Roméo Dallaire

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Lieutenant-General The Honourable
Roméo Dallaire
Romeo Dallaire 2017 St Joseph's Health Care Foundation London Ontario 02.jpg
Romeo Dallaire in 2017
Senator from Quebec (Gulf)
In office
March 25, 2005 – June 17, 2014
Preceded by Roch Bolduc
Succeeded by Éric Forest
Personal details
Born Roméo Antonius Dallaire
(1946-06-25) June 25, 1946 (age 71)
Denekamp, Netherlands
Political party Independent Liberal (2014)
Other political
Liberal (2005–2014)
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Dallaire née Roberge
Profession Lieutenant-General (ret'd), Canadian Forces
Military service
Service/branch  Canadian Army
Years of service 1963–2000
Rank Lieutenant-general

Lieutenant-General Roméo Antonius Dallaire,[2] OC CMM GOQ MSC CD (born June 25, 1946) is a Canadian humanitarian, author and retired senator and general. Dallaire served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, and attempted to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates. Dallaire is the founder of The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative,[3] a Senior Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)[4] and Co-Director of the Will to Intervene Project that released a policy recommendation report "Mobilizing the Will to Intervene: Leadership and Action to Prevent Mass Atrocities."[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Dallaire was born in Denekamp, Netherlands, to Staff-Sergeant Roméo Louis Dallaire, a non-commissioned officer in the Canadian Army, and Catherine Vermaessen, a Dutch nurse. Dallaire came to Canada with his mother as a six-month-old baby on the Empire Brent, landing in Halifax on December 13, 1946. He spent his childhood in Montreal.

He enrolled in the Canadian Army in 1963, as a cadet at Le Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean. In 1970 he graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada with a Bachelor of Science degree and was commissioned into The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery.

In 1971, Dallaire applied for a Canadian passport to travel overseas with his troops and was surprised to discover that his birth in the Netherlands as the son of a Canadian soldier did not automatically make him a Canadian citizen.[6] He has subsequently become a Canadian citizen.

Dallaire has also attended the Canadian Land Force Command and Staff College, the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Virginia, and the British Higher Command and Staff Course.

He commanded the 5e Régiment d'artillerie légère du Canada. On July 3, 1989, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. He then commanded the 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. He was also the commandant of Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean from 1989 to 1991.


Original mission[edit]

In late 1993, Dallaire received his commission as the Major-General of UNAMIR, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda. UNAMIR's goal was to assist in the implementation of the Arusha Accords, a peace agreement intended to end the Rwandan Civil War. The UN attempted to negotiate with the Hutus in the Rwandan army and with Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu who was President at the time, and with the Tutsis represented by the rebel commander Paul Kagame, who is the President of Rwanda as of September 2017. When Dallaire arrived in Rwanda, his mandate was to supervise the implementation of the accords during a transitional period in which Tutsis were supposed to be given positions of power within the Hutu government.

There were early signs that something was amiss when, on January 22, 1994, a French DC-8 aircraft landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, loaded with ammunition and weapons for the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). (FAR was the Hutu army under Habyarimana's control.) Through an informant, Dallaire learned that these weapons were to be used for an attack on Tutsis after the Belgians would have been forced to withdraw by violence orchestrated by the Interahamwe (a Hutu paramilitary organization).[citation needed] Despite his telegram to the UN, Dallaire was not permitted to seize the weapons, as this was deemed to be an action beyond his UN mandate. The Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army told Dallaire that since the munitions were ordered before Arusha, the UN was not allowed to detain the shipment, and displayed paperwork showing that the weapons had been sent by Belgium, Israel, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Egypt.[citation needed] In addition to the arms deliveries, troops from the Rwandan government began checking identity cards which identified individuals as Hutus or Tutsis. These cards would later allow Hutu militias to identify their victims with accuracy.[citation needed]


Dallaire at a Darfur rally

Following the torture and murder of ten members of the 2nd Commando Battalion, the Belgian forces, whom Dallaire considered his best-trained[7] and best-equipped, were withdrawn. Dallaire consolidated his contingent of Pakistani, Canadian, Ghanaian, Tunisian, and Bangladeshi soldiers in urban areas and focused on providing areas of "safe control" in and around Kigali. Most of Dallaire's efforts were to defend specific areas where he knew Tutsis to be hiding. Dallaire's staff – including the U.N.'s unarmed observers – often relied on its U.N. credentials to save Tutsis, heading off Interahamwe attacks even while being outnumbered and outgunned. Dallaire's actions are credited with directly saving the lives of 32,000 people.[8]

Dallaire gave the major force contributors different evaluations for their work. In his book, he gave the Tunisian and Ghanaian contingents high praise for their valiant and competent work. Ghana lost three peacekeepers.

