Something of fundamental importance happened last week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abbeba. At the AU summit of heads of states, the AU peace and security commission’s proposal to send AU peace keepers to Burundi was unwelcome. That’s the basic message. But beneath the rejection lies a hidden message- that the world is waking up to the commercialization and politicization of a legal term “genocide”. This, assuming you know what underpinned the clamor for AU peacekeepers in Burundi, which has been aptly explained on this forum.
At the center of the trajectory lies a debate- and consequent exporting of it, of a genocide- central of which is what has been referred to as the “Tutsi genocide” of 1994. After the military 1 and 11 trials at the ICTR and the BBC’s untold story, the rejection of the AU PSC’s proposal is yet another indictment of people benefitting from the genocide currency.
In my earlier submissions, i presented a lot of legal literature on why the events of 1994 leave grey areas subject to a rational, legal inquiry. In this note, I intend to examine the events of 1994 from the RPA/F point of view.
To get to this; we need to examine the character of the RPA from the onset of the invasion. It is almost a “judicial notice” that prior to RPA invasion, there was already deadly intrigue within the military ranks of the RPF Tutsi exile community in Uganda. It was clan rivalry that would result in the murder of the first commander, Major General Fred Rwigyema at the hands of Maj. Dr. Peter Bayingana and Maj. Chris Bunyenyezi. Why is this important? It is important because, as my good friend Kalyegira put it, if there was this level of bad blood and struggle for power within the RPF and it could result in the murder of their overall commander so soon into the war, what havoc would these ruthless men inflict on the Hutu civilians they encountered in villages as they made their way into Rwanda after October 1990?
When the RPA invaded Rwanda, they made their rationale very clear. Reported the Uganda government-owned newspaper, the New Vision: “The force which invaded Rwanda on Monday [Oct. 1, 1990] has the prime aim of overthrowing the government of President Juvenal Habyarimana…They say they are not planning an immediate overthrow but a prolonged struggle which would mobilise the people…The RPF has an 8-point programme calling for, among other things, national unity, democracy, a self-sustaining economy and an end to corruption…They said they had no plans as to who should be Rwanda’s president and that the ‘people will choose”. The RPA further said they were prepared for a protracted war: ‘We don’t mind about speed, we mind about getting to the people’” (New Vision, Oct. 4, 1990, p.1, 12).
That was their first formal statement. Even the pro-RPF New Vision admitted that “its aim is to overthrow the government of President Juvenal Habyarimana.” There was no mention or allegation that the Habyarimana regime was massacring or planning to massacre the Tutsi. From there, we realize that had the RPF surely uncovered any plan by Habyarimana to exterminate the Tutsi, it would have been the number one point among the eight. Yet here was the summary of the RPF’s philosophy and goals and there was no single point on averting a genocide or even anything remotely to do with human rights.
Where then does genocide and death at a grisly, monumental level start, since we now know that at the time the RPF invaded Rwanda, there was no plan by the Hutu to massacre the Tutsi? Asks Kalyegira?
In late April 1994, a Kampala radio station, 91.3 Capital FM invited the long-serving Rwandese ambassador to Uganda, Claver Kanyarusoke as a guest on their Sunday evening programme, Desert Island Discs. Kanyarusoke, a Hutu, arrived on a Thursday afternoon for the recording, dressed in a dark brown business suit. At the time, the Rwanda genocide was underway and bodies were floating down the River Kagera from Rwanda into Lake Victoria in Uganda and during the interview, William Pike, then New Vision MD and co-Managing Editor of 91.3 Capital FM, asked Kanyarusoke to explain the massacre of innocent Tutsi civilians.
Kanyarusoke reminded Pike that under the 1993 Arusha peace accords between the Habyarimana government and the RPF guerrillas, Rwanda had been divided into two geographical areas of control, one for the Tutsi and the other for the Hutu. Since the world believed that the Tutsi-dominated RPF was a both a strong and disciplined force, fully in control of its area, Kanyarusoke asked, how were we to explain the fact that all the bodies floating down the river, without exception, were from the RPF-controlled region of Rwanda?
