Rwanda was under Belgian rule from 1916 until that nation became independent in 1962. When the Belgians took over, they utilized the ‘ divide and conquer’ strategy by which to rule the country, ultimately pitting the people of the Tutsi tribes against the Hutu. Because the physical features of the minority Tutsi people appeared more European-like, they were given preferential treatment by the ruling Belgian government. The Tutsi people, who made up less than 15 percent of the Rwandan population had facial features more closely resembling the Belgians and were taller and slimmer than their shorter, stockier Hutu countrymen.
The Belgians assumed that these two tribes were different ethnicities and, of course, the Tutsi more closely resembling Europeans were considered the ‘ master race’ of the region, a term well identified with the Nazi’ s justification for murdering the Jews. Prior to being divided among ethnic, social and economic lines, both tribes in Rwanda thought of themselves as essentially the same peoples, simply Rwandans. Until the tensions escalated to violence in the 1960’ s, these idea of these two groups fighting each other was unthinkable.
The Belgian governing body in Rwanda allocated government jobs including the police force exclusively to Tutsi’ s while the majority Hutu faced economic hardships. The Hutu understandably hated the oppressive Belgians and by extension, hatred for the Tutsi grew stronger over the many decades. Sporadic bouts of violence perpetrated by the Hutu against the Tutsi occurred from about the 1930’ s then more organized revolts that resulted in a great number of deaths per instance began in the 1960’ s. Massive genocide tactics were employed by the early 1990’ s. No accurate counts exist of the numbers of people killed in Rwanda because of, one, the blind-eye the nations of the world turned to the long-standing situation and two; the frenzied nature of genocide itself.
However, most authorities assume the Tutsi killed in the 1990’ s alone reached 750,000 which did not include approximately 50,000 politically moderate Hutus who did not endorse the mass killings.
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