End to the genocide[edit]

As the massacre progressed and press accounts of the genocide grew, the U.N. Security Council backtracked on its position and voted to establish UNAMIR II, with a strength of 5,500 men in response to the French plan to occupy portions of the country. (The so-called Operation Turquoise, the presence of French troops, was initially opposed by Dallaire because the French had a history of backing the Hutus and the Rwandan Armed Forces, and thus their presence would be opposed by Kagame and the rebel RPF.) It was not until early July, when RPF troops under Kagame swept into Kigali, that the genocide ended. By August, the French had handed their portion of the country to the RPF, giving Kagame effective control of all of Rwanda.

As revealed through testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the genocide was brutally efficient, lasting for a total of 100 days and leading to the murder of 800,000 Tutsi, Hutu moderates and Twa. Over two million people were displaced internally or in neighboring countries. The genocide ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Front gained control of Rwanda on July 18, 1994, though recrimination, retribution, and criminal prosecutions continue to the present day.

Life after Rwanda[edit]

Dallaire signing copies of his book Shake Hands with the Devil.

Upon his return to Canada from UNOMUR and UNAMIR, Dallaire was appointed to two simultaneous commands in September 1994: Deputy Commander of Land Force Command (LFC) in Saint-Hubert, Quebec and Commander of 1 Canadian Division. In October 1995, Dallaire assumed command of Land Force Quebec Area.

In 1996, Dallaire was promoted to Chief of Staff and to the Assistant Deputy Minister (Personnel) Group at NDHQ. In 1998, he was assigned to Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Military) and in 1999 was appointed Special Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff on Officer Professional Development.

Dallaire suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder and in 2000, attempted suicide by combining alcohol with his anti-depressant medication, a near fatal combination which left him comatose.[9] Dallaire is an outspoken supporter of raising awareness for veterans' mental health.

In January 2004, Dallaire appeared at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to testify against Colonel Théoneste Bagosora. (The testimony was critical to the outcome of the trial and in December 2008 Bagosora was convicted of genocide and for the command responsibility of the murders of the 10 Belgian Peacekeepers. The trial chamber held that: "it is clear that the killing of the peacekeepers formed part of the widespread and systematic attack",[10] while at the same time holding that: "the evidence suggests that these killings were not necessarily part of a highly coordinated plan."[11]) He later worked as a Special Advisor to the Canadian Government on War Affected Children and the Prohibition of Small Arms Distribution, as well as with international agencies with the same focus, including child labour. He is a great proponent of the concept of Institutionalism, and, in 2004–2005, he served as a fellow at the Carr Center For Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Appointment to Canadian Senate[edit]

On March 24, 2005, Dallaire was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson on the advice of Prime Minister Paul Martin. He represented the province of Quebec and sat as a Liberal until January 29, 2014, when he along with all of his Liberal Senate peers were removed from the party caucus by party leader Justin Trudeau, after which he officially sat as an Independent Liberal. Dallaire noted that his family has supported both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Quebec Liberal Party since 1958. He was a strong supporter of Michael Ignatieff's unsuccessful 2006 bid for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party.

