The Rwandan Tutsi Genocide, Twenty Years Later: Introductory Remarks
Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau et Hélène Dumas
After 1994, the social sciences quickly incorporated Rwanda's Tutsi genocide into their programme of study. This article questions whether the urge to compare the Rwandan genocide with other mass killings was entirely justified. Certain elements of the Rwandan genocide do not fit neatly into the framework provided by these kinds of studies. This article highlights three characteristics that resist easy classification in a social science analysis: the role of middlemen played by neighbours and families in the massacre; the specifically religious dimension of its extreme violence; and the phenomenon of "traumatic crises" during memorial ceremonies.
A Historian Reads the Tutsi Genocide: An Interview with Jean-Pierre Chrétien
Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau et Hélène Dumas
In this interview, the historian Jean-Pierre Chretien recalls his experience in Burundi in 1964, when he instructed student teachers from Bujumbura. He recounts his discovery of the rift between the Hutu and the Tutsi, the shock produced by the 1972 massacres and Rwanda's influence on Burundi. He revisits the roots of "Hamitic ideology" a racial mythology that surfaced in the social sciences during the 19th century and which was subsequently spread by colonialism. At the beginning of the 1990s, Jean-Pierre Chretien became aware of the increasing radicalization of racial thinking in Rwanda. In early 1993, he tried to warn the French public of the risk of genocide. Today, he calls for serious public debate regarding this historic event.
Local Approach of the Genocide: The Nyarubuye Region
This article offers a summarized version of one of the rare monographs devoted to the history of the Tutsi genocide in the Eastern region of the country. The Nyarubuye sector provides here the context for an analysis of the massacres’ organisation as supervised by the local authorities, whose role was essential. Between the 14th and the 17th of April 1994, in the centre of Nyarutunga and in the Parish of Nyarubuye, about twenty-seven thousand people were murdered. At first, the inhabitants worked together to resist their attackers, arriving from neighbouring sectors, until some of them were ordered to kill the Tutsi. The Parish had attracted many Tutsi from neighbouring parishes where the violence had already spread, and its occupants were exterminated in a matter of days.
The Jean-Paul Akayesu Trial: Local Authorities on the Stand
From January 1997 until September 1998, the first trial of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was held in Arusha, Tanzania. This historical trial culminated in a crucial judicial precedent. Working from the judicial archives, this article seeks to examine how the trial unfolded, as well as the uniqueness of the judicial narrative derived from the witnesses’ statements. More broadly, this case study of a former mayor’s trial also investigates the local dynamics of violence and genocide on the county level.
Killers at the Heart of the Family: Women as Intermediaries
While women represent approximately 6% of those incarcerated for their participation in the genocide committed against the Rwandan Tutsi, their involvement should be seen as one of the massacre’s decisive elements. Female participation took many guises (from looting and denunciation to brutal murder) and undoubtedly contributed to the intensity and efficiency of the genocide. An analysis of the biography of two women incarcerated at the Central Prison in Kigali sheds light on some of the mechanisms that allowed genocidal violence to permeate the basic building block of society that is the family, attesting to the radical nature of the massacres that occurred in 1994.
Child Victims, Child Killers: Childhood Experiences from Rwanda, 1994
Little attention has been devoted to the question of how children experienced 1994 within the world of social science. Yet children constituted important actors at the time, both as victims and as perpetrators. They accounted for a majority of the victims, as well as a substantial portion of the surviving population. This unique circumstance gave rise to a new family model, where a group of orphans was led by an older child. The participation of children in the massacres also proved to be one of the defining transgressions of the genocide. Examining these experiences ultimately allows us to investigate the ways in which the massacres redefined the social boundaries of childhood in Rwanda.
Remembering the Rwandan Genocide: The State Commemorates Among the Ruins (1994-1996)
Based on an analysis of the archives of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) – the organisation tasked with the remembrance of the Rwandan genocide – this article seeks to explain under which material conditions and with which memorial imagery the Rwandan State has officially commemorated the Tutsi massacre that occurred between 1994 et 1996. An analysis of the first dignified State burials of the genocide victims and of the radical changes which subsequently took place between the first and second national commemoration ceremonies provides several clues. Finally, the author analyses the diverse foreign influences which helped to establish a Rwandan commemorative model.