Read: May 2024

Inspiration: Recommended by a friend; wanted to understand the history of Rwanda and the Rwandan genocide


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Paul Kagame born in Rwanda but due to Tutsi-Hutu fighting, moved to Uganda early in life where really never welcome, Kagame family was Tutsi (aristocracy) and in 1959/60 “practice genocide” as Hutu revolt and murder as a mob, Tutsis had to flee as Belgian colonial power aligned with Hutu, 10s of thousands to uganda and other nations nearby, Kagame return 1977 to rwanda on travel via essentially as quiet spy back in homeland as Hutus still rule, Belgium and France were shared colonial powers who support Hutu regime and set stage for genocide, Hutu and Tutsi lived in harmony for decades before as hutu were farmers and tutsi governed, hutu and tutsi intermarried and mingled—lived side by side in unity, 1892 German explorer to Rwanda and saw Tutsi’s as ruling class and bigger build so aligned with them, Europeans misjudged situation as saw monarchy one-sided with hutu as serfs and tutsi as nobility, belgians saw it as a dictatorship vs the harmonious relationship it was—and reinforced this post ww1, belgians saw tutsi’s as so clever that even considered caucasian in origin vs hutus inferior, interestingly by late 50s the Catholic Church became center to Rwanda society as Belgian priests came to dominate influence—as younger priests spent more time in Rwanda they increasingly sympathetized with hutus as repressed by noble tutsi (young belgian priests had socialist leanings) and on this basis looked to reshape rwanda by flipping alliance from tutsi to hutu, rapid flip, hutus closer to catholic church and paid off, sparked hutu revolution with violence against tutsis in 59/60, won elections soon after backed by UN, Hutu president Kayabanda lead, massive racial divide among hutu and tutsi depsite decades prior being indistinguishable, 1962/63 tutsi leaders murdered and to exile for others, while in exile like Kagame—tutsis learn to fight, 1973 Kayibanda lose control after 11 years in power though successor continue tutsi killings/exile—believed rwanda was a hutu country, beginning of rwanda revolution began in Uganda and Kagame fought in Uganda revolutionaries with plans to then have ally for his own country, early 80s built an army within an army as brought in rwandans to train in uganada army for future revolution to come, Pres Museveni of Uganda ally of Kagame and 1987 even try to help persuade Pres Habyarimana to change course. but to no avail, rwanda had a system where tutsi and hutu had ID cards so knew who to crack down on, refused to let refugees back, Fred Rwigyema was Kagame closest friend as another rwandan and was army chief of staff for uganda, by ’89 ugandan pres remove Paul and Fred from roles in army as face pressure given rwandans leading ugandan army, ’89 trigger rwanda economic struggles as coffee prices plummet (main export), so Pres of rwanda make some concessions on refugees and other political parties besides his own but unconvincing, more pressure in Uganda as well to rid country of rwandan influence, “RPF”=paul and fred led rwandan revolutionaries, based in Uganda, RPF building support across the board and Rwandan economy struggle, Oct 1 1990 as date for RPF invasion of Rwanda, Kagame was in Kansas at the time for military training exchange sort of program and miss first days of invasion, second day of battle Fred killed—thought all had gone well but then Kagame leave Kansas to go back to front lines and look to lead, ~10 days later get to rwanda only to find France had come to assistance of incumbent Pres/army, Kagame take over ’90 and rethink approach as Fred too aggressive, also relocate forces to Virunga mountain range in Rwanda (desolate and rough, unexpected), within a few months had 5k fighters (well educated and disciplined rebel force), rwanda/france thought RPF was squashed, Jan 22 1991 launch first raid on northern regional capital town successfully, Pres Habyarimana embarrassed and give orders to massacre all tutsis found, french support repelling of rebels, however soon French leaders encourage deal with RPF but hutu refuse such an idea—elites notably would be exposed for corruption/crimes if RPF to power in any way beyond racial divides, ’92 mark a year of RPF insurgency as had 12k army troops and move on Kigali with implicit support of Uganda, however French back Kigali leadership so turn to negotiations, negotiations fail as Hutus in Kigali demand killing of Tutsi still, this back and forth go on until aug 4 1993 when Kagame agree to Arusha Accords for seeming end to 3 year civil war—new broad based gvt in rwanda where RPF get true power, however Pres Habyarimana still lead and no plans to truly implement, Pres Hab’s wife ran the violently racist CDR which Kagame refused to give role in gvt given want to kill tutsi but enrage CDR and riot, CDR’s people known as the “akazu” and plan final solution for tutsis, akazu led by Madame Habyarimana and Colonel of Death named Bagosora (led 59-63 tutsi killings), as akazu watch Arusha Accords come to be, plan for “second apolcaypse” per Bagosora, late 93/early 94 UN send peacekeeping mission to rwanda to assist integration of RPF to gvt, but very underequipped and lack needed support to establish peacekeeping plan, hutu leadership weary of new faces in capital of Kigali, soon UN peacekeepers (led by canadian last name Dallaire) get informant from presidential guard who warn of imminent genocide plans vs tutsis, Dallaire alert UN in new york but essentially shot down and get no further support due to politics, UNAMIR was the UN force in Kigali and soon the locals learn they were weak and would retreat not fight off hutu violence, spring 1994 violence pick up with UN failing to understand or willing to expand force, major radio in rwanda function as extremist messaging arm to kill tutsi, April 6 1994 Pres Habyarimana on way back from local country gathering shot down in private plane, RTLM was the hate radio and blame tutsi and tell population to revenge, RTLM stations give names and addresses to hunt, plane crash never investigate fully to know who shot down Pres and triggered events following, Colonel Bagosora take lead after and tell General Dallaire want peace still but certainly lying, Prime Minister Agathe was last ally of