In 2007, Dallaire called for the reopening of Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, saying "The possibility of starting a new program at the college – a military college that would allow all officer cadets to spend two years in Saint-Jean before going to Kingston, instead of studying only in Kingston – is being considered. In the spirit of progress, would it be possible to support a principle as basic as the freedom of francophones in the Canadian Armed Forces by establishing a Cegep-style francophone bilingual military college."[12]

Concordia University announced on September 8, 2006, that Dallaire would sit as Senior Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), a research centre based at the university's Faculty of Arts & Science.[13] Later that month, on September 29, 2006, he issued a statement urging the international community to be prepared to defend Bahá'ís in Iran from possible atrocities.[14]

Dallaire has worked to bring understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder to the general public. His 2016 book, Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD, details his own struggles with this operational stress injury. He has been a visiting lecturer at several Canadian and American universities. He was a Fellow of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He pursued research on conflict resolution and the use of child soldiers. He published the book, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: the Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers in 2010.[15] He has written several articles and chapters in publications on conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance and human rights.

In 2013, Senator Dallaire voiced his concern objecting to the 2014 budget closure of nine veterans affairs offices and the dismissal of 900 VA staff as well $226M CAD of funding cut from the program. Early in Dallaire's post military career he was tasked by the Department of National Defense (DND), to create a program that will support the rehabilitation needs of former military personnel.[16]

Dallaire resigned from the Senate on June 17, 2014, seven years prior to reaching mandatory retirement. He decided to leave the Senate in order to spend more time public speaking, to do research on and due to his own struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to his frustration with the ongoing Canadian Senate expenses scandal[17], and to devote the majority of his time on the issue of eradicating the use of child soldiers through his Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative[18].

Dallaire is a supporter of the Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly, an organisation which advocates for democratic reformation of the United Nations.[19]

Dallaire and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children: Willem, Catherine and Guy.

On December 3, 2013, Dallaire was in a car accident on Parliament Hill, Ottawa. His car, a black BMW, hit a lamp post before it was stopped. Dallaire claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel due to stress. His vehicle's air bag deployed and there were no casualties.[20]


Roméo Dallaire talks about They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children on Bookbits radio.

Dallaire has written three books. Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, written with Major Brent Beardsley and published in 2003, chronicles his tour as Force Commander of UNAMIR in 1993-1994, during which he witnessed the Rwandan Genocide. It won the 2003 Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing, and the 2004 Governor General's Award for nonfiction. It was subsequently adapted for two films, a documentary and a feature film.

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers (written with Jessica Dee Humphreys) was published in 2010. It discusses the phenomenon of child soldiers, and proposes solutions to eradicate it. It was one of the Globe and Mail's best books of 2010.[21]

Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD (also with Jessica Dee Humphreys) is Dallaire's account of his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder after his time in Rwanda. It was selected as one of the National Post's top books of 2016,[22] and is nominated for the RBC Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction.[23]

Dallaire has contributed chapters or forewords to several other works.

Books about Roméo Dallaire[edit]

The Lion, the Fox, and the Eagle: a story of generals and justice in Rwanda and Yugoslavia by Carol Off.[24]

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power. In a 2004 opinion article published by The New York Times, Dallaire called upon NATO to intervene militarily alongside African Union troops to abort the genocide in Darfur. He concluded that, "having called what is happening in Darfur genocide and having vowed to stop it, it is time for the West to keep its word as well."[25]

Documentary and film[edit]

In October 2002, the documentary The Last Just Man was released, which chronicles the Rwandan genocide and features interviews with Dallaire, Brent Beardsley, and others involved in the events that happened in Rwanda. It was directed by Steven Silver.

A documentary film, entitled Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, which was inspired by the book and shows Gen Dallaire's return to Rwanda after ten years, was produced by the CBC, SRC and White Pine Pictures, and released in 2004. The film was nominated for two Sundance Film Festival Awards, winning the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for World Cinema – Documentary and a nomination for Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema – Documentary. The film aired on CBC on January 31, 2005.

In 2004, PBS Frontline featured a documentary named The Ghosts of Rwanda.[26] In an interview[26] conducted for the documentary and recorded over the course of four days in October 2003, Dallaire said: "Rwanda will never ever leave me. It's in the pores of my body. My soul is in those hills, my spirit is with the spirits of all those people who were slaughtered and killed that I know of, and many that I didn't know...."

