Under the Treaty of Versailles the former German colony of Rwanda-Urundi is made a U.N. protectorate to be governed by Belgium. The two territories (later to become Rwanda and Burundi) are administered separately under two different Tutsi monarchs. [1]

Both Germany and Belgium turned the traditional Hutu-Tutsi relationship into a class system. The minority Tutsi (14%) are favored over the Hutus (85%) and given privileges and western-style education. The Belgians used the Tutsi minority to enforce their rule. [1]


Belgians introduce a system of ethnic identity cards differentiating Hutus from Tutsis. [1]

post 1945:

After World War II, the king and the rest of the Tutsi elite demand independence. The call is resisted by Belgium and the White Fathers, who instead back Hutus who demand Hutu liberation from Tutsi oppression. [5]


PARMEHUTU (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutus) is formed while Rwanda is still under Belgian rule. [1]


The main Hutu political party is the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR) led by Grégoire Kayibanda, who, in the name of "social revolution" orchestrates the first of many pogroms against Tutsis, with Belgian connivance. Thousands are killed, and many more flee as refugees. [5]


Hutus win municipal elections organized by Belgian colonial rulers. [1]


Belgians withdraw. Rwanda and Burundi become two separate and independent countries. [1]

A Hutu revolution in Rwanda installs a new president, Gregoire Kayibanda; fighting continues and thousands of Tutsis are forced to flee. In Burundi, Tutsis retain power. [1]


Further massacre of Tutsis, this time in response to military attack by exiled Tutsis in Burundi. Again more refugees leave the country. It is estimated that by the mid-1960s half of the Tutsi population is living outside Rwanda. [1]


Renewed massacres of Tutsis. [1]


Purge of Tutsis from universities. Fresh outbreak of killings, again directed at Tutsi community. [1]

The army chief of staff, General Juvenal Habyarimana, seizes power, pledging to restore order. He sets up a one-party state. A policy of ethnic quotas is entrenched in all public service employment. Tutsis are restricted to nine percent of available jobs. [1]


Habyarimana's political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement, or MRND) is formed. Hutus from the president's home area of northern Rwanda are given overwhelming preference in public service and military jobs. This pattern of exclusion of the Tutsis continues throughout the '70s and '80s. [1]

All Rwandans, regardless of age, are automatically made members of the MRND. Real power however lies not with formal party structures but with Habyarimana and his presidential guard, together with a small coterie of people close to him called the akazu (little house). [5]

Habyarimana retains ties with Belgium but cultivates closer links with France, which was happy to welcome another francophone state into "the family". [5]

Habyarimana's Hutu regime becomes a formal military ally of France. [6]


Under the presidency of François Mitteran, France becomes Rwanda's biggest bilateral donor, and the two countries sign a military co-operation agreement which guarantees Habyarimana the assistance of French troops should his power become threatened. [5]


In Uganda, Rwandan exiles are among the victorious troops of Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army who take power, overthrowing the dictator Milton Obote. The exiles then form the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-dominated organization. [1]


Coffee prices collapse, causing severe economic hardship in Rwanda. [1]


July - Under pressure from Western aid donors, Habyarimana concedes the principle of multi-party democracy. [1]

October - RPF guerillas invade Rwanda from Uganda. After fierce fighting in which French and Zairean troops are called in to assist the government, a cease-fire is signed on March 29, 1991. [1] [5]

The result is a stalemate, with the RPF holding Rwanda's northern Byumba province and the government unable to capture it, but the RPF equally unable to advance on Kigali. [5]


The Rwandan army begins to train and arm civilian militias known as interahamwe ("Those who stand together") For the next three years Habyarimana stalls on the establishment of a genuine multi-party system with power-sharing. Throughout this period thousands of Tutsis are killed in separate massacres around the country. Opposition politicians and newspapers are persecuted. [1]


Under French pressure, Habyarimana instituted long-delayed political reforms, including an end to the one party state. [5]


A multiparty government is formed and immediately begins negotiations with the RPF, despite hostility to the process from within the akazu. [5]

