The Interahamwe (Kinyarwanda meaning "those who stand together" or "those who work together" or "those who fight together" or "those who attack together) is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. It is often claimed in Western media that a majority of the killings were perpetrated by the Interahamwe, but observers on ground attribute most of the killing to the Impuzamugambi.

Organization and history

Robert Kajuga was the President of the Interahamwe. The Vice President of Interahamwe was Georges Rutaganda. The Interahamwe was formed by groups of young Hutu males who carried out the Rwandan Genocide acts against the Tutsis in 1994. The Interahamwe formed the Genocidal Radio System which was used to broadcast where the Tutsis were fleeing.

Following the invasion of the Rwandan capital Kigali by the Tutsi Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), many Rwandan civilians and members of the Interahamwe fled to neighbouring countries, most notably to what at the time was Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. It has been nearly impossible to bring the Interahamwe to justice because they did not wear uniforms or have a clearly organized group of followers. They were the neighbors, friends and co-workers of Tutsis. Throughout the war, members of the Interahamwe moved into camps of refugees and the internally displaced. There, the victims were mixed in with the enemy and to this day it cannot be proven who killed who. With the Kagame regime still in power, members still take part in border raids from the refugee camps.

During the war, hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees fled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), along with many members of the Interahamwe, Presidential Guard, and the Rwandan Government Forces (RGF) collectively becoming known as the Rassemblement Démocratique pour le Rwanda (roughly, Democratic Rally for Rwanda). Following the recruitment of significant numbers of Congolese Hutu the organization took the name Armée de Libération du Rwanda (ALiR).

Origin of the name

The name Interahamwe can be translated as "Those who work together". Interahamwe can be broken up this way: Intera is derived from the verb gutera, meaning "to work". The hamwe means "together" and is related to the word rimwe for "one".

English speakers usually pronounce it as in-ter-a-ham-we, though it is properly pronounced as i-nhe-ra-ha-mwe in Kinyarwanda. However, Rwandans sometimes, when speaking English will pronounce it in the English manner. The difference can be observed by listening to Paul Rusesabagina in the Return to Rwanda feature of a Hotel Rwanda DVD, and to the translator for a survivor of the Nyarubuye massacre in "Frontline" Ghosts of Rwanda. In Hotel Rwanda, the name is consistently erroneously spelled and pronounced as "Interhamwe" (in-tər-ham-we).

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