What happened in April 1994?
Stephen Kinzer, in his book about Rwandan President Paul Kagame, writes that the Habyarimana regime started killing opposition members and presumed RPA sympathizers; indiscriminately. May be or may be not. But the truth of the matter is that in early 1994, as Kalyegira aptly puts it, Kigali saw a sudden rise in violence and insecurity, with many people being killed. Leaders of the opposition Social Democrat Party and Liberal Party, as well as 2,300 other people, were gunned down in the months before April 6, 1994.
The Ugandan newspsper, The Monitor published an interview on March 25, 1994, with Justin Bahunga, who was the Second Counsel at the Rwanda Embassy in Kampala. Bahunga’s answers give us a clue to what the world might be missing as to what happened in 1994. “In whose interests would the government of Habyarimana cause insecurity in Kigali”?
Bahunga further added: “If you want to rule, you can’t rule by insecurity…So the only person who can cause insecurity is the one who wants to make a government fail.”Less than two weeks later, President Habyarimana was dead in an assassination after a surface-to-air missile was fired on the presidential jet. Fighting broke out in Kigali and in many other parts of Rwanda.
Let us read the news reports of the time, starting with the French news agency AFP, in a report from Kigali by Annie Thomas: “Wednesday 13 April 1994, KIGALI – Tutsi rebels fought their way into the Rwandan capital yesterday, sending the government, foreigners and thousands of residents fleeing in fear of a new wave of tribal bloodletting. Below is the whole story:
Intense fighting rocked several parts of the city.
“The Hutu-dominated interim government fled its headquarters in the Hotel des Diplomates in the city centre ‘for a more secure place’, a Rwandan soldier in the hotel said. Unconfirmed reports said the week-old government had moved to the town of Gitarama, south-west of the city. As the rebels closed, residents emerged from hiding and tried to escape an expected wave of revenge killings by the Tutsi forces. ‘It’s going to be carnage,’ predicted a Nairobi-based Rwandan diplomat.
The last foreign residents seeking to leave the city were escorted to the airport by French and Belgian paratroopers. France, Russia, Germany and the United States said they had evacuated virtually all their nationals from Kigali.
In Kampala, Christine Umutoni, spokeswoman for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), said its forces had entered Kigali and were about to join a battalion of 600 fellow rebels camped outside the city under a UN-sponsored peace plan approved by the government and the rebels in August.
She said RPF forces were awaiting instructions to seize the capital, where she said ‘government forces had dispersed, many of them surrendering with their arms to the RPF’. The rebels’ entry into the city was later confirmed by the UN in New York.
The RPF has around 20,000 soldiers, against an estimated 30,000 government troops. RPF radio said advancing rebel forces had signed an agreement with UN officials yesterday guaranteeing the evacuation of foreign nationals.”At this juncture, we pause to reflect.
Over the years, President Paul Kagame has railed against the UN and the world community for failing Rwanda in its time of great danger. “Where was the UN?” is a refrain we have heard countless times from Kagame in person and many of the top RPF leadership over the last 15 years.
…………………………………End of the story…………………………………………..
We now see, in the report, that the RPF’s own radio station broadcast a news item saying they had “signed an agreement with UN officials yesterday guaranteeing the evacuation of foreign nationals.” The UN was cooperating with the RPF, not standing by indifferently as we have been told.
Secondly, the first paragraph of this AFP report states that “Tutsi rebels fought their way into the Rwandan capital yesterday, sending the government, foreigners and thousands of residents fleeing in fear of a new wave of tribal bloodletting.”In other words, as the RPF advanced on Kigali, the former Habyarimana government fled. The second paragraph shows the government, still in disarray, fleeing to a “more secure place.”
