Remembering the Rwandan Genocide

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Molly McAnany - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • David J. Scheffer
    Senior Fellow
  • Claude Gatebuke
    Executive Director of the African Great Lakes Action Network

Show Notes

From April to July 1994, extremists from Rwanda’s Hutu majority killed almost eight hundred thousand members of its Tutsi minority and tens of thousands of moderate Hutus. The genocide was largely perpetrated by civilians whose flames of hatred were stoked by the radio and other media. Yet as armed mobs roamed the streets in search of victims, foreign governments including Washington equivocated at home about whether the killings constituted genocide, and UN peacekeepers stood by in Rwanda, restrained by their charter from stopping the mounting violence. 


The massacres left an indelible mark on Rwanda, which is still led by President Paul Kagame, the military commander who took power soon after his forces ended the genocide. And while Rwanda has made great strides toward development in the past thirty years, critics say they have come at the cost of Kagame’s increasingly repressive rule.



From CFR


Mariel Ferragamo, “Thirty Years After the Rwandan Genocide: Where the Country Stands Today


Phil Clark, “Rwanda’s Recovery: When Remembrance Is Official Policy,” Foreign Affairs


From Our Guests


Helen Epstein and Claude Gatebuke, “The Roots of Rwanda’s Genocide,” New York Review of Books


Claude Gatebuke et al., Survivors Uncensored: 100 Stories of Inspiration and Humanity From the Rwandan Genocide


David Scheffer, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals


David Scheffer, “Lessons from the Rwandan Genocide,” [PDF] Georgetown University


Read More


Anjali Dayal, “Beyond ‘Do Something’: Revisiting the International Community’s Role in the Rwandan Genocide,” War on the Rocks


Jean Hatzeld, Blood Papa: Rwanda’s New Generation


Jina Moore, “What the West Gets Wrong About the Rwandan Genocide,” The Nation


Declan Walsh, “From the Horror to the Envy of Africa: Rwanda’s Leader Holds Tight Grip,” New York Times


Watch and Listen


Why Is Rwanda’s Leader Sowing Chaos in the Congo,” Foreign Affairs Interview


Hotel Rwanda


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