Role of the international community in the Rwandan genocide
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Human skulls at the
Nyamata Genocide Memorial Centre
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The genocide in Rwanda was based on two groups, believed to be based on ethnicity, the Hutu and the Tutsi. The population in the year 1994 was approximately seven million people. Rwanda's population was 85% Hutu, 14% Tutsi, and 1% Twa (a Pygmy tribe). Historically, the Tutsis had been the ruling class, which was enforced by Belgian colonialism, so centuries of Hutu hatred toward the elitist minority had made politics a tense arena in Rwanda. In 1959, there was a Hutu revolution in which the Tutsi elite was overthrown and a Hutu government was put in place in 1961 with the support of European powers. President Habyarimana, who came to power in 1973, increased divisions between the Tutsi and Hutus in the year of 1992. In the year of 1994, President Habyarimana, a moderate Hutu, was shot down in a plane on April 6 and this was the spark that began the 100 days of genocidal violence against Tutsis and moderate Hutu.
It is estimated that about 800,000 - three-quarters of the Tutsi population in Rwanda - were killed in the genocide. Anyone suspected of being a Tutsi was killed while fleeing the roadblocks and leaving the country. Hutus opposing the genocide were also killed, being proclaimed traitors. The Hutu extremists, known as Interahamwe were successful in their genocide. The genocide and war were stopped when the rebel group of Tutsis based in Uganda, called the Rwandan Patriotic Front, stopped the Hutu extremists. Paul Kagame, the leader of the RPF, became the president of Rwanda.
The UN and peacekeeping forces stationed there made little effort to suppress the genocide and eventually all were ordered to leave before the genocide's end, even though many peacekeepers were providing protection to Tutsis that sought refuge.
Most of the world stood on the sidelines during the Rwandan genocide, hoping to avoid the loss of life and political entanglement that the American debacle in Somalia had created. As reports of the genocide spread through the media, the Security Council supplied more than five thousand troops to give a strong force. But the delay and denial of recommendations prevented the force from getting there on time and arrived months after the genocide was over. In the events that took place after the genocide, many government officials in the community mourned over the loss of many and were surprised about the world’s obliviousness to the situation that could have prevented the massacre from taking place. The Rwandan genocide did not interest the outside world as the Yugoslavia genocide did. The outbreaks in Rwanda were seen as not of sufficient interest and value to warrant prevention of the violence, expense of resources or the risk of losing more casualties. The delay caused thousands of Rwandan lives to be lost and mentally scarred those who lived to tell the story.
Belgium was a colonial power in Rwanda and had a deep political connection with their government even after decolonization. Their main connection - the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), which was initially mostly composed of Belgian soldiers. The Belgian General Information and Security Service had previous knowledge of the genocidal intentions of the Habyarimana regime but were unable to act until it was too late.
Out of the 2,548 troops authorized by the UN in October 1993, initially only 800 were deployed, half of which were Belgian. Concerned about the continued armament of militia in February 1994, Belgium warned the UN of the potential for a massacre and urged the international community to strengthen UNAMIR's peacekeeping force. Belgium's warnings fell on deaf ears. After the attack of April 6, 1994, the Radio des milles collines spread the rumor that Belgian soldiers from UNAMIR were the source. The Rwandan presidential guard captured and assassinated Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and her husband, as well as the ten Belgian soldiers assigned to protect them. This dramatic episode drove Belgium into a depressive consternation which entailed its disengagement from UNAMIR. As to justify its decision, Belgium carried the UN along with a spiraling number of countries who were leaving UNAMIR. An informer, known as "Jean-Pierre" by General Dallaire, had revealed to Dallaire that the people behind the genocide were counting on the fact that western nations couldn't tolerate their own casualties without pulling out of the mission.
Starting with April 7, Belgium demanded an extension from the UN of UNAMIR's mandate in order to evacuate the 1,520 Belgian residents. One can read from the report from the Belgian Senate the intentions of the Belgian ambassador from 12 April 1996: "We are preoccupied above all with the personnel who have worked for us, of certain people associated with the process of democratization, with clergymen." The report follows: "Finally, operation 'Silver Back' began on April 10 and will be completed on April 15 when the last Belgian civilians will have left Rwanda."
After the genocide, Belgium, traumatized, started a parliamentary reflection. The Belgian senate instituted a "Commission d'enquête parlementaire (English: Parliamentary Inquiry Commission) which inquired and composed a parliamentary report.
