Will truth out?

Ruanda colloquium in the French Senate

by Peter Küpfer

On March 6th, 2020, an event took place during one of the colloquiums routinely held in the French Senate that will presumably have some repercussions. Listed as one of the crucial and controversial issues concerning the French state, a complex of recent history was on the agenda which has never been brought to light: what really happened during the genocide in Ruanda in 1994 and the accusations made against the French government in this regard. Eyewitnesses, high-ranking officials of the French government at that time and authors debunked many of the allegations referring to the facts and documents available in archives today.
But the colloquium was remarkable for yet another reason: For the first time on this occasion the official France voiced interpretations of the tragic events of 1994 which differ from the official Rwandan government version. The Rwandan tragedy has been viewed as a genocide of the Tutsi minority by the Hutu majority according to the “official” version which was never questioned by the mainstream media.
Critics and eyewitnesses on the other hand have emphasized for many years that this biased version as propagated by the Kagame government leaves out important historical events.  The current Rwandan government of autocrat Paul Kagame claims the genocide as their legacy. Almost one million Rwandans were killed back then, most of them massacred by fanatic hordes in the streets.
Details never mentioned in the mainstream media but only by courageous eyewitnesses have been confirmed with overwhelming evidence by now. The colloquium at the French senate offered them a platform to bear witness to their research and conclusions thereof in public. The event could spark the urgently needed change and broadening of perspective towards a more differentiated view.

The facts presented at the colloquium may be summarized as follows: Before and after the bloody three months from April to June 1994 there were other systematic killing sprees with thousands of victims in Ruanda, but this time committed by the Tutsi guerrilla organisation “Rwandan Patriotic Front” which had regained absolute control of the country under the command of their general Paul Kagame, who has been the officially unchallenged Rwandan dictator ever since, backed by the West, who has secured his autocratic regime after the unlawful war of aggression against the constitutional Rwandan government of national consensus. This casts disturbing doubts on a government which claims to have ended the Rwandan genocide at last and paints a picture of themselves as the victims.
Challenging this narrative a number of prominent witnesses and historians testified at the French senate: Rwanda went through several genocides in 1994, not just one. Almost nobody in the international community knows anything about the first genocide of the Tutsi against the Hutu civilian population committed in the months before and after their violent coup d´etat – again the principle is, we know only what our media present to us. What they chose to ignore will go mostly unnoticed by the public. This became apparent again on this March 6th, 2020. The colloquium also debunked the Rwandan accusation against France as an alleged accomplice of Hutus militias who had supposedly armed them and had therefore some responsibility for the Rwandan genocide.

Suppressed Truths

The colloquium as such had been under severe attack before it even started, mainly from the Rwandan Tutsi minority government still lead by dictator Paul Kagame. The eye witnesses and authors emphasized in the colloquium that Kagame has reason to fear that historical truth will out (see section “Eerie ‘peacemaker’”) In his bloody war against the government of national consensus under Habyarimana, which lasted from 1990 – 1994, the RPF under Kagame eventually regained absolute control of Rwanda. In this process they attacked the fleeing remnants of the Rwandan army viciously and arrested officials, intellectuals, journalists and politicians of the former party coalition government after their victory, most of them being accused to have supported the genocide in the weeks and months prior to the RPF coup (under Kagame). The dangerously blurred term “génocidaire” (genocide perpetrator) had been coined. All voices critical of them have been silenced with this attribute by the Kagame government since they regained power.

“Model state” with flaws

At least from a Western perspective, the tiny state of Rwanda seems to do everything right so that it has been called a “modern” African model state by Western powers and many politicians ever since the Rwandan ethnic Tutsi minority (about 10 % of the Rwandan population) had re-established their absolute one party dictatorship under Paul Kagame in Kigali after 4 years of civil war in summer 1994. Before it was testified about in the colloquium, only a few (who had insisted on checking historical facts) had been aware that thousands of former Rwandan military personnel, journalists, politicians, artists and intellectuals have languished in horrible prison cells since 1994, when they had been convicted to be “génocidaires” (genocide perpetrators) in turbo-trials; that only one party – the one of dictator Paul Kagame – is always in power or that any criticism is decried as “racism”.
To voice these issues in public in Rwanda amounts to suicide. One example is the fate of the Rwandan singer and poet Kizito Mihigo, who had been well-known world-wide and supposedly hanged himself in his cell after he had been critical of the regime. His closest friends doubt that narrative and accuse the regime to have murdered him. Former Rwandan ambassador of the democratically elected previous government Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijima, who lives in France now in political exile, stated at the colloquium: “The death of Kizito Mihigos is another example for the intolerance of the regime at Kigali.” Even more important are the statements about a second Rwandan genocide, the existence of which had been officially ignored up-to now, perpetrated by those who view themselves only in the victims’ role to this day: “The troops of the Rwandan Patriotic Front have massacred 40 000 people between July and September of 1994. Was that no genocide?”
Those killed after the RPF coup had primarily been Hutu or moderate Tutsi who had promoted reconciliation between the two ethnic groups during the years of the Rwandan civil war.

