The Hutu and Tutsi conflict was a terrible ordeal involving the deaths of thousand of men, women, and children. Uncommonly, the conflict between the two ethnic groups does not involve language and religion –which they have in common- but different social status. The conflict can be traced back to the European colonization of Africa. The Hutu and Tutsi people lived in peace until Belgium rule came into place in Rwanda and created tensions between the two ethnic groups. After years of Hutu oppression from the Tutsis, in 1956, war broke out when Hutu rebels began killing and exiling many Tutsis into neighboring countries. However, the Tutsi refugees that fled to Uganda formed an army called the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In 1959, the Hutus gained control for the first time and in 1962, Belgium gave Rwanda its independence. With continuing fighting between the Hutus and the RPF, a ceasefire was arranged in 1993. Unfortunately, On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying the Hutu Rwandan and Burundi presidents were shot down. This caused uproar in the Hutu society and the killing was blamed on the Tutsis. This event led to the Rwandan Genocide. The 100-day genocide consisted of Hutus killing their own neighbors and family members, this event can also be known as an ethnic cleansing. The UN gave orders to not intervene in the situation, and the UNAMIR was placed in Rwanda to monitor the peace, but instead watched as thousand were killed. Before the RPF were able to take control of the situation, the death toll amounted up to 800,00 – 1 million Tutsis dead. In Burundi, peace was tried but failed, and in 1972, the Tutsis killed about 80,000-200,000 Hutus. Then in 1993, the first government outside of Belgium rule was created, but the president was assassinated. The killing of the president caused another ring of killing of the Hutus by Tutsis in search of revenge.
The Hutus were considered lower to the Tutsis, and were the peasants and the farmers. The Hutus were oppressed in Burundi, but began to become the oppressors in Rwanda. The Hutus were said to arrive in Rwanda before the Tutsis; therefore, they believe they should have equal right and the Tutsis are invading their land. This ethnic group, in 1994, took up 85% of the seven million Rwandan populations. They held majority over the Tutsis.
The Tutsis were considered above to the Hutus, they were seen as most like the Europeans; therefore, superior. The Belgium left the Tutsis in charge of the Hutus to make sure they tend to the coffee plantations. There are no major differences between the Hutus and Tutsis except for the fact that the Tutsis are taller. The Tutsis oppressed the Hutus believing they were insubordinate. This ethnic group was the minority in Rwanda in 1994. The estimated Tutsi population was said to be 14% out of seven million Rwandans.
Today, many Hutus has fled to the neighboring countries of Rwanda such as, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Uganda. However, this is spurring conflicts in those countries as well. The Hutu and Tutsi conflict is a terrible and heinous event that is said to be never ending. It is said that the Hutu and Tutsis could never mix; they will forever be enemies. I think that the Rwandan Genocide that took thousand of lives could have been stopped if the UN had decided to intervene. Also, I believe that better ruling of the colonizer Belgium would have prevented mass killings. I don’t always think that the U.S. and any other country should intervene for every international affair, but mass genocides are an exception.