A Canadian dramatic feature film Shake Hands with the Devil adapted from Roméo Dallaire's 2003 book and starring Roy Dupuis as Lieutenant-General Dallaire, started production in mid-June 2006, and was released on September 28, 2007. Dallaire participated in a press conference about the film held on June 2, 2006, in Montreal, a film for which he was being consulted. The film earned 12 Genie Award nominations and won one in the category Best Achievement in Music – Original Song for the song "Kaya" by Valanga Khoza and David Hirschfelder. In September 2007, Shake Hands With The Devil won the Emmy award for Outstanding Documentary with The Documentary Channel, who presented it on their channel.

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1996, Dallaire was made an Officer of the Legion of Merit of the United States, the highest military decoration available for award to foreigners, for his service in Rwanda. Dallaire was also awarded the inaugural Aegis Trust Award in 2002, and on October 10 of the same year, he was inducted as an Officer in the Order of Canada.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Greatest Canadian program saw Dallaire voted, in 16th place, as the highest rated military figure. Several months after the broadcast, on March 9, 2005, Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson awarded Dallaire with the 25th Pearson Medal of Peace. On October 11, 2006, the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs at the University of California, Irvine awarded Dallaire with the 2006 Human Security Award.

Romeo Dallaire carrying the Olympic flag in 2010

Dallaire has received honorary doctorates from a large number of Canadian and American universities. He received Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Guelph, University of Saskatchewan, St. Thomas University, Boston College, the University of Calgary, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Athabasca University, Trent University, the University of Victoria, the University of Western Ontario, Concordia University, and Simon Fraser University, an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of Lethbridge and honorary degrees from the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of York.[27] On June 1, 2006, Romeo Dallaire was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) in recognition of his efforts in Rwanda and afterwards to speak out against genocide. He received an ovation from the crowd for his comment that "no human is more human than any other". Senator Dallaire was named a Fellow of the Ryerson Polytechnic University, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

In 2002, Dallaire was given Canada's World Peace Award, in recognition of his peacekeeping experience and study of children in conflict, by the World Federalist Movement-Canada

His book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, was awarded the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004.

Dallaire received the Loyola Medal from Concordia University in 2006.[28]

General Dallaire planted a tree at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Accra, Ghana in 2007 at the invitation of the Commandant, Major-General John Attipoe.

Senator Dallaire was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002, Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2005. He was granted the inaugural Aegis Award for Genocide Prevention from the Aegis Trust (United Kingdom).

Dallaire was a recipient of the Vimy Award.[29]

As part of the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the founding of the Pugwash Peace Exchange, in 2007 General Dallaire accepted Sir Joseph Rotblat's Nobel Peace Prize.

There are elementary schools named after Dallaire in Winnipeg, Manitoba,[30] Ajax, Ontario, and a French-immersion elementary school in Maple, Ontario.[31] There is also a French High school in Barrie, Ontario.[32] that is named for Dallaire. Also, a street is named after him in the Lincoln Park neighbourhood of Calgary, Alberta.[33]

Dallaire was one of the eight Olympic Flag bearers at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, in Vancouver.

Honours and Decorations[edit]

Dallaire has received the following orders and decorations during his military career:

Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.png Order of Military Merit (Canada) ribbon (CMM).jpg
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Grand Officer National Order of Québec Undress ribbon.png MSC ribbon-military.png
Special Service Medal Ribbon.png CPSM Ribbon.png UNOMUR Medal bar.gif
UNAMIR ribbon.gif 125canada ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png CD-ribbon and 2 bars.png Us legion of merit officer rib.png

Ribbon Description Notes
Order of Canada (OC) ribbon bar.png Order of Canada (OC)
  • Officer 10 October 2002[34]
Order of Military Merit (Canada) ribbon (CMM).jpg Order of Military Merit (CMM)
  • Commander
Order of St John (UK) ribbon.png Order of St John
  • Commander
National Order Quebec ribbon bar.svg National Order of Quebec (GOQ)
  • Grand Officer 2005
MSC ribbon-military.png Meritorious Service Cross (MSC)
Special Service Medal Ribbon.png Special Service Medal
  • With "Peace-Paix" Bar
CPSM Ribbon.png Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal
UNOMUR Medal bar.gif UNOMUR Medal
125canada ribbon.png 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal
  • 7 May 1992
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002[36]
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012[37]
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
CD-ribbon and 2 bars.png Canadian Forces Decoration (CD)
  • With 2 Clasps
Us legion of merit officer rib.png Legion of Merit (United States)
  • Officer 2002

