Four Key Facts

Four key facts about the 1994 genocide

Fact one:

The genocide was a carefully planned attempt to wipe out Tutsis in Rwanda. Between 7 April and 4 July 1994, more than one million Rwandans were killed.

By the end of the genocide, more than 80% of the Tutsi population was dead.

Genocide never just happens. It is not spontaneous. The genocide in 1994 was planned and carried out by government and military leaders. It was supported by high-level members of civil society. It was also supported by the Catholic Church, which had promoted Hutu Power beliefs over decades. These groups were against Tutsi refugees returning to Rwanda. The refugees had left Rwanda during previous attacks of mass persecution, beginning in 1959.

Fact two:

The United Nations ignored warnings about the planned genocide. The warnings were repeated and detailed. Still, they failed to act. At this time, the UN Security Council (UNSC) included a Rwandan member of the genocidal government.

The UNSC kept their peacekeeping presence in Rwanda (UNAMIR) to a minimum. UNAMIR asked to be able to seize arms from militia groups, but were denied. They also asked to be able to actively protect the population, but were again denied.

Fact three:

As the genocide ended, the French military led a UN-approved humanitarian campaign. It provided a safe path into neighbouring Zaire (now DRC) for up to two million innocent people.

However, it also allowed government officials and army officers who had planned the genocide to escape. Thousands of ex-soldiers and militia went with them. These people were guilty of mass murder.

Hidden in refugee camps, these groups came together to attack Rwanda. They also plotted to topple the post-genocide government. The instability and violence that still affects the region began here.

Fact four:

Many Hutus who opposed the genocide were also killed.  These include politicians and civil leaders, as well as ordinary people.  Their sacrifice is honoured on 13 April as part of the annual commemoration.