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In 1919, following the end of WWI

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In 1919, following the end of WWI

Post by kosovohp on Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:32 am

In 1919, following the end of WWI, the League of Nations declared Rwanda a mandate territory and asked Belgium to govern.[21] Belgium's involvement was far more direct than that of Germany, with heavy involvement in education, health, public works, and agricultural supervision. As the population of the country grew, Belgium introduced new crops and improved agriculture techniques to try to reduce the incidence of famine,[22] although this was unsuccessful in preventing the Ruzagayura famine of 1943-1944, which claimed the lives of up to one-third of the population.[23] Belgium also maintained the existing class system, promoting Tutsi supremacy.[24] The Belgian authorities considered the Hutus and Tutsis different races and, in 1935, introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, or Twa. This classification was often based arbitrarily on physical characteristics or wealth.[25][26]
Juvénal Habyarimana, Rwanda's president from 1973 to 1994

Belgium continued to rule Rwanda as a UN Trust Territory after World War II, with a mandate to oversee independence.[27] Two rival groups emerged, the Tutsi elite who favoured early independence under the existing system, and the Hutu emancipation movement led by Grégoire Kayibanda which sought an end to "Tutsi feudalism".[28] The Belgians dropped their long-standing support for the hierarchy, favouring the Hutu party.[29] Tension between the two groups escalated through the 1950s, culminating in the 1959 wind of destruction. Between 1959 and 1961, Hutu activists killed hundreds of Tutsis and caused more than 100,000 to become refugees in neighbouring countries.[30][31] Pro-Hutu Belgian colonel Guy Logiest, High Representative in 1962, organised the first democratic elections and organized a referendum in which the country voted to abolish the monarchy. Rwanda was separated from Burundi and gained independence under Kayibanda in 1962.[32] Cycles of violence took place during the following years, with rebel exiled Tutsis attacking from neighbouring countries and Hutus retaliating with large-scale slaughter and repression of Tutsi within Rwanda.[33] In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana staged a military coup and became president. During this several top-ranking officials were killed, including Kayibanda and his wife. Habyarimana claimed the government had become too corrupt, ineffective, and violent.[34] In the years following the coup, Rwanda enjoyed relative economic prosperity and violence against Tutsis reduced, although pro-Hutu discrimination continued.[35]

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