Monday, May 17, 2010

Rwanda / Rwandan Genocide

For Rwandan Students, Ethnic Tensions Lurk
By Josh Kron
The New York Times, May 16, 2010
"When Eva Mutoni's boyfriend of three years broke up with her, she realized she should have seen it coming. Ms. Mutoni, 25, whose mother is ethnic Tutsi and whose father is Hutu, and her boyfriend, a full-blooded Tutsi, were college sweethearts at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. 'A year into the relationship, we had a big talk about me being mixed,' she said. They weathered that discussion, aided by the fact that Ms. Mutoni identifies herself as Tutsi. But as they got older, she recalls, his family and some of his friends refused to accept his dating someone of mixed parentage. 'He knew he couldn't stay with me forever in Rwanda,' she said. 'To some, I'm just a Hutu girl.' Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, ethnicity remains an inescapable part of growing up for the young people who will determine the nation's future. And if the universities, where the government has focused its efforts on building a post-ethnic society, represent the great hope of coexistence, they have so far succeeded only in burying ethnic tensions just beneath the surface.
As presidential elections approach and the nation has grown more repressive, the campuses have become tense. Students say that they are being watched, and that the laws aimed at suppressing ethnic differences have made them afraid to speak openly. ... The 1994 genocide, when Hutu death squads massacred hundreds of thousands of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, is never far away. At the university, where Hutus and Tutsis live and study side by side, many students are either relatives of the killers or relatives of the victims. But the Tutsi-dominated government teaches that there are no Hutus or Tutsis, only united, patriotic Rwandans, part of a reconciliation policy enforced by laws criminalizing certain kinds of speech to the contrary. So the students live in a surreal state of imposed silence, never talking about the one thing always on their minds: each other. [...]"

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