UN but murdered day after crash and extremists claim gvt control, by mid day April 7 gangs were killing all those whose identity cards noted Tutsi (id cards date back to when tutsi had power), Kagame turn to UN and suggest RPF join with UN vs Presidential Guard or RPF simply attack on own, UN cannot take side however, within 4 days after crash 20,000 dead, western countries only response was to evac expats, UN by order not to pick a side/intervene so simply watch, Apr 21 UN Security Council vote to withdraw essentially all peacekeepers and effectively allow bloodshed, then 8k died daily, RTLM radio urge killing all tutsis, moreover the clergy in Rwanda support killings making it seems as though was god’s war (thousands massacred in churches where seeked refuge), 100 days of genocide where 1mm killed (10k per day), French supply genocide with weapons, US media distracted by OJ murder case, Cobain death, Tanya Harding, also coincided with Mandela inaguration in SA which media focus on instead, US and others western power very aware, Clinton admin repeat “acts of genocide” acknowledgement but not “genocide” as under 1948 convention, recognition of genocide creates moral imperative to intervene, “acts of genocide” repeated talking point to deflect, despite this Kagame and RPF push to Kigali with success and organization, by mid June French Pres Mitterrand see potential to lose influence and ramp up weapons to Rwanda army then even urge ceasefire agreement to save face then Mitterrand decide to send French army to assist, word spread to defending army in rwanda that france to save them, Miterrand claim intent to stop genocide but a farce, June 23 french arrive and safeguard 1.5mm hutus in new Turquoise Zone—all those killers included, RPF continue march to Kigali, though Dallaire realize french may move Hutus into Zaire (Congo) and thus future revenge campaign essentially guaranteed, July 18 RPF declare unilateral ceasefire as no more enemy to fight (all to Zaire and Tanzania), issue with media coverage was began with these refugee camps of hutus so world view hutu as victims not tutsis (assume those that fled were victims), 10% of rwanda’s population killed in 100 days, Clinton said $500mm in aid help to the Zaire camps of hutus (after ignoring tutsis all along), Kagame attempt to reconcile in Kigali as let RPF Hutu leader be President but struggle, meanwhile hutu forces organize in Zaire to fight again, Kagame was VP at the time in Kigali, “interahamwe”=hutu killing forces now in Zaire camps, Kagame struggle as much of rwanda population not like him and his regime, questions arise thru 95 of Kagame allowing for crackdown on hutus, meanwhile hutus later 95 continue raids from Zaire and RPF arrest tens of thousands of hutus (and kill many), Kagame try to craft a way to prosecute “genocidaires” but so many people well beyond scope of jails/judges, UN tribunal established but very costly and ineffective, Kagame get no help from west so devise plan to attack Zaire camps, return hutus to Rwanda, and overthrow Zaire dictator of 30 years Mobutu Sese Seko since Seko support hutu violence, Seko notoriously corrupt in Zaire (now dem rep of Congo), Kagame would not stand by, Zaire already in chaos of its own via rebel groups in mid ’96 so Kagame align with rebel groups instead of direct attack to try to hide origin, launch war Oct 1996, amazingly quick turn by Nov as 2.5mm refugees guided back into Rwanda as was the goal, May 17 1997 Mobutu unseated in Zaire in favor of Kagame ally Kabila, then Kagame honest about Rwandan role in ousting Mobutu—renamed DR of Congo by Kabila, Kabila and Congo people soon grow to dislike Rwandan’s influence in Congo/claiming victory so then Kabila begin denouncing Tutsi, soon Kabila return to Hutu alliance and accepting refugees, supporting raids in Rwanda, summer ’97 insurgents come in force from congo and Kagame crack down violently, July ’98 invade Congo again—rich natural wealth and also Congo now aligned with hutu, resources of eastern congo inform all decisions, Kagame face more resistance this time around, simultaneous to insurgency in rwanda itself from hutu interahamwe, insurgents have base in Kenya as well—by ’98 opposition to Kagame had grown, Kagame in odd role and not Pres of Rwanda but was most powerful man, controversially later ’98 Kagame turn to reconciliation via appointing insurgency allied governor in rwanda province—ultimately succeeded despite pushback, by mid 2000 rwanda achieved a level of internal piece/contain violence, Kagame became President formally in 2000 after initial people he let lead not succeed, formally elected 2003 in first election (95% vote but contested as he shut out competition), Kagame rule as strict authoritarian but spark remarkable progress in Rwanda, being “serious” is most important to Rwandans, “serious and correct”–if not serious cannot be correct, Kagame institute regime that cracks down on people begging for money/work, trash, lack of cleanliness, runs through society, rid of corrupt officials however small the incident (even allies), Rwanda became focused on reconciliation, trials of those on genocide became center of community, 800k named for trial (likely half of real count of criminals) and court trials were local at scene of defendants crimes, whole town came to share story and watch, a bit of makeshift jury/trial but needed efficiency, central effort of reconciliation was communities of victims and criminals living together, honesty got shorter sentences even free for parole vs in jail as jails overwhelmed, many forgive their perpetrators if confess/repent, some refuse but largely encouraged by gvt to reconcile even with those who killed one’s family, Kofi Annan came but not apologize and take blame for UN inaction—simply blame the world/mistakes which Kagame resent, France/Mitterand refuse responsibility (though new French leaders since apologized/repair), 2006 however Kagame cut diplomatic relations with France as French report say Kagame assassinated Habyar 12 years prior with no evidence and Kagame then ramp effort to expose France role in genocide, Kagame is widely admired by whites, african, clergymen, businessmen for what he has guided in rwanda, discipline and doing it on our own is central to Kagame’s approach (not rely on others), )

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