Clearly the RPF was in a stronger position and was rapidly gaining the upper hand in the days following Habyarimana’s assassination.Thirdly, the AFP report said “In Kampala, Christine Umutoni, spokeswoman for the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), said its forces had entered Kigali and were about to join a battalion of 600 fellow rebels camped outside the city…” The RPF was in Kigali, according to its spokeswoman, within a week of Habyarimanas death.
These news reports were written in the fast-moving atmosphere of the day, and so nobody can claim that because the AFP is a French state news agency, it was somehow doctoring its reports. However, just in case some detractors might dismiss the AFP report, is there any other we can turn to for an alternative angle to this story? Indeed there is.
The Monitor, founded by Kevin Aliro, Wafula Oguttu, James Serugo, Teddy Seezi Cheeye, Richard Tebere, Davi Ouma Balikowa, and Charles Onyango-Obbo was a decidedly pro-RPF Kampala newspaper. There can be no question about it for those who know its history.
Certainly there was a pro-RPF mood in Uganda in 1994, especially in central and western Uganda. So we can now go to a lead story in The Monitor of April 12, 1994, just six days after the shooting down of the Habyarimana plane. The story was written by Monitor reporters Steven Shalita and Dismas Nkunda:
…………………………..the he story here………………………….
“As the looting, indiscriminate killing by the Presidential Guard, regular troops and rampaging Hutu vigilantes went from bad to worse, there were indications that Kigali is about to fall to the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA).
Information reaching The Monitor from Kigali said an advance RPA force which had been infiltrated into the capital earlier were poised to take the Post Office and the Central Bank…The RPA, which said it was going into the city to restore order and rescue the battalion of its 600 soldiers who had gone into Kigali as part of the peace process, had ben giving out a call for all foreigners to leave within 12 hours if they could…
Truckloads of reinforcements for RPA rebels could be seen moving to Kigali from their northern stronghold.
By day break [April 11] RPA had easy prey of the Rwanda army. The RPA commander-in-chief Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame told Voice of America (VOA) that his troops had overrun government positions in Mutara, formerly a stronghold for the government forces…
In another interview with the BBC Swahili, Maj. Gen. Kagame boasted ‘We are in Kigali and we have had very little resistance to get here.’
Hundreds of Rwanda government forces are said to be deserting to the RPA to secure positions in the subsequent government when the RPA topples the current interim government under the leadership of Theodore Sindikubwabo which was installed a few days ago. A member of the RPF Poliical Bureau (Maj.) Christine Umutoni yesterday told journalists at Speke Hotel [in Kampala] that the RPA will advance to ‘crush’ any forces which stand in defence of the ‘hoax government’ headed by Theodore Sindikubwabo, whether thos forces are local or foreign.
“If any foreign force comes our way, while we are advancing, we shall regard them as the enemy,’ she said. ‘We are going to crush them.” Though Umutoni could not commit herself to actual distances, she said the RPA forces are ‘very, very close.’ So far, RPA has faced minimal resistance and has reported 3 casualties and no deaths.
Reports from Kigali say that rampant massacres by Habyarimana loyalists have narrowed to specific targets, killing whole families of people opposed to their government. The targets include nearly every Tutsi and what has been described as ‘moderate Hutus.’ Umutoni however told journalists that Kigali remains a horror town and condemned the United Nations for their passive role. ‘The situation about massacres in Kigali now is very horrific,’ she said. ‘The UN has failed to control the situation.’ Maj. Umutoni boasted that the RPA had been capable of taking power as far back as February 8. ‘It was capable long ago…even February 8 when we were 30km from the town [Kigali].
Umutoni said the RPA was recruiting several more forces as it advanced to beef up its more than 20,000 strong man army. Commenting on the military strength of the RPA, she said their main source of armament is the Rwandese forces. “Habyarimana has always been our quarter master. Even now we are going to use those very weapons he bought.”
Once again, we stop and reflect on this story by the Monitor. It is even more revealing than the AFP story.
The reports by AFP and the Monitor showed :
1) The RPF in a position of increasing strength, advancing on Kigali and at various stages of taking control or having already taken control.
