Examining Rwanda: The Interahamwe, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, and their place

Examining Rwanda: The Interahamwe, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, and their place

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Brittanie Langford Special Topics – Rwandan Genocide Teshale March 30, 2011 Examining Rwanda: The Interahamwe, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, and their place in the Rwandan Genocide The Rwandan genocide is an amalgam of political factions and ideologies that bred disharmony, war, and genocide throughout the Great Lakes Region in Africa . They range from radical Hutu backed militia’s and political parties like the Interahamwe and the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), to groups like the RPF, Rwandan Patriotic Front, comprised of Tutsi’s who were exiled following demise of the Tutsi kingdom when the threat of Hutu power and killings became all too real to the people of Rwanda . To understand these groups we have to look at events leading up to the genocide . It is easy to believe that the party/militia system is one of the greatest problems created in the great lakes as it resulted in the Rwandan genocide, it also caused problems to neighboring countries that had to deal with these groups crossing into their borders post-conflict . In this essay I will discuss the role that the Interahamwe and the CDR played in the genocide, and how they've changed and evolved following the takeover of the RPF at the end of the genocide in 1994 . A driving force behind the Interahamwe and other Anti-Tutsi militia’s was the threat posed by the RPF; propaganda warning of a Tutsi uprising, whether an imaginary 1
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threat or not, fed the Hutu peoples of Rwanda . Add to that the activity of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a group comprised of Tutsi expatriates who banded together after the mass exile from 1959-1961 . i During the two to three years before Rwandan independence there was a mass exodus of Tutsi’s after the overthrowing of the Tutsi monarchy . The years between Rwandan independence in 1959 and the early 90’s saw constant conflict between the Tutsi and the Hutu . There were massacres that happened on smaller scales because the Hutu power structure wanted, above all, to keep the rebel forces from regaining control of Rwanda . By March of 1994 the tension in the region was extremely high . In La Vif Express , a magazine published in French, the writer Olivier Rogeau, paints a picture of things going on in Kigali and other hills only a few weeks before the genocide . At first glance, it would seem that the RPF was the biggest threat to peace and security in Rwanda . “Fleeing the military offensive launched in February 1993 by rebels or Rwandan Patriotic Front, nearly one million northerners have been grouped in camps inside the country,” he writes . ii The periodical is an eerie foreshadowing of things that were to come in the next few weeks in Rwanda . One of the headlines of the paper included “Kigali Fear” an excerpt that described suspicion behind the murder of the Minister of Public Works . iii
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Examining Rwanda: The Interahamwe, the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic, and their place

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