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The Role of the Media in Rwanda's Violence Essay

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Many situations and acts that are unacceptable need a stressor. Stressors are situations and/or events that lead to a catastrophic outcome, such as the Rwanda genocide. The tension between both the Hutu and Tutsi already existed; it only needed something to reach its breaking point – a stressor. On April 6, 1994, the plane that occupied Juvenal Habyarimana, President of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamina, President of Burundi crashed due to unexplained circumstances. Over the next three months in Rwanda after the crash carrying both Presidents, mass killings began to occur. The kill count escaladed dramatically leaving one million Rwandans dead and two million seeking refugee status among its neighbors: Zaire, Tanzania, and Burundi (Kellow and Steeves 1998). This stressor is a key contribution to the events that followed; the Rwandan Genocide. “The rise in tension and violence, the wide distribution of arms to civilians and militia, and the increasingly vehement anit-Tutsi propaganda broadcast by Radio Libre de Mille Collines, all indicated the growing potency of ethnic hatred” (Uvin 1998, 83-84). Ethnic hatred centered on the hostility and segregation towards a particular group, in this case the Tutsi. The use of fear, rumor, and panic enabled the unsteady decline of trust between the Hutu and the Tutsi, which eventually escaladed to pure ethnic hatred (Kellow and Steeves, 1998; Straus, 2007; Uvin, 1998). The role of the media in the Rwandan genocide contributed to further violence and hatred among the Hutu and the Tutsi residents. One of the ways in which information could be obtained throughout Rwanda that was easily accessible was through public broadcasting particularly the radio. Through radio broadcasting it enables the public...


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... Rwanda before RTLM took over its frequency during the early stages of the genocide (Thompson 2007, 390). Once again media is not the cause for the genocide but rather a tool that is used in advancing its devastation on a nation at a rapid rate.



Works Cited

Kellow, Christine L, and H. Leslie Steeves. "The Role of Radio in the Rwandan Genocide." Journal
of Communication, 1998: 107-128.

Li, Darryl. "Echoes of Violence: Consideration on Radio and Genocide in Rwanda." Journal of
Genocide Research, 2004: 9-27.

Straus, Scott. "What is the Relationship between Hate Radio and Violence? Rethinking
Rwanda's "Radio Machete"." Politics & Society , 2007: 609-637.

Thompson, Allan. The Media and the Rwanda Genocide. London: Pluto Press, 2007.

Uvin, Peter. Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda. Connecticut: Kumarian
Press, Inc, 1998.



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