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The Geopolitical Roots of the Rwandan Genocide

Apr 9, 2019 | 05:00 GMT
People hold candles during a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide on April 7, 2019, at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.

People hold candles during a ceremony commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide on April 7, 2019, at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali. A geopolitical clash between rival movements in Africa helped set the ground for the vicious killing of 1994.

(ANDREW RENNEISEN/Getty Images)

It's been a quarter century since upward of 1 million people died in the Rwandan Genocide. But as Rwanda marks the 25th anniversary of the killings -- and the rest of the world is reminded of its inaction in preventing the massacres -- the occasion provides a solemn opportunity to explore the geopolitical context that precipitated the genocide. Geopolitics certainly don't absolve the perpetrators of their guilt, but they do provide a deeper understanding of how larger forces spurred hard-liners in Rwanda's government to initiate an unparalleled slaughter of their compatriots. Looking back in hindsight, the genocide represented a situation in which -- as happens frequently, if rarely to such extreme proportions -- the civilian population fell victim in a battle driven by larger geopolitical trends. Ultimately, it is impossible to detach the genocide from the wider regional context of African revolutionary movements and the way in which their ambitions came...

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