Burundian Genocide

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Since Burundi's independence in 1962, there have been two events called genocides in the country. The 1972 mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsi-dominated army,[1] and the 1994 mass killings of Tutsis by the majority-Hutu populace are both described as genocide in the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2002.[2]

Background[edit]

Main article: History of Burundi

The demographics of Burundi through the 1960s and 1970s were roughly 86 percent Hutu, 13 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Twa (Mann, M., 2005. The Dark Side of Democracy, p. 431). For most of this period, the Tutsi maintained a near monopoly on senior government and military positions. Burundi gained its independence in 1962, and in May 1965 the first post-independence elections were held. The Hutu candidates scored a landslide victory, capturing 23 seats out of a total 33. But, instead of appointing a Hutu prime minister, the king Mwambutsa IV appointed one of his Tutsi friends. On October 18, 1965, Hutus, angry with the king's decision, attempted a coup. The king fled the country, but the coup ultimately failed.[citation needed]

Years later, the weeks approaching April 29 in 1972 were rustling with political interest from the events related to the return of the formal king, Ntare V. From complex of elements agitated with Byzantine intrigues, Ntare went to Uganda first. Uganda’s president, Idi Amin, claimed he received a written guarantee from president Micombero that Ntare could return to Burundi and live there as a private citizen. Using the helicopter at his disposal from the Uganda chief of state, Ntare arrived where he and his ancestors had ruled as kings, in March 1972. Within a few hours he was put under house arrest in the former palace in Gitega. Soon after, an official radio broadcast proclaimed that Ntare was trying to instigate a mercenary invasion of Burundi to take back rule. Some ministers favored that he would be kept under restricted protection in Gitega, while others wanted him dead. The situation was unofficially resolved when Ntare was assassinated sometime between Saturday evening, April 29, and the following morning, under circumstances which are still unclear. Whether there was a conspiracy or his death was involved with a violent outbreak in Gitega has not been determined.[3]

1972[edit]

On April 27, 1972, a rebellion led by some Hutu members of the gendarmerie broke out in the lakeside towns of Rumonge and Nyanza-Lac; they declared the "Martyazo Republic".[4][5] Countless atrocities were reported by eyewitnesses, and the armed Hutu insurgents proceeded to kill every Tutsi in sight, as well as the Hutus who refused to join the rebellion.[6] It is estimated that during this initial Hutu outbreak, anywhere from 800 to 1200 people were killed.[7]

President Michel Micombero (Tutsi) proclaimed martial law; his armed forces killed Hutus en masse.[8] The initial phases of the genocide were clearly orchestrated, with lists of targets including the Hutu educated—the elite—and the militarily trained. Once this had been completed, the Tutsi-controlled army moved against the larger civilian populations. The Tutsi-controlled government authorities originally estimated that roughly 15,000 had been killed, while Hutu opponents claimed number was much closer to 300,000.[9] Today, estimates hover in between these two figures, at between 80,000 to 210,000 killed.[9][10] Several hundred thousand Hutu are estimated to have fled the genocide into Zaire, Rwanda, and Tanzania.[10][11]

During 29–30 April, the Burundi government (Hutu) armed rebels allied with Zairian (Zaire) exiles (mulelists) and attacked southern Burundi, Gitega, and Bujumbura. They were trying to make a Hutu-dominated republic and get rid of the Tutsis. The Hutu government states there were about 50,000 deaths, the majority being Tutsis. However, most observers of the event believe that the figure of 50,000 is greatly exaggerated. Observers also concluded evidence that there was an attempt of Hutu elements to overthrow the government of Micombero. There was around 4-5 thousand Hutus involved in this attack. They did not have a count, but estimated 3,000 Tutsis killed within the first week. There is no evidence that Mulelists were involved with the violence but Mulelists signs, garb, and chants were used. This was part of a historical pattern of majority group resenting domination by a minority.[12]

Burundi was declared to be a disaster area on May 1. After using $25,000 from the aid contingency fund of the World Disaster Relief Account, Burundi asked the United States for another $75,000, which was immediately granted. Most of the money was used to purchase goods locally or from nearby countries; items included blankets, two ambulances, food, clothes and transportation.[13]

If only because of its "selective" character – the elimination of an ethnically defined elite group – the case of Burundi does not fit into the Holocaust (or the Rwanda) paradigm. It cannot be described as a total genocide, and for that reason some may quibble about the appropriateness of the genocide label. Jacques Sémelin’s definition – "that particular process of civilian destruction that is directed at the total eradication of a group, the criteria by which it is defined being determined by the perpetrator" (Sémelin 2007, 340) – might conceivably offer conceptual ammunition to those who would challenge the view that anything like a genocide has been committed against Tutsi or Hutu. By the same token, as defined by the perpetrator as the group to be eradicated, there can be little doubt that the extermination of the Hutu elites stands as a tragic illustration of the genocidal urge to "purify and destroy"(Ibid.) Once all is said and done, no amount of retrospective ratiocination about the applicability of the genocide label can ever erase from their collective memories the agonies suffered by Hutu and Tutsi in the time of ikiza.

