Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
On the Path to Genocide

On the Path to Genocide: Armenia and Rwanda Reexamined

Deborah Mayersen
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 260
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    On the Path to Genocide
    Book Description:

    Why did the Armenian genocide erupt in Turkey in 1915, only seven years after the Armenian minority achieved civil equality for the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire? How can we explain the Rwandan genocide occurring in 1994, after decades of relative peace and even cooperation between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority? Addressing the question of how the risk of genocide develops over time,On the Path to Genocidecontributes to a better understand why genocide occurs when it does. It provides a comprehensive and comparative historical analysis of the factors that led to the 1915 Armenian genocide and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, using fresh sources and perspectives that yield new insights into the history of the Armenian and Rwandan peoples. Finally, it also presents new research into constraints that inhibit genocide, and how they can be utilized to attempt the prevention of genocide in the future.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-285-0
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction ‘The Symptoms of an Explosive Situation’: The Temporal Model of Genocide
    (pp. 1-20)

    The United Nations (UN) received its first official warning of the risk of genocide in Rwanda in 1962—technically speaking, some thirty-two years of advance notice. UN Commissioner Majid Rahnema, after returning from an observer mission, declared that the nation exhibited ‘the symptoms of an explosive situation’.¹ The ‘social and political tension’ there, he believed, ‘may result either in the gradual extermination of the majority of the Tutsi population, or it may at any moment degenerate into violence and, possibly, civil war’.² Certainly, there was some cause for concern during the decolonization process of the early 1960s. Yet within a...

  6. Part I. The Armenian Genocide

    • Chapter 1 ‘Trying Desperately to Escape History’: The Armenian Question
      (pp. 23-39)

      The Armenians are an ancient people, based in the lands now referred to as Eastern Anatolia and Transcaucasia. In the fourth century of the Common Era they adopted Christianity as their state religion, one of the first peoples to do so. At various times throughout their history they have ruled their own kingdoms, while at other times they have been subjugated by foreigners, often suffering persecution because of their faith. Ultimately, most of their lands came under the control of the rising Ottoman Empire, although the eastern portion came under Persian and then Russian rule. Ottoman Armenians were concentrated primarily...

    • Chapter 2 ‘A Settled Plan to Slowly Exterminate’: The Hamidian Massacres
      (pp. 40-60)

      The above description, penned by a missionary who witnessed the Hamidian massacres, is horrific. It was spring 1894 in the Armenian region of Sassoun, and the events formed part of the first of a series of massacres that claimed well over one hundred thousand lives during the following two years.² While these massacres have been largely overshadowed by the subsequent 1915 genocide and have received relatively little scholarly attention, they provide an opportunity to understand the dynamics of hatred and violence that characterized Armeno-Turkish relations during this period. Examining the massacres and the events that triggered them provides insight into...

    • Chapter 3 ‘They Will Have to Be Destroyed’: From Massacre to Genocide
      (pp. 61-96)

      In July 1908, the Young Turks came to power in an almost bloodless revolution. This ushered in a period of wild optimism and crushing despair for the Ottoman Armenian minority. The period between 1908 and 1912 was marked by strong fluctuations in the conditions of life experienced by Armenians. Elation at the provision of legal equality was tempered by a renewed outbreak of massacres. Greater rights did not prevent ongoing persecution. Moreover, contradictory indications from the new Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) government appeared to suggest a deep ambivalence regarding the ‘Armenian question’. Arguably, the position of the Armenians...

  7. Part II. The Rwandan Genocide

    • Chapter 4 ‘A European under Black Skin’: Precolonial and Colonial Rwanda
      (pp. 99-120)

      ‘The grave is only half-full. Who will help us fill it?’ blared Rwandan radio station Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) in April 1994.¹ Hundreds of thousands of Hutu answered the call, murdering their Tutsi and even Hutu com patriots in a frenzied orgy of bloodlust. At a speed that even Hitler could only have dreamt of, close to one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed between April and July 1994, in a genocide distinguished by both its unprecedented intensity and extraordinary level of popular participation.² Despite the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of...

