In the Rwandan genocide (1994), approximately 800,000 people were killed, and the systematic slaughter of men, women and children which took place over the course of about 100 days will be remembered as one of the most abhorrent events of the 20th century.
Genocide does not start with the murder of masses of people, it starts in peoples’ mind. Before the weapons comes the image, before you can eliminate your enemy, you must define it. Both prior to and during the Rwandan genocide, the radio station Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) was used as an instrument to create a Tutsi enemy image. This thesis demonstrates that this enemy image was created through the use of different propaganda techniques that resemble the seven characteristics that Spillman and Spillman (1991) connect to the syndrome of the enemy image.
The genocide was organized by a small group of people bent on keeping power. In addition to the normal chain of command through the army, police, administration and militias, they used RTLM to emit hate messages. The RTLM propaganda was deliberate and carefully contemplated. The Hutu extremists’ fear of losing power resulted in RTLM promoting a Hutu Power ideology and encouraging the Hutu to take part in the genocide. Through the use of propaganda techniques, RTLM defended the indefensible by creating the impression that the actions of the Tutsi enemy justified violence on the part of the Hutu. Additionally, the RTLM journalists interpreted major political events in favor of the Hutu extremists’ agenda.