To Djemal Cvetkovic in Sutjeska, Ron Gibbs in Baton Rouge, Mphule Mftila in Durban, Marcus Onyango in Kericho, Carl Gustave in Tromso and all friends who took time to write to me.
You asked questions in response to the article “Inside a killer’s mind” that run in The SUNDAYTIMES and although I do not have all the answers, I hope the discourse below will be of help in your search for information.
Dear Djemal, the Genocides in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Rwanda were similar in many ways: both took place in the 1990s and in both cases the intent was to destroy lives of one ethnic group the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in the former and Tutsi in Rwanda. The UN peacekeepers looked on or abandoned the people they were supposed to protect: Lt. Col. Thomas Karrens and his Dutch peacekeeping contingent (the Dutchbat) watched on or retreated, abandoning vulnerable civilians who were later killed in Srebrenica; Col. Luc Marchal and his Belgian peacekeeping contingent (KIBAT) in one instance abandoned 2,000 civilians who had sought sanctuary in their compound at ETO-Kicukiro to killers waiting outside the perimeter fence who later killed all the civilians and an armed group of Polish Officers under the UN mandate with an APC retreated in panic and abandoned survivors of a massacre at a school at St. Andre in Nyamirabo running away from machete and club welding killers who later killed all the survivors. In both cases, the killers had external backers: Serbs were buoyed on by the former Yugoslav Republic and the Hutus by France. Gen. Latko Mladic visited the victims at Nova Kasaba and assured them that they were safe and nothing would happen to them but were later killed; Col. Leonidas Rusatira assured the victims at ETO Kicukiro of their security only to transport more killers to carry out the killings and in many cases Government Officials gave false assurances to victims who were later murdered. The killers in both cases targeted areas for mass extermination.
The differences were pronounced though. The estimated number of those killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina was 10,000 people, in Rwanda it was over 1,000,000. The demographic patterns and settlements in both cases were different: there were no Hutu/Tutsi enclaves in Rwanda as was the case in Bosnia; Rwandans lived together in villages as neighbours and when the killings began it was neighbours hunting and killing neighbour’s families.
The Serbs in the Army of Republic Srpska (VRS) and the allied Militias separated Bosniak men from women and children, the Hutu killers in Rwanda killed men, women and children. As the Judges in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on 26/02/2007 “the criteria for Genocide with the specific intent (dolus specialis) to destroy Bosnian Muslims were met only in Srebrenica or Eastern Bosnia in 1995”; in Rwanda the intent by the Government, the army, gendarmerie, local authorities, militia, school administrators and Hutu civilian population was to wipe out an ethnic group across the whole country.
The Genocide against the Tutsi was carried out in 100 days, the Bosnian took longer. The Serb Republic Srpska Army or VRS, blockaded, shelled and bombed Srebrenica and other cities or ambushed Bosniaks fleeing; in Rwanda lists of those to be killed had long been prepared by the government.
Mphule, whether the genocide may happen again, I hope not: not because the killers and would be killers have washed themselves clean of the ethnic poison, but times have changed. Rwandans are no longer the isolated and ignorant lot they were 15 years ago: they are informed, they look forward to the future, thanks to the deliberate government policies in economic, gender, education and social development and there are efforts to de-emphasize ethnicity in Rwanda, a major issue the genocidal regimes used to control and disenfranchise Rwandans. Political parties, groups and individuals continue to put ethnicity at the fore of their activities albeit discreetly.
Many International NGOs (particularly Religious based), Aid agencies and International Corporations recruit employees based on ethnicity in Rwanda. You may have heard about ethnic cleansing in Eastern Congo, the massacres against ethnic Banyamulenge refugees in Burundi particularly at Gatumba refugee camp and the murder of genocide survivors in Rwanda.
Because justice was not seen to be done in Rwanda (the organizers and senior leadership in the genocidal regime were tried in Arusha, Tanzania and the convicted sent to serve their sentences in West Africa) Rwandans did not get the opportunity to witness the punishment of those all powerful genocide perpetrators and many believe the criminals are organizing to take over government and protect the killers while finishing the Tutsis.
Many religions take a permissive attitude (possibly because of their church’s role) towards the killers; for example one senior church leader recently said the church did not believe in urging killers to speak the truth but wait for them to say what they did on their own volition which is not easy for many to accept guilt because they would then be accusing themselves.
Marcus, telltale signs of an impending genocide are easy to identify because of the nature of the crime. Genocides are organized by governments and they require resources, authority, a poorly informed populace and a minority group to victimize. The authorities base their programmes, policies, ideology and rhetoric on blaming one ethnicity, community or religion.
The victims are dehumanized and are referred to using names or abusive references that deny them their dignity and humanity. As has been the case in many countries, sections of the population are militarized and armed alongside a standing/ national army and are assured of support and protection in their efforts to protect their tribe, pride, honour, nation, nation or religion.
The authorities may also assure the killers of forgiveness and material reward on earth and the life after. Religion also plays an important role to psyche up the killers while the superiority of the killers over their victims is emphasized.
Gustave, a comprehensive report of the role of France in the genocide in Rwanda has been made public through the investigations of a National independent Commission popularly referred to as the “Mucyo Commission” which can be accessed on the internet. Suffice to note that, in my opinion, the government of France under Mitterrand was instrumental in the events leading to and after the genocide and successive French governments have continued to cover the truth for reasons best known to them.
France sent troops to Rwanda to defend a regime that kept its nationals as refugees in neighbouring countries and influenced the international opinion that it was Uganda attacking sovereign Rwanda knowing very well that it was Rwandan refugees who did not want to be stateless for longer at the start of the conflict, France supplied arms, munitions, training, intelligence reports and other logistics in support of the regime that denied a section of its nationals (inside Rwanda) their basic rights.
France knowingly referred to the refugees turned warriors as communists to deny them international recognition and support. As the ICJ ruled on 26/2/2007 in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia, France should be charged and found guilty for failing to prevent genocide and failure to punish those who carried out the genocide on its territory.
This is because prior to the genocide in Rwanda, many French officials and agents knew and talked about the possibility of RPF “winning the war but losing all their kin inside Rwanda” and France has continued to give protection to genocide suspects on its territory.
By France, “the most knowledgeable authority on Rwanda”, delivering arms and munitions to killers in the name of evacuating its nationals and then vetoing any moves by the UN Security Council to reinforce its embattled peacekeeping force, it led to the emboldening of the killers’ opinion that the outside world did not care about the Tutsi and denied the peacekeepers the ability to save those in danger.
French president Mitterrand knowingly misled world opinion from the ongoing genocide through media statements that “massacres are not uncommon in that part of the world” into inaction from saving those under threat of the genocide.
French government and troops failed or refused to protect the lives of those who sought or came under their protection under the “zone turquoise” they created on Rwandan soil by encouraging or “looking the other side” as they were being killed. As was pointed out during the Nuremburg trials, a warrior owes a duty not just to his nation, or his army, but also to his common humanity.
Ron, I do not know about the refugees in Arizona but I doubt if they are survivors of the genocide. The few true survivors of the genocide were left to their means as relief services joined the TV and Press crews in Zairean camps to attend to the killers.
It made fundraising sense to have your organization’s insignia beamed, via cable, across the world offering aid to multitudes than go picking individual survivors with septic wounds or dismembered body parts where cameras did not go.