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Full house awaits Romeo Dallaire at BC Leadership Prayer Breakfast". May 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Senators' Statements: Sudan, Conflict in Darfur". June 28, 2006. Archived from the original on October 4, 2008. 
  3. ^ The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative
  4. ^ "The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)". 
  5. ^ "The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS)". 
  6. ^ "Passports and Citizenship Problems facing Canadian War Brides of World War Two, births, weddings, marriages tp Canadian servicemen". 
  7. ^ 2005, Pilger, John (ed), page 451, 'Tell Me No Lies', Vintage Press, London. ISBN 978-0-09-943745-1
  8. ^ "Dallaire feels 'personal relief' after GG addresses genocide in Rwanda". The Montreal Gazette. April 22, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  9. ^ "CBC News Indepth: Romeo Dallaire". CBC News. March 9, 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  10. ^ Paragraphs 2174–2177, Chapter IV: Legal Findings, page 551, Judgement and Sentence, December 18, 2008, The Prosecutor v. Bagosora et al., Case No. ICTR-98-41-T
  11. ^ Paragraphs 791 & 795, Pages 198–199, Judgement and Sentence, December 18, 2008, The Prosecutor v. Bagosora et al., Case No. ICTR-98-41-T
  12. ^ "Debates of the Senate, 1st Session, 39th Parliament" (PDF). May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  13. ^ "Senator Roméo Dallaire Partners With Concordia". Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. September 8, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  14. ^ "Romeo Dallaire, expert on genocide, expresses concern for Baha'i community in Iran - Bahá'í World News Service". 
  15. ^ Dallaire, Romeo (October 23, 2016). Waiting For First Light: My Ongoing Battle With Ptsd, Book by Romeo Dallaire (Hardcover) | Penguin Random House. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  16. ^ Cobb, Chris.'‘Ruthless’ cuts putting veterans, families at risk, Dallaire says'. November 11, 2013. 'Ottawa Citizen'. Retrieved November 11, 2013
  17. ^ "Romeo Dallaire, Senate Liberal, retiring from Parliament". CBC News. May 28, 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Dallaire, Romeo. "Marching Orders". Canada's History Magazine. 
  19. ^ "Statements". Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly. Retrieved 2017-09-28.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  20. ^ "Senator Roméo Dallaire in car crash on Parliament hill". 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2015-02-08. 
  21. ^ "The 2010 Globe 100: Non-fiction". The Globe and Mail. 
  22. ^ "The NP99: The best books of the year, vol. 3 (49–25)". National Post. 
  23. ^ "Roméo Dallaire on the longlist for 2017 RBC Taylor Prize". 
  24. ^ "The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle by Carol Off". 
  25. ^ Dallaire, Roméo (October 4, 2004). "Looking at Darfur, Seeing Rwanda". Reprinted from The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  26. ^ a b "Ghosts of Rwanda". PBS. 
  27. ^ York honours seven for contribution to society
  28. ^ "Roméo Dallaire". Concordia University. Retrieved 2017-08-17. 
  29. ^ e-Veritas » Blog Archive » Misc Archived December 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ franco-manitobaine, Division scolaire. "Accueil". 
  31. ^ "Roméo Dallaire P.S." Retrieved October 19, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Roméo Dallaire P.S." Retrieved November 10, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Google Maps". 
  34. ^ "Order of Canada - Roméo A. Dallaire, O.C., C.M.M., G.O.Q., C.S.M., C.D., LL.D." Honours > Find a Recipient. The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  35. ^ "Meritorious Service Decorations (military division) - Lieutenant-General Romualius (Roméo) Antonius J.L.R. Dallaire, C.M.M., M.S.C., C.D. (Retired)". Honours > Find a Recipient. The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  36. ^ "The Golden Jubilee Medal - Dallaire, M. Roméo A". Honours > Find a Recipient. The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  37. ^ "Diamond Jubilee Medal - Dallaire, M. Roméo A". Honours > Find a Recipient. The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 

External links[edit]

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