A History Written in Blood

Article excerpt


Paul Kagame leads the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a group of Rwandan exiles--primarily Tutsis--in an invasion of their native country, setting off a civil war.


A plane carrying the president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, is shot down. His death incites outrage among extremist Hutus who call for the killing of all Tutsis and moderate Hutus. During the next 100 days, about 800,000 people are slaughtered--many cut down by machetes.


After RPF gains control of the country, millions of Hutus, including perpetrators in the genocide, flee to neighboring countries, in particular what is then known as Zaire. To give Hutus representation in Rwanda's new national unity government, Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, is named president. Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, is appointed vice president, retaining his powers as commander of the Army. Many believe he is the de facto ruler of Rwanda.


The Rwandan Army launches

attacks on refugee camps inside the country and in neighboring Zaire, claiming that Hutus are killing Tutsis and are seeking to destabilize the Rwandan government. In one attack on an internally displaced people's camp in south Rwanda, at least 4,000 are killed; at least 20,000 more "disappear."


Rwanda invades Zaire to overthrow authoritarian President Mobutu Sese Seko, who has been supporting the Hutus in the camps. Hundreds of thousands are killed. After the dictator flees, Laurent-Desire Kabila, a rebel leader supported by Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, is named president, and the country is renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo. …