There’s a place in the very heart of Africa of such breathtaking beauty that it seems impossible that anything could taint its pristine loveliness.
Ah, but we did. We did.
And that story is told, in all its shame, in the stunning and vital documentary, “Ghosts of Rwanda”, which is included here in twelve parts.
It took 100 days for the systematic slaughter of an estimated 850,000 human beings to be accomplished. 100 days during which the world looked on and did nothing as men, women and children were hacked to death with machetes or burned alive in locked and barred churches.
Where the planet’s concept of law enforcement for those in peril, The United Nations peace keeping force, was revealed to be a mirage – a worthy idea, an estimable ideal, with little practical ability to act when confronted with grave reality.
How is it possible, in our day and age, for a neighbor, happily chattering with you over the fence one day, to turn up at your door the next with a machete in his hand and murder in his heart. Where workmates on a Monday could turn into vicious homicidal monsters on Tuesday?
Is is possible to understand? Is there a rationale for such grotesque distortions of the human condition?
The answer is yes.
Because there has to be if sanity is to be maintained. If there is to be such a thing as an end to modern day holocaust, we must understand man’s capacity for evil and we must accept a collective responsibility to guard against man’s basest bestiality as part of a planetary code of ethics.
Like we didn’t do in Rwanda, 1994.
Because no attempt was made to understand until it was far too late. Nor was any attempt made to acknowledge what the white man had wrought on this region of pastoral beauty through a century of blatant opportunism, exploitation and shameless racism.
The origins of the 1994 genocide lie within the centuries-old animosities between the two dominant clans of Rwanda, the Hutus and the Tutsi – and the manipulation of this rivalry by the dominant colonial power, Belgium.
It may surprise some of you that, of all the European nations that once held colonial possessions in Africa, Belgium displayed the most egregious and inhumane behavior towards the indigenous peoples under their rule.
Strangely, Belgium’s colonial history began as a private concern. King Leopold 11, convinced that greatness lay in Empire, went ahead on his own (with money borrowed from the government) when his nation showed little interest in colonial acquisition.
In 1876 he organized a private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association, which he named the International African Society, and dispatched famous explorer Henry Stanley (“Dr. Livingstone, I presume”) to the Congo. He ended up laying claim to an area 76 times the size of Belgium.
The horrific excesses perpetrated in Leopold’s name in what he called the Congo Free State are almost too much to comprehend. The Belgians enslaved the local population and enforced their authority with savage beatings, indiscriminate killing, and the use of mutilation, such as chopping off hands, when unrealistic quotas were not met.
It truly was the very heart of darkness. Estimates of the death toll under Leopold’s regime range from two to fifteen million. All for rubber.
The revolting cruelty was so outrageous an international outcry, even among other colonial powers, led to the Belgium government forcing the king to cede control of the Congo to them. Not that it made much difference in terms of humane treatment. The Belgium government’ colonial administration picked up right where Leopold left off.
Belgium acquired Rwanda and neighboring Burundi by invading the then German colonies while the latter was otherwise occupied with the First World War. At the Great War’s conclusion, Belgium retained the area under the Treaty of Versailles and they remained colonies until granted independence in 1962.
Belgium also inherited a history in Rwanda of Tutsi dominance over the Hutu majority through a monarchy where, in the 19th century, the Mwami (king), a Tutsi, organized the country into 100 large estates and established a Tutsi hierarchy to administer the lands and population. This division was upheld and exploited by the first colonial rulers, Germany. Scant regard was paid to the fact Hutus formed a significant majority of the indigenous population.
The Tutsi, you see, struck Europeans as more ….. well, European.
The two ethnic groups are actually very similar – they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions, including religious traditions. However, Tutsis are generally taller and thinner than Hutus, and it was thought their origins lay in Ethiopia where persons of European descent have lived for untold eons.
The German colonialists gave special status to Tutsis, finding them them to be superior to Hutus in looks and disposition. Human nature being what it is, the Tutsi were happy enough to accept their classification in European eyes and continue their domination of the country’s internal affairs.
The Belgian government continued to rely on the Tutsi power structure for administering the country when they annexed Rwanda by invasion and their rule intentionally created even more of an ethnic divide between the Tutsi and Hutu, through their support for Tutsi political power.
