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Dehumanization

Dehumanization is the act of depriving one’s human qualities or attributes. Dehumanization was a critical aspect in making the Rwandan genocide function. By dehumanizing the Hutus to animals, vermin, or disease, it made it easier to kill them, because they were considered as a pestilence that had to be eradicated. The Hutus were thinking of the Tutsis as animals or even entities, making it easier to kill them without any remorse or compassion. This dehumanization stage gives an ideological justification to the Hutus, who believe they are trying to purify society. The Hutus do not feel any remorse or compassion because if the Tutsis are animals or vermin, killing them is not murder. If dehumanization had not happened in the Rwandan genocide, there may have been more moderate Hutus and fewer radical Hutus. By dehumanizing the Tutsis, the Hutus caused them to become socially dead.



The way that the Hutus spread their messages and dehumanized the Tutsis was by using the media. The RTLM radio was a radio that at first, spouted hate towards the Tutsis. Then, the RTLM radio turned into a signal that notified the Hutus when to start the killings and who to attack. The Hutus broadcasted codes on the radio such as “cut the tall trees” and “crush the cockroaches” to signal other Hutus to start the killings. As you can see, the Tutsis were dehumanized to trees and cockroaches in the genocide. The Tutsis were called “tall trees” because they were usually thinner and taller compared to the Hutus. 



Another way that dehumanization was carried out and spread across Rwanda was through the Kangura newspaper. The Kangura newspaper, controlled by Hutu extremists, was a way that the Hutus used the media to spout hate towards the Tutsis. It published the "Ten Commandments of the Hutu", which told Hutus not to marry Tutsis, do any business with them, and stated that the entire military should consist of Hutus. The Tutsis were also dehumanized when they were denied land ownership and government positions. The newspaper showed pictures of Tutsis being portrayed as cockroaches and snakes, and also referring to the myth that the Tutsis arrived from Ethiopia and are foreign to Rwandan land.


By: Rohan Divate
Period 1
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