2) Hutu government troops either fleeing or surrendering to the RPF and the government in disarray.
The RPF is reported to be at 20,000-strong while the rapidly crumbling government army, the FAR, is at 30,000, so the two armies are at nearly the same strength.
We see, in fact, Christine Umutoni, the RPF spokesperson, “boasting” that the RPF was in a position to capture Kigali as far back as February 1994.
Take a careful look at this Monitor news story: “The overall RPF/RPA commander, Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame talks of the RPF overrunning government bases and positions and, according to the Monitor, boasting to the BBC World Service Kiswahili service that (in his own words) “We are in Kigali and we have had very little resistance to get here.”And then, we have the strange turnabout from Umutoni.
She was the first RPF official to accuse the UN of doing nothing, and yet all other reports, including one by the RPF’s own radio, were speaking of an agreement between the RPF and the UN to ease the humanitarian crisis. Umutoni’s comments at Speke Hotel in Kampala were the first indications of the dishonesty of the RPF. This is why it is so important for research and investigation to become a part of our societies. So much history is distorted and allowed to remain so, because we are not bothered about re-reading and re-searching what we have been told.
Having now seen, both from the AFP and the pro-RPF Monitor, that the RPF was in a position of rising strength and the remnant of the Habyarimana army and government was in disarray and either fleeing or surrendering, we come to the all-important question: What then happened? Remember, the RPF stalwarts Gerald Gahima and Claude Dusaidi had just penned an ultimatum to the UN with a clear threat: There are no Tutsis left to save and there is no need for additional UNAMIR troops to Rwanda (this writer is in possession of their letter to that effect).
It is clear that the RPF was in control, or gaining control, of Kigali and other towns and was unchallenged by the fleeing FAR government army. If, as we have seen too, the Hutu-dominated government was fleeing Kigali, the army also fleeing or surrendering, how then was this government, falling apart and fleeing, able to orchestrate a genocide that claimed more than 800,000 lives, with the 20,000-man RPF army in control or about to be, but not doing anything about it?
If Christine Umutoni told that Speke Hotel press conference that the RPF was strong enough to take power as far back as Feb. 8, 1994, what then prevented the RPA from stopping the genocide, if, as they claim, they knew of a plan by Habyarimana to exterminate the Tutsi minority? The answer begins to appear when we go to the next news excerpt from 1994.
Here once again is the The Monitor’s lead story in its April 15, 1994 edition, headlined: “RPA in trouble?”, written by Steven Shalita and Dismas Nkunda:
————————————–The story by The pro-RPF Monitor——————————–
“What is happening? Eleven days have gone and Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) is still in a bloody battle with Rwandese government troops for Kigali.”
Parts of the Rwandese capital remain in the hands of The Presidential Guard, regular troops and paramilitary forces to former president Juvenal Habyarimana who was assassinated in a rocket attack on his plane April 6…Anxiety has gripped supporters of the RPA/F cause who view their ‘delay’ to capture Kigali as a sign of trouble.
On Wednesday afternoon an RPF official told a Monitor reporter at Mulindi, the RPF headquarters, that Kigali would fall in 12 hours, but it did not happen. The rebels have besieged Kigali for almost a week now but have failed to take full control.
There is an estimated force of 18,000 RPA men laying siege to Kigali on three fronts. Latest reports say that some strategic hills around Kigali such as Nyamirambo, are in the hands of RPF.
According to a military analyst, the RPF is being cautious about destroying down-town Kigali. The Monitor was told that RPA was surrounding Kigali leaving only one outlet through Gitarama that could be used by fleeing soldiers.
RPF spokesman Shaban Rutayisire told the journalist at Mulindi that “It is a question of time and tactics so that we rout the murderous Rwanda army.” ‘The puzzlement that Kigali has not fallen is only deepened, because the entire interim cabinet fled Kigali on Tuesday. Interim President Theodore Sindikubwabo and 19 of his ministers fled to Gitarama, 50km, south west of Kigali.