In fact, Belgian policy was openly racist. Adherents of the eugenic movement in Europe and the United States, the colonial government became concerned with the differences between Hutu and Tutsi. Scientists arrived to measure skull—and thus, they believed, brain—size. Tutsi’s skulls were bigger, they were taller, and their skin was lighter. As a result of this, Europeans came to believe that Tutsis had Caucasian ancestry, and were thus “superior” to Hutus.
Early in its mandate, the Belgian Government declared:
“The government should endeavour to maintain and consolidate traditional cadres composed of the Tutsi ruling class, because of its important qualities, its undeniable intellectual superiority and its ruling potential.”
To that end, Belgium educated only male Tutsi.
Tutsis began to believe the myth of their superior racial status, and exploited their power over the Hutu majority. After the ethnological studies of the ’20s, an ethnic identity card system was officially mandated by the Belgians and each Rwandan was forced to carry documents which identified the bearer by ethnicity.
Wealth could also change your ethnicity – ownership of 10 or more head of cattle permitted you to change your Hutu identity to Tutsi. But this ability to change your ethnicity ended with the introduction of the card I.D. system.
Post World War 11, the majority Hutus began to make inroads into traditional Tutsi power by way of electoral reform, UN Mandate and through the support of the Catholic Church. But the Tutsis resisted any diminution of their traditional power and Hutu resentment grew.
Traditionally Hutu resistance had been brutally suppressed. Amputations and other mutilation were standard punishments decreed by the the Belgians authorities, and administered by Tutsis.
Hutu unrest and rebellion grew more pervasive and powerful through the 1950s. A Hutu emancipation movement, led by Gregorie Kayibanda, author of the infamous “Hutu Manifesto” and later first elected President of independent Rwanda, began to exert ever more pressure for change. As the situation worsened, the Belgian overlords, with staggering hypocrisy, executed an about-face and looked to encourage a violently anti-Tutsi atmosphere to divert the fury of the Hutus from themselves and onto the Tutsis as the decade drew to a close.
The chaotic situation boiled over in November 1959, Tutsis tried to assassinate Kayibanda and viciously beat up another Hutu politician named Dominique Mbonyumutwa (later the first provisional President of Rwanda before elections). Rumors of Mbonyumnutwa’s death set off a violent reprisals, known as the “Wind of Destruction”.
An estimated 20,000 to 100,000 Tutsis were killed and many thousands more, including the Mwami, fled to neighboring Uganda before Belgian commandos arrived to quell the violence. Several Belgians were subsequently accused by Tutsi leaders of abetting the Hutus in the violence. The report of a United Nations special commission recorded racism reminiscent of “Nazism against the Tutsi minorities” that had been engineered by the government and Belgian authorities.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell agreed, describing the slaughter as “the most horrible and systematic massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.”
The 1959 Rwandan unrest revolutionized the country’s political structure. Tutsis ended up excluded from political power and thousands fled the country, with another 150,000 exiled by the Hutu majority. In 1961, the monarchy was abolished by referendum and, at the urging of the U.N., Rwanda was split into two countries with the creation of Burundi.
By this time, Belgium wanted out and, with some relief, presided over a hasty transfer of power.
After independence in 1962, Tutsi began to stage guerrilla raids into Rwanda from neighboring countries in what was, in effect, a civil war in all but name. As the government consolidated its power under Kayibanda, Rwanda became a Hutu-dominated one-party state, and in excess of 70,000 people were killed in fighting between the rival clans.
The Kayibanda administration established quotas to try to increase the number of Hutu in schools and the civil service. This effort ended up penalizing the Tutsi. They were allowed only nine percent of secondary school and university seats, which was their proportion of the population. The quotas also extended to the civil service. With unemployment high, competition for such opportunities increased ethnic tensions. The Kayibanda government also continued the Belgian colonial government’s policy of requiring ethnic identity cards, and discouraged “mixed” marriages.
All political opposition was suppressed and many Tutsi political figures met their end by execution. But little was said about the brutal nature of the governing regime – they had, after all, established friendly contacts with the West, even allowing the CIA to direct its efforts to remove the left-wing Patrice Lumumba of neighboring Congo from within Rwanda.
In 1973, defense minister Major General Juvenal Habyarimana overthrew the government by military coup. Habyarimana was a Hutu but claimed his actions were justified by endemic corruption and inefficiency in the Kayibanda administration. Events in neighboring Burundi, however, had also played a part in the military takeover.
Burundi, since independence, had been governed by a Tutsi administration, appointed by the King, even though Hutus, who made up 86% of the population, had scored a landslide victory in post-independence elections in 1965. Hutu resentment erupted in an uprising in April, 1972 on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the south-west of the country.
