the mainstream narrative of the Rwandan genocide is a victim-blaming lie: a thread 

The vagues ideas that many people have about the genocide that took place in 1994 in —one where "extremist" Hutus set off cycles of senseless violence that Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) raced to stop while the world kind of just watched & did nothing—is full of distortions, leaves out many important details, & even includes many outright lies.

This thread is a corrective. (genocide talk ahead)

Rwandan genocide - background 

First, a distortion to correct. ~The Tutsis~ & ~the Hutus~ are not "ethnic groups". The whole category of "ethnic groups" & "ethnic conflict" in Africa was designed to reinforce colonial rule by obscuring white power & still plays the same role today with neocolonial rule. Not going to make a full critique here, but hopefully the history leading up modern Rwanda gives an example that leads people to ask the right kinds of follow-up questions…

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Rwandan genocide - background 

In the colony of Ruanda-Urundi, which was first claimed by germany before losing the first world war forced them to "hand it over" (🤮 ) to belgium in 1922, whites encountered a social structure similar to a monarchy. There were many people, mostly self-identifying as Bahutu, Batutsi, and Twa, living in the area, but whites found that militarily supporting the monarchy—& the rulers were Batutsi—let them better exploit the colony. African & european monarchs benefited.

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Rwandan genocide - background 

Obviously, most Africans did NOT benefit from ruthless colonial exploitation. Since Hutus formed a simple numerical majority in the colony & the most visible local rulers were Tutsis, the visible form this resistance took culminated, during the period of "decolonization" in the 1960s, in a Hutu Power movement that overthrew the monarchy (of course the belgians kept it in place when they "left"). There were, of course, reprisals against royalists. It was a revolution.

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Rwandan genocide - background 

HOWEVER, it needs to be made clear that this was not "ethnic" violence but *political* violence against a class of colonial collaborators. Throughout the 20th century, many Tutsi were not victimized because they were not part of or supporters of the colonial monarchy. While the former Tutsi rulers fled into exile in neighboring Uganda, and both the "post-colonial" states of Rwanda and Burundi had Hutu presidents & Hutus in political power, they were not "anti-Tutsi".

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Rwandan genocide - background 

& so many Tutsi actually stayed in Rwanda & continued to live their lives. A fact which we'll come back to soon.

Meanwhile, like any group of hereditary rulers, the exiled Tutsi monarchs were sore fucking losers & constantly plotting a return to power. A whole generation of monarchists was born in Uganda. Some were integrated into the neocolonial Ugandan government—critically, in the military intelligence apparatus. This was not just by chance…

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Rwandan genocide - Kagame plots a comeback 

First of all, control of the army is very strongly associated with control of the government in neocolonial Africa. Many with ambitions to power seek to win influence over the existing military force. In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni came to power in the 1980s after winning a guerrilla war against the incumbent government, and consolidated that power by putting his people in charge of the army (he also killed off most of his perceived rivals during the war).

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Rwandan genocide - Kagame plots a comeback 

It was Museveni's military into which Paul Kagame (the current president of Rwanda who's usually framed as The Guy Who Ended The Genocide) and others from this Ugandan-born generation of exiled royalists, who would go on to form the Rwandan Patriotic Front that "stopped the genocide", ingratiated themselves successfully. (Museveni's Uganda & Kagame's Rwanda would be close allies of each other, *& the USA*, for much of the 1990s & 2000s.)

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Rwandan genocide - Kagame plots a comeback 

Here are some key things Paul Kagame and other RPF leaders gained from their time in the Ugandan Army:

• US military training: Kagame went to military school in the state of kansas.
• US funding: in the years before the Rwandan genocide would "break out", the US gave the Ugandan military, which Kagame was a very important person in, hundreds of millions of dollars of funding.
• false flag operations: Museveni constantly made use of such operations.

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Rwandan genocide - what is a false flag? 

For those who don't know what a false flag is (especially any amerikans who think it's some weird thing made up by tea party conspiracy theorists lol): it is basically a type of operation where you attack someone or something, but make it look like someone *else* did the attack.

Museveni's army carried out many false flags fighting against the Ugandan state, both for propaganda purposes ("look how evil my enemy is!") & to quietly eliminate rivals.

