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In 1935, Belgium introduced identity cards labelling each individual as either Tutsi, Hutu, Twa or Naturalised.While it had previously been possible for particularly wealthy Hutu to become honorary Tutsi, the identity cards prevented any further movement between the groups.Large Rwandan Hutu and Tutsi populations continue to live as refugees throughout the region.

The genocide took place in the context of the Rwandan Civil War, a conflict beginning in 1990 between the Hutu-led government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which largely consisted of Tutsi refugees whose families had fled to Uganda after the 1959 Hutu revolt against colonial rule.

The national mourning period begins with Kwibuka (Remembrance), the national commemoration, on 7 April and concludes with Liberation Day on 4 July.

The week following 7 April is an official week of mourning, known as Icyunamo.

An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.

The genocide was planned by members of the core political elite, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government.

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