Focus on: Rwanda and Burundi

7 April 2014 | ResolutionPossible

A map showing Rwanda's position in Africa


A map showing Burundi's position in Africa


On 6 April 1994, an airplane carrying the Hutu Presidents Habyarimana of Rwanda and Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali. Both presidents were killed and responsibility for the attack has never been legitimately determined. The following day, the Rwandan national army and the Interahamwe, a Hutu paramilitary organisation backed by the government, began implementing a carefully planned operation, orchestrated largely through radio announcements, to exterminate all Tutsis and political moderates. On 8 April, the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launched an offensive to reinforce its combatants near Kigali.

What happened in Rwanda during April 1994 was a continuation of the civil war that began in 1990 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded northern Rwanda from Uganda. Read more about this on our Rwanda page.

Over the course of April we will look at how the histories of both Rwanda and Burundi created the conditions for the mass slaughter that shook the world’s conscience, and its legacy across the region and the world. The series will explore the influence of European theories of ethnicity and the role the media played in laying the foundations for the violence sparked by a plane crash 20 years ago today. Throughout, we hope to understand our own connections to these events and countries.

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