A Uganda military expert told The Monitor yesterday that with the murders of civilians estimated about 20,000 so far, most of them suspected to be pro-RPF and Tutsi, RPA has a political obligation to go in to stop the bloodletting…
Another source watching developments said “The RPA was militarily ready to enter Kigali and there is no doubt they will win the fight within the week, but they were not politically ready.
But, on the face of it, the death of Habyarimana and the blood that flowed the Kigali streets was an ‘opportune time’ for the RPF to enter Kigali.
He said that while RPA had support, it was not clear whether they had the majority of the people on their side; and now that they were bogged down in Kigali, the Hutu hardliners have been given time to mobilise the people with fears of Tutsi massacring them.”
There we have it. The story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in crystal clear light at last. There is no question that the RPF held the upper hand militarily by the beginning of 1994.
That much Christine Umutoni was able to tell a public press conference at Kampala’s Speke Hotel. And in case we might want to dismiss her observation as that from a junior official, we have Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame’s own direct and unambiguous words to the BBC Kiswahili service that “‘We are in Kigali and we have had very little resistance to get here.
“Crucially, according to this Monitor news report, the RPF was so comfortably in control of Kigali a week after Habyarimana’s death that they even left the road to Gitarama open so that it “could be used by fleeing soldiers.”
Far from the FAR government army embarking on a mass murder of Tutsi, they were fleeing Kigali, as we have already seen and, in fact, even being helped by the RPF to escape. The comments by the Ugandan military expert to the Monitor fill in all the remaining blanks.
Here is the critical passage in the story by the Monitor on April 15, 1994: “Another source watching developments said ‘The RPA was militarily ready to enter Kigali and there is no doubt they will win the fight within the week, but they were not politically ready.’
But, on the face of it, the death of Habyarimana and the blood that flowed the Kigali streets was an ‘opportune time’ for the RPF to enter Kigali.
He said that while RPA had support, it was not clear whether they had the majority of the people on their side…”It confirms that the RPF was militarily victorious but, being a minority ethnic group, moreover from a foreign, English-speaking country Uganda, they could have walked into Kigali, taken control, but how would they have governed politically?
They had to develop their political standing. How? By resorting to the sinister tactics their mentor President Yoweri Museveni had employed so successfully in Luwero in central Uganda — commit atrocities against the population and then blame them on your adversary and by that make the population believe it was your enemy who carried out the massacre, so that you gain the population’s support, some have argued.
And they are not entirely wrong. Many a times have I expounded Yoweri Museveni’s under-graduate thesis at the university of Dar-El-Salaam where he dwelt on Franz Fanon’s theory of violence. If you have been following, then you know what is being talked about here.
Enter Museveni Yoweri- The mentor
A simple question can answer all this: If Museveni used the tactics of causing havoc in Luwero, dressing his NRA men up in UNLA uniform, in order to convince the population that it was the UNLA killing them, and it worked, leading many Baganda to support the NRA, and we read that Paul Kagame was deeply influenced by the tactics and success of the NRA in Luwero, would the RPF, made up of commanders who had served under Museveni in Luwero, not resort to the tactics they had seen work so well in Luwero when it came to Rwanda?
Let’s get a panoramic view of events: the RPF advances on Kigali and is within distance of gaining power by early February. When Habyarimana is killed on April 6, the government and the Hutu-majority army start to fall apart as the RPF rapidly moves in.
The RPF moves in, takes control or near control, then…..silence. It does nothing. It allows the Hutu soldiers to flee by way of the Kigali-Gitarama road.
It cooperates with the UN in evacuating all foreign nationals. They leave. The RPF is now in charge of Rwanda. But they sit….and do nothing.
For three months from April to July 1994, the RPF is in total charge of Rwanda, including the capital Kigali. A genocide starts to take place.
Bodies are scatterd everywhere. Tens of thousands float down the Kagera River into Uganda.
