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Wed, 04.06.1994

The Rwanda Murders Begin

On this date in 1994 a mass murder of Africans began in Rwanda. The slaughter occurred in the town of Kibye, Rwanda. The conflict was between two African tribes, the Hutus and Tutsis.

This massacre occurred at the Church of St. Jean-Pierre. Hutu militiamen heaved grenades at the confined crowd of Tutsis inside; also Hutu militiamen dismembered many with machetes. Thousands of Tutsis were buried in mass graves after the bloodshed.  More than 7,000 people were murdered in this act of genocide. For about 100 days, the Hutu militias, known in Rwanda as interhamwe, followed what evidence suggests was a clear and premeditated attempt to exterminate the country's ethnic Tutsi population.

When the bloodshed stopped, an estimated 500,000 people had been killed. The country's industrial infrastructure was gone and much of its population had been dislocated. Commerce was paralyzed and tourism ceased.  In a country where 95% of the population depended upon cash crop or subsistence farming, the agricultural sector was ruined. The gross domestic product of Rwanda for 1994 was cut in half. Humanitarian organizations working in the region recently report that Rwanda's children have been the most vulnerable to the poverty and exploitation, which followed the ethnic conflict.

The massacres left several hundred thousand children either orphaned or separated from their parents. A recent UNICEF report estimates that 700,000 children, 18 percent of Rwanda's 4.2 million children, still live in difficult circumstances.

Today, Rwanda has two public holidays which mourn the genocide. The national mourning period begins with Kwibuka (Remembrance), the national commemoration, on April 7 and it concludes with Liberation Day on July 4. The week following April 7 is an official week of mourning, known as Icyunamo. As a result of the genocide, nations collaborated to establish the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.


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