Damning evidence

Two especially brave authors gave evidence about the two sides of the painful recent history of Rwanda at the meeting, based on the results of their own research of many years. One of them is Charles Onana, journalist and writer with Cameroon roots who had emigrated to Canada where he got a university degree and PhD in history. He had searched American, African and UN archives for publicly available content and had interviewed people such as judges who knew about but were no longer in the possession of relevant written evidence. His books are densely packed with facts about the Rwandan tragedy and illustrate the crime against humanity and other severe criminal acts, he names not only those on the ground but also figures who planned and concealed atrocities. This author contradicts the official version in some crucial points which by now have been endorsed by numerous eyewitnesses and researchers. Those can be summarised as follows:
All agree that the assassination of then sitting president Juvénal Habyarimana, who had been democratically elected and aimed for reconciliation, had triggered the butchery first in Kigali and later in the whole country on April 6th, 1994. His presidential airplane had been hit and downed by a surface-to-air missile when landing at Kigali airport. Apart from the Rwandan president the commander in chief of the Rwandan army and other high-ranking Rwandan officers had been in the plane as well as sitting president of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira and the French crew. All of them died in the professionally conducted assassination.
Those responsible have never been identified, detailed indictment documents were composed but archived. In the same night, within hours after the news of the assassination of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana (a Hutu, who had pursued a policy of reconciliation of all ethnic groups even during the civil war) had been aired, the premeditated killing sprees of Hutu extremists (the infamous Interahamwe) were launched and reached apocalyptic proportions in the next days and weeks. Onana presents a convincing chain of factual evidence in his books which allows but one conclusion: the perpetrators of this assassination who have never been brought to justice were a special force unit of the RPF, under direct command of Kagame’s chief of staff, if not him personally. If that is the case, and a lot of hints point in that direction, then the currently sitting president of Rwanda himself has triggered the genocide of the members of his own fellow Tutsi ethnic group.
Because the experienced mercenary general and former Rwandan head of intelligence had been informed in detail about what was going on during the end phase “his” war to regain power in the Rwandan capital Kigali. He knew exactly what would happen after such an assassination: the Hutu would accuse the Tutsi (The RPF had been the most uncompromising opponent of Habyarimana’s policy of reconciliation in all the years of war!) and immediately start the butchery which had long been premeditated and prepared for. This turned out to be the case and despite that – or should one say: especially for that reason? – he triggered it.

Perpetrators going free

A second relentless and courageous researcher shedding light on the dark truths is the Canadian author Judy Rever. She, too, presented her findings at the colloquium. A journalist specialised in African affairs, she has worked for Radio France International and Agence France Press and has published a widely acknowledged book about the debated events one year ago. Its title: “In Praise of Blood. The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front”. In this publication the Africa specialist digs deep into Charles Onana´s ground-breaking work and extends it to include the still totally obscure but equally disturbing narrative of what many witnesses accuse the RPF to have perpetrated before and after regaining power in Rwanda: that they had systematically liquidated Hutu civilians in mass executions in Rwandan regions “liberated” by them, beginning in the first years of the war, thereby mongering fear and hate in Rwanda. The events of the genocide against the Tutsi had been shaped by these emotions which may serve as a partial explanation (not to be mistaken as exoneration!).
Even more drastically: from her research of eyewitness accounts and documents of serious Congolese human rights groups as well as numerous detailed (without consequences!) UN reports, Judy Rever draws the conclusion: Already during the blitz war which Laurent Désiré Kabila and his AFDL started in November 1996 with the occupation of Goma, Bukavu and the entire Kivu (Eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo), it was in fact Kagame, “expert” in modern jungle warfare, who was the military leader on behalf of the Rwandan government – in a war against Congo, which resulted in the overthrow of Mobutu one year later. Rever discloses that large units of this alliance misleadingly referred to as “rebels” had been manned by militarily experienced Rwandan former RPF troops, apart from American aides and officers from Uganda. This army did not only shell the refugee camps around Goma and Bukavu, where hundreds of thousands of Hutu had fled in panic after the coup of the Tutsi in 1994, they also systematically drove the survivors into the jungle by the thousands, chased and liquidated them, and the perpetrators who are now important figures in Congo (such as father and son Kabila, but also Jame Kabarébé, whom they had been appointed as Congolese army chief of staff, a close friend and political mentor of Joseph Kabila) were never brought to justice for these crimes against humanity. The UN high commissioner for refugees estimated that hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees had been killed. All court trials against those responsible for this additional crime against humanity, many of whom are now high-ranking officials of the sitting Congolese and Rwandan governments, have come to nothing.
A reader who had lived in Burundi for a long time and had followed the events in Rwanda closely appraised Judy Rever’s book with the following remarks:
“Neither the author nor anybody else doubts that there had been a cruel genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. But Rever illustrates how Kagame’s invasion of Rwanda in 1990 and the massacres of Hutu’s committed by his RPF in the North of the country have destabilized the country and created an atmosphere of hate and fear among the Hutu. Was Kagame unaware that the invasion and later the downing of president Habyarimana’s airplane on April 6th, 1994 (perpetrated by the RPF as evidence indicates) was bound to end in an eruption of violence? […] The horrible genocide against the Tutsi was followed by an ethnic cleansing and cruel massacres of the RPF against the Hutus, later including the ones who had fled to Zaïre (today Democratic republic of Congo), by far exceeding the mere dissolution of the Interahamwe structures, which would have been understandable. The total number of Hutu victims may possibly be not much lower than that of the genocide against the Tutsis. Kagame’s self-proclaimed image as the noble saviour of Rwanda urgently needs correction. This book needed to be written.” (Walter Leuchs, 9.4.2019, on the website of the publisher)     •


