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Henri Boyi on Genocide as the Work of Political Leaders

Henri Boyi, Professor, University of Western Ontario

I really, deeply believe that it's the work of leaders. It's the work of power-hungry leaders, because the people in any case don't -- the people are just used. They are used, and they are instruments, almost like the use of the machete. The hand that holds the machete does not belong to the person who is doing it. It belongs to the leaders, who feel that they have to attain power, to reach power, through the elimination of the Other.

In Burundi, as I said, at the beginning of the genocide, ministers went on the radio in Rwanda and Burundi and called upon Hutus to start killing all the Tutsis. They didn't even say, "Kill those who are richer than you, wealthier than you." No. "Kill all the Tutsis, wherever you find them."

Last year the president of Zaire, of Congo, Kabila, went on the radio himself and called upon Zairians, Congolese, to kill all Tutsis in the large country of Congo. That's the Tutsis in the eastern part of Congo, and they are not more than 300,000 people. And called them to pick up stones and spears and machetes and everything, and kill everything that looks like Tutsi. That's why I kept coming back to the region. In Rwanda it was the same. The leaders used the national radio and television to call upon Hutus to kill all Tutsis.

So it's really -- it's the leaders. I find that our people -- of course it sounds almost diminishing to them, to say that the people are just being used. Of course, if they are human beings, you would expect them to know that a mother or a neighbor should not kill a baby, an innocent baby, for political reasons or ethnic reasons. If they are reasonable human beings, you would think that a man would not kill his wife because she's Tutsi and he's Hutu, no matter how loyal he is to his race; or kill his children because their mother is Tutsi. Those are really -- again, as I said -- beyond any human understanding. But it happens, it's happened; it happened in other parts of the world. It's happened in Burundi and Rwanda in our region, particularly, but it happens elsewhere. It's beyond, again, my own understanding of things.

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About Henri Boyi