The rebellion saw Tutsis indiscriminately massacred on sight with around 1200 individuals losing their lives.
Government retaliation was swift and horrific. President Michel Micombero, a Tutsi, proclaimed martial law and the army systematically proceeded to slaughter Hutus en masse. The initial phases of the genocide were clearly orchestrated, with lists of targets including the Hutu educated—the elite—and the militarily trained. Once this had been completed, the Tutsi-controlled army moved onto the larger civilian populations.
It is estimated somewhere between 80,000 and 210,000 Hutus were slaughtered during this appalling bloodletting.
Many Hutus fled into Rwanda and the consequent surge in population led to social unrest and eventually the coup.
Habyarimana remained in power for close to 21 years, mostly ruling in a one-party state system (which explains how he received 99% of the vote in presidential elections in 1983 and 1988 when he was the sole candidate). During his rule, incidences of violence did lessen, although pro-Hutu discrimination continued to be the order of the day.
Things changed in 1990 when Tutsi refugees, who had become hardened soldiers by fighting and winning with Ugandan rebels in that country’s “Bush War” (1981-86), invaded Rwanda as the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front). The civil war lasted three years, ratcheting up the ethnic tensions once again to breaking point.
Peace negotiations resulted in the “Arusha Accords”, which established a Broad-Based Transitional Government that included the RPF with the five political parties that had composed a temporary government since April 1992 in anticipation of general elections, and further reached agreement on preserving peace through the rule of law, repatriation of refugees, both from fighting and from power sharing agreements, and the merging of government and rebel armies.
However, even though Habyarimana’s government participated in and signed the Accords, the President himself never attended the negotiations and made it more than apparent that he was not interested in a power-sharing compromise. He instead aligned himself with extreme Hutu racial nationalists – the akazu – who also were utterly opposed to any diminution of their power.
But the accords had been signed and the United Nations decided to send a Military Assistance Mission numbering around 2,500 to Rwanda to help implement the agreement. The mission’s Force Commander was a Canadian, Major-General Romeo Dallaire.
The security situation deteriorated throughout 1993. Armed Hutu militias attacked Tutsis throughout the country, while high-ranking adherents of Hutu Power, a Rwandan opposition party of extreme Hutus, began to consider how the security forces might be used to solve the Tutsi problem once and for all through mass killing. The tensions worsened considerably when, in October 1993, civil war erupted in Burundi upon the assassination of that country’s first Hutu President by the Tutsi-controlled Burundi army, and fighting spilled over the border and into Rwanda.
The U.N. peace keepers under Dallaire were aware of the tide of events. In January, 1994, through an informant, they became aware of four major weapons caches and of the well-advanced plans by the Hutus for extermination of Tutsis. Dallaire notified U.N. headquarters of the information and made immediate plans for U.N. troops to seize the arms caches.
Instead U.N. headquarters responded that his outlined actions went beyond the mandate and he was ordered to notify President Habyarimana of possible Arusha Accords violations and his concerns.
The UN’s mandate forbids intervening in the internal politics of any country unless the crime of genocide is being committed. Dallaire, even with ever growing evidence of an approaching genocide, was ordered not to intervene in any affirmative manner.
In effect the order to notify Habyarimana of the information in his possession emasculated Dallaire and his peacekeeping force, and the Hutu power base knew it.
Then came the fateful events of April 6, 1994.
The Rwandan president was returning by air from a conference in Tanzania. On the return trip that evening he was joined by Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira, leader of Burundi since his predecessor’s assassination, and considered a moderate Hutu.
As the presidential jet circled Kigali’s airport to make its final approach, a surface-to-air missile struck one of the wings of the Dassault Falcon, followed by a second missile, which hit its tail. The plane erupted into flames in mid-air before crashing into the garden of the presidential palace, exploding on impact. All aboard perished.
This video below is a brief synopsis of the findings contained in Rwanda’s “Mutsinzi Report”, also known as the “Committee of Experts’ Investigation of the April 6, 1994 Crash of President Habyarimana’s Dassault Falcon- 50 Aircraft”.
The missiles were seen by numerous persons on the ground as they streaked towards the presidential jet. What is still unclear is who fired them.
Initial suspicion fell upon the Hutu extremists, looking for an excuse to initiate a massacre of their hated Tutsi rivals. A French judge, in a later investigation, has blamed current Rwandan President, Paul Kagame – at the time the leader of the RPF.
