Transforming ordinary people into killers: A psychosocial examination of Hutu participation in the Tutsi genocide.Peace and Conflict

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Scull, Nicholas
Mbonyingabo, C.
Kotb, M
Journal Article
Seventeen Hutu men who were convicted of murder and other crimes committed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda participated in in-depth semistructured interviews regarding the psychological motivation for their participation in the genocide. The interviews were analyzed using grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and the emergent theory identified 3 core themes: (a) early discriminatory messages; (b) fear; (c) desensitization to violence. Participants described living in a highly discriminatory environment and although it did not affect their interpersonal relationships with Tutsis, it created an “other” and set-the-stage for the genocide to occur. Participants also talked about how fear of both Tutsis and Hutus influenced their participation. Participants described that as they became involved in the genocide, they became desensitized to killing and overtime participants described something akin to losing sight of their own sense of humanity. A core theme of transformation emerged whereby, through a process of punishment and reeducation, they rehumanized themselves and their victims and restored the sense of humanity they had lost.
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