1990–94[edit]

In October 1990, Rwandan exiles, mostly Tutsi, who had served for years in the Ugandan Armed Forces, invaded Rwanda. The next three years consisted of war between the Hutu government and the invading forces known as the Rwanda Patriotic Front. In 1993 emissaries from the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) made a peace agreement. A ceasefire was in effect from then on until April 6. On April 6, 1994, the presidents of both Burundi and Rwanda were returning to the Rwandan capital of Kigali with other regional leaders from peace talks in Tanzania. The Rwandan president was under strong international pressure to implement the 1993 peace agreement. While the plane approached the capital of Kigali, it was shot down. The government quickly erected road barriers in the Rwandan capital, and the presidential guard began killing known Tutsi opponents.[15]

In June 1993 in Burundi, the Hutu Party, "Front pour la Démocratie au Burundi", FRODEBU, and its presidential candidate, Melchior Ndadaye, won the election and formed the first Hutu government in the country. Tensions began to escalate almost immediately. Small bands of Hutu and Tutsi 'gangs' consistently fought both in and around the capital, Bujumbura, often growing into larger groups armed with machetes and attacking each other. Tensions finally reaching the boiling point on 21 October 1993 when President Ndadaye was assassinated, and the country descended into a period of civil strife. Some FRODEBU structures[16] responded violently to Ndadaye's assassination, killing "possibly as many as 25,000 Tutsi".[17] Trying to bring order back, elements of the Burundian army and Tutsi civilians[16] launched attacks on Hutus, including innocent civilians as well as the rebels, resulting in "at least as many" deaths as had been caused by the initial rebellion.[17] In 2002 the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi called the 1993 mass killing of Tutsis a genocide.[18]

Rwandan connection[edit]

Further information: Rwandan Genocide

The genocide of 1972 left a permanent mark in the collective memory of the Hutu population, both in Burundi and in neighbouring countries. Tens of thousands of Hutu civilians fled the country during the violence into their northern neighbor: Rwanda. The increased tensions in Burundi and Rwanda sparked episodes of civil and cross-border violence in Burundi. These precipitated large-scale killings by both sides of the conflict. These episodes further radicalized elements of the Hutu population in Rwanda, who also faced pressure from a militant Tutsi opposition, Rwandan Patriotic Front. In 1994, the Hutus led a genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Thousands of Tutsi refugees sought safety in Burundi.

In the press there was a report on May 1973, that young militant Hutu student leaders in Rwanda, Tanzania and Zaire had inspired and coordinated a three-pronged attack on Burundi.[19]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Staff. pastgenocides, Burundi resources on the website of Prevent Genocide International lists the following resources:
    • Michael Bowen, Passing by;: The United States and genocide in Burundi, 1972, (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1973), 49 pp.
    • René Lemarchand, Selective genocide in Burundi (Report - Minority Rights Group ; no. 20, 1974), 36 pp.
    • Rene Lemarchand, Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide (New York: Woodrow Wilson Center and Cambridge University Press, 1996), 232 pp.
    • Edward L. Nyankanzi, Genocide: Rwanda and Burundi (Schenkman Books, 1998), 198 pp.
    • Christian P. Scherrer, Genocide and crisis in Central Africa : conflict roots, mass violence, and regional war; foreword by Robert Melson. Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2002.
    • Weissman, Stephen R. "Preventing Genocide in Burundi Lessons from International Diplomacy", United States Institute of Peace
  2. ^ International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi (2002). Paragraphs 85,496.
  3. ^ Melady, Thomas (1974). Burundi: The Tragic years. New York: Orbis Books. pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-88344-045-8. 
  4. ^ Lemarchand (1996), p. 89
  5. ^ Lemarchand, (2008). Section "B - Decision-Makers, Organizers and Actors"
  6. ^ Totten, p. 325
  7. ^ Lemarchand, (2008). Section "B - Decision-Makers, Organizers and Actors" cites (Chrétien Jean-Pierre and Dupaquier, Jean-Francois, 2007, Burundi 1972: Au bord des génocides, Paris: L’Harmattan. p. 106)
  8. ^ Lemarchand (1996, p. 97
  9. ^ a b White, Matthew. Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century: C. Burundi (1972-73, primarily Hutu killed by Tutsi) 120,000
  10. ^ a b International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi (2002). Paragraph 85. "The Micombero regime responded with a genocidal repression that is estimated to have caused over a hundred thousand victims and forced several hundred thousand Hutus into exile"
  11. ^ Longman, p. 12
  12. ^ Melady, Thomas (1974). Burundi: The tragic years. New York: Orbis Books. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-88344-045-8. 
  13. ^ Melady, Thomas (1974). Burundi: The Tragic Years. New York: Orbis Books. p. 13. ISBN 0-88344-045-8. 
  14. ^ Lemarchand (2008) cites: Sémelin, Jacques, 2007, Purify and Destroy : The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide, London: Hurst and Company.
  15. ^ Milton, Leitenberg (November 1994). Rwanda, 1994: International incompetence produces genocide 23 (6). p. 6. 
  16. ^ a b International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi (2002). Paragraph 486.
  17. ^ a b Totten, p. 331
  18. ^ International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi (2002). Paragraph 496.
  19. ^ Melady, thomas (1974). Burundi: The Tragic Years. New York: Orbis Books. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-88344-045-8. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]