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History of Rwanda

 Rwanda is originally inhabited by Twa tribe and formed the smallest component of the Rwandan population. Twa
had in recent decades moved closer to Hutu and Tutsi, working as potters, laborers, or servants

 Hutu and Tutsi settled the region over a period of two thousand years. It was in the 18th century that the Tutsi
tribe ruled over Rwanda.

 “The word “Tutsi,” which apparently first described the status of an individual—a person rich in cattle—became
the term that referred to the elite group as a whole and the word “Hutu”—meaning originally a subordinate or
follower of a more powerful person—came to refer to the mass of the ordinary people. The identification of Tutsi
pastoralists as power-holders and of Hutu cultivators as subjects was becoming general when Europeans first
arrived in Rwanda at the turn of the century, but it was not yet completely fixed throughout the country. Rulers of
small states embedded in the larger nation, important lineage heads and some power-holders within the central
state hierarchy exercised authority even though they were people who would today be called “Hutu.” 1

 In 1890, the German forces established a colonial administration. The Belgians replaced them in 1916. At this
time, Tutsis dominated Rwanda in terms of power. It was during the Belgian occupation that they “decreed that
only Tutsis alone should be officials. They systematically removed Hutu from positions of power and they
excluded them from higher education, which was meant mostly as preparation for careers in the administration.
Thus they imposed a Tutsi monopoly of public life not just for the 1920s and 1930s, but for the next generation
as well. The only Hutu to escape relegation to the laboring masses were those few permitted to study in religious
seminaries.2

 Hutu Revolution: In 1950s, Belgian Government began allowing Hutus into the government positions. Tutsis
were threatened while Hutus were still not satisfied. With independence approaching, conservative Tutsi hoped
to oust the Belgians before majority rule was installed. Radical Hutu, on the contrary, hoped to gain control of
the political system before the colonialists withdrew.3

 Hutus were victorious over the Tutsis in the first elections of 1960-1961. Rwanda were granted independence in
1962 and declared a republic.
 Reprisal attacks followed in the next years by the Tutsi refugees who sought exile in the neighboring countries.
However, Hutu continued to increase in power such that in 1967, Tutsis were at risks of attack for the simple
reason of being Tutsi. Following the revolution the Tutsi population in Rwanda declined to 8.4% in 1991 from
17.5% in 1952.
 Despite changes in the political structure and government, divisions between the Tutsis and the Hutu remains.

 By the late 1980s, the Rwandan community in exile had swelled to approximately 600,000 people, most of whom
lived in the countries surrounding Rwanda. Except in Tanzania, where the government had encouraged their
integration into the local population, the refugees existed precariously, with few rights or guarantees. In Uganda,
thousands of refugees had been expelled to Rwanda in 1982, only to be pushed back again across the border
shortly after. In 1986 Rwandan authorities had declared that the country was too overpopulated to permit the
return of the refugees, a statement that helped spark renewed activity in the refugee community. At a meeting in
Washington D.C. in 1988 Rwandans affirmed their right to return home, by force if necessary. In 1989 the
Rwandan government created a commission to deal with the refugee problem. It met jointly with Ugandan
authorities three times, the last in July 1990, and appeared to be making some progress in clearing the way for
the refugees to return.4
 The RPF, however, decided to go home on its own terms, proclaiming its goals to be not just the return of the
refugees. Its leaders, part of a generation that had grown up in Uganda, were well prepared to launch this effort.
Many of them had learned to make war in the forces of the National Resistance Army in Uganda.

1
History of Rwanda (HRW Report Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide in Rwanda March 1999)
2
History of Rwanda (HRW Report Leave None To Tell The Story: Genocide in Rwanda March 1999)
3
Ibid
4
Ibid