor for Kangura. This was also confusing for the readers because he transferred over from one paper to the other. Ngeze was clever; he used caricatures and political cartoons as visuals to make sure illiterate and poorly educated Rwandans were influenced by the anti-Tutsi articles. He often used crude and shocking pictures such as Tutsi men castrating Hutu and Tutsi women giving sexual favors for international support of their sinful cause. Another tactic Ngeze and his writers used to ingrain anti-Tutsi ideas was using the name "inyenzi" instead of Tutsi. In Kinyarwanda, inyenzi means "cockroach." This insect usually has negative connotations, and is often unwanted in the place which it lives but they are difficult to eliminate. Another name used for the Tutsies was "inkotanyi," which is a historical term for warrior. This term was originally given for the RPF, but the newspaper used it in a negative way. The paper portrayed all of the RPF soldiers as armed against the Hutu people. This sent fear and distrust into the hearts of the Hutus because they were unarmed and one article threatened that "85% of the Tutsi are RPF collaborators 'who are working night and day' to overthrow security in Rwanda. Faced with such a threat the Hutu have no choice but to act in self-defense." Another issue in 1994 proclaimed that the UN peacekeepers were plotting with the RPF to assassinate the president and take over Rwanda. When the president's plane was shot down in April 1994, many Hutu panicked. Many of them believed what the media was feeding them. (Now researchers are almost positive that the Hutus shot down the plane; they are positive that the UN peacekeepers and RPF were not behind the plot.) Kangura is another example that shows the Rwanda genocide was strategically and carefully planned in order to be as effective as possible. This newspaper put doubt, fear, the feeling of the need for self-defense, and anger into the hearts and minds of the Hutu people. This caused them to commit horrific, irrational, and unsympathetic crimes.


Ten Commandments of the Hutu

In December 1990 the Hutu paper Kangura ("Wake others up!") published its "Ten Commandments" of the Hutu." These "commandments" were similar to Hitler's Nuremberg Laws and the Bosnian Serbs' 1992 edicts. This newspaper article is another piece of evidence that proves that the genocide was caused by a deep hatred and resentment toward the Tutsi people. Although often times the two groups of people were neighbors and aquaintences, spoke the same language, served the same God, shared the same culture, they did not view eachother as equal. The "Ten Commandments of the Hutu" is just one example that depicts this attitude.

Ten Commandments of the Hutu
1. Every Hutu must know that the Tutsi woman, wherever she may be, is working for the Tutsi ethnic cause. In consequence, any Hutu is a traitor who: Acquires a Tutsi wife; Acquires a Tutsi concubine; Acquires a Tutsi secretary or protégée.

2.Every Hutu must know that our Hutu daughters are more worthy and more conscientious as women, as wives and as mothers. Aren’t they lovely, excellent secretaries, and more honest!

3.Hutu women, be vigilant and make sure that your husbands, brothers and sons see reason.

4. All Hutus must know that all Tutsis are dishonest in business. Their only goal is ethnic superiority. We have learned this by experience from experience. In consequence, any Hutu is a traitor who: Forms a business alliance with a Tutsi; Invests his own funds or public funds in a Tutsi enterprise; Borrows money from or loans money to a Tusti; Grants favors to Tutsis (import licenses, bank loans, land for construction, public markets...)

5. Strategic positions such as politics, administration, economics, the military and security must be restricted to the Hutu.

6. A Hutu majority must prevail throughout the educational system (pupils, scholars, teachers).

7. The Rwandan Army must be exclusively Hutu. The war of October 1990 has taught us that. No soldier may marry a Tutsi woman.

8. Hutu must stop taking pity on the Tutsi.

9. Hutu wherever they be must stand united, in solidarity, and concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothers. Hutu within and without Rwanda must constantly search for friends and allies to the Hutu Cause, beginning with their Bantu brothers. Hutu must constantly counter Tutsi propaganda. Hutu must stand firm and vigilant against their common enemy: the Tutsi.

10. The Social Revolution of 1959, the Referendum of 1961 and the Hutu Ideology must be taught to Hutu of every age. Every Hutu must spread the word wherever he goes. Any Hutu who persecutes his brother Hutu for spreading and teaching this ideology is a traitor.

"A Problem From Hell" (Pages 338-339)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Uniquely Horrific Genocide

The Rwandan genocide lasted 100 days and over 800,000 people were killed. This was one of the most effective genocides in all of history. What made this massacre uniquely horrific was that it was neighbor killing neighbor and sometimes friend killing friend. I cannot imagine what this would be like. The Hutu extremists not only killed the Tutsies, they did it in the most inhumane ways imaginable. In the cities and most populated areas machetes, clubs, and grenades were used. In the more rural areas, silverware, screwdrivers, and other weapons were used as well. Many people were chopped to pieces and left to die. Since the Hutus and Tutsies were often intermingled, many families were split. In Jean Hatzfeld's book, Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak, one boy tells of a Hutu husband who killed his Hutu wife for helping a Tutsi boy (14).
Women and children were literally hacked to pieces in front of churches, in their houses, and in marshes (where they tried to escape). Many people tried to take refuge in the churches but the Hutus would throw grenades inside and blow the people up. It is appalling that people were massacred inside or infront of churches because these were seen as holy places or places of refuge. The Hutus were so eager and focused on exterminating the Tutsies that they violated places of refuge and killed thousands of people there.

(Picture below: Tutsi survivor; Picture above: bones collected from massacred Tutsies)

Each survivor has a different way of coping with their situation. Some Tutsies say, as quoted in the book Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak, that "'life has broken down,' whereas for others, it has 'stopped,' and still others say it 'absolutely must go on'" (Hatzfeld 4). Many of these people do not know who to trust or if they will ever trust again. Who can blame them? For some of them, their lives have become lonely, some live in constant fear, some live in an emptiness, and some live with a determination to live on and honor the ones who died. In Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak, a young boy named Cassius Niyonsaba was one of these determined individuals. When he visits the church where his family was killed he remembers his loved ones and is at peace and decides to push on. Characters like this boy inspire me to make a difference and to help those in need.

A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide
Life Laid Bar: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak