The Reconciliation Process After Genocide in Rwanda

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Intergroup conflicts refers to confrontations or disagreements among two or extra groups and their affiliates. This may include psychological tension, interpersonal discord and physical violence. The intergroup conflicts rising from differences of interest of objectives, combined with controlling or antagonistic behaviors or attitudes. Incompatibilities, which may lead to a conflict, include power, economic or differences in values or needs-satisfaction differences. Genocide is defined generally as the extermination that is intentional of a particular religious, racial or ethnic group. Compared with crimes against humanity and war crimes, generally genocide is considered to be a crime that is offensive. After the Second World War, the African people did fight with an aim of ending European imperialism effects to reclaim the African culture and attain political independence. After being colonized by the Europeans for many years, gradually African countries were able to gain their independence. Tensions however triggered by political boundaries that were artificial created by the European powers did fail to reflect the religious and tribal divisions (Quinn, 2009). The African states that were newly born were unstable and they did struggle to handle the conflicts, resulting often in genocide and civil wars. Africa, during this struggle, it did get very little backings from the developed countries to either improve the African governments or economies. Even though the European imperialism in the 19th century was the main factor in instigating political feebleness in the African countries, the resolution to the continuing social, economic and political conflicts in Africa is an issue to be handled by the Africans themselves. As a result of pressures between favoritism and tribes by Belgian colonialists, revolts and violence have led to genocide in Rwanda. The Tutsi and Hutu tribes in Rwanda, for many years have fought. This is somehow a similar issue that makes historians query as to why the two tribes for so long have been rivals.

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Tutsis before the colonial period, in the social structure they generally occupied the higher strata while the lower was for the Hutu. The Tutsi and Hutu do share similar traditions and language; however they have got slightly diverse views on cattle and Agriculture. According to the Tutsi cattle are a representation of wealth. Tensions rose when the Belgians begun colonizing the country. The Tutsis were being favored by the Belgians although the majority group consisted of the Hutus. The Tutsis and Hutus were characterized by the Belgians by just simple categories which comprised of appearance and intelligence. Due to the favoritism of the Belgians, the Tutsi community had numerous advantages as compared to the Hutus (Clark, 2010). The Tutsi tribe had a social status that was higher which signified that they were rulers/leaders and in addition to this, Tutsi education was taught in most schools in Rwanda. The Belgians tried to defend the disparity by putting the blame upon the passivity of the Hutu. The Hutu tribe by 1959 was fed up by this imbalance. This dissatisfaction amongst the Hutu community caused over 300,000 Tutsi populaces to run away from Rwanda. The Tutsi leader in 1961 was sent to exile and a Republic of the Hutu was built. Rwanda attained its independence in July 1962 from the Europeans. After independence, there was a continued revolt by the Hutus against the Tutsis. Most of the Tutsis were killed and due to the revolts a majority of the Tutsis continued to flee. Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu leader in 1973 became Rwandas president

Under the leadership of Habyarimana, Tutsis who had escaped to Uganda at the time of the Hutu revolts they were not allowed to go back to Rwanda. The Tutsis created Rwandan patriotic Front (RPF) which played a vital role in the fight against the Hutu. The RPF shortly after its creation tried to reclaim supremacy by attacking the government of the Hutu. A transition government in August 1993 including the RPF was formed. The peace was short lived because a plane carrying Ntaryamira President of Burundi and Habyarimana in April 6, 1994 was short down. This triggered the civilians, government officials and the Hutu extremists to kill countless Tutsis and any other fellow Hutu who was affiliated to the Tutsis. Within three months more than 800,000 Rwandans had been massacred and the Rwandan Patriotic Front by July took control of the Rwandese government. More than 2 million Hutus ran away from Rwanda to Zaire and some other nations. To avert more distress, a federation government was created with President Pasteur Bizimungu who was a Tutsi, a Hutu and Kagame Paul as the Vice president (Kastle, 2011). As these deeds of human rights violations and genocide took place, the other parts of the world gave a blind eye basically to Rwanda. The Europeans in some cases intentionally did leave the genocide acts to just take place. For instance, France was an associate with Habyarimana as they just left the Hutus who took part in the genocide were not punished in any way. World organizations eventually stepped in and took control of the condition. Although by the time that assistance was offered, the mass killings were already done with. In 1995 trials were held for more than a decade to penalize the ones who had taken part in the genocide.

