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keith harmon snow

Inaugural Edition
April / May 2019
(pp: 92-106)

                                               Rwanda, Central Africa. We are told that in a mere 100 days, over a million Rwandans were slaughtered in what was one of the worst cases of genocide in the history of mankind. It was the Rwandan Patriotic Front Forces of U.S.-trained Paul Kagame that stopped the genocide.  Or was it?  Keith Harmon Snow explores what really happened in Rwanda.

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What happened in Rwanda in 1994? The standard line is that a calculated genocide occurred because of deep-seated tribal animosity between the majority Hutu tribe in power and the minority Tutsis. According to this story, at least 500,000 and perhaps 1.2 million Tutsis--and some 'moderate' Hutus--were ruthlessly eliminated in a few months, and most of them were killed with machetes. The killers in this story were Hutu hard-liners from the Forces Armees Rwandais, the Hutu army, backed by the more ominous and inhuman civilian militias--the Interahamwe--"those who kill together."

"In three short, cruel months, between April and July 1994," wrote genocide expert Samantha Power on the 10th anniversary of the genocide, "Rwanda experienced a genocide more efficient than that carried out by the Nazis in World War II. The killers were a varied bunch: drunk extremists chanting 'Hutu power, Hutu power'; uniformed soldiers and militia men intent on wiping out the Tutsi Inyenzi, or 'cockroaches'; ordinary villagers who had never themselves contemplated killing before but who decided to join the frenzy."

The award-winning film Hotel Rwanda offered a Hollywood version of the cataclysm. Is the film accurate? It is billed as a true story. Did genocide occur in Rwanda as it is widely portrayed and universally imagined before, during or after the appearance of the film? With thousands of Hutus fleeing Rwanda in 2005, in fear of the Tutsi government and its now operational village genocide courts, is another reading of events needed?


Written by: keith harmon snow

Photography Credits: keith harmon snow & others

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