The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Genocide in Rwanda:
Whose Responsibility?

Mar 29, 2004

A French judge recently denounced the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, for the airplane crash that killed the previous president of Rwanda, ten years ago on April 6, 1994, throwing the country into a real bloodbath. The judge’s ruling also puts responsibility for the bloodbath on Kagame, even though the victims were mostly from his ethnic group, the Tutsis. The day after the plane crash, the Rwandan army of the dead president launched a massacre, starting in the capital Kigali and then spreading throughout the country. For three months, the army slaughtered Tutsis, particularly any place they were a minority, and moderate Hutus who protested. This orgy killed 800,000 people, more than ten% of the population!

The Rwandan army, like the slain president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was from the Hutu majority. Habyarimana, like Kagame, was a military dictator who took power in 1973. He and his family enjoyed 20 years of pillaging Rwanda, favoring a Hutu region from which they came. These gangsters controlled every aspect of the country, engaging in crime, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Habyarimana kept control with his own brand of murder, mostly against the Tutsis, but also against Hutus of other regions. So the French judge certainly should have blamed the Rwandan army, as well as Kagame and the Rwanda Patriotic Front. But that accusation would put a different face on the whole story of genocide and disaster in this poor central African nation.

And the judge would also have had to condemn those who stood behind Habyarimana various French governments over two decades. Former French president Mitterrand was Habyarimana’s good friend. Like all dictators, Habyarimana stayed in power thanks to the army. And that army was equipped and trained and expanded by French military staff. The French imperialists understood very well what their money was paying for. Kagame used the massacre of his ethnic group to justify an invasion by the Rwanda Patriotic Front, a Tutsi group in neighboring Uganda, formed among the exiled descendants of those Tutsis who had survived a previous Rwandan massacre in 1959. They in turn carried out massacres in Hutu areas.

In the hideous history of Rwanda, the French army had supported Habyarimana against the Tutsis of the Patriotic Front between 1990 and 1993. The French military then stood aside as the 1993 massacres began. No matter what any review commission says about the crimes of Hutu or Tutsi soldiers, the French government was responsible for this human disaster.

Hutu and Tutsi conflicts have had an impact on the struggles among other central African countries, but it is a mistake to consider these "ethnic conflicts," as the press puts it. The very boundaries of Africa were made up by the imperialist powers to protect whichever resources they wanted to get their hands on. Each dictator comes to power and stays in power on the basis of rewarding his particular tribal or ethnic group. But all this death and plunder takes place under the eyes of, and ordinarily with the encouragement of, the French, the British, or the U.S., any of the countries which once held power over parts of Africa as their colonies. Not only do these imperialist governments turn a blind eye to what goes on, so long as the raw materials keep coming to their corporations. They also provide support for the various dictators who exercise bloody control over the different peoples of Africa.

They hold the real responsibility for these disastrous civil wars wracking Africa today.