Related Literature:

  • Onana, Charles. Ces tueurs tutsi. Au coeur de la tragédie congolaise, Paris, 2009 (Ed. Duboiris), only French, out of print at the moment
  • Onana, Charles. Rwanda, La vérité sur l’Opération turquoise. Quand les archives parlent, Paris 2019 (Ed. de l’Artilleur), only French
  • Rever, Judy. In Praise of Blood. The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Pinguin Random House, Paperback, 2020, ISBN 9780345812100

Eerie “peace-maker”

pk. Paul Kagame, the current President of Rwanda, for whom Western governments like to roll out the red carpet (except France, where he risks being tried as a war criminal), grew up in Uganda like many sons of influential Tutsi families.
When the state of post-colonial Rwanda was founded in 1962 (with its now republican constitution), they saw no chance for their centuries-long minority elite rule and went into exile in Uganda. Like many exiled second-generation Tutsis in Uganda, young Paul Kagame joined the Ugandan army early on and became the vice director of Yoweri Museveni‘s secret service. Museveni is the sole ruler of Uganda, also courted by the United States and Great Britain, who like his “pupil” Kagame came to the top of the state through the use of arms.
In the early years of the „Civil War“ (it was actually a Ugandan-backed war of reconquest by the exiled former Tutsi elite), Kagame attended an American Elite military school, trained as a dreaded guerrilla fighter and was sent back to the front in the Ugandan-Rwandan border area. There he immediately put himself at the head of the guerrilla army “Rwandan Patriotic Front” (RPF) that had meanwhile been founded to recapture the Tutsi power in Rwanda, which then sowed fear and terror. Many experts consider Kagame to be the brain, the originator and the main person responsible for the plane attack of April 6, 1994, which triggered the bloodshed of the following weeks and months.

 

Corona and Africa: the health crisis is already an economic crisis

pk. The urgent appeal by Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), was reproduced in detail and commented on in the French-speaking media (press conference from 18 March 2020). Political observers have been pointing out for some time that the health systems of many African countries are overstretched. Some therefore consider the new threat from the Covid 19 virus to be a “ticking time bomb that threatens the entire continent”. The Director-General of the WHO agrees with these warnings.
Ghebreyesus qualifies the virus as a threat to humanity. Literally, the director of the World Health Organization said that “the African states could be afflicted by an unprecedented health disaster“. Besides the lack of prophylactic and medical equipment, such as masks or breathing apparatus, the existing realities in many African cities also pose major problems for effective prophylaxis. They are social, but also economic in nature. In this context, experts mention close housing conditions and the general closeness of contacts in African everyday life. In many areas the food supply is already precarious. The closure of industrial plants that had already taken place exacerbated unemployment. The official figures of those affected by Corona (they indicate surprisingly few infected persons at the moment) are doubted by experts. Others draw attention to the increasing lack of water due to global warming: “We are supposed to wash our hands diligently – but we have no water“, says a medical nurse in a hospital in Zimbabwe. In view of the economic conditions and the poor economic forecasts for Africa in particular, financial experts consider a debt cut and interest deferrals to be urgently needed for many African countries. In an interview published in the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung“ (29.4.2020), the director of the Tropical Institute of the University of Basel, Christian Lengeler, regrets that the broad-based action planned for 2020 to prevent the persistent hostage of Africa, malaria, cannot now be carried out as planned due to financial constraints. If the prophylactic action by means of the broad propagation and provision of mosquito nets does not take effect, malaria diseases could also rise sharply in the near future. If hospital beds in emergency departments become scarce as a result of an increase in corona patients, the health system of the affected countries will be additionally threatened. The fact that the population in many African countries does not trust their authorities and therefore does not follow the prophylactic instructions regarding corona infections or does so only with little consistency has a negative effect.

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