Double facet of Rwandan Genocide: Parable or Truth?

By Arnold Gakuba


The history gives various genocides legally accepted all over the world. These include for instance Nazi genocide (1939-1945), Cambodian genocide (1975-1979), Circassian genocide (1864-1867), Armenian genocide (1915-1922), Rwandan genocide (1994), Greek genocide (1914-1922), Bangladesh genocide (1971), and Assyrian genocide (1915-1923) among others (List of genocides by death toll – Wikipedia). This source mentions the massacres of the Hutus during the first Congo war (1996-1997) which are among the most human atrocities not yet qualified as genocide. This article clears the ways to people who still doubt about the double facet of the Rwandan genocide (1991 up to present). It gives this image from before 1994 in Rwanda, 1994-1997 in Rwanda and DRC (former Zaïre) and insists of the perpetuation of genocide in actual Rwanda, RDC and elsewhere in the world. 

To those who deny the double facet of Rwandan genocide, we would like to remind them that the recognition of Hutus massacres in former Zaïre (actual DRC) (see the above source) gives reason to why the existence of Hutus genocide as it was and is still perpetrated in both countries: Rwanda and Zaire (actual RDC) and elsewhere in the world. In this article, the author brings support of what he lived and observed since 1991 in Rwanda, in Zaïre (actual RDC) from 1994-1997 and in Rwanda from 1997 up to now as one of the Rwandan genocide survivors. 

What is the origin Rwandan genocide?

The origin of Rwandan genocide –in its double facet- is rooted in unfair, extremist and unpatriotic governance which characterized Rwanda since independence in 1962. A political ideology dominated the governance of the country in a way that Hutus replaced Tutsi on governance of the country and this ideology was and is still in the heart of some Rwandans living inside or outside the country. This was reinforced in the 1st Republic of Grègoire Kayibanda and continued in the 2nd Republic of Juvénal Habyarimana, always pushed by extremists Hutu and Tutsi. 

By what was called by certain people ‘’social revolution’’ in Rwanda in 1959 – a term a social constructivist should not admit at all- a group of Rwandans took refuge in neighboring countries especially in Uganda. This created a social gap within Rwandan community and gave opportunity to the extremists to continue their propaganda of creating hatred between Rwandan social groups so called ‘’ethnic groups’’. Therefore, the serious problem facing the Rwandans today is the envy of power by politically unqualified extremists either living in or outside Rwanda.

We remind that extremism in Rwandan governance was observed before the arrival of RPF, the actual ruling party in Rwanda. Two things are to be emphasized at this level; among main reasons advanced by RPF before attacking Rwanda in 1990 were refuge (denial to some Rwandan to have their rights in their mother-country) and bad governance. By lies, RPF arrived to power. However, the main problems of the country remained: a huge number of refugees nowadays lives outside the country and we observe unfair governance in actual Rwanda. It is worse that the number of refugees continues to increase day to day and killings are observed every day. What explains this current situation? The answer is simple: extremism of political leaders. This provoked and perpetuates the killings of innocent Rwandans inside and outside the country aiming at maintaining power. 

What are the characteristics of Rwandan genocide? 

The meaning of the word ‘’genocide’’ was defined by many scholars and organizations such as Lemkin (1914), UN (1946), Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) (1948), Dadrian (1975), Shaw (2007) and others. All converged on the following key words: intent to destroy, mass killing, calculated to bring about physical destruction of a group of people with same identity (real or given).  

The above definition is a hundred per cent explaining what happened in 1994 when some extremists of the regime of Juvénal Habyarimana killed massively the Tutsi. I was there and observed with my eyes what happened. On the other side, the same definition coincides with what the rebels of RPF-Inkotanyi did on the eyes of everybody since early 1991 while killing a big number of innocent Hutus in the former Byumba and Kibungo Provinces not because the innocent people fought against them but because they were just Hutus. I remember what a former soldier of RPF, I studied with at National University of Rwanda from 2000, that time he was major, told me that RPF had a plan of eliminate all Hutus starting by targeting males and educated once but they failed. This ideology was in the heads of extremists Tutsi (politicians and solders) of RPF-Inkotanyi which idea is still up-to-date.  