Mr Kagame vehemently denies this and maintains it was the work of Hutu extremists, pointing out the latter’s well-laid plans to exterminate the Tutsi community en masse.
These plans were, indeed, meticulous.
Philip Gourevich, in his chilling 1998 account of ensuing events, “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families”, framed the thinking of the time:
Although Habyarimana’s assassins have never been positively identified, suspicion has focused on the extremists in his entourage—notably the semiretired Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, an intimate of Madame Habyarimana, and a charter member of the akazu and its death squads, who said in January 1993 that he was preparing an apocalypse.”
Whoever was responsible for firing the missiles was dwarfed by what followed. Within hours a Hutu-led campaign of violence spread from the capital throughout the country. The Rwandan Genocide had begun.
In the capital, Kigali, the presidential guard immediately initiated a campaign of retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately thereafter, the indiscriminate slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began.
Within hours, recruits were dispatched all over the country to carry out systematic slaughter along the same lines as that in Kigali.
The early organisers included military officials, politicians and businessmen, all members of the Hutu power group known as the Akazu - but soon many others joined in the mayhem.
There is no doubt the execution of the genocide was supported and coordinated by the national government as well as by local military and civil officials – and by Rwanda’s mass media.
Alongside the military, primary responsibility for the killings themselves rests with two Hutu militias that had been organized for this purpose by political parties: the Interahamwe – who operated Radio Mille Collines, the genocidal radio station which was used to broadcast the locations to which Tutsis were fleeing - and the Impuzamugambi, another Hutu militia aligned with and supported by the ruling party.
At its peak, the Interahamwe was 30,000-strong.
Radio Mille Collines, French for “One Thousand Hills Free Radio”, broadcast for a year (July 1993-July 1994) and preyed upon deep animosities and prejudices between the Hutus and Tutsis by broadcasting propaganda and incitements to violence, interspersed with music. The announcers frequently referred to Tutsis as “cockroaches” (“You [Tutsis] are cockroaches! We will kill you!”). Immediately after Habyarimana’s private plane was shot down, the radio station began calling for a “final war” to “exterminate” the Tutsi population and broadcast a code phrase – “cut down the tall trees” – which was a preset signal to begin the killings.
Below you can hear excerpts of actual broadcasts on Radio Mille Collines.
Soldiers and police officers encouraged ordinary citizens to take part. In some cases, Hutu civilians were forced to murder their Tutsi neighbours by military personnel.
Participants were often given incentives, such as money or food, and some were even told they could appropriate the land of the Tutsis they killed.
In the face of the escalating violence, the international community did absolutely nothing. Rwanda was, in the main, simply ignored, callously left to brutalize itself without any pressure being brought to bear on those responsible. Lieutenant-General Dallaire and U.N. troops were in Kigali only, initially escorting Tutsis to safety (sometimes fruitlessly) They were unable, and without mandate, to stop the Hutus from escalating their attacks elsewhere.
It was to get worse.
U.N. troops officially withdrew entirely from involvement after the murder of 10 of their soldiers – Belgian troops whose killing was incited by accusations broadcast by Radio Mille Collines that Belgium had been involved in the assassination of Habyarimana.
Their murder was one of the first atrocities of the ensuing genocide. It led to that country, in panic, withdrawing its remaining representatives and flying them home.
After President Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, the Belgian soldiers were dispatched to the home of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana to escort her to safety. Her well-being was in danger because, although a Hutu, she had been appointed to lead the transitional government seeking to enforce the Arusha Accords. President Habyarimana, signaling his displeasure with the Accords, officially dismissed her as Prime Minister eighteen days after her appointment to the office, but she stayed on in a caretaker capacity for eight months until that fateful April day.
Uwilingiyimana’s house was guarded by five Ghanaian U.N. troops, who were joined by the ten Belgian troops. Inside the house, the family was protected by the Rwandan presidential guard, but between 6:55 and 7:15 am on the morning of April 7, the presidential guard surrounded the U.N. troops and told them to lay down their arms. Fatally, the blue berets ultimately complied, handing over their weapons. This occurred after they were advised to do so by their battalion commander, who was unclear on the legal issues and had no specific orders authorizing self-defense, even though they had already been under fire for approximately two hours.