November - Prominent Hutu activist Dr. Leon Mugusera appeals to Hutus to send the Tutsis "back to Ethiopia" via the rivers. [1]


February - RPF launches a fresh offensive and the guerillas reach the outskirts of Kigali. French forces are again called in to help the government side. Fighting continues for several months. [1]

August - Following months of negotiations, Habyarimana and the RPF sign a peace accord that allows for the return of refugees and a coalition Hutu-RPF government. 2,500 U.N. troops are deployed in Kigali to oversee the implementation of the accord. [1]

Representatives of all the non-French Western diplomatic missions in Kigali say that France sought a clear victory for President Habyarimana and the Little House. [6]

November - French troops leave. [5]

September 1993 – March 1994 - President Habyarimana stalls on setting up of power-sharing government. Training of militias intensifies. Extremist radio station, Radio Mille Collines, begins broadcasting exhortations to attack the Tutsis. Human rights groups warn the international community of impending calamity. [1]

Throughout this period Belgian intelligence and the UNAMIR report of the activities preparing for violence. General Dallaire repeatedly requests that the UN allow him to seize illegal arms, but his requests are refused. Propoganda encouraging violence against the Tutsi is open; many killings and attacks occur; informants give information on killings which subsequently occur; the UNAMIR blocks arms shipments, including from the Mil-Tec Corporation of the United Kingdom and the Société Dyl-Invest of France. Despite all this the UN does not act. Boutros-Ghali refuses to push the Security Council to strengthen the mandate believing it is futile to propose a change that the U.S. and U.K. are sure to oppose. [2]

As the foreign governments most involved with Rwanda, France, the U.S., and Belgium follow the deteriorating situation and cooperate with the U.N. and with each other in trying to speed implementation of the Arusha Accords. Despite the clear signs of imminent violence, both France and the U.S. fail to respond with any new initiatives and continue to operate within the same constraints that have shaped their policy towards Rwanda for some time. Belgium, spurred by the added responsibility of having troops on the ground, seeks a greater international commitment to prevent the disaster, but fails to invest the energy needed to make the other powers respond. [2]


March - Many Rwandan human rights activists evacuate their families from Kigali believing massacres are imminent. [1]

6th April - President Habyarimana and the president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, are killed when Habyarimana's plane is shot down near Kigali Airport. Extremists, suspecting that the president is finally about to implement the Arusha Peace Accords, are believed to be behind the attack. That night the killing begins. [1]

7th April - The Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and the interahamwe set up roadblocks and go from house to house killing Tutsis and moderate Hutu politicians. Thousands die on the first day. U.N. forces stand by while the slaughter goes on. They are forbidden to intervene, as this would breach their "monitoring" mandate. [1]

8th April - The RPF launches a major offensive to end the genocide and rescue 600 of its troops surrounded in Kigali. The troops had been based in the city as part of the Arusha Accords. [1]

12th April - France closes its embassy in Kigali and its military assistance mission. [6]

21st April - The U.N. cuts its forces from 2,500 to 250 following the murder of ten Belgian soldiers assigned to guard the moderate Hutu prime minister, Agathe Uwiliyingimana. The prime minister is killed and the Belgians are disarmed, tortured, and shot and hacked to death. They had been told not to resist violently by the U.N. force commander, as this would have breached their mandate. [1]

30th April - The U.N. Security Council spends eight hours discussing the Rwandan crisis. The resolution condemning the killing omits the word "genocide." Had the term been used, the U.N. would have been legally obliged to act to "prevent and punish" the perpetrators. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of refugees flee into Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire. In one day 250,000 Rwandans, mainly Hutus fleeing the advance of the RPF, cross the border into Tanzania. [1]

Britain effectively aids the slaughter by helping to reduce UN force that could have prevented the killings, in helping to delay other plans for intervention and in resisting use of the term ‘genocide’ which would have obligated the international community to act. [3]

