Rwandan Genocide Incitement Tactics Emerge in Burundi

Rwandan Genocide

As regional and international efforts gain momentum to deal with the deteriorating crisis in Burundi, a senior member of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ruling party is inciting local population and security personnel to turn against each other. Political unrest has increased with dozens of people so far killed, clobbered, or strangled to death on city streets across the country.

The conflict has taken a different turn. Politicians at the highest level of government are giving direct orders to security services to massacre civilians. The language being used is exactly as was broadcast on hate media in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against Tutsis.

In a recorded speech this past Sunday, Senate speaker Reverien Ndikuriyo called on the ruling party youth militia IMBONERAKURE and other government supporters to “get to work”.

“I have even said before, you have more opportunities to acquire property; if it is plots of land you want, go get it,” said Ndikuriyo.

“The day they receive the order to truly work on behalf of the country and for the safety of Neighborhoods, they will operate seriously; when they are ordered to work seriously, they will work.”

In April 1994, when the genocide started in Rwanda, ordinary people were glued to their radio receivers. The popular radio station RTLM had only one agenda: to incite masses to exterminate their Tutsi neighbors.

“You have to work harder, the graves are not full,” urged the voice on the radio.

“Good workers who want to work for their country”

RTLM radio broadcast on April 7 and April 8 went: “You have to kill [the Tutsis], they are cockroaches… ”

May 13: “All those who are listening to us, arise so that we can all fight for our Rwanda… Fight with the weapons you have at your disposal, those of you who have arrows, with arrows, those of you who have spears with spears… Take your traditional tools… We must all fight [the Tutsis]; we must finish them, exterminate them, and sweep them from the whole country… There must be no refuge for them, none at all.”

And on July 2: “I do not know whether God will help us exterminate [the Tutsis] … but we must rise up to exterminate this race of bad people… They must be exterminated because there is no other way.”

The same line of incitement was used by government at the top. At a ceremony to install a new provincial prefect for Butare, interim leader president Theodore Sindikubwabo said to “work” was the responsibility of every person. He warned that those not willing to “work” should be eliminated by the “good workers who want to work for their country.”

At that same event, the previous prefect was humiliated and denounced, sacked and eventually killed when it emerged he was resisting the government genocide project.

In another event – as the genocide went on, the prime minister at the time Jean Kambanda said the Rwandan government was for Rwandans, and that those who sought to help the RPF rebels would have to join them at Murindi. In essence, only those who believed in the Genocide were considered Rwandans.

Kambanda called upon people he termed as “silent politicians” that they “must come out and say whether they fight for the interests of the population or lean towards the ideology of Inkotanyi”.

He scolded them, saying that “whoever will not manifest their opinion, should never come forward to ask for something when the country has regained peace”.

Speech denounced internationally

For the case of Burundi, at the meeting this weekend, the Senate speaker Ndikuriyo told local leaders from the CNDD-FDD ruling party that they must monitor all their people because they know them all.

The speech has been condemned by international observers and governments.

According to the UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, the UK is concerned about the “threat of genocide.

The United States and United Nations have also expressed their concern though there are no decisive measures yet taken to control the situation.

The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Amb Richard Sezibera was last Wednesday knocked by Nkurunziza’s Presidential Guard outside the country’s Senate where he had gone for intervention. The EAC Secretary General was humiliated in presence of Ugandan Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga.

The East African Member States were not happy with the Burundi government contempt to the Community’s Secretary General with which Burundi is also the Member.

The US Agency for International Development said it planned to spend 45 million dollars in Burundi during 2016, but “no funding will be provided directly to the government of Burundi”.

The Netherlands has also suspended all programmes with the authorities in Burundi, including support to the police and army.

It is reported the Burundian authorities are accusing some medical NGO of offering treatment to insurgents despite the revealed government support for the said insurgence.

Consequently, the US Agency for International Development said it planned to spend 45 million dollars in Burundi during 2016, but “no funding will be provided directly to the government of Burundi”.

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Source: News of Rwanda

11 Responses to Rwandan Genocide Incitement Tactics Emerge in Burundi

  1. Terence Jones November 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    As something of a Rwanda expert (it is literally my entire purpose for being in university) this is bang on. A Problem From Hell is a fantastic book, by the way. Great for an overview of genocide in general. If you are interested in Rwanda in particular, I can pm you a list of great resources.

