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Genocide: Rwanda

Genocide in Rwanda

An Annotated Bibliography Compiled by James Lehman and Nicole Trecker

Historical Overview

During the colonial period, Belgium divided the Rwandan people into two distinct ethnic groups, Hutus and Tutsis. The Hutus comprised around 85% of the population while the Tutsis made up the other 15%. The Belgians saw the two groups as distinct entities, and even produced identity cards classifying them according to their identity. Belgians considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus, which led to Tutsis acquiring better jobs and more educational opportunities. However, in 1962, Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda its independence and the Hutu majority ceased control. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed as the scapegoats for every crisis.

Some Tutsis and moderate Hutus responded by fleeing the country and joining the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which began opposing and fighting the Hutu led government in Rwanda. Violence between the Hutu government and the RPF resided throughout the early 1990's. The final nail in the coffin came on April 6, 1994 by the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport. The Hutu government accused the RPF of the attack and immediately a campaign of violence spread from the capital throughout the country against the Tutsis. What followed was 3 months of slaughter and genocide and the death of 800,000 Tutsis.

In July the RPF captured Kigali and declared a ceasefire. UN troops and aid workers began arriving to help maintain order and restore basic services. Although the massacres are over, the legacy of genocide continues and the search for justice has been a long and arduous one. Many of those guilty of genocide have been captured in Rwanda; however, some of the ringleaders have managed to evade capture, and many who lost their loved ones are still waiting for justice.



Frontline: PBS Online
The Triumph of Evil
  • Contains interviews with UN & US officials, along with general information and other readings related to the Rwandan Genocide. The page includes an area with resources for teachers.
Frontline: PBS Online
Valentina's Nightmare
  • The story of a Rwandan girl who lived through the 1994 genocide.
Frontline: PBS Online
Ghosts of Rwanda
  • "Ghosts of Rwanda," a special two-hour documentary to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide examines the social, political, and diplomatic failures that converged to enable the genocide to occur. The website includes an area with resources for the teacher.
New York Times on the Web
Children of Rwanda's Genocide
Photographs by Vanessa Vick
  • This collection of images, taken by photographer Vanessa Vick, illustrates the struggles of Rwanda's children after the genocide-- those living or working on the streets; those living in institutions and those who live in households with no adults.
Wikipedia - Rwandan Genocide
  • Contains general information, history, and pictures on the Rwandan Genocide.
Human Rights Watch - Genocide in Rwanda
  • Contains general information, history, timelines and many links to more information on the Rwandan Genocide.
Rwanda Government
  • Contains information on the current status of Rwanda.
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
United Nations
  • This tribunal, set up by the UN Security Council, is charged with aiding in the process of national reconciliation in Rwanda, maintaining peace in the region, and prosecuting persons responsible for committing genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.

Lesson Plans

American University Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
The Genocide Teaching Project
Genocide in Rwanda
  • This 90-120 minute lesson plan for grades 10-12 has students participate in a jigsaw activity to explain key events in Rwanda’s history, the relationship between the Tutsis and the Hutus, the role of the international community in the Rwandan genocide, the issues that Rwanda faces in the post-genocide era, and identify actions that can be taken to stop genocide.
Holocaust Museum Houston
Education Center and Memorial
Rwanda Genocide Lesson Plan
  • A lesson plan for high school students that seeks to provide an overview of the Rwandan genocide, create an understanding of the subject of genocide, and understand the genocide through the eyes of Romeo Dallaire. The lesson utilizes a host of print and media sources.

Lesson Plan Objectives:

  • Provide an overview of the Rwandan genocide
  • Create an understanding of the subject of genocide
  • Understand the genocide through the eyes of Romeo Dallaire


Gourevitch, Peter. (1998). We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda. New York: St Martin's Press.


Dallaire, R. & Power, S. (2003). Shake hands with the devil: The failure of humanity in Rwanda. New York: Carroll and Graff Publishers.

  • A book that describes the Rwandan genocide from the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire.


Barnett, M. (2003). Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. New York: Cornell University Press.

  • This text offers a moral analysis of the genocide and insists that member states of the UN knew of the genocide, had the power to act, yet failed to do so until it was too late.


Mamdani, M. (2002). When victims become killers: Colonialism, nativism, and the genocide in Rwanda. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

  • This book takes a very in depth look at the historical roots of the Rwandan genocide.


Hatzfeld, J. & Sontag, S. (2005). Machete season: The killers in Rwanda speak. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

  • This book features the testimony of 10 friends of the same village who spent day after day together, fulfilling orders to kill any Tutsi within the Rwandan border.


Rusesabagina, P. (2006). An ordinary man: An autobiography. New York: Penguin Group.

  • This is the autobiography of Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of the famous Hotel Mille Collines. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the Mille Collines served as a safe refuge for nearly 1200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The movie Hotel Rwanda is based on Rusesabagina and the Mille Collines.


George, T. (2004). Hotel Rwanda.

(2005). Rwanda Alive: Those who Listen.

  • 30 minute documentary that describes the life of a young survivor of the genocide and how she miraculously escaped the killing mobs, and how she envisions the future for herself and her country.