The idea of Hutus extremists who thought they can make and have a Rwanda without Tutsi lost power when RPF took power in 1994 while the one of Tutsi extremists gained power the same time; which explains the continuous killings of Hutus. This explains what happened in various corners of the country in 1994. The soldiers and cadres of RPF organized massacres and killings of Hutus all over the country especially in Byumba, Kibungo and Ruhengeri former provinces. “I remember well that a week after the death of President Habyarimana Juvénal, the Tutsi of my area of origin took refuge in different religious places especially catholic parishes fearing to be killed by Hutus. Another week after, these ones helped and organized by RPF soldiers, massively killed Hutus in our villages”

We remind the readers of this article that it was the time when the soldiers of Habyarimana’s government were trying to defend the Capital City-Kigali. The Hutus of our place had any protection. Thousands of innocent Hutus were killed and unfortunately their bodies unburied. It was impossible that time. However, they are now in memorial sites of genocide against Tutsi. Hence, those memorial sites should not only be for Tutsi killed but for both Hutu and Tutsi. Are those memorial sites for genocide perpetrated against Tutsi or are for the Rwandan genocide as we know very well that the memorial sites have the bodies of our brothers, sisters, parents, friends, neighbors called Hutu who were killed by Tutsi and RPF soldiers? 

Is the double facet of Rwandan genocide accepted?

Some people who hardly accept massacres perpetrated against Hutus, while denying that it is genocide, recognize what happened in DRC (former Zaïre). These include even eminent personalities of the country such as the president of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and Dr. Bizimana Jean Damascène who leads the NCFG (the National Commission to Fight against Genocide). 

On the 25th May 2020, the leader of NCFG Dr. Bizimana Jean Damascène has published a report denying ‘’Hutu genocide’’ while this is a facet of Rwanda genocide. The massive killings in Rwanda occurred to both Tutsi and Hutus. In 1994, Rwanda was grieved by not only massive killings of Tutsi but also of Hutus by Hutu extremists one side and Tutsi extremists another side. However, the country has NCFG which considers one side, the side of Tutsi. Is this commission going to contribute to sustainable reconciliation of Rwandans? The answer is very clear: No!!! A durable reconciliation of Rwandans is rooted in the recognition of all human losses (from both sides: Tutsi and Hutus). 

In his interview with Evgeny Lebedev, the president Paul Kagame declared “Ok, there are many Hutus that died. But they did not die as a result of being targeted for who they are”. These words show that a massive killing of Hutus occurred. The use of the word ‘’die’’ was intentional as it reduces the responsibility of the actors. The real term is just ‘’killed’’. So many questions can be raised from this; who killed and is still killing the Hutus? Why were they killed and are still being killed? Why had this killing happened in various places where Hutus were and are living (inside the country and outside the country)?, if the killing was/is not organized and did/does not target an identified group people as some people who deny the second facet of Rwanda genocide claim that massive killing of Hutus were and are not prepared. 

However, we admit that Paul Kagame has made a good step to accept that he made massacres against the Hutus- even if he only accepts the atrocities made in RDC. On the other side, we are deceived by Dr. Bizimana Jean Damascène who is supposed to play a great role in the reconciliation of Rwandans by fighting against all actions leading to the denial and perpetuation of Rwandan genocide. He does not stand positively in his position. 


Believe it today or not, the history will make it believable once the time will come to convince everybody that Rwanda without distinguishing social groups had genocide. We assure that it is not far from today. We call it “Rwanda genocide’’ as it should be called. It is sorrowful that some people who deny the Rwandan genocide (Hutus facet) say that massive killings perpetrated against Hutus in the whole country since 1991 up to now and in DRC (former Zaïre) since 1994 (using poison, guns or other means) up to now were not and are not prepared. How comes that an inhumane act can be continuous at such long period (almost 30 years) without being prepared? How can they convince the Rwandans and the international community that massive killings perpetrated against Hutus in former Ruhengeri and Gisenyi provinces (1997-2000) were not prepared? It is far from denial that the massive killings of Hutus in DRC since 1996 up to now are not prepared. The Rwanda genocide happened and is still ongoing. Therefore, serious actions should be taken by responsible actors (the Government of Rwanda and international community) to stop it and build a peaceful Rwanda where human rights are observed.