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Rwandan genocide - false flags 

Someone may accuse someone else of carrying out false flags, & they may be right or wrong in doing so—if you're thinking of like, white right-wingers with odd ideas about school shootings, they probably make a lot of incorrect accusations of false flags—but they are real tactics of war & do happen.

Paul Kagame would basically take the use of false flags to new, horrifying heights.

The political environment in Rwanda was already tense in the early 1990s…

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Rwandan genocide - assassinating presidents 

& after years of preparation, Kagame & the RPF stepped into this environment with a very carefully executed plan.

The incident that is usually seen as setting off the genocide is the crash of a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda & Burundi. Both were Hutu, both were killed along with the other passengers.

However, this was not some "accident". The Rwandan Patriotic Front fucking shot down the plane with a carefully aimed surface-to-air missile.

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Rwandan genocide - assassinating presidents 

Maybe some people talk about the ASSASSINATION of TWO HUTU PRESIDENTS as somehow causing Hutu "extremists" to get angry for unknown reasons, & of course mass media at the time did not carefully investigate the assassination (which, in the years since, multiple witnesses, including at least one RPF soldier who actually *took part* in it, have spoken to journalists about), but it was a targeted provocation. & it worked, in tandem with other provocations.

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Rwandan genocide - stirring shit up 

The other major provocation was that Paul Kagame had been playing the long game over from Uganda. He'd infiltrated RPF troops into the country & had them stir up the kind of blunt "kill all the Tutsis" rhetoric that's usually dramatized in movies & articles. Many of the loudest voices demanding mass killings of Hutus were either RPF soldiers or people almost certainly influenced by them. (Remember, many Tutsis had stayed in the country & were fine before this!)

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Rwandan genocide - stirring shit up 

So as the Interahamwe (you may have seen the name before) rose to prominence in the 1990s & began setting up the roadblocks where they infamously slaughtered people with machetes, the crucial omission is that it was Paul Kagame's own troops who were egging them on to do this, whenever they weren't taking part in the killing themselves. They assassinated the Hutu president & then demanded Hutu reprisals…then framed themselves as fighting "Hutu extremists". 😐

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Rwandan genocide - "saviors" 

Since this was the RPF's plan the whole fucking time, of course they were prepared as soon as the genocide broke out. A huge military force led by Paul Kagame crossed the border from Uganda into Rwanda & began fighting* their way to Kigali, the capital, in order to stop the genocide being carried out by the Interahamwe & other "extremists".

* by "fighting" we mean "mostly killing innocent people & also any witnesses to said killings". yeah. about that…

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Rwandan genocide - "saviors" 

Obviously, many Tutsis & Hutus were being killed. This is not a genocide denial thread lmfao. People were fucking dying. Where the lies are is in the reasons this slaughter happened.

For the most part, the RPF did not engage in, like, dramatic battles with Hutu genocidaires. They captured a lot of rural territory where most people offered up no resistance…& then killed them for being Hutu in a Hutu-majority country.

But remember, the RPF controlled the narrative…

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Rwandan genocide - "saviors" 

So while foreign NGO workers, the UN, & journalists could mostly see the proof of the killings of Tutsi happening around Kigali for themselves, the RPF tightly controlled media access to territory under its control. This resulted in incidents nearly erased from history (look up "Byumba stadium massacre" if you think you can read about something like that) and many cases where the RPF falsely claimed the corpses of slaughtered Hutus were actually Tutsis.

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Rwandan genocide - "saviors" 

In effect, everyone (at least, everyone Black…) was getting killed, but the RPF was working carefully to maintain an image of Tutsis as the sole & ultimate victims. Which worked because:

1) Nobody gives a shit about Black people so nobody knew the relevant history
2) Tutsis were very much being killed (Kagame instigated it)
3) The RPF were *directly* carrying out massacres of Tutsis themselves, *on top of* all the shit we've mentioned already.

Rwandan genocide - "saviors" 

Earlier in the thread, we said we'd come back to the many Batutsi who stayed within Rwanda when the monarchy fled. Well, the exiles looked down on them. They saw them as traitors. They held a fucking grudge against these "interior Tutsis". & they punished them for their "betrayal" (of, uh, staying in their homelands??) by killing them when the RPF invaded in 1994.

This grudge against "interior Tutsis" is yet another reason "ethnic conflict" fails to explain things.