17th May - As the slaughter of the Tutsis continues the U.N. agrees to send 6,800 troops and policemen to Rwanda with powers to defend civilians. A Security Council resolution says "acts of genocide may have been committed." Deployment of the mainly African U.N. forces is delayed because of arguments over who will pay the bill and provide the equipment. The United States argues with the U.N. over the cost of providing heavy armoured vehicles for the peacekeeping forces. [1]

22nd June - With still no sign of U.N. deployment, the Security Council authorizes the deployment of French forces in south-west Rwanda. They create a "safe area" in territory controlled by the government. Killings of Tutsis continue in the safe area, although some are protected by the French. The United States government eventually uses the word "genocide." [1]

July - The RPF captures Kigali. The Hutu government flees to Zaire, followed by a tide of refugees. The French end their mission and are replaced by Ethiopian U.N. troops. The RPF sets up an interim government of national unity in Kigali. A cholera epidemic sweeps the refugee camps in Zaire, killing thousands. Different U.N. agencies clash over reports that RPF troops have carried out a series of reprisal killings in Rwanda. Several hundred civilians are said to have been executed. Meanwhile the killing of Tutsis continues in refugee camps. [1]

August - New Rwandan government agrees to trials before an international tribunal established by the U.N. Security Council. [1]

November - U.N. Security Council establishes an international tribunal that will oversee prosecution of suspects involved in genocide. [1]


5th-10th January - U.N. begins process towards finalizing plans with Zaire and Tanzania that will lead to the return of one and a half million Hutus to Rwanda over the next five months. U.N. Security Council refuses to dispatch an international force to police refugee camps. [1]

19th February - Western governments, including the U.S. ($60 million), pledge $600 million in aid to Rwanda. [1]

27th February - U.N. Security Council urges all states to arrest people suspected of involvement in the Rwandan genocide. [1]

Mid May - Tensions increase between the United Nations and the Rwandan government; the government growing resentful of the lack of international financial aid. [1]

10th June - U.N. Security Council unanimously agrees to cut by more than half the number of U.N. troops in Rwanda after a direct request from the Rwandan government to withdraw U.N. forces. [1]

July - More than 720,000 Hutu refugees around Goma refuse to return to Rwanda. [1]

August - U.N. Security Council lifts arms embargo until September 1, 1996. [1]

20th September - At a Mass in Nairobi, Pope John Paul II urges an end to the bloodshed in Rwanda and Burundi. [1]

12th December - United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda announces first indictments against eight suspects; charges them with genocide and crimes against humanity. [1]

13th December - U.N. Security Council extends its peacekeeping mission for three more months and agrees to reduce the number of troops. [1]


Rwandan troops invade and attack Hutu militia-dominated camps in Zaire in order to drive home the refugees. [4]

November - Mass repatriation from Zaire begins; the Rwandan government orders a moratorium on arrests of suspected genocide perpetrators. [1]

December - Trials begin for Hutus involved in 1994 genocide. [1]

Mid December - Tanzania closes refugee camps and repatriates Rwandans, bringing the total to over one million. [1]


10th January - First case in the Rwandan genocide trials comes before the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The case is against Jean Paul Akayesu, a local government official accused of ordering mass killings in his area. [1]

17th January - In a Rwanda court, Francois Bizimutima becomes the third Hutu convicted and sentenced to death for his role in genocide. [1]

A woman who testified against Jean Paul Akayesu is murdered along with her husband and seven children by Hutu extremists. [1]

22nd January - Over 300 are killed in an attempt by the Rwandan army to capture Hutu insurgents responsible for killings in Northwestern Rwanda, including the murder of the three Spanish aid workers. U.N. officials state many victims are recently returned refugees who witnessed the 1994 genocide and are potential trial witnesses. [1]

2nd February - In Gikongoro, Rwanda, Venuste Niyonzima is the first man tried locally for crimes against humanity in his own village. A U.N. Human Rights official in Rwanda expresses "serious concern" over the lack of lawyers and adequate defense for those accused of participation in the 1994 genocide. Canadian priest, Guy Pinard, a witness to the 1994 genocide, is murdered by Hutu terrorists while saying mass. [1]

