Banning Ethnicity, Rewriting History: Rwanda’s Prevention of Violent Ethnic Conflict after Genocide

Angelique Burguez (2010). Banning Ethnicity, Rewriting History: Rwanda’s Prevention of Violent Ethnic Conflict after Genocide PhD Thesis, School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Angelique Burguez
Thesis Title Banning Ethnicity, Rewriting History: Rwanda’s Prevention of Violent Ethnic Conflict after Genocide
School, Centre or Institute School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-06
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Alex Bellamy
Total pages 251
Total black and white pages 251
Subjects 16 Studies in Human Society
Abstract/Summary Following the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the new Rwandan government made the prevention of further violent conflict between Hutu and Tutsi groups one of its primary priorities. To date, it would appear that the government has largely succeeded in this undertaking. Since soon after the genocide, large-scale violent ethnic conflict has been absent from within Rwanda. This thesis is about how the Rwandan government has prevented the return of ethnic conflict in Rwanda, and whether its prevention measures are likely to be sustainable in the long term. The thesis finds that the Rwandan government has employed measures that attempt to target both surface level and root causes of violence. In conflict prevention terms, it has conducted operational conflict prevention and structural conflict prevention respectively. The government’s operational prevention involved removing immediate causes of instability and violence using military and police-like measures. The army arrested individuals suspected of involvement in the genocide, quashed uprisings, staged excursions into neighbouring Zaire to target militia who had participated in the genocide, and forcefully closed refugee and internally displaced persons camps. While these measures did remove these sources of instability, they did so at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. Rwanda’s structural prevention has targeted what the government sees as the primary underlying cause of violence in Rwanda – the very existence of ethnic groups themselves and a national history narrative which focuses on ethnic difference, division and antagonism. The government has instituted a ban on ethnicity – it has outlawed the use of ethnic labels and groupings in all forms of political, economic, social and cultural life. It has paralleled its ban with a project to rewrite Rwanda’s history narrative in a way that highlights the potential for unity and a pan-Rwandan identity. However, these structural prevention measures have not yet succeeded in ridding Rwanda of ethnicity, and in inculcating a new understanding of Rwanda’s history. Rwandans know who is Hutu and who is Tutsi, fear and mistrust remain for many, and Rwandans remember a violent and fractured past. Further, the heavy handed way in which the government has implemented its operational and structural prevention measures has fuelled new grievances, particularly surrounding the deaths of so many Rwandans during the forceful closures of refugee camps and excursions into Zaire. While these old and new underlying sources of potential conflict in Rwanda go unaddressed, the stability that the government has created will remain vulnerable to triggers of violence, many of which could prove beyond the government’s control.
Keyword Rwanda, conflict prevention, post-genocide Rwanda, Rwandan history, human rights in Rwanda

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Created: Thu, 10 Feb 2011, 05:40:03 EST by Ms Angelique Burguez on behalf of Library - Information Access Service