100 Days of Slaughter
One of the first things we did was watch Hotel Rwanda. I highly recommend this movie. It is based on the true story of a man who sheltered nearly 8,000 people during the killings. It’s a very well-done, well-written movie that portrays the horrific events of the Rwandan genocide. Through this movie, Blake and I first learned the basic events that took place during that time and first came to realize the racial divide in Rwanda.
Now we are currently reading As We Forgive. This book is an incredible collection of stories from survivors and even perpetrators of the genocide. There’s also a film documentary which we haven’t seen yet, but plan to. I’ve only read the first couple chapters, and oh my goodness…this book is so unbelievably moving. The pain described in these pages is so intense, it is beyond imagination. It’s so surreal to think that these mass murders occurred less than 2 decades ago and that there is still so much healing and rebuilding happening in this country right now. I know this book is going to be a source of many blog posts to come, but we’ll start today with a few things I’ve learned and/or found inspiring.
First, since I know most of you probably don’t know much about this dark chapter in Rwandan history, here are a few events:
- 1933 – Rwanda was a colony of Belgium. The Belgians required all people to carry identification cards specifying whether one is Hutu or Tutsi.
- 1959 – Hutus supported by the Belgians killed the Tutsi king. Rwanda gained independence and thousands of Tutsis fled the country.
- 1986 – Exiled Tutsis formed the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) to attack the Hutus in power
- 1991 – The Rwandan military began to equip civilians to fight back against the rebel RPF
- 1993 – a radio station was launched and used as government propaganda. It encouraged Hutus to slaughter Tutsi “cockroaches”
- April 6, 1994 – A plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents was shot down. Today many believe that Hutu extremists shot down the plane for fear that the president would enact peace agreements. At the time, the Hutu militia claimed that the Tutsi rebels had shot it down. This was the catalyst for the “100 days of slaughter”
- April 8, 1994 – A Hutu was appointed in an interim government after the president’s assassination. He called for the abuse and murder of all Tutsis.
- April 11 – May 16, 1994 – UN Soldiers protecting 2000 Tutsis at a school were ordered to leave. Most of the Tutsis there were then killed. 500 Tutsis were locked in a church and then burned alive by a priest and a nun. About 12,000 Tutsis were gathered together and then murdered in churches, stadiums, and along the countryside. Most of the murders were carried out by civilians with machetes, hunting down their own neighbors.
- May 17, 1994 – The Red Cross estimated 500,000 Rwandans dead. Meanwhile the US and the UN could not agree on how to fund the relief efforts and the death toll continued to rise.
- July 4, 1994 – The RPF took control of the capitol and said they would form a government based on the Arusha Peace Agreements.
- July 18, 1994 – The RPF declared that the war was over and declared a cease-fire. An estimated 900,000 to 1 million Rwandans were killed in only 100 days (a rate 5 times faster than the Nazi gas chambers). 300,000 of the dead were children and another 95,000 children were left without parents.
- January 2003 – The Rwandan president decreed to release 60,000 prisoners in order to alleviate the egregiously overcrowded prisons and foster reconciliation among the people.