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Rwandan genocide - intermission 

So yes, Paul Kagame & the RPF did come from Uganda in response to genocide…but it's wildly dishonest to leave out how *they were the fucking oppressors* & they *incited the violence* in order to create an internationally "legitimate" pretext to restore themselves to what they believed was their rightful place as overlords. They captured Kigali (the capital) in mid-1994 and this claimed as "the end" of the genocide…but it was not.

We'll get into that after a break.

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Rwandan genocide - international reaction 

So, what did "the international community" (read: white people) do while all of this was happening?

Well, there was a whole lot of nothing, yes. & there was a whole lot of "omg we should do something we're doing nothing :cry: " as well. Their most crucial role until this point had been as a willing audience for Kagame's twisted version of events, happily repeating the RPF story. But they were also collaborators in the violence:

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Rwandan genocide - international reaction 

The United Nations, especially through the USA, Canada, and France, supplied troops which collaborated with the RPF to take control of the country. This means they effectively helped the RPF get away with their *own* genocide. Keep in mind these are nations & international institutions which are more than happy to engage in sanctions & brutal bombing campaigns against anyone they claim is "violating human rights". But no such campaign happened here.

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Rwandan genocide - hunting down Hutus 

This collaboration only grew more disgusting as Kagame put himself & his new army in charge of a new Rwandan government. First order of business: hunting & killing refugees.

You see, while many people may not have known the RPF was also slaughtering people, obviously its victims knew. So many of them (mostly but certainly not all Bahutu) fled. Since their killers were now in charge of the country, many went to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Rwandan genocide - hunting down Hutus 

The DRC is a huge country, & Rwanda shares a border with it (much of it along Lake Kivu). Also keep in mind that this border is a colonial invention and there have been communities settling, resettling, & traveling in the larger region for thousands of years.

Kagame, wasting no time, proclaimed that Interahamwe militias were hiding out in the Congo and invaded the country (with help from Museveni's Uganda). Refugees were ruthlessly hunted down & killed.

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Rwandan genocide - hunting down Hutus 

The "lucky" refugees ended up in camps in the eastern Congo—not exactly a new phenomenon, since colonialism fostered the growth of numerous warring groups there—while most people, both individual escapees and entire families, had to fend completely for themselves. Rwandan & Ugandan groups attacked these refugees, attacked villages & towns they decided were harboring "extremists", even attacked some refugee camps when they were feeling particularly bold.

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Rwandan genocide - hunting down Hutus 

Surely some influential voices decided enough was enough at this point, right?

Sure, some did. But the cheerleading section for Kagame—a u.s. trained head of state who "stopped a genocide!", talked big game about "development", spoke french & english!, loves Arsenal Football Club!!—was louder. He had no less than Bill Clinton, at the time a sitting US president, openly in his corner at the time. The voices of the victims were effectively drowned out.

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Rwandan genocide - the "new Rwanda" 

So Kagame's Rwanda took the genocide to the point of invading another country (again) while he set about statebuilding in Rwanda. Foreign "aid" flowed in,. Kigali began to be hailed as a modern, ~cosmopolitan~ African capital. (The fact that people still praise it for being so much "cleaner" than the rest of the continent is sickening—more on that soon.) There were elections (surely you can guess how those went). Rwanda was leaving "extremism" for "democracy".

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Rwandan genocide - the "new Rwanda" 

Of course, like the white nations which were heaping praise on Kagame's leadership, this "democracy" was built on unfathomable amounts of Black blood. The genocide he himself instigated & carried into another country (oh, by the way, when Laurent-Désiré Kabila overthrew Mobutu & became president of the DRC, he did that because he worked closely with the RPF in the eastern Congo & had Kagame's blessing). The old Tutsi monarchy was remaking nations to its tastes.

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Rwandan genocide - the "new Rwanda" 

Kigali is "so clean" bcause the RPF in state power took up the role of internal policing with enthusiasm (remember, its leadership started out as military intelligence types). Kigali is "clean" because *people* are swept from the streets, via arrests & torture. The general hatred of displaced & landless people in Africa was taken up quite enthusiastically by the royalists settling in to power.

"Kagame reduced poverty!", you say? Yeah…they faked the stats.

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Rwandan genocide - the "new Rwanda" 

& they got caught faking those stats by economists looking at their published data, lol. Anyone concerned could verify this.

