Counting Down to Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide
in Hilmi M. Zawati, the Triumph of Ethnic Hatred and the Failure of International Political Will: Gendered Violence and Genocide in the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (Lewiston, N.Y.: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2010) Pp. 91-137.
47 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 12, 2010
Ancient hatreds, religious prejudice, historicism and ethnic diversity all clearly contributed to reviving nationalism among the Yugoslav nations and, consequently, set Yugoslavia on fire. Nevertheless, this might not have been possible without the support given by the conservative members of the ruling Communist party, who let the machine of war go into high gear to protect their own privileges and interests and to confront the liberal and democratic currents that were sweeping the region. The above elements provided a backdrop to the rise of hard-line Communist party elites throughout Yugoslavia, particularly in Serbia and Croatia, who aimed at the destruction of Tito’s Yugoslavia and the creation of a “Greater Serbia” and a “Greater Croatia,” respectively, on its ruins.
Among other factors that played a significant role in preparing the ground for the Rwandan genocide in 1994 were impunity, seizure of power, racism, hatred, and ignorance. By the same token, hatred, negative labelling, and fear were the most effective mechanisms used by the Rwandan Hutu-dominated government to promote public opinion against the Tutsi. Particularly complicit in this was the Rwandan Catholic Church, which had been laying the groundwork for mass killings in Rwanda since 1959. While some Rwandan church leaders were involved either directly or indirectly in the genocide, working hand-in-hand with the political regime — just as certain others rejected this policy — the majority kept silent and never dared to do anything about the repression, hatred, discrimination, and massacres directed against the Tutsi.
This chapter therefore looks, on the one hand, into the historical turning points in Yugoslavia’s modern history, exploring how these led to the outbreak of such massive violence, and on the other examines the factors behind the Rwandan genocide and the well-engineered mass killings in that nation.
Keywords: Religious Prejudice; Historicism; Ethnic Diversity; Rwandan Genocide; Rwandan Catholic Church; Serbian Orthodox Church; Former Yugoslavia; Rwanda; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Croatia; Kosovo; Serbia; Hilmi Zawati.
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