(Compiled from Fergal Keane's Season of Blood and Alain
Destexhe's Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century)
1918 Under the Treaty of Versailles the former German colony of
Rwanda-Urundi is made a League of Nations protectorate
to be governed by Belgium. The two territories (later to
become Rwanda and Burundi) are administered separately
under two different Tutsi monarchs.
Both Germany and Belgium turned the traditional Hutu-Tutsi
relationship into a class system. The minority Tutsi (14%) are favored
over the Hutus (85%) and given privileges and western-style education.
The Belgians used the Tutsi minority to enforce their rule.
1926 Belgians introduce a system of ethnic identity cards
differentiating Hutus from Tutsis.
1957 PARMEHUTU (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutus) is
formed while Rwanda is still under Belgian rule.
1959 Hutus rebel against the Belgian colonial power and the Tutsi
elite; 150,000 Tutsis flee to Burundi.
1960 Hutus win municipal elections organized by Belgian colonial
1961-62 Belgians withdraw. Rwanda and Burundi become two separate
and independent countries.
A Hutu revolution in Rwanda installs a new president, Gregoire
Kayibanda; fighting continues and thousands of Tutsis are forced to flee.
In Burundi, Tutsis retain power.
1963 Further massacre of Tutsis, this time in response to
military attack by exiled Tutsis in Burundi. Again more
refugees leave the country. It is estimated that by the
mid-1960s half of the Tutsi population is living outside
1967 Renewed massacres of Tutsis.
1973 Purge of Tutsis from universities. Fresh outbreak of
killings, again directed at Tutsi community.
The army chief of staff, General Juvenal Habyarimana,
seizes power, pledging to restore order. He sets up a one-party state. A policy of ethnic quotas is entrenched in all
public service employment. Tutsis are restricted to nine
percent of available jobs.
1975 Habyarimana's political party, the National Revolutionary
Movement for Development (Mouvement Revolutionnaire National pour le
Developpement, or MRND) is formed. Hutus from the president's home area of
northern Rwanda are given overwhelming preference in public service and
military jobs. This pattern of exclusion of the Tutsis continues throughout
the '70s and '80s.
1986 In Uganda, Rwandan exiles are among the victorious troops
of Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army who
take power, overthrowing the dictator Milton Obote.
The exiles then form the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF),
a Tutsi-dominated organization.
1989 Coffee prices collapse, causing severe economic
hardship in Rwanda.
July 1990 Under pressure from Western aid donors, Habyarimana
concedes the principle of multi-party democracy.
Oct. 1990 RPF guerillas invade Rwanda from
Uganda. After fierce fighting in which French and Zairean
troops are called in to assist the government, a cease-fire
is signed on March 29, 1991.
1990/91 The Rwandan army begins to train and arm civilian militias
known as interahamwe ("Those who stand together") For the
next three years Habyarimana stalls on the establishment of
a genuine multi-party system with power-sharing. Throughout
this period thousands of Tutsis are killed in separate
massacres around the country. Opposition politicians and
newspapers are persecuted.
November 1992 Prominent Hutu activist Dr. Leon Mugusera appeals to
Hutus to send the Tutsis "back to Ethiopia" via the
February 1993 RPF launches a fresh offensive and the guerillas reach
outskirts of Kigali. French forces are again called in to
help the government side. Fighting continues for several months.
August 1993 Following months of negotiations,
Habyarimana and the RPF sign a peace accord that allows for the return
of refugees and a coalition Hutu-RPF government. 2,500 U.N. troops are
deployed in Kigali to oversee the implementation of the accord.
Sept.1993-Mar.1994 President Habyarimana stalls on setting up of
government. Training of militias intensifies. Extremist
radio station, Radio Mille Collines, begins broadcasting exhortations
to attack the Tutsis. Human rights groups warn the international community
of impending calamity.
March 1994 Many Rwandan human rights activists evacuate their
families from Kigali believing massacres are imminent.
