For thirty years, the Belgium government has in one way or another been involved with Rwandan affairs. Specifically, Belgian soldiers were until 1990 working hand in hand with the then Rwanda armed forces (X-FAR) in the military camps of Ruhengeri and Bigogwe as instructors.
When the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) attacked the country from the Eastern part of the country, the then Rwandan government had signed an agreement with France to help it in training its military.
From October 1990 French soldiers presence increased as a result of their operation code named NOROIT. The instructors later changed their mandate into a military operation.
During the NOROIT operation, Belgium soldiers lived with French soldiers in the above said camps.
“We were trained and armed by the French soldiers to clean up the common enemy, the Tutsi,” Bosco Habimana told the Mucyo commission which was tasked by the government to probe the French role in the genocide against the Tutsi.
The same training took place at Mukamira and Bigogwe training wings which trained the Commandos and Interahamwe hand in hand. However, the eye witness claims that Belgian soldiers trained the commandos while the French soldiers trained the militias.
From January 22 to June, 1991 the Tutsi in Bigogwe were murdered in a Ruhengeri camp known as Muhoza. And by February 1991 the Bagogwe massacre extended to Bigogwe as the militias training continued of course to be carried out by French soldiers.
According to General Jean Varret, the Cooperation Chief, the French government knew what was going on in Rwanda.
When Gen. Varret was summoned by the French Parliament on the Rwanda mission, he admitted that junior officers carried out the militia training in Rwanda.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report and the book entitled AUCUN TEMOIN NE DOIT SURVIVRE page 146.
The HRW authored book revealed how French government knew what was going on their mission.
Did the Belgian soldiers know what was going on? I mean the trainings, the killings of the innocent Tutsi civilians called Abagogwe assisted by French soldiers.
It is something hard for one to chew since the Belgian army lived with the French in the same camps. It’s when the killings were denounced by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the government of Belgium ordered the investigations on what is said on the French. The reports were sent to the Belgium government.
“The reports you want are classified, unless the court in Belgium orders the government to reveal them,” a reliable source inside the Belgium embassy in Rwanda, said.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive secretary of the National commission against Genocide in his Remera office, said that Sergeant Peter Davis who was working at the Belgium embassy in Kigali wanted to testify on what he saw during the Bagogwe massacre and the role of France.
Unfortunately, the embassy requested a written document containing the list of the people whom the commission needed to interview.
“We delivered the document requesting some people from Belgium, to our surprise Sergeant Peter Davis whom we requested for was recalled by the Belgium government,” Mucyo revealed.
According to Mucyo, Sgt. Davis had volunteered to give the whole testimony on the French role in the massacre.
The Belgian government turned down the commission’s requests when the government applied to interview some of the officials who were in Rwanda during the Genocide.
“We channelled our written requests through the Belgian embassy in Kigali and after our first letter (dated February 5) went unanswered, we followed it up with another one on March 12 only to get a reply that we cannot interview officials who are still serving either in military or political circles,” Mucyo told reporter s on April 26, 2007.
In 2007the former Belgium ambassador to Rwanda Francois Roux said that he was going to meet President Kagame and discuss about the matter. According to other sources, Mucyo and four other people met the sergeant in the house of a lady called Claire Maziyateke.
Could the discussion with the Mucyo commission be connected to Sgt. Davis’ recalling by his country? Whatever it is, Mucyo said Belgians should know something about those massacres.
“He is a Belgian soldier, who lived with the French instructors and he wanted to tell us what he knew of the role of the French. It is so unfortunate that the Belgium embassy did not cooperate,” Mucyo noted.
The inside source in the Belgium embassy said that Sgt Davis was recalled in February 2007 because he was among the people on the list the commission wanted to testify yet Belgium doesn’t want anything that may bring them back into the Genocide dossier.
Should one conclude that the Belgium genuinely knew nothing of the massacres or could they just be sweeping the dust under the carpet? Maybe some further digging needs to be done if the Bagongwe and all genocide victims are to rest in peace.