On April 6, 2000, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt attended the ceremony commemorating the sixth anniversary of the genocide in Kigali. He took the occasion to make apologies after six years and to 'take on the responsibility of my country, according to what we have learnt afterwards 'in the name of my country and of my people, I beg your pardon.' - Extract from chapter 15.52 of the report from the UN
In July 1993 UNAMIR Force Commander General Roméo Dallaire was with little information on the background of the conflict in Rwanda. When he requested current intelligence, he was denied and given little access to the information. Roméo was forced to proceed on his mission blindly and due to the lack of information Canada was given, the mission was planned poorly as they were provided with inexperienced experts in economic, political and human rights operational planning. This came as a result of military operations that had ignored requirements for long-term addresses to the cause of the Rwandan conflict. Their mandate allowed them only to monitor the implementation of the Arusha Accords and to support the transitional Government. The mission was also restricted with little funding or time, and force was prohibited except in self-defence.
After the 1994 shooting down of President Habyarimana's plane, Dallaire called for reinforcement and was denied. By April 10, it was clear the non-battle pole strategy had failed to prevent the genocide. Belgium withdrew its forces after a number of their soldiers were massacred and the majority of the UN force followed shortly afterwards. UNAMIR eventually took under protection 40,000 Rwandans despite their strict mandate. The Peacemaking (Chapter VII) UNAMIR II deployed once the airport had been retaken and forces could begin arriving (UN ARCH). Canadian (Operation Lance), British (Op Gabriel) and Australian (Op Tamor) forces were among the first western nations to arrive and join the small UN force and begin assisting Rwandan in achieving peace and healing, including intervening in the genocide.
In the years after the genocide, Canada and international councils have made up the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime on Genocide, which came into action on 12 January 1951. The convention’s purpose is to prevent, suppress and punish genocide. It defines acts of genocide inclusively as:
1. committing genocide; 2. conspiracy to commit genocide; 3. direct and public incitement to commit genocide; 4. attempting to commit genocide; and 5. complicity in genocide.
The convention confirms that genocide, whether committed in peace or war, is a crime under the international law. The convention states acts intended to destroy whole or parts of national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, such as: 1. killing members of the group; 2. causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 3. deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 4. imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and/or 5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group".
Canada’s new role in genocidal prevention is to take action under the United Nations Charter as they consider appropriate, in an attempt to prevent and suppress the violent acts of genocide. With the use of a bi-polar strategy, military defense prevention and suppression, Canadian policy makers can respond when it may be the only practical way of stopping genocides.
China’s acute role played two parts within their community, one being a part of the horror that took place and the other side being remorseful. It is already proven that the Rwandan genocide could have been prevented. Both France and China were responsible for supplying the government with military arms. If prevention from the United Nations was taken far more seriously, it could have prevented China and France from funding and/or fueling the genocide and French troops from helping the Hutu regime in power flee the country. The Rwandan embassy and Chinese communities organized events to honor the lost and injured. These events took place in Beijing and a few Rwandan communities. The memorials were marked with silence, prayers, songs and presentations on the history of Rwanda; they expressed the hope that the world could learn from this tragedy.
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From October 1990 to December 1993, the French army led Opération Noroit, when the president of the French Republic responded to the Rwandan Republic. France openly supported the regime of Juvénal Habyarimana against the RPF rebels, contributing a 'French presence to the limit of direct engagement' according to the title of a chapter of the report of the French parliamentary mission. This operation allowed the French to organize and train Rwandan troops, who subsequently formed the Interahamwe militias, or even future militiamen.
Oppositely, France, in agreement with the international community, endorsed the peace process of the negotiations of the Arusha accords between the Rwandan government, their opposition, and the exiles of the FPR.
In December 1993, France used the arrival of UNAMIR, who had come to the implementation of the Arusha accords, as a front, while according to diverse sources, some military technicians continued to operate in Rwanda. A couple of Frenchmen were notably assassinated, reportedly by the RPF, in the hours that followed the attack, while they were engaged in setting up sophisticated electronic equipment. Other leads of this type exist.
On April 8, 1994, two days after the attack against president Habyarimana, France launched Opération Amaryllis in order to permit the secured evacuation of 1500 residents, mainly westerners. The Rwandan survivors have strongly criticized that operation which, according to numerous testimonials, did not include the evacuation of the Rwandans threatened with the massacres, even when they were employed by the French authorities. France also evacuated dignitaries from the Habyarimana regime, and on 11 April, 97 children from the orphanage protected by Madame Habyarimana were evacuated. According to several sources, several dignitaries close to the Habyarimana family were also evacuated. Operation Amaryllis terminated on 14 April.