April 6, 1994 President Habyarimana and the president of Burundi,
Cyprien Ntaryamira, are killed when Habyarimana's plane
is shot down near Kigali Airport. Extremists, suspecting that the president
is finally about to implement the Arusha Peace Accords, are believed to be
behind the attack. That night the killing begins.
April 7, 1994 The Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and the interahamwe set up
roadblocks and go from house to house killing Tutsis and moderate Hutu
politicians. Thousands die on the first day. U.N. forces stand by while the
slaughter goes on. They are
forbidden to intervene, as this would breach their "monitoring" mandate.
April 8, 1994 The RPF launches a major offensive to end the genocide
rescue 600 of its troops surrounded in Kigali. The troops
had been based in the city as part of the Arusha Accords.
April 21, 1994 The U.N. cuts its forces from 2,500 to 250
following the murder of ten Belgian soldiers assigned to
guard the moderate Hutu prime minister, Agathe Uwiliyingimana. The
prime minister is killed and the
Belgians are disarmed, tortured, and shot and hacked to death. They had
been told not to resist violently by the U.N.
force commander, as this would have breached their mandate.
April 30, 1994 The U.N. Security Council spends eight hours discussing
the Rwandan crisis. The resolution condemning the killing
omits the word "genocide." Had the term been used, the U.N.
would have been legally obliged to act to "prevent and
punish" the perpetrators. Meanwhile, tens of thousands
of refugees flee into Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire. In one day 250,000
Rwandans, mainly Hutus fleeing the advance of the RPF, cross the border
May 17, 1994 As the slaughter of the Tutsis continues the U.N.
agrees to send 6,800 troops and policemen to Rwanda with
powers to defend civilians. A Security Council
resolution says "acts of genocide may have been committed."
Deployment of the mainly African
U.N. forces is delayed because of arguments over who will pay the bill
and provide the equipment. The United States argues with the U.N. over the
cost of providing heavy armoured vehicles for the peacekeeping forces.
June 22, 1994 With still no sign of U.N. deployment, the Security Council
authorizes the deployment of French forces in south-west
Rwanda. They create a "safe area" in territory controlled
by the government. Killings of Tutsis continue in the
safe area, although some are protected by the French.
The United States government eventually uses the word "genocide."
July 1994 The RPF captures Kigali. The Hutu government
flees to Zaire, followed by a tide of refugees. The French end their
mission and are replaced by Ethiopian U.N. troops. The RPF sets up an
interim government of national unity in Kigali. A cholera epidemic sweeps
the refugee camps in Zaire, killing thousands. Different U.N. agencies clash
over reports that RPF troops have carried out a series of reprisal killings
in Rwanda. Several hundred civilians are said to have been executed.
Meanwhile the killing of Tutsis continues in refugee camps.
August 1994 New Rwandan government agrees to trials before an
international tribunal established by the U.N. Security Council.
November 1994 U.N. Security Council establishes an international
that will oversee prosecution of suspects involved
Jan. 5-10 1995 U.N. begins process towards finalizing plans with Zaire
and Tanzania that will lead to the return of one and a
half million Hutus to Rwanda over the next five months.
U.N. Security Council refuses to dispatch an international
force to police refugee camps.
Feb. 19, 1995 Western governments, including the U.S. ($60 million),
pledge $600 million in aid to Rwanda.
Feb. 27, 1995 U.N. Security Council urges all states to arrest people
suspected of involvement in the Rwandan genocide.
Mid-May 1995 Tensions increase between the United Nations and the
Rwandan government; the government growing resentful of
the lack of international financial aid
June 10, 1995 U.N. Security Council unanimously agrees to cut by more
half the number of U.N. troops in Rwanda after a direct
request from the Rwandan government to withdraw U.N. forces.
July 1995 More than 720,000 Hutu refugees around Goma refuse to
return to Rwanda.
