Background Briefing

The Rwandan Genocide: How It Was Prepared

A Human Rights Watch Briefing Paper

April 2006 Number 1

Related Material

Download PDF file of this briefing paper
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How It Was Prepared in French

Leave None to Tell the Story

More on Human Rights Watch's work on Rwanda


The Immediate Crises: Internal Opposition and War

Links between War and Internal Opposition: Resort to the Ethnic Appeal

Genocide: Ideology and Organization

April 7, 1994: Massive Killing Begins

On the twelfth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we must honor the memory of the victims and think again of the pain and horror caused by the 1994 killing campaign. We must recall the suffering that followed the refusal of others in the world to heed the cries of those targeted for extermination.

Honoring the victims requires us also to continue investigating, documenting, and analyzing how the genocide was prepared and executed, so as to be better prepared to avert similar horrors in the future.  As part of our continuing effort to bring to light the fullest information possible about the genocide, we publish this briefing paper, drawing upon some materials not previously used by researchers to show the planning and execution of the genocide.1

[1] Human Rights Watch (then Africa Watch) began reporting on massacres of Tutsi and other human rights abuses in Rwanda in 1991. As part of an international commission of inquiry, Human Rights Watch documented abuses and violations of humanitarian international law from October 1990 through January 1993.  In partnership with the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Human Rights Watch researchers began gathering evidence about the genocide in 1994. After five years of research, we published Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch staff regularly assist judicial authorities in efforts to bring to justice those guilty of genocide and other violations of international humanitarian law in Rwanda. This briefing paper continues efforts to bring to light the fullest information possible about the genocide.