“Good guys and bad guys”

Mourners at Nyabarongo River in Muhanga District in 2015, commemorate their loved ones thrown in the river during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. File.

In 2003, a delegation from the left-radical lawyers' association National Lawyers Guild (NLG) visited North Korea. The delegation of four American lawyers, including former chairman Peter Erlinder, was accompanied by the Canadian communist lawyer Christopher Black.

We know Black in the Netherlands mainly because of his denial of the genocide in Bosnia. According to Black, General Ratko Mladic, the butcher of Srebrenica, is 'falsely accused of crimes he has not committed'. He qualified the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague as 'Fascist Justice'.


Black also stood at the cradle of the International Committee for the Defense of Slobodan Milosevic, a kind of fan club for the last president of Yugoslavia. Their website still says that the Committee honors and values the commitment of non-members such as Muammar Gadaffi, Robert Mugabe and Sadam Hussein.


With such kindred spirits, a glorification of the Kim dynasty is a small step, according to the travel report of the NLG delegation. Peter Erlinder turned out to be no stranger to the North Korean officers they encountered. He was hugged by a major who greeted him with: 'welcome old friend'. It will come as no surprise that the conclusion was that not the delegation, but the American people, was the victim of large-scale deception.


According to Black and Erlinder we live in a simple world of 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. The bad guys are the imperialists. The socialist leaders such as Milosevic and Gadaffi in their eyes are the 'good guys' .... "whose only crime was to oppose the dictates and imperialist ambitions of the United States and their allies.”

They see themselves as alternative missionaries with the task of bringing light into the darkness. "I would not find peace if I did not try to prevent the many socialists, whom I regard as friends and comrades, being misled," Erlinder wrote in 2009 to the World Socialist Web Site.

The switch

The reason for Erlinders's letter was an in his eyes misleading article about Theoneste Bagosora, one of the main responsible for the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. Christopher Black also sent an angry letter.

'Both correspondents deny that genocide took place in Rwanda', Chris Talbot remarked in a shocked response. 'Professor Erlinder refers to' the Rwandan tragedy ... which some call genocide '. Mr. Black refers to 'the myth of genocide'.

Black and Erlinder did not get their views of strangers. They represented prominent genocide suspects at the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The Erlinder client wrote in 1995, one year after the genocide, that although there had been murdered, responsibility for 'the tragedy' had to be put on the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) by Paul Kagame.

Black in turn received a three-day briefing from his client, who told him that there had been no genocide against Tutsis. He was then extensively informed about the 'real' truth. Black immediately saw the similarities between 'fascist' tribunals in The Hague and Arusha: "At the Rwanda Tribunal", he said at a conference, "it’s even worse than The Hague tribunal because in that instance the people that took apart Rwanda, the Rwanda Patriotic Front are a proxy for and backed by the United States and its allies."

At the end of 2009, Black published an extended version of his letter under the title: 'The Truth About Rwanda'. In it he describes the Rwanda before the genocide as the Switzerland of Africa, a socialist state and model for the social development in which Hutus and Tutsis lived together in harmony, a fairy tale that was unilaterally ruined by the RPF.

Both Black and Erlinden make grateful use of the extensive anti-Tutsi propaganda produced in the 1990s by representatives of the Hutu Power movement, not only in court, but also in popular publications. Their work, for example, is a link between the genocidiars and all kinds of 'revelations' that are presented to us today.


A current example of such a 'revelation' is a book by the Canadian journalist Judi Rever, which appears in a Dutch translation in October 2018. The title that the publisher has chosen; 'The Truth About Rwanda' does not seem like a coincidence. Some passages are almost literally copied from Black's article with the same title.

Rever thanks Black and Erlinder in her book for providing important proofs. She also praises the research of a number of their kindred spirits, such as Robin Philpot and Barrie Collins. The first is the brother of genocide lawyer John Philpot. The second we know of the magazine Living Marxism (LM) that in the nineties questioned the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda.

Collins, then still writing under the pseudonym Barry Crawford, also published articles on behalf of the organization Africa Direct as' 'Why the Rwandan war was not a genocide', almost entirely reproduced in LM under the title; 'Rwanda, the big genocide debate’.

According to that article, the Hutu rulers were simply unable to plan and carry out a genocide. What happened was barbaric, according to Collins, but not genocide, rather a matter of force majeure after the West had sharpened the relations in Rwanda through years of interference.

"The idea that the beleaguered Hutu government could plan and execute the deliberate destruction of an entire people," wrote Collins, "at a time when they were not even able to organize the selling of coffee beans that the economy depended on, is incredible. '

Judi Rever's 'truth' is a synthesis of all the narratives that her informants, or rather the informants of her informants, have produced over the years. Critical considerations or alternative explanations for that information are missing. To give a few examples: Christopher Black wrote in 2009 the many corpses that floated in the Kagera River during the genocide did not, as everyone thought, be Tutsi victims of the Hutu militias, but Hutu victims of the RPF. The explanation would be that the RPF troops had been in control of the area around the river fairly quickly. Rever writes exactly the same in her book.

The claim is also in a publication of the fledgling regime just after the genocide. What all these authors omit is that at the end of April 1994 the RPF only had the catchment area in the east of Rwanda under control. NGOs also reported that upstream, in government territory, up to five thousand Tutsis per day ended up in the river.

Specialist research

Even scientific research isn’t wasted on these authors. According to Rever and her sources, President Habyarimana's plane would have been shot by an RPF commando unit. That was also the message of the former regime and of some defective RPF members. The RPF would have wanted to create chaos with the attack in order to seize power. Panic among the population would then have caused the mass murder of the Tutsis.

But forensic investigation commissioned by the French Justice has shown that the statements of Rever's sources can not be correct. The final report from 2012 rejects the location that would have been used for the attack. If the missiles had been fired from there, other damage would have been caused to the aircraft than what was determined on the basis of the wreckage.

Witnesses who were near the airport during the attack should also have seen and heard something different than they did. According to the experts, the most likely location of the attack was a military camp near the airport, which indicates a different scenario.

In her book Rever mentions the report, but she disputes the conclusions with reference to criticism from Barrie Collins and a Belgian colonel, although neither of them is competent. The only technical training of Collins is optometrist.

Most of the allegations in 'The Truth About Rwanda' are, just like the aforementioned examples, easy to refute with reliable documentation. Rever apparently got fixated on her one-sided sources and hardly done anything to check their information truthfully.

It appears from inquiries that the Dutch and Canadian publishers have also failed to do so. The title thus becomes a wry ironic joke to the glory of the real 'bad guys’.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper

You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    


Follow The New Times on Google News