    Something I would like to add – regarding the lack of reporters, most of them were still tied up in the dissolution of Yugoslavia that had been raging since late 1993 (that was another disaster without a UN response, it was a NATO mission that went in and finally stopped it). Dallaire was incredibly smart in the way he used the media, though. In the Shake Hands With the Devil movie his character is shown telling a reporter that he would feed and protect her if she shot a story a day. This is accurate. His goal was to get the attrocities home to North America and literally shame the west into sending help.

    I love your mention of operation Turquoise (the French mission you mention that was eventually sent in the “monitor the DMZ”). As you say, proof of how fast a mission can be mobilized. But the French had close ties to the government and should never have been there (although, neither should the Belgians, but they were the only ones willing to supply any decently trained and equipped troops). Dallaire did actually draw up the plans and outline what could be done with a reinforced mission, and a UNIMIR II was approved . That missions never did come to fruition. The Tutsi “rebels” (the RPF) eventually took Kigali and ended the war themselves. Glad you posted this answer, and thanks for clarifying the misinformation in the thread.

  2. Abraham Linco November 5, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    General Romeo Dallaire sent a fax to Lt-General Baril on 11 January 1994 detailing the plan for genocide in Rwanda which was ignored , in addition to five further messages.

    Dallaire believed that five thousand troops would have been enough to prevent the terror from spreading and requested such reinforcement on 10 April, however it was not until 17 May that UNAMIR II was authorised, and the genocide had been concluded by the time that troops arrived. Even if one was to adopt the view of some that five thousand troops would have been insufficient to stop genocide without unacceptable risks of failure or casualties , the fact that the intensity of the massacres and propaganda waned after the West increased its condemnation in late April 1994 is testimony to the fact that swift UN action could have had a significant effect on the proceedings of the genocide.

    USA withheld from aiding the situation due to its government being concerned with ‘mission creep’, in which a humanitarian mission might become politicised and drawn into military conflict , as had been the case in Somalia shortly before.

    The group, African Rights, stated that ‘The international community appeared to be the victim of a self-inflicted paralysis, unable either to provide an effective practical response or any form of moral leadership.’

  3. ChinaManBilly November 5, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    It’s easy to knee-jerk and blame it on racism. I believe, however, the answer is simpler. In October 1993, American soldiers were killed in Somalia while participating in a U.N. peacekeeping mission. The bodies of dead Americans were dragged through the streets. This was before ISIS and Al Qaeda and the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War. We had just defeated Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War, and things were great. To have our fallen soldiers dragged through the streets by “ingrates” was repulsive, so we just withdrew from Africa.

    As Wikipedia states:

    Fear of a repeat of the events in Somalia shaped US policy in subsequent years, with many commentators identifying the graphic consequences of the Battle of Mogadishu as the key reason behind the US’s failure to intervene in later conflicts such as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. After the battle, the bodies of several US casualties of the conflict were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by crowds of local civilians and members of Aidid’s Somali National Alliance. According to the US’s former deputy special envoy to Somalia, Walter Clarke: “The ghosts of Somalia continue to haunt US policy. Our lack of response in Rwanda was a fear of getting involved in something like a Somalia all over again.”[225] President Clinton has referred to the failure of the U.S. government to intervene in the genocide as one of his main foreign policy failings, saying “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”[226]

