Rwanda - a totalitarian state Essay

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In the April and May of 1994, over half a million people were killed in Rwanda. The majority of these people belonged the minority Tutsi tribe. This cold-blooded massacre was orchestrated by the ruling tribe of Hutus, who deployed militia and ordinary citizens to “join the fight” against the “Tutsi enemy” (Straus 2006: 1). The violence has since been labeled “genocide”, meaning literally a “tribal killing” (Fisanick 2004: 12). Such a classification has international implications, as genocide is considered a crime under international law according to a United Nations convention (Fisanick 2004: 12). This essay will focus the Rwandan state prior to the genocide, in particular, the regime under President Juvenal Habyarimana from 1973-1994. In the first section, it will be argued that Habyarimana’s rule included the elements required to be classified as a totalitarian regime. Thereafter, in the second section, the manner in which these totalitarian elements contributed to the implementation of genocide will be considered. It must be noted that the purpose of this essay is not to identify causes or focus on the details of the genocide itself. Rather, this essay seeks to consider the genocide through the “lens” of regime type. Background to the Genocide Rwanda, the smallest country in Africa, is located between Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Congo. The majority of Rwandans belong to either the agriculturalist Hutu tribe (about eight-five percent of the population) or the cattle-rearing, pastoralist Tutsis (fourteen percent) (Newbury 1995: 12). The Tutsi tribe was initially favoured by German colonialists who gave them greater access to education and prominent positions in government (Fisanick 2004: 9). However, the 1959 Revolution enabled the Hutu tribe to gain power, with thousands of Tutsis fleeing in fear to Uganda. When Rwanda gained independence in 1962, a
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