    • Chapter 5 ‘A Massive Rejection of the Tutsi as Fellow Nationals’: Race, Violence and Independence
      (pp. 121-147)

      The 1954 UN visiting mission to Rwanda would be the last to observe that ‘[t]here appeared to be very little development of general or even local public opinion’ in the country.¹ By the mid-1950s, the rapid changes of the previous years led to the emergence of a Hutu consciousness, or what has been dubbed the ‘Hutu awakening’. This awareness originated amongst the new Hutu intelligentsia, as the first generation of Hutu seminarians came of age. Initially, at least, ‘[t]he masses seemed unaware of the changes taking place in their world’.² The emergent counterelite contrasted the democratic notions of equal rights,...

    • Chapter 6 ‘A Cockroach Gives Birth to Another Cockroach’: From Coexistence to Extermination
      (pp. 148-186)

      The Kayibanda government ruled for a further nine years following the conflagrations of December 1963–January 1964. Kayibanda’s Rwanda had always been a Hutu nation; following the massacres, however, this was even more pronounced.¹ The government became and remained an entirely Hutu affair.² Obstructions to the achievement of political goals were at times blamed on ‘cockroachism’.³ The view of the Hutu/Tutsi divide remained a racial one, with the colonial ancillary to the Hamitic hypothesis—that the Tutsi were foreigners—remaining salient within the society. In this context, little was done to address the refugee problem. Tutsi could and did, however,...

  8. Part III. The Path to Genocide

    • Chapter 7 ‘Driven by Ethnic Exclusivism’: On the Timing of Genocide
      (pp. 189-205)

      It is a paradox that the eruption of genocide is unpredictable, yet never seems to occur without prior warning. In 1880, for example, two different observers of the Armenians in Turkey asserted them to be subject to a governmental ‘policy of extermination’; in 1895, a third observer declared ‘the extermination of the Armenians’ imminent. ¹ In 1962, UN Commissioner Rahnema accused the ruling party in Rwanda of ‘a social policy apparently designed to eliminate . . . the Tutsi minority’; according to this commissioner, the Tutsi were at serious risk of extermination.² All these observers were ultimately correct, as the...

    • Chapter 8 ‘Our Only Hope, Therefore, Rests on the Obstacle’: Constraints against Genocide
      (pp. 206-215)

      Genocide is a relatively rare phenomenon. Whilst the large numbers of victims of genocide in the past century highlight the catastrophic impact of every outbreak, nevertheless it is far less common than both intrastate and international warfare. Most wars do not lead to genocidal attacks upon the ‘enemy’, and most states do not seek to eliminate their minorities, even in the presence of long-standing divisions. This highlights that only in very specific circumstances will genocide erupt. As we have seen, such circumstances have typically been described and analysed through the prism of models of the preconditions of genocide. These models...

    • Chapter 9 ‘A Pattern . . . Repeated Numerous Times’: The Wider Applicability of the Temporal Model
      (pp. 216-226)

      A key question concerning the usefulness of the temporal model in understanding how risk factors for genocide develop over time is that of its broader applicability beyond the Armenian and Rwandan cases. There are compelling reasons to suggest it may have such broader applicability. First, several risk factors within the model have parallels within other models of the preconditions for genocide, which themselves have been developed through comparative analysis of a wide range of case studies. These include the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide and the mass killings in Argentina. Second, the dissimilarities between the Armenian and Rwandan case studies utilized...

  9. Conclusion ‘We Are All Brothers’: The Temporal Model and Genocide Prevention
    (pp. 227-232)

    This book began with a single quest: to understand why genocides occur when they do. That is, why did genocide erupt in Rwanda in 1994, and not 1964, or, for that matter, in 1974 or 1984? How can we explain the timing of the Armenian genocide, some twenty years after the Hamidian massacres, and only seven years after Armenians were granted equal citizenship rights for the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire? Is there a predictable pattern in how risk factors for genocide develop over time? In order to address these questions, two detailed investigations were conducted,...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-242)
  11. Index
    (pp. 243-248)