Seeing the stand-off outside her home, Agathe Uwilingiyimana and her family took refuge in the Kigali U.N. volunteer compound next door around 8 a.m. Eye-witnesses to the events which followed testified at the later inquiry into U.N. actions that Rwandan soldiers entered the compound at 10 a.m, and searched it for Agathe Uwilingiyimana. Fearing for the lives of her children, Agathe and her husband emerged, and were immediately shot and killed by the presidential guard. (Their children were able to escape the country).
The five Ghanaian soldiers were eventually released by the Rwandan presidential guard. The Belgians were not so fortunate – they were castrated, gagged with their own genitalia, and then murdered.
Soldiers roamed Kigali and, reported Glenn Daniel in The Australian newspaper, from refugee camps later, they were:
“(G)iving people a choice: they could either buy a bullet, which would be used to kill them instantly, or be hacked to death by a machete. All paid the price…
The Kagera (a river that runs into Uganda from Rwanda) has become a river of blood… at one point 87 bodies flowed past in an hour… One of the bodies arrived still dressed in a business suit. One was a priest, another a woman with the body of her child still wrapped tightly around her back. With so many bodies reaching Uganda one can only imagine what the killing fields must look like inside Rwanda, where half a million are believed to have been slaughtered.”
On April 8, 1994, two days after the downing of the presidential jet and the murder of the soldiers, Dallaire sent a cable to U.N. headquarters in New York indicating ethnicity was the driving force behind the killings. The cable detailed the murder of politicians, such as the Ministers of Labor and Agriculture. as well as the killing of the peacekeepers. Dallaire made it clear the campaign of violence was well-organized and deliberately conducted, primarily by the Presidential Guard.
It was impossible to doubt the reports out of Rwanda any further – a campaign of genocide was underway throughout the country. Yet still, many on the U.N. Security Counsel showed great reluctance to sanction any affirmative U.N. action. Dallaire was ordered to concentrate on assisting in the evacuation of foreign nationals from Rwanda.
The next day, 1,000 heavily armed and trained European troops arrived to escort European civilian personnel out of the country. The troops did not stay to assist UN peacekeepers. US Ambassador Rawson and 250 Americans were among those evacuated.
When the killing began, thousands sought refuge in the École Technique Officielle (Technical School) in Kigali where Belgian U.N. soldiers were stationed. On April 11, Dallaire withdrew his troops from the school under orders from New York, leaving 2,000 people therein unprotected.
Hutu militants simply waited outside, drinking beer and chillingly chanting “Hutu Power” loud enough so those inside could hear. After the Belgians left the premises, the militants moved in and massacred everyone inside, including hundreds of children.
This was two days after absolute solid evidence that genocide was in progress in Rwanda was given to the United Nations.
While the evacuation of foreign nationals was being given paramount priority, two unarmed Polish UN observers in a Polish christian mission church in Kigali witnessed the genocide firsthand.
On the morning of April 9 1994, two presidential guard soldiers and two gendarmes entered the church and began checking identity cards of the people gathered therein. They ordered the few persons of Hutu identity to leave the church. A presidential guard officer then entered the church and told the soldiers not to waste their bullets since the Interahamwe were on their way with machetes.
Shortly thereafter the militia did indeed arrive and began murdering those taking refuge in the house of worship, clubbing and slashing their victims with machetes, hacking arms, legs, genitals and the faces of the terrified people, even those who tried to protect children hiding under the pews. Some people were dragged outside the church and attacked in the courtyard. The identity cards of the murdered ones were then burned.
The killing continued for some two hours.
One of the UN observers desperately radioed for help when the attack began. Finally getting through on airwaves jammed with anguished pleas for help from all over Kigali, he was told by the UN duty officer that help was impossible because of current conditions and UN soldiers would not be sent to the church.
Around 110 Tutsis died at the church that day and the photographs of the Polish observer were the first documented proof that wholesale killings were underway. The evidence was sent to U.N. headquarters. The UN and its member states did not respond.
Two people survived the massacre.
A few days later, in a private chapel neighboring the church, eleven Tutsis, including children, who had survived the initial assault were discovered hiding there by the Interahamwe. The militia members didn’t use their machetes this time – they burned the chapel to the ground after dousing it in gasoline and securing all exits. No one survived.
The pace of killing accelerated and spread, consuming the entire country. Local government officials in many towns organized the extermination of the Tutsi populace in their areas, inciting ordinary citizens to kill their neighbors, and murdering those who refused to join in the killing, often right on the spot.