UNAMIR's Kigali sector commander, Belgian Col. Luc Marchal, reported to the BBC that one of the French planes supposedly participating in the evacuation operation arrived at 0345 hours on 9 April with several boxes of ammunition. The boxes, weighing about , were unloaded and transported by FAR vehicles to the Kanombe camp where the Rwandese Presidential Guard was quartered. The French government has categorially denied this shipment, saying that the planes carried only French military personnel and material for the evacuation.
France was very active at the UN in the discussions about the reinforcement of the UNAMIR in May 1994. In front of the inertia of the international community, France obtained the backing of the UN to lead Opération Turquoise from June 22 to August 22, 1994. The declared goal was to protect the "threatened populations," both by the genocide and by the military conflict between the FPR and the temporary Rwandan government. No hierarchy between the two types of threatened people was established. The two parties of the military conflict assimilated them and the system was organised to remain neutral between the two different groups. This system was humanitarian in some cases, notably during a cholera epidemic in refugee camps in Zaïre, the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo, however it was the source of many distinct controversies surrounding the French role at the time of Operation Noroit and the criticism of having facilitated the desertion of those responsible for the genocide and a massive refugee movement of the population to Congo (around two million people). France has accused the FPR of having provoked half of these movements by refusing the advice of French authorities not to get involved in the northwest of the country.
France, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council of the UN, has been accused of a role that some of those answerable to France refute and who claim that Operation Turquoise was an exemplarily humanitarian intervention. Some use as context that in supporting a group that would become genocidal, and who, according to the French parliamentary report, did not hide their genocidal intentions, France would have favoured the launching of the genocide.
As the outgrowth of a press campaign, especially the articles written by the journalist Patrick de Saint-Exupéry which appeared in 1994 and in 1998 in the French newspaper Le Figaro, the French parliament decided to examine the actions of France in Rwanda using a parliamentary information mission for Rwanda. Some French NGOs who specialise in Rwanda would have preferred a parliamentary enquiry mission whose judicial powers would have been more extensive in order to find the truth. After several months of work, the president of the parliamentary mission, the former Defence Minister Paul Quilès, concluded that France was "not guilty" (December 1998).
Ten years later, during the year 2004, books, films, radio programmes and television shows have brought the controversies surrounding France's role in Rwanda back to life. Unsatisfied by the conclusions of the report from the parliamentary mission for Rwanda, some citizens and NGOs have formed a citizens' enquiry commission. After a week of work in Paris, their "provisional conclusions" were read on 27 March 2004 at a conference that they organised the enclave of the French Assemblée nationale in the presence of one of two of the original people who had publicly stated the findings of the parliamentary mission, the former deputy Pierre Brana. On April 7, 2004 a serious diplomatic incident took place between France and Rwanda during the commemoration of the genocide in Kigali. In the course of the ceremonies, the Rwandan President publicly accused France of not having apologised for its role in Rwanda while desiring to participate in the ceremonies.
In July 2004, the ministers of Foreign Affairs from the two countries convened in order to "share the work of a memory piece " about the genocide. Rwanda announced several days later, according to a dispatch from Agence France-Presse from August 2, 2004, that "the council of ministers has adopted the organic law project to aid in the creation of the independent national commission charged with assembling proof of the implication of France in the genocide perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994." The French minister of Foreign Affairs "took action" for the creation of the Rwandan commission.
On October 22, 2004 the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda officially demanded that the "Republic of France" allow former ambassador Jean Michel Marlaud and one of his military representatives, officer Jean Jacques Maurin to respond to the demand of the defence of the presumed mastermind of the genocide: Colonel Bagosora pending judgement. Colonel Bagosra was the first Rwandan officer to have graduated from the French École des Officiers.
On November 27, 2004 in a televised debate on France 3, after the showing of the French film "Tuez les Tous" (English: Kill Them All), created by three students of political science, the president of the parliamentary mission for information for Rwanda, Paul Quilès stated for the first time that "France asks to be pardoned by the people of Rwanda, but not by their government".
On April 6, 2014 Rwandan president Paul Kagame repeated the charges against France as "direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation for the genocide" in an interview with Jeune Afrique magazine. He also accused French soldiers who took part in a military humanitarian mission in the south of the former Belgian colony of being both accomplices and "actors" in the bloodbath.
Rwandan report of 2008
On August 5, 2008, an independent Rwandan commission said France was aware of preparations for the 1994 Rwanda genocide and helped train the ethnic Hutu militia perpetrators. It accuses France of training Hutu militias responsible for the slaughter, helping plan the genocide, and participating in the killings. The report accused 33 senior French military and political officials on Tuesday of involvement in the genocide. Among those named were François Mitterrand (the president at the time), Édouard Balladur (the prime minister), Alain Juppé (the foreign minister), and his then chief aide, Dominique de Villepin. "French soldiers themselves directly were involved in assassinations of Tutsis and Hutus accused of hiding Tutsis," said the report, which was compiled by a team of investigators from the Justice Ministry.