August 1995 U.N. Security Council lifts arms embargo until September 1,
Sept. 20, 1995 At a Mass in Nairobi, Pope John Paul II urges an end
to the bloodshed in Rwanda and Burundi.
Dec. 12, 1995 United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda announces first
indictments against eight suspects; charges them with
genocide and crimes against humanity.
Dec. 13, 1995 U.N. Security Council extends its peacekeeping mission
for three more months and agrees to reduce the number of
Nov. 1996 Mass repatriation from Zaire begins; the Rwandan government
orders a moratorium on arrests of suspected genocide perpetrators.
December 1996 Trials begin for Hutus involved in 1994 genocide.
Mid-Dec. 1996 Tanzania closes refugee camps and repatriates Rwandans,
bringing the total to over one million.
January 10, 1997 First case in the Rwandan genocide trials comes
before the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The case
is against Jean Paul Akayesu, a local government official accused of
ordering mass killings in his area.
January 17, 1997 In a Rwanda court, Francois Bizimutima becomes the
third Hutu convicted and sentenced to death for his role in genocide.
January 13-17, 1997 A woman who testified against Jean Paul Akayesu is
murdered along with her husband and seven children by Hutu extremists.
January 22, 1997 Over 300 are killed in an attempt by the Rwandan army
to capture Hutu insurgents responsible for killings in Northwestern Rwanda,
including the murder of the three Spanish aid workers. U.N. officials state
many victims are recently returned refugees who witnessed the 1994 genocide
and are potential trial witnesses.
February 2, 1997 In Gikongoro, Rwanda, Venuste Niyonzima is the first
man tried locally for crimes against humanity in his own village. A U.N.
Human Rights official in Rwanda expresses "serious concern" over the lack of
lawyers and adequate defense for those accused of participation in the 1994
genocide. Canadian priest, Guy Pinard, a witness to the 1994 genocide, is
murdered by Hutu terrorists while saying mass.
February 4, 1997 Five human rights observers are killed in an ambush in
Cyangugu, Rwanda. The murders are viewed as an effort by Hutu terrorists to
get foreign observers out of the country. All human rights observers in
Cyangugu, Kibuye, and Gisenyi are withdrawn by the U.N. to Kigali.
February 12, 1997 United Nations watchdog agency criticizes the
management of the Rwandan genocide trials.
February 14, 1997 United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan asks the
five permanent security council members to look into reports that the
Zairean army is providing arms to Rwandan Hutus in an Eastern Zaire refugee
February 14, 1997 Vincent Nkezazaganwa, a Rwandan Supreme Court Justice,
is gunned down by uniformed gunmen at his house. Frodouald Karamina,
leader of a Hutu extremist political movement, is sentenced to death for his
involvement in the genocide. Karamina is believed to be one of the leaders
and organizers of the genocide, having coined the slogan "Hutu Power" and
made many racist radio broadcasts urging mass murder. Karamina expressed no
remorse for the part he had played in the genocide. Karamina was born a
Tutsi and assimilated himself as a Hutu only later in life.
February 19-20, 1997 Four prominent Rwandans accused of genocide appear
in court for the first time.
February 23, 1997 Israel Nemeyimana is the first defendant in the
genocide trials to be found not guilty. Authorities state there was a lack
of evidence and witnesses.
February 26, 1997 Citing mismanagement and inefficiency, U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan fires the chief administrator Andronico Adede, and deputy
prosecutor Honore Rakoromoanana in the Rwanda criminal trials. Agwu Okali
of Nigeria is appointed new chief minister. By this date, the court has
indicted 21 suspects.
February 28, 1997 Virginia Mukankusi is sentenced to death for her
participation in the genocide.
December 1999 A leader
of a Hutu militia that helped lead the genocide, businessman Georges Rutaganda, is found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and sentenced to life in prison. He is the sixth person found guilty since the tribunal began hearings in Arusha, Tanzania.