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Understanding Hutu's resistance to the genocide in Rwanda can help further reconciliation

News: Jun 28, 2018

Understanding hutu resistance to genocide can help further reconciliation in Rwanda today. And the church can play an important role as middle ground. These are findings in a new thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the University of Rwanda.

International research on conflict resolution often focuses on root causes to, and other aspects of, violence. Less attention has been paid to the role resistance to violence plays in the unfolding of conflict events. Bild på Ernest MutwarasiboBut that is what Ernest Mutwarasibo has wanted to understand better. For his thesis he has interviewed 34 hutus that refused to take part in the genocide in 1994.
“Their choices not to take part in the violence were intrinsically intervowen with their identity – beyond mere Hutu/killers and Tutsi/victims which the discourse and practices of genocide sought to impose in 1994”, Ernest Mutwarasibo says.

More specifically, he found three main categories of motives for resistance; religious belief, social roles (i.e. motherhood or rank) and personal background (e.g. holding a degree in higher education).
“One woman, for example, stated that even if it meant that she risked her own life, she, as a mother, couldn’t possibly take part in the violence”, Ernest Mutwarasibo says.

He beliefs his findings can contribute to the reconciliation process that is still going on.
“Displaying examples of people resisting the dominant discourse, sanctioned by the state, might help re-humanize people that, as a group, have been characterized as murderers”, he says.

In this process Ernest Mutwarasibo sees that the church can play a crucial role as a middle ground, since people from both sides of the genocide belong to the same God. But he beliefs that church officials needs to step up and more firmly take a lead in the reconciliation process.

Internationally, his findings might be useful for other research within peace and development, since that field lacks concrete examples that are thoroughly studied. And they can also contribute to trainings in conflict management and resolution.

Contact and more information:
Ernest Mutwarasibo, e-mail: ermut2010@yahoo.com, telephone: +46 764549170
Thesis title: Ordinary Choices in Extraordinary Times. Resistance to the Genocide in Rwanda.
More about the thesis: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/56172
The thesis is an outcome of a collaboration between the University of Rwanda and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

+46 31 7864841

Originally published on: samfak.gu.se

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