But this force of Tutsi exiles, most of them born in Uganda, away for 30 years, this force which says it knew of a plan by the Hutu government to massacre hundreds of thousands of Tutsi, is in full control of Kigali, as its own Paul Kagame and Christine Umutoni publicly boast, but it watches…and does nothing.
It is obvious, given all this evidence, given the fact that the RPF was part of the NRA that fought in the central Ugandan region of Luwero in the 1980s, that what was going on from April to July 1994 may prolly have been war crimes by the RPF against the Rwandans so as to have it blamed on the Hutu to acquire the much needed legitimacy.
Don’t rush. Let us cast an eagle’s eye on this.
Where have we heard of this guerrilla tactic before? Certainly in Luwero Triangle in central Uganda during the NRA war.
In the aforementioned book, A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s rebirth and the man who dreamed it, the American journalist Stephen Kinzer described Kagame’s formative years as a guerrilla in Luwero:
“Central Uganda is a good place to wage guerrilla war. Its heartland, known as the Luweero Triangle, comprises 3,000 square miles of savannah and tropical forests. Enough people live there to provide a social base for rebels, but there are also vast empty areas where fighters can move and hide…This was Paul Kagame’s home for five years. The way the NRA fought made a deep impression on Kagame. It decisively shaped his idea of what a guerrilla force should be and do. The lessons he learned proved invaluable to him when he began to forge, and later emerged to lead, the force that would liberate his homeland.”
So if “The way the NRA fought made a deep impression on Kagame” and it “decisively shaped his idea of what a guerrilla force should be and do” and furthermore “it proved invaluable to him when he began to forge, and later emerged to lead, the force that would liberate his homeland,” we must then go to Luwero to examine what these vital lessons were that left such a mark on Kagame that he would use years later in Rwanda.
For the answer to that, we go — ironically (given his fanatically pro-RPF stance) — to an interview published on April 15, 2005 in the Daily Monitor by its then Political Editor Andrew Mwenda with the former President Milton Obote as he explained the Luwero killings. Said Obote, speaking in Lusaka, Zambia in Oct. 2004:
“Museveni has for the last twenty three years  fought different enemies in different parts of Uganda…In all these wars, the adversaries are different, the theatre of war different, the period different. There are only two elements that are constant: Museveni on the one hand and massive atrocities on the other….It is Museveni who employs atrocities against civilians to achieve military victory, but in a more subtle way by ensuring that his adversary instead takes blame for Museveni’s atrocities.”
This method of fighting, where you commit the atrocities in order to blame them and have them blamed on your adversary, was the central plank of the NRA war in Luwero.
A report on this was published by the Shariat newsletter, a Kampala publication edited in the mid 1990s by Haruna Kanaabi and the late Musa Hussein Njuki.
Said the Shariat, Jan. 24, 1995: “On 6 February, 1981, Yoweri Museveni and a gang of his Rwandese cousins launched a war on the Republic of Uganda. They knew quite well that the people of Ankole where Museveni comes from could never support them in their madness which was a result of Museveni’s insatiable lust for power. They went to Luwero which was a good choice because they knew it had more Rwandese than any other part of Uganda……
A few days ago through Capital Radio’s “Desert Island Program”, Lt. Col. Pecos Kutesa, Museveni’s aide de camp in Luwero, revealed that they killed thousands and thousands of Obote’s soldiers in Luwero. It is also true that they killed thousands and thousands of non-Baganda and some Baganda who could not support them. They blew up buses killing many civilians who were passing through Luwero…
…[Museveni] kept the skulls of those he killed or caused to be killed to use in his campaigns…He knew that if he could keep on telling Baganda that the skulls are the creation of Milton Obote, he could remain a hero for as long as he showed the skulls of UNLA soldiers which he now claims to be of innocent civilians — something he calls ‘heroes’”.