Justice systems were wrecked during the genocide in Rwanda as most of the judges were slayed or were blamed to be perpetrators. The Rwandese came up with gacaca which was founded on the Rwandese traditional practice which was envisioned to serve both reconciliation and justice amongst the people (Clark, 2009). All around Rwanda 9-10 thousand societies generally selected judges who presided over the meetings on a weekly basis. Perpetrators were classified and but for the ones judged for being the most guilty were charged in the gacaca courts. The RPF did create apparently positive philosophy, according to the way on which segregation between the communities was formed by the colonialists an issue that is partly true. Division between the Tutsis and Hutus was enhanced greatly by racial practices and ideas which were introduced by the Belgians. The ideology implies that in the country there are no Tutsis or Hutus, only the Rwandans. However, whereas an identity that is common is desirable, an identity that is double is realistic to accomplish. Due to the inspiration by the ideology, new rules have been structured and are applied in the case of punishing with prison verdicts defined genocidal ideology and divisionism. Many processes of reconciliation are ongoing led by both international and local groups. NURC has prepared many meetings that are aimed at helping the people comprehend the genocide roots and to continue with their lives after the genocide.

Mixed community groups have been newly created and this has brought effects that are positive. This has made the Hutu and Tutsi groups to positive orientation amongst the two tribes as trauma symptoms have been reduced and there has been conditional forgiveness. The broader population has been reached using radio programs that are educational together with workshops/trainings. The former perpetrators in the communities are being encouraged to live as neighbors and in harmony even though this situation has various situational challenges. One important factor is that the justice system has not been there concerning the murdering of the ordinary Hutus in Congo and Rwanda. Such a process of justice would just involve the present governance. However since the individuals who are deeply harmed yearn for justice and truth; addressing this is vital for reconciliation.

Justice is also another vital need for the mass killing and genocide survivors which aids in transforming a conflict that is destructive into a constructive one. In part justice is able to be served by punishing the perpetrators and justice at all times requires truth. It does help the victims to heal and it serves as a moral statement for the culprits concerning their actions. It is also presumed that this process helps in curbing future perpetration. Punishment however focuses usually on a few numbers of people. Mass killing and genocide moreover are societal processes which have got deep psychological, societal and cultural roots (Quinn, 2009). For peace building sake, in order to avoid building new hostility amongst the perpetrators groups members, most societies only punish the criminals. Public discussion to limit the level of punishment and the usage of other justice forms may in combination satisfy psychological needs and benefits needed by the diverse parties to advance the reconciliation. Restorative justice does refer to the perpetrators contribution to the survivors lives and the rebuilding of society. It may encompass monetary compensation. Compensation for survivors is essential by the state to improve their economic status affected by the violence. In Rwanda, at the hearings conducted by the Commission of Unity and Reconciliation in 1999concerng what the people needed for reconciliation, the survivors advocated for enhancement of the material situations.

In conclusion, efforts of being able to promote reconciliation require the change of attitudes by the both parties involved. By changing and creating societal institution like the justice system, NGOs, schools and a political system and working with leaders in part helps in fostering reconciliation. By reducing inequalities in our societies will enhance the reduction of violence by all means. All communities should embrace unity and avoid identifying themselves as ethnic groups.


Clark, P. (2010). The Gacaca Courts, Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda: Justice without Lawyers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kastle, K., & Hilz, W. (2011). African Justice for African Healing: Justice, Reconciliation and Traditional Approaches in Rwanda. Marburg: Tectum Verlag.

Quinn, J. R. (2009). Reconciliation(s): Transitional justice in postconflict societies. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

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