Past Group Violence
Large-scale violence against civilians because of ethnic identity began in Rwanda towards the end of Belgian colonial rule. From its independence in 1962 until 1994, Rwanda was governed by political parties associated with the Hutu majority that discriminated and at times used violence against the minority Tutsi.
In the early 1990s, Hutu extremists within Rwanda's political elite blamed the entire Tutsi minority population for the country's increasing social, economic, and political pressures. They also accused all Tutsi civilians of supporting a Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), operating from neighboring Uganda.
Beginning in 1991, the RPF launched a series of incursions into Rwanda. Government forces fought back but eventually signed a peace agreement, the Arusha Accords, in August 1993.
After only seven months of peace, the conflict restarted on April 6, 1994, when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Under the cover of war, Hutu extremists launched their plans to destroy the entire Tutsi civilian population.
Hutu extremists distributed propaganda suggesting that all Tutsi civilians were a part of the military threat posed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front. They secretly drew up lists of Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders to assassinate, armed and trained youth militias, and began small-scale massacres.