Obote put it more succinctly to Andrew Mwenda:
“At the burial of [UPC stalwart] Adonia Tiberondwa recently [on December 28, 2004], Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, for example, revealed that the National Resistance Army rebels used to wear UPC colours and then go into villages in Luwero and kill people in order to make the people think these were actions of the UPC government. Otafiire was boasting of the “tricks” NRA employed to win support in Luwero, but was also revealing the sinister side of Museveni and his insurgents… Each time there was a reported case of mistreatment of civilians by the army, we arrested those responsible and punished them severely.
“The truth is that most of the soldiers in the army who were committing atrocities were Museveni’s people. And whenever we zeroed in on them, they would run to join him in the bush in Luwero. Take the example of [Colonel] Pecos Kutesa. He had an interview with William Pike on Capital Radio in Kampala in [January] 1995 in a programme called Desert Island Discs. He told Pike that he was in UNLA but as an NRA infiltrator whose mission was to undermine the credibility of the army from within.
“Pecos Kutesa’s testimony is instructive of how Museveni personally orchestrated the killings of innocent people and the harassment of civilians not just in Luwero but other parts of Uganda as well during the 1980s. His testimony is also important because it fits very well with what Otafiire and Lt. Gen. Elly Tumwine have confessed. Let us listen to Pecos Kutesa, whose interview on Capital Radio Tim has kept as evidence. He told Pike that he used to be at a roadblock in Konge. As a lieutenant, he was the man in charge of that roadblock. According to Pecos Kutesa’s own testimony on Capital Radio, Konge roadblock was the most notorious in harassing civilians, robbing them of their money and killing some. Kutesa says reports reached army headquarters of his harassment of the civilians and Oyite Ojok summoned him to Kampala for disciplinary action. He ran to the bush.” (Daily Monitor, April 15, 2005).
From all the above quotes, we must ask ourselves the all-important question: If this is the way Museveni’s NRA conducted itself in Luwero and according to Stephen Kinzer’s admiring book on Kagame, the methods of guerrilla warfare in Luwero we have just read about left a “deep impression on Kagame”, is there anything more to be said about the way the RPF fought its war under the command of the now Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame between 1990 and 1994?
According to the Citizen newspaper in Jan. 1991, this is late Dec. 1990 and what do we already see, long before the 1994 genocide? Reports of bodies floating down the Kagera River from the RPF-held areas.
Why do the international media, governments, historians, the ICTR in Arusha, and others not want to listen to this side of the story? Why are the Hutu being persecuted when this report plus the one on today’s cover story clearly point to who it was who orchestrated that 1990-94 genocide in order to have it blamed on the Hutu?
Keith Harmon Snow, a controversial war correspondent who has worked in 16 African countries, including conflict areas in Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan and a former genocide and war crimes investigator for Genocide Watch, Survivor’s Rights International and the United Nations, who has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, provides an insight in his essay in Global Research:
“The New York Times led the charge into Rwanda, and the Western media continued to beat the ‘Tutsis as victims’ drum roll. There was, after all, a lot of money to be made. Wall Street vultures began drooling. Military and intelligence operatives like David Kimche (Israel) and Roger Winter (USA) jockeyed for position – organizing logistics, maintaining supply chains, arranging weapons shipments – to support ‘our’ man Kagame and our proxy guerrilla army, the RPF. The Washington Post, Boston Globe, CNN, the Observer all described the RPF guerrillas as a highly ‘disciplined’ army: if any woman was raped or civilian massacred, it was an accident, a rogue soldier, and said soldier would be duly punished (of course, they never were).
Continues Keith: Paul Kagame put into practice what his teachers, the military strategists at the US Army Command and Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (USA), taught him: psychological operations and how to overthrow a country. “As the English-speaking ‘Tutsis’ marched into Rwanda they conscripted and lured ‘Tutsi’ youth to the ‘freedom’ cause. These were young French-speaking Tutsis who were also subjected to Kagame’s ruthless modus operandi: many of them were tortured, killed, disappeared, but many survived the initiation into the RPF. Kagame and his elite Ugandan comrades didn’t trust Tutsis who had stayed behind, and they clearly sacrificed the French-speaking Tutsis of Rwanda for the cause of absolute military power.”
