User:Jenny O/Ghosts of Rwanda
Ghosts of Rwanda 
The genocide depicted in this film provides a devastating example of the malevolent capabilities of human beings. It also exemplifies the strength of our beliefs, the relevance of personal, social and cultural restraint, and the power of groups. Fortunately, this documentary also exemplifies some of the many benevolent capabilities of humans.
The systematic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Tutsis by the dominant Hutu majority demonstrates prejudice, discrimination and racism in the extreme. The Tutsis were targeted because of their ethnic group membership. The aggression and violence waged against the Tutsis was deliberate, instrumental and extremely hostile. It was based on the development of in-groups and out-groups and inciting crowd behaviour.
The Hutu extremists used a number of strategies to undermine peacekeeping forces and the Tutsi to amass support for their slaughter:
Attaining and manipulating power through aggression and violence, for example:
- Supporting a paramilitary youth movement (Interahamwe) (higher rates of aggression in young men)
- Systematically undermining political, military and peacekeeping power within Rwanda:
- Killing Rwanda president and moderate Prime Minister: seizing government control
- Killing Hutu moderates and Tutsi leaders
- Releasing black peacekeepers (Ghanaian) and killing white peacekeepers (Belgian)
- Destabilising UN presence (e.g., Belgium withdrew after peacekeepers killed, other nations followed by withdrawing their citizens)
- Providing Hutus with weapons (weapons effect)
- Fuelling violence with alcohol
…by noon, they had been drinking and were intoxicated, and they had either killed people and wanted to kill more or they hadn't killed and they wanted to kill.
— Gromo Alex UN Humanitarian Team – Describing Hutus encountered in the streets during deliveries of food to refugees.
Using social influence and persuasion to create wounded pride to: establish crowd behaviour (engendering deindividuation and disinhibition); induce conformity and possibly diffusion of responsibility, and to engender lack of self-control, for example:
- Extremist radio station broadcast messages:
- Persuading Hutus to “eliminate their Tutsi neighbours”
- “All Tutsis will perish. They will disappear from the earth. Slowly, slowly, slowly, we will kill them like rats”
- Exploited the Rwandan “culture of obedience” by telling Hutus that Tutsis wanted to enslave them
- Used propaganda to "remind Hutus that the Tutsis had ruled them for centuries, often treating them with disdain”
- Extremist Hutus referred to Tutsi survivors as "those not finished off"
Manipulating social and cultural controls (see Ghosts of Rwanda Discussion), and attempting to externally justify or rationalise behaviour, for example:
- Violence and aggression perpetrated against ordinary men, women and children
- Violent attacks take place or threaten churches, an orphanage, peacekeepers, UN representatives and aid workers
- (e.g., “Rwandan troops had stopped a Red Cross ambulance and killed six patients”)
- The killing of a possible in-group member Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal.. “an unarmed, black U.N. observer, renowned for his ability to charm his way past the killers”
- Attempting to maintain self-image or possibly exercising cognitive consistency: Hutus allowing the Red Cross safe passage across Rwanda after being embarrassed when the Red Cross chose to publicise the massacre across the Western world.
- Attributing external causes to behaviour (self-serving bias), rationalising one’s actions or diffusion of responsibility:
It was as if we were taken over by Satan. When Satan is using you, you lose your mind. We were not ourselves. You couldn't be normal and you start butchering people for no reason. We'd been attacked by the devil.
— Gitera Rwamuhizi, Hutu
Simultaneously, groups of white troops, journalists, expatriates and some aid workers demonstrated gross acts of racism and discrimination against the black people of Rwanda as they assisted other white people or their kin and fled the country:
What that meant was, anybody that was white-skinned got to get on an airplane and fly to safety, and anybody that was black-skinned got to stay in Rwanda and get killed. And that's as simple as it came down to.
— Major Brent Beardsley UN Operations Manager, Rwanda
The outside world (particularly the UN and USA) abandoned the country and a handful of foreigners (diplomats, aid workers and UN representatives) elected to stay and protect the Rwandans or smuggle them out of the country. The US in particular rationalised their actions by failing to define the incident as a genocide and explaning that the US had no 'interests' in Rwanda and therefore no incentive to stay.
Additional resource: Prosocial behaviour keywords
Those who stayed to assist the Rwandan people clearly demonstrated a high level of prosocial behaviour. Depending on the context, conformity and obedience can be considered as prosocial or anti-social acts. In this extreme context it was the lack of conformity and disregard for orders to abandon Rwanda that deemed these acts prosocial. Many of those who stayed did so without the support of their organisations or governments, and at great risk to themselves and others. However, these few people managed to save hundreds and possibly thousands of lives. The actions of those foreigners who stayed may have been motivated by empathy (empathy-altruism hypothesis), but did not involve reciprocity, kin selection or egotistic helping. Indeed their motives are seemingly altruistic.
If people in Rwanda ever needed help, now was the time. And everybody's leaving… That Tutsi young lady and that Tutsi young man were faces right there to me representing the country, and I felt if I left, they were going to be killed. …I've got this blue American passport. That means I can go. But all of these people don't have a passport. They can't go. And-- and while all of those things played in, the bottom line is it just seemed the right thing to do.
— Carl Wilkens