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Machetes and Firearms: The Organization of Massacres in Rwanda

Philip Verwimp ()

Journal of Peace Research, 2006, vol. 43, issue 1, 5-22

Abstract: This article is a quantitative study of the use of machetes and firearms during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Kibuye Prefecture. The machete is an agricultural tool owned by most Rwandan households and is believed to have been the prime instrument of killing during the genocide. The article addresses the question to what extent individual characteristics of victims (gender, age, occupation) and aspects of the Rwandan genocide (location of atrocities, point in time during the genocide) determined the perpetrators’ use of modern rather than traditional weapons to kill individual victims. An original database developed by the organization of the survivors of the genocide (IBUKA) is used. The data were collected from 1996 to 1999 and contain information on the deaths of 59,050 victims. Logistical regression analysis is performed to explain the use of either a traditional weapon or a firearm to kill the victims. The analysis shows that the probability of being killed with a firearm depended on the location where the victim was killed (more particularly, on whether or not the victim was killed in a large-scale massacre); on the commune of residence and the age of the victim; on the number of days after 6 April the victim was killed; and on interaction effects between the latter two variables and the gender of the victim. The importance of individual characteristics, location of atrocities and timing for the use of different kinds of weapons adds to our understanding of the organized nature of the Rwandan genocide.

Date: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:43:y:2006:i:1:p:5-22