Yet still the Security Counsel dithered, the U.S., in particular, already smarting from losing personnel in Somalia, and France resisting any plan to take affirmative measures to stop the murderous rampage. (France’s story in this whole sorry affair requires its own specific examination).
On April 12, more than 1,500 Tutsis sought refuge in a Catholic church in a place called Nyange. Local Interahamwe, acting in concert with the authorities and the Catholic priest of the church, used bulldozers to knock down the church building. The militia then used machetes and rifles to kill every person who tried to escape. (The priest was sentenced subsequently to life in prison for his part in this massacre).
The U.N.’s response? – in mid-April, 1994, the Security Council voted to reduce U.N. peacekeeping contingent on the ground in Rwanda to 260 men.
Lieutenant-General Dallaire, in fact, received orders to withdraw from Kigali, but he refused to abandon the country to the genocidal mob, and remained to lead what forces remained. As individuals and as a group, members of the Dallaire’s command did manage to save a estimated 32,000 lives in and around Kigali and the few areas of UN control, even in the face of continued denials of requested reinforcement, such as his desperate plea for the immediate insertion of approximately 5,000 troops.
And so it went on for 100 days – blatant, unrestrained slaughter, during which, according to the estimates of the current Rwandan government, 1,174,000 people fell victim to the bloodlust.
10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute. One hundred days of slaughter.
400,000 children are estimated to have been orphaned by the Rwandan Genocide. Rape was systematic and was used as a weapon by the militias. The sickening figure is that approximately 250,000 to 500,000 Rwandese women and girls were raped during the 100 days. A 2000 report prepared by the Organization of African Unity’s International Panel of Eminent Personalities concluded that “we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it”.
Finally, in July of 1994, the RPF, who had immediately stepped up their military campaign after the downing of the presidential jet, captured Kigali. The government collapsed and the RPF declared a ceasefire. (An RPF battalion of Tutsi rebels stationed in Kigali under the Arusha Accords came under attack immediately after the shooting down of the president’s plane. The battalion fought its way out of Kigali and joined up with RPF units in the north.)
As soon as it became apparent that the RPF was victorious, an estimated two million Hutus fled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), including many who have since been implicated in the massacres.
At first, a multi-ethnic government was set up, with a Hutu, Pasteur Bizimungu as president with Paul Kagame, the RPF leader, as his deputy, but the pair later fell out and Bizimungu was jailed on charges of inciting ethnic violence, while Mr Kagame became president.
Although the killing in Rwanda was over, the presence of Hutu militias in DR Congo has led to years of conflict there, causing up to five million additional deaths.
In the aftermath, Kofi Annan, the UN’s Secretary-General, set up an inquiry into the UN’s role during the Rwandan genocide, under the auspices of Ingvar Carlsson, a former Swedish Prime Minister. Predictably the report restrains its criticism to the inaction of the UN, e.g. in failing to follow up the telegram warning of the imminent slaughter.
Writer Tony Sullivan, in an article entitled “The U.N. In Rwanda” that is critical of the U.N. non-action, concludes:
“The Rwandans were let down most of all by the permanent members of the Security Council – and not, for once, China and Russia, but America, Britain and France. The Carlsson report criticises them obliquely, but does little to examine their individual roles in the disaster, perhaps because it was unable to question closely the grandees of the Security Council. Though it had complete access to UN records and any UN official, it interviewed no British representatives and was allowed access only to American and French officials who were peripheral at the time.”
Although the killing in Rwanda was over, the presence of Hutu militias in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has led to years of conflict there, causing 5.4 million additional deaths. Rwanda’s Tutsi-led government has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, The Congo, saying it wants to wipe out the Hutu forces. The First (1996-97)and Second (1998-2002) Congo Wars consumed the country in violence for years. Rwandan troops finally only left the Congo in 2002.
The Hutu forces, once the “Interahamwe”, or “those who kill together”, who carried out the 1994 genocide, now seek respectability under a new name – the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by their French acronym FDLR – and their fighters remain deployed in Eastern Congo’s lawless provinces of North and South Kivu.
They aim to, one day, return to Rwanda and finish what they started in 1994.
A Major Vincent Habamungu, who commands the FDLR’s “Tiger” unit, told The Daily Telegraph in 2008 that nothing could stop their campaign. “We are fighting every day because we are Hutu and they are Tutsis. We cannot mix, we are always in conflict,” he said. “We will stay enemies forever.”
And the world’s largest peacekeeping force has not been able to make a dent – let alone bring an end – to the fighting in the Congo either.
Some world this.