  4. The Truth November 5, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    The Rwandan genocide occurred for a variety of reasons, but the trigger was the death of President Habyarimana on his plane ride back from peace talks with Tutsi Rebels in Tanzania in April of 1994. Essentially Rwanda has three ethnic groups: Tutsi, Hutu and Twa (who are an extreme minority). Germans gave the area to the Belgians who allowed the Tutsi (15%) to rule the Hutu majority (85%). Some people say that the Hutus and Tutsi were “created” by the colonizers, but this seems to be a national myth to bring the country together (there are no more official tribal designations after the genocide) . The problem came after WWII when the Belgian colonists tried to create an independent state with Hutu leadership. Tutsis fought in a new power struggle which got worse after 1957 when chief Matara III died without an heir. Without going into too much depth, the fighting and fragmentation got worse as French Catholics supported a new Hutu leadership and Tutsis tried to overthrow the government in the 60’s and 70’s. In the summer of 1994 more than 1 million people were killed by Hutus around the country. Tutsi rebels who had gone into exile in Uganda, Congo, Brundi and Tanzania returned and ousted the Hutu government. Paul Kagame was the general who reinvaded and stopped the killings and is the current president. France and the USA are accused by many Africans of holding back the UN and thus allowing the killings to continue. French favored the Hutus as they were Catholic and wanted to continue using the French language while the Tutsi favored changing to English, and trained the Hutu army. The US is accused of not using its power to step in and stop the killings with UN forces and refusing to acknowledge a “genocide” was taking place.

    Source- History of Africa Vol II by Assa Okoth

    • Aqua-Tech November 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      A little OT, but I’ve always found the Rwandan radio propaganda to be just fascinating as an insight in to how a genocide is justified.
      Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines played a significant role in the genocide and was certainly an essential catalyst in the genocide reaching the scale it did, in such a short period of time.
      It’s a perfect example of how essential media and dehumanisation are to genocide, and how propaganda plays an essential role in the dehumanisation of genocide.

      Transcripts of the recordings are just fascinating, here’s a list of some of them, maintained by the University of Texas:

  5. John Parker November 5, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Politics graduate here; studied Ethnic Conflict and Rwanda’s genocide in particular.
    As a brief overview: The colonial legacy was crucial in the lead up to the Rwandan genocide, but there were also several contemporary issues (particularly involving the behaviour of Rwanda’s political Hutu elite) that ignited the violence.
    The colonialism impact, in short:

    The creation of separate identities by the Belgian colonialists. Hutu and Tutsi identities were designated to the population based on physical differences such as lighter skin and thinner noses in the ‘Tutsi’ population.

    Economic differences played a part in the Belgian’s identification (which becomes crucial later on), and poor Tutsis could become Hutu, while wealthy Hutu could become Tutsi. These changes were, however, rare, given the differences in opportunities for members of each group.

    Tutsis were designated to be more suitable for ruling, helping to create the inequalities and tensions between the ‘ethnicities’
    When the Europeans left, the ethnic identities were largely fixed and the Hutu people resented the Tutsi’s superior wealth and power. They regarded them as puppets of colonialism or even as invaders from the North (historical myth played on by the Hutu elites).

    Colonialism, therefore, played a huge part in creating the differences among the Rwandan population. These differences were then exacerbated and used by the political elites in a quest for more power. The use of free radio propaganda was particularly effective in building up tension and eventually inciting genocide.

    Sources include: Melvern ‘A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide’ Mullen – ‘Ethnic Hatred: Genocide in Rwanda’

  6. lance McGuire November 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    There is an interesting interview with Guy Verhofstadt, PM of Belgium (Belgium of course still having priviliged ties with its former colonies, like most colonial nations) from 99-07 and currently fraction leader of the European liberals. He was also the head of the Belgian senate commission that was tasked with researching what actually happened in the civil war and the Belgian response in the mid 90’s and as PM he apologized to Rwanda for the Belgian actions in 2000.

    In this interview the format is that the guest chooses a few clips and then explain why they chose them. One of the clips he chose was from Hotel Rwanda, and I was very startled by what he had to say: (my translation) ‘What happened there, the international community, and Belgium of course as well, bear an incredible responsibility… Our investigation showed that [Belgium, the international community] knew months in advance a genocide was being planned. [They] had informers who confirmed that, who also confirmed weapons were being bought and divided among the Interahamwe, there was hate radio like radio Mille Collines…

    So there was this whole thing, these troops were there, well armed, badly armed, that’s not the point, but at the point it broke out, at the point the violence started and [they, Belgium, the international community) knew it was happening, what do they do? They take the decision to leave, to say: ‘We’ll let these people to their…’ And that’s what you see in the movie as well… Now, everybody bears blame for this, me too, I was opposition leader at the time and I remember, the day the genocide started I was in the office of Rabin, the PM of Israel, and he asked me: ‘What’s going on there in Rwanda, isn’t that one of your former colonies?’ And I didn’t know what to say, [exasperated] I unknowingly replied, going off our newspapers and what was said in parliament, that it was just some ethnic conflicts like happen all the time in Africa. But Rabin was unconvinced… And only later I dived into these investigations and understood, the entire international community made such an error there.’