They had already killed hundreds of thousands of people & chased hundreds of thousands of refugees out of the country. They also swept the poor out of sight, into prisons & outside of the most visible area. & lastly—because there's no way you do all this without making *some* enemies—they've ruthlessly pursued political opponents too.

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Rwandan genocide - political repression 

First, you have your standard "opposition parties" & so on. They are nominally allowed to exist, but Kagame always wins reelection with over 90% majorities (uh huh…sure…) & the people who run against him always end up in jail, sometimes end up tortured. Funny how that works.

Second, you have the RPF dissenters. People may fall in & out of favor for all sorts of reasons. Kagame doesn't just police those people inside Rwanda's borders…

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Rwandan genocide - political repression 

He pursues them internationally. The 21st century has seen numerous RPF defectors assassinated in South Africa, Belgium, & other places with significant Rwandan diaspora communities. Among international intelligence agencies, the Rwandan state has actually developed something of a reputation for hunting people down like this. Former RPF exiles have explained this to journalists, because—as one-time insiders—they know exactly how the party treats dissenters.

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Rwandan genocide - political repression 

& as one-time members of the RPF, many such exiles have a kind of legitimacy & are able to reach a kind of audience that most refugees could never imagine. Paul Kagame sees them as the potential threats they are & treats them accordingly & ruthlessly. He's even fallen out with Museveni to some extent as his own ambitions grow increasingly independent & Uganda's international image is increasingly tarnished, as the elections this week have demonstrated.

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Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

That's the true story of Paul Kagame & the Rwandan genocide, in its broadest outlines. There are of course many more details–we've studied this from a fair amount of sources & there are many aspects of the situation we're well aware we don't know much about, so this isn't anything like an exhaustive thread. But hopefully the argument is clear.

Black readers, requests for sources on details, as well as genuine criticisms & questions, are quite welcome.

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Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@romainelaprophetesse I'm here for all of this!!! It's been a while since I've studied the history, but it tracks out with what I remember.

(Mobutu hated Kagame and I'm pretty sure he tried to drive the RPF out of the DRC *right* before Kabila took power.)

Also, I didn't know about the Tutsi monarchy BUT I did read about colonialist taking land ownership as a sign of hierarchy so also sounding legit to me.

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@romainelaprophetesse Also also, I remember reading years back that the french colonial government kept a registry that included identities so the genocidaires (and probably Kagame too) had a list of populations and locations to target - in part for the "efficiency" and systematic nature of the genocide.

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@guerrillarain Wouldn't be a surprise what with head taxes and things... definitely gonna look into thay

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@guerrillarain omfg that would make so much sense re Mobutu bc he certainly wasn't progressive but maybe they had a spat for other reasons. & yeah they had all kinds of gross projections that determined which peoples they decided they could "work with" aka use to enslave everyone else pretty much. all these weird theories about Tutsi being not as African too…

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@romainelaprophetesse
Well thanks a bunch for the enlightening thread! The Fr wikipedia page about Rwanda's history between the early 60's and late 80's are like two cheap paragraphs "long" and VERY oblivious about the exiled (monarchists) Tutsis. That's ridiculous...

Do you have some sources to suggest about the Rwandan politics+revolution post-independence by any chance?

(redrafted to public since it might interest other people)

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@iantila Oh yeah wikipedia is aggressive about policing "fringe theories" & they've probably successfully framed anyone talking about this as some conspiracist...tho recently a white journalist wrote a book on the RPF which seems to have gained a lot of traction so maaaaybe things will change...we'll see. (that book is In Praise of Blood, she has written a lot in french too so she may be a good source for articles on the genocide)

As for Hutu revolution,

Rwandan genocide - thread over (finally!) 

@iantila we've picked it up from other things we read that mention it in passing so not ready to recommend a source on it yet, but we have a to-read list & can definitely get back to you if it seems like a source is gonna be good?

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Eldritch Café

Une instance se voulant accueillante pour les personnes queers, féministes et anarchistes ainsi que pour leurs sympathisant·e·s. Nous sommes principalement francophones, mais vous êtes les bienvenu·e·s quelle que soit votre langue.

A welcoming instance for queer, feminist and anarchist people as well as their sympathizers. We are mainly French-speaking people, but you are welcome whatever your language might be.