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The Aftermath

By on May 28, 2011 in Rwanda with No Comments


The war ended on July 4th, 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded from Uganda. The RPF was formed in 1987 from the descendants of the 700,000 Tutsis exiled between the first violent Hutu uprising in 1959 and those remaining in 1973.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established in November 1995. By 2005, 81 indictments had been made, 17 of the accused had been convicted.

Rwanda’s national legal system had convicted 6,500 genocidaires by 2001. It was evident that at that rate it would take 100 years to handle all cases.

The government resorted to the traditional Gacaca system – a means of settling community disputes and transgressions. On its completion it will be the most thorough process ever bringing the rank and file of genocide to justice. Over 100,000 inmates were indicted and a million adjudicated.

Because the Hutus arrested were the primary agriculturalists, after the war the remaining Tutsis suffered from a lack of food and infrastructure.  In order to redevelop Rwanda, after eight years in prison many of the perpetrators were released.  Criminals were made to publicly apologize for their crimes and taught how to feel and express remorse and live with the survivors. They have had to face justice, and engage in open and honest discussions about the past, agreeing about it and admitting it. Originally victims expressed different, but generally wary, opinions about how effective this was in easing their trauma.  Today things seem more at peace.

Paul Kagame, formerly head of the RPF, is now President of Rwanda and is credited for turning Rwanda into “Africa’s number one success story”. He is unapologetically authoritarian, and Rwanda ranks 183 out of 195 in terms of freedom of the press. Rwanda’s curse has been ethnic hatred expressed as ethnic politics, so Kagame’s government has made it illegal. Any politician or citizen who makes a statement encouraging ethnic animosity, or expressing ethnic solidarity, risks a lengthy imprisonment for the crime of ‘divisionism’. The very words Hutu and Tutsi are now fraught and taboo, and if you ask someone which group they belong to, they will usually look uncomfortable and reply as the government has dictated: ‘We are all Rwandans now’.

Since Kagame’s reign Rwanda has invaded Congo twice in an attempt to expand their borders and claim some of the Congo’s rich natural resources. Unlike other countries, the spoils of the Congo conflicts (that have claimed more deaths than any war since WWII) appear to have gone to improving the lives of average Rwandans rather than directly into the hands of corrupt politicians.

In our minimal observation the country of Rwanda has worked to create democracy, reduce dependence on aid from foreign countries, and fight corruption and red tape. Rwanda is the only country where women are the majority in parliament, and it is named the safest, cleanest country in Africa. Plastic bags are outlawed for environmental reasons, and in Kigali skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning. The death penalty has been abolished, and English adopted as the official language. There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in severe poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain, and a good network of immaculately paved roads.  There are no slums, and virtually no begging or street crime.

The Interahamwe death squads continue to survive, kill, and plan for power; protected by the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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