4th February - Five human rights observers are killed in an ambush in Cyangugu, Rwanda. The murders are viewed as an effort by Hutu terrorists to get foreign observers out of the country. All human rights observers in Cyangugu, Kibuye, and Gisenyi are withdrawn by the U.N. to Kigali. [1]

12th February - United Nations watchdog agency criticizes the management of the Rwandan genocide trials. [1]

14th February - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan asks the five permanent security council members to look into reports that the Zairean army is providing arms to Rwandan Hutus in an Eastern Zaire refugee camp. [1]

Vincent Nkezazaganwa, a Rwandan Supreme Court Justice, is gunned down by uniformed gunmen at his house. Frodouald Karamina, leader of a Hutu extremist political movement, is sentenced to death for his involvement in the genocide. Karamina is believed to be one of the leaders and organizers of the genocide, having coined the slogan "Hutu Power" and made many racist radio broadcasts urging mass murder. Karamina expressed no remorse for the part he had played in the genocide. Karamina was born a Tutsi and assimilated himself as a Hutu only later in life. [1]

19th-20th February - Four prominent Rwandans accused of genocide appear in court for the first time. [1]

23rd February - Israel Nemeyimana is the first defendant in the genocide trials to be found not guilty. Authorities state there was a lack of evidence and witnesses. [1]

26th February - Citing mismanagement and inefficiency, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan fires the chief administrator Andronico Adede, and deputy prosecutor Honore Rakoromoanana in the Rwanda criminal trials. Agwu Okali of Nigeria is appointed new chief minister. By this date, the court has indicted 21 suspects. [1]

28th February - Virginia Mukankusi is sentenced to death for her participation in the genocide. [1]

Rwandan- and Ugandan-backed rebels depose President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire; Laurent Kabila becomes president of Zaire, which is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo. [4]


Rwanda switches allegiance to support rebel forces trying to depose Kabila in the wake of the Congolese president's failure to expel extremist Hutu militias. [4]


December - A leader of a Hutu militia that helped lead the genocide, businessman Georges Rutaganda, is found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and sentenced to life in prison. He is the sixth person found guilty since the tribunal began hearings in Arusha, Tanzania. [1]


March - Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, resigns over differences regarding the composition of a new cabinet and after accusing parliament of targeting Hutu politicians in anti-corruption investigations. [4]

April - Ministers and members of parliament elect Vice-President Paul Kagame as Rwanda's new president. [4]


October - Voting to elect members of traditional "gacaca" courts begins. The courts - in which ordinary Rwandans judge their peers - aim to clear the backlog of 1994 genocide cases. [4]

December - A new flag and national anthem are unveiled to try to promote national unity and reconciliation. [4]


April - Former president Pasteur Bizimungu is arrested and faces trial on charges of illegal political activity and threats to state security. [4]

July - Rwanda, DR Congo sign peace deal under which Rwanda will pull troops out of DR Congo and DR Congo will help disarm Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for killing Tutsi minority in 1994 genocide. [4]

October - Rwanda says it has pulled the last of its troops out of DR Congo, four years after they went in to support Congolese rebels against the Kabila government. [4]


May - Voters back a draft constitution designed to prevent another genocide. The document bans the incitement of ethnic hatred. [4]

August - Paul Kagame claims a landslide victory in the first presidential elections since the 1994 genocide. [4]

October - First multi-party parliamentary elections; President Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front wins absolute majority. EU observers say poll was marred by irregularities and fraud. [4]

December - Three former media directors found guilty of inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis during 1994 genocide and receive lengthy jail sentences. [4]


March - President Kagame rejects conclusion of French report which says he ordered 1994 attack on president's plane, which sparked genocide. [4]

June - Former president, Pasteur Bizimungu, is sentenced to 15 years in jail for embezzlement, inciting violence and associating with criminals. [4]

October - Nearly 400 Rwandan troops deploy as part of a peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region. [4]


March - Main Hutu rebel group, FDLR, says it is ending its armed struggle. FDLR is one of several groups accused of creating instability in DR Congo; many of its members are accused of taking part in 1994 genocide [4]