    Probably the most shameful part of Belgian history since the decolonization.

  7. French-Finger November 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    There is a documentary called “shake hand with the devil”. Romeo Dalaire explain his view on the whole event. It’s interesting to note that Dalaire was sort of blamed for the whole thing. When his mission ended, he came back to Québec and was in deep depression. He was drowning into alcohol and you could find him sleeping on park bench in Québec city. He then wrote a book and made peace with his past. In the movie, there is a scene where Dalaire is confronted with the Belgium, Rwanda being a old Belgium colony, Dalaire says they could have prevent the whole thing or at least do something about it. The Belgium pretty much said it was Dalaire fault, that he mismanaged the whole UN operation. This confrontation was about the school events. No one wanna take the blame but the Belgium where not clean in this story. Dalaire was following orders, it’s hard to really blame him.

  8. Sam November 5, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    What the UN did was horrid, but the soldiers weren’t to blame…

    It’s the same thing as with Dutchbat at Sebrenica. The soldiers were on orders not to do anything and all of them are still suffering because of it. Pretty much everyone from Dutchbat wanted to intervene, to empty their magazines. They asked for air support but were denied, they asked for reinforcements but were denied…

    It sucked.

  9. rogersthehero November 5, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    We had a symposium at our college, one of the main speakers was a woman who suffered during the Rwandan Genocide. She was 8 years old when she witnessed her father and brothers slaughtered, her grandparents butchered, and her sisters enslaved. She was used as a sex slave.

    The physical damage done to her in one night was severe enough that she would have no hope for a child. The militia left the following morning and she was taken by strangers to a hospital. She had a hysterectomy in order to stop the internal bleeding.

    As an American citizen, I’ve often wondered how over-reaching our government has been in policing the world. Why should we dictate what one country does while we let others abuse their citizens? After listening to her testimony, all I could think is that we didn’t do enough.

  10. Jason Rudolph Kruger November 5, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Because the world is run in a state-centric mindset- if the states’ interests are not served, aid will not be sent. The U.S. had no interest in Rwanda. They only intervened AFTER everything was said & done, even though they knew the exact moment when it started, but did nothing. I wrote a massive paper on the ’94 Genocide… Also, let me say: that genocide, was the worst out of all of the other major genocides. Yup. Even worse than the Holocaust. I am not downgrading the other cases, but it seems like everyone forgets about this one. It was the first tribunal to make rape a genocidal act because of the gruesome situations where rape was instituted. The Hutus absolutely hate the Tutsis- even though there is no clear distinction between the two ethnic groups. It is malevolent bigotry- they felt that because they have been treated unfairly since being colonized by Belgian, that they had to get back at the Tutsis because they were deemed the superior ethnic group. Jealousy was the only motive behind the Rwandan Genocides.

    No great power helped because they had no interest in Rwanda, either- they had nothing to gain. A state will only intervene if they get something in return (land, money, resources, etc).. Since Rwanda had nothing to offer, there was no humanitarian intervention. If the US wasn’t going to intervene, the other great powers weren’t, either. It’s an incredibly fucked up situation. Countless women, children, and men suffered TREMENDOUSLY & no one batted an eye. That is why I hold so much ill will toward Bill Clinton. He knew this was happening, and he could have stopped it. But he didn’t. But after shit DESTROYED the fan, he issues some half-ass apology. So pathetic.

    So, basically, no one intervened because they didn’t feel compelled to. There was nothing to gain by intervening for the innocent Rwandans.

    Edit: one more point: yes, there was intervention while it was happening- it’s called “classical peacekeeping”- it was not the form of peacekeeping that Rwanda needed. With this approach, the peacekeepers could not intervene unless they were attacked first. So they literally had to sit there, by law, and watch the horrific acts play out, but could not intervene unless they were directly attacked- THAT was the issue. Even when relief effort was sent, it was the wrong form of help.


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