Averting Death: Civil Resistance, Social Networks and International Players in the Rwandan Genocide

  • 2017

Averting Death: Civil Resistance, Social Networks and International Players in the Rwandan Genocide

Author:
Anatasia Schafer
Abstract:

The ethnic cleansing of Tutsis in Rwanda was a neighborhood genocide where the regions, prefectures, and neighborhoods within the country all endured different experiences in April, May and June of 1994. Depending on parochial loyalties, local authorities and neighborly relationships, the genocide was experienced in very different ways. The research behind the smaller events of the genocide at the micro-level within prefectures and neighborhoods is new but developing. Analyzing the genocide within the context of the experiences and stories, along with UN reports and rescuer testimonies offers a unique, traumatic, and subaltern perspective of how the events unfolded. A socio-psychological lens helps to extract the whys and the hows of the genocide through asking questions such as: Why did the genocide occur in some places in Rwanda and not others? How were neighbors able to kill their neighbors? Why were places of safety used as sites of mass murder? And finally, how did the lack of international involvement affect the location or rate of violence and death? Swayed by fear, hatred or hope of reward, thousands of Hutu Rwandans chose to kill, rape, and rob their Tutsi neighbors. The strategy of ethnic division within local and national regions throughout Rwanda created a rift between neighbors, friends and families that ultimately ended in brutal bloodshed. However, the Rwandan genocide occurred with more vigor and at faster rates in some places over others due to the resiliency of social networks, courageous civil resistance and both internal and external oppositional forces.