Just as Museveni had infiltrated, massacred and terrorized Uganda (1980-1985), the RPF infiltrated soldiers disguised as civilians into Hutu villages, Hutu political parties, even into Hutu youth groups organized to defend Rwanda from the invading terrorist guerrillas. While the RPF used the airwaves to terrorize the people, scapegoat and stereotype enemies real and perceived, and whip up fear of ‘Hutu power’ – the same kinds of nasty propaganda, often sexualized, used by the Kagame regime to demonize its detractors from the West even today – we only even hear about ‘Hutu power’ hate radio, not extremist Radio Muhabura.
Keith concludes: “No such planning or organization of genocidal intent has been proven against the Hutu government of Juvenal Habyarimana – which, in any case, was decapitated on April 6, 1994 – or against the Interim Hutu government that briefly held sway after April 6, 1994, and the judges at the ICTR have found as such. There were indeed hundreds of thousands of French-speaking Tutsis raped, brutalized and massacred in what amount to very real acts of genocide in Rwanda, and these occurred over the now sacred ‘100 days of genocide’. But there were also hundreds of thousands of Hutus killed, and far more Hutu than Tutsi.”
Don’t remind me that Keith is a genocide denier. I have already heard of that. But how about Jonathan Cook- an award winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism whose latest books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East(Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books)?
According to him, Paul Kagame, the hero of the official story of Rwanda’s genocide, was almost certainly the biggest war criminal to have emerged from those horrifying events. Kagame led the Tutsis’ main militia, the RPF. He almost certainly ordered the shooting down of the Rwandan president’s plane, the trigger for a civil war that quickly escalated into a genocide; on the best estimates, his RPF was responsible for killing 80% of the 1 million who died inside Rwanda, making the Hutus, not the Tutsis, the chief victims; and his subsequent decision to extend the civil war into neighbouring Congo, where many Hutu civilians had fled to escape the RPF, led to the deaths of up to 5 million more.
From his own experience covering Israel-Palestine, he says: “I can guess what happened. The reporters on the ground feared straying too far from the consensus in their newsrooms. Rather than telling their editors what the story was (the model of news production most people assume to be the case), the editors were creating the framework of the story for the reporters, based on the official narrative being promoted in political and diplomatic circles. Correspondents who cared about their careers dared not challenge the party line too strongly, even when they knew it to be a lie.”
Are we still in doubt at what happened?
The Hutus have pleaded innocence but world opinion refuses to believe them. May be the world is right. I don’t claim to be right or wrong but rather making a rational inquiry.
In Dec. 2005, a British-based team of investigators, the Sanders Research Associates, published a report that questioned the basis for apportioning blame for the 1994 Rwandan genocide. We already discussed the Stam and Davenport report about the numbers of the dead; supported by the 1991 government census that clearly make the numbers of the Tutsi dead an impossibility.
But there is as well the Sanders report, which stated thus: “There is a stunning lack of documentary evidence of a [Habyarimana] government plan to commit genocide”.
There were no orders, minutes of meetings, notes, cables, faxes, radio intercepts or any other type of documentation that such a plan ever existed. The ICTR, needless to say, confirmed this in military trials 1 and 11. In fact, the documentary evidence establishes just the opposite.” (View from Rwanda: The Dallaire Genocide Fax: A Fabrication, Sanders Research Associated Ltd., December 1, 2005).
Of paramount importance is not only the fact that this story is being revisited but the fact that its export base is declining, as we saw last week in Addis Abbeba. But how about for the sake of historical clarity for the sake of a genuine co-existence between Rwanda’s bi-polar divide? Unless the right questions are asked, the past is blurred and the future is constructed on lies. It’s nigh that right questions should be asked at 10 Downing Street and the Pentagon. Till then!