After events surrounding the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia the year prior, the US refused to provide requested material aid to Rwanda. France, China and Russia opposed involvement in what was seen as an "internal affair". Dallaire was directly "taken to task," in his words, for even suggesting that UNAMIR should raid Hutu militants' weapons caches, whose location had been disclosed to him by a government informant. The UN failed to respond adequately to Dallaire's urgent requests.
The role of the United States is directly inspired by their defeat that they underwent during their intervention in Somalia in 1993. For two months, from April to May 1994, the American government fought over the word "genocide" which is banned by the  Convention for the Prevention and the Repression of Crime and Genocide (adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948).
In the US, President Bill Clinton and US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright repeatedly refused to take action. US government documents declassified in 2004 indicate the Clinton administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994, but buried the information to justify its inaction. Senior US officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because Clinton had already decided not to intervene.
Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
Clinton and Albright would both later expressed regret for their inaction. Clinton provided major funding for the Rwandan genocide memorial in Kigali, and visited Rwanda in 1998 and 2005. He apologized both times, and "expressed regret for what he says was his 'personal failure' to prevent the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people there in 1994." He has attempted amends by sponsoring initiatives to help rebuild Rwanda through the Clinton Foundation.
In 2001 the government of the United States declassified documents, which confirm the attitude of the United States of not having taken into account the reality of the situation starting in January 1994.
Other African states
The OAU, which has today become the African Union, created a report on the genocide in 2000. Before the UNAMIR mission led by Gen. Roméo Dallaire (military) and Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh (civilian), the OAU had indeed sent a Neutral Military Observation Group, known by its French initials as GOMN..
The nation’s Security Council accepted failing their responsibility to prevent the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Council members at first acknowledged that lack of governments provided the un-political stop to the massacres and admitted many mistakes made by them in tackling the issue.
After the death of ten Belgium soldiers, the United Nations reported the removal of most 2,500 peace keepers. Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy stated "none present could look back without feeling guilt and devastation at the lack to help the Rwandan civilians at their time in need" (BBC News). Even as the council stopped short and delivered an apology, fifteen council members focused on a report about lessons to be learned. It was based on the lack of support and help in Africa. The United Nations presents a core policy and a great challenge to prevent another round of genocidal violence. The councils have already evidently learned how to bring peace from lessons of past failures. The Rwandan ambassador Joseph Mutaboba has welcomed the report and its apologies stating that the council could do more, it’s not too late. In 1994 the United Nations Security Council had appointed General Kofi Annan to the United Nations Security Council and Head of United Nations Peacekeeping operations. Annan commissioned the report and was publicly criticized for not delivering warnings about the upcoming genocide. Kofi Annan has accepted the conclusions based on recorded reports.
The United Nations has been criticized for inaction. Next in line when it comes to responsibility is France, which moved in too late and ended up protecting the genocidaires and permanently destabilizing the region; and the U.S. government, which actively worked against an effective UNAMIR and got involved only to aid the same Hutu refugee population and the genocidaires, leaving the genocide survivors to flounder and suffer.
The Guardian on April 12, 1994, stated that when viewing a woman "being hauled along the road by a young man with a machete":
- "none of the troops moved. 'It's not our mandate,' said one, leaning against his jeep as he watched the condemned woman, the driving rain splashing at his blue United Nations badge. The 3,000 foreign troops now in Rwanda are no more than spectators to the savagery which aid workers say has seen the massacre of 15,000 people"
Michael Barnett, who was a senior official at the UN at that time, has provided evidence that the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) failed to pass on to the Security Council information that could have bolstered a case for intervention. This information included the location of Interhamwe arms caches and information preceding the genocide that the Interhamwe were compiling a list of all the Tutsis in Kigali. The informer was Jean-Pierre Twatzinze, who has been asked to compile the list. According to Barnett, UN inaction stemmed from its desire not to get involved in a potentially PR-risky operation which could damage the prospects for future peacebuilding operations, given that 18 UN troops had recently been killed in Somalia, even though UN troops had the capacity to save thousands of lives. "For many at the UN", Barnett writes, the moral compass pointed "away from and not toward Rwanda." 
In the early morning of January 22, 1994, a DC-8 aircraft loaded with armaments from France, including 90 boxes of Belgian-made 60 mm mortars, was confiscated by UNAMIR at Kigali International Airport. The delivery was in violation of the cease-fire clauses of the Arusha Accords, which prohibited introduction of arms into the area during the transition period. General Dallaire put the arms under joint UNAMIR-Rwandan army guard. Formally recognizing this point, the French government argued that the delivery stemmed from an old contract and hence was technically legal. Dallaire was forced to give up control over the aircraft.
From Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd (UK)
A UK company, Mil-Tec Corporation Ltd, was involved in arms supplies to the Hutu regime at least from June 1993 to mid-July 1994. Mil-Tec had been paid $4.8 million by the regime in return for invoices of $6.5 million for the arms sent. The manager of Mil-Tec, Anoop Vidyarthi, was described as a Kenyan Asian who owned a travel company in North London and was in business with Rakeesh Kumar Gupta. They both fled the UK shortly after the revelations.
- 6 June 1993 ($549,503 of ammunition from Tel Aviv to Kigali);
- 17–18 April 1994 ($853,731 of ammunition from Tel Aviv to Goma);
- 22–25 April 1994 ($681,200 of ammunition and grenades from Tel Aviv to Goma);
- 29 April - 3 May 1994 ($942,680 of ammunition, grenades, mortars and rifles from Tirana to Goma);
- 9 May 1994 ($1,023,840 of rifles, ammunition, mortars and other items from Tirana to Goma);
- 18–20 May 1994 ($1,074,549 of rifles, ammunition, mortars, rocket propelled grenades and other items from Tirana to Goma);
- 13–18 July 1994 ($753,645 of ammunition and rockets from Tirana to Kinshasa).
Notes and references
- Human Rights Council. United human rights council. "Genocide in Rwanda". The United Human Rights Council. 4 May 2012. <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-27. Retrieved 2013-08-30. >
- Donatella, L. "Pope Calls for End to Killings in Rwanda". New York Times. EBSCO Host. 20 September 1995. <http://www.history.com/topics/rwandan-genocide>
- United Nations. "UNAMIR". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Howard Adelman. "THE ROLE OF NON-AFRICAN STATES IN THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE" (PDF). Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Belgian Senate. "De pogingen van België om het mandaat of de ROE te wijzigen of om de troepensterkte te verhogen". Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- William Schabas, p. 565, Article III.
- Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (London: Zed Books, 2000) pp. 249-255, pp. 227-236
- Beardsley, B. National Defense and the Canadian Forces. "Learning from the Rwandan Genocide". Humanitarian Intervention. 2008. < http://www.journal.dnd.ca/vo6/no1/human-humain-eng.asp>
- "Prevention of Rwandan Genocide". The prevention of the Rwandan 1994 Genocide. Trinity College. < http://www.trincoll.edu/~thyde2/rwanda_prevention.htm>
- New Times. "Rwandans in China mark Genocide". Ebsco Host. <http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?i=14961&a=52426>
- "France and genocide: the murky truth". The Times. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
- "Chapter 3". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- "Rapport : Mission d'information sur le Rwanda". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- "International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- "France accused in Rwanda genocide". BBC News. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "Rwanda: French Accused in Genocide". The New York Times. 6 August 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Evidence of Inaction: A National Security Archive Briefing Book, ed. Ferroggiaro)
- Barnett, 'Eyewitness to a Genocide'. The informer was Jean-pierre Twatzinze
- Report of The Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the UN During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda; Statement of the Secretary-General on Receiving the Report )
- "Frontline: interview with Philip Gourevitch". Retrieved 2007-04-09.
- "CONVENTION POUR LA PRÉVENTION ET LA RÉPRESSION DU CRIME DE GÉNOCIDE". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- "Frontline: the triumph of evil". Retrieved 2007-04-09.
- "US chose to ignore Rwandan genocide Classified papers show Clinton was aware of 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis," by Rory Carroll, The Guardian, 31 March 2004
- "Clinton Global Initiative. Voice of America. August 1, 2005". Retrieved 2007-04-09.
- "The US and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994".
- BBC News. "UN Admits Rwanda genocide failure". BBC News Broadcasting. 15 April 2000. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/714025.stm>
- Huband, Mark (12 April 1994). "UN troops stand by and watch carnage". Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via The Guardian.
- Feil 2005, 'Could 5000 Peacekeepers Have Saved 500,000 Rwandans?'
- Barnett 2006, Eyewitness to a Genocide
- Arms Shipments and the Rwandan Genocide. Online posting. Never Again.
- "Brokering Arms for Genocide." Chap. 3 in The Arms Fixers: Controlling the Brokers and Shipping Agents, by Brian Wood and Johan Pele man.
- "Arms shipments and the Rwandan Genocide." Online posting. Never Again International Niki.
(http://intabaza.com/?p=2274&lang=en) Bill Clinton behind the pre-conceived plot in the Rwanda genocide