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  • Nicoletta Fagiolo

From the Arusha peace accords to the Arusha tribunal, silencing history 23 years down the line

Diane Rwigara (centre), a prominent critic of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, is escorted by police officers to the court room at the Nyarugenge intermediate court in Kigali on October 9, 2017.

In October 2017 Rwanda recalled its ambassador to Paris when the French judge, charged with investigating[i] the shooting down of the plane that killed Rwandan and Burundian Presidents Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira on 6 April 1994, summoned today’s Rwandan Defence Minister General James Kabarebe to testify in Paris. The investigation had been first opened in 1997 at the request of the widows of the French co-pilots, which also died that night.

To this day, 23 years after the 1994 incident that triggered the mass killings of up to 1 million people, there are still two totally opposite versions of the events that led up to one of the world’s worst massacres since the Second World War. The two versions are irreconcilable.

The largely accepted version[ii] that has been in the limelight for over 20 years defines the events as a genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority perpetuated by hard line Hutus close to the Habyarimana government. For this camp Hutu extremists were responsible for Habyarimana’s assassination, which was seen as part of a coup attempt to bring hard line politicians to power, thus sabotaging the Arusha peace process and the on-going transition to democracy. A genocide targeting the Tutsi minority, planned years ahead by Hutu extremists, was halted by Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated, armed wing of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) - today’s ruling party- when it declared military victory over the government forces in July 1994.

The other camp[iii] instead speaks of an international invasion that began in 1990 and was a US, UK backed Rwandan regime change, which caused large-scale massacres with the ensuing war. The downing of the plane was planned by the RPF rebels who knew in advance that it would bring chaos, as had the 1993 assassination of Burundian President Melchior Ndadaye, which had caused 500,000 Hutu refugees to cross the border into Rwanda. Habyarimana’s assassination is just one incident in a 44 months war which began with the October 1990 foreign invasion of Rwanda led by young Rwandan and Ugandan Tutsi members of the Ugandan national army (the Ugandan people’s defence force), which by 1987 had reconfigured themselves as the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Thus an international war- and not a civil war nor genocide –is according to these analysts the defining characteristics for the events.

Professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and media specialist Edward S. Herman and journalist David Peterson in Enduring Lies, The Rwandan genocide in the Propaganda System remind us that in contrast to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait just two months before, which was countered in the United Nations Security Council by the same-day demand that Iraq withdraw its forces immediately, the UNSC did not authorize an observer mission in Rwanda till June 1993 by which time the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels has occupied much of northern Rwanda and had displaced up to one million Hutu farmers.

How do the two versions coexist? Are both sides open to debate?

World-renown Great Lakes expert Filip Reyntjens, writing on today’s Rwanda, prefers to ignore the debate over the two opposing narratives, yet when shifting the timeframe to post-1994 Rwanda Reyntjens also speaks of two “opposite perspectives”: one which hails Rwanda’s mainly economic achievements since 1994, represented by “Bono, the Pastor Rick Warren, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, some people from the “Friends of Rwanda” and most non-governmental organizations” and the other “made up of the majority of academics” who instead point to the country’s increasingly autocratic regime and its grave human rights abuses.[iv]

Yet for the pre-1995 Rwandan history Filip Reyntjens endorses the largely accepted historical version of genocide. On which facts does the ‘generally accepted view’ depend? According to this dominant narrative Habyarimana’s wife, Agathe, headed a shadowy network of individuals close to the late President Habyarimana known as Akazu, a network that had planned the genocide long in advance. She and other hard liners, unsatisfied with the achievements reached through the peace accords, had her husband’s plane shot down as he was returning from the Arusha accords.

The Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was however the one that was most likely to loose influence through the implementation of the election schedule set by the Arusha Peace accords, since the RPF was a small minority with no real constituency in the country. Furthermore the refugee problem, often cited by the RPF as their reason for taking up arms, was coming to a peaceful solution through a tripartite UNHCR-Uganda and Rwanda agreement.

Edward S. Herman and David Peterson in Enduring Lies, The Rwandan genocide in the Propaganda System, although acknowledging Reyntjens’s extensive academic contributions in the history of the Great Lakes region reprimand him and other academics for “failing to question and free themselves from the early deluge of propaganda about the genocide.”[v] They convincingly argue that the “genocide-as-conspiracy” narrative when faced with thorough investigations, newly declassified documents, 20 years of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) judgments, as well as a string of defections of top RPF officials who have spoken out, can no longer be sustained.

“Many RPF officers and former politicians have left Rwanda, and spoken out not only against the regime’s domestic failings, but crucially about the RPF’s role not as saviour, but as instigator and assassin with a clear share of responsibility in the massacres of 1994” writes Lead trial counsel for George Rutaganda at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Tiphaine Dickson.[vi]

A non-debatable debate

Omission has helped keep the debate closed. It is thus surprising to see that Reyntjens 2017 Que sais-je? ("What do I know?"), a reference book published by the University Press of France that aims at providing students with an accessible introduction to a field of study written by an expert, omits in the bibliography all references to those who hold his opposite view point, thus obfuscating further a necessary academic debate.

Reyntjens in Que sais-je? writes in a footnote on page 48 (out of a 118 page book):“Let us observe that no study was devoted to the progression of the war, as the attention of researchers has been focused on the genocide.”[vii] This is simply not true. For example researchers Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam spent over 14 years analyzing the day-to-day movements of the war front and comparing that data with data on the massacres. Their work can be consulted on the website Geodynamics[viii]

Allan C. Stam writes that the RPF “ launched its final assault on the Rwandan government almost immediately after the assassination of Habyarimana, within 60 to 120 minutes of the shooting-down of his jet, with “50,000 [RPF] soldiers mov[ing] into action on two fronts, in a coordinated fashion”, clearly “a plan that was not worked out on the back of an envelope.”[ix]

Barrie Collins in Rwanda 1994: The Myth of the Akazu Genocide Conspiracy and its Consequences, as well as Charles Onana in Europe, Crimes and Censorship in Congo and France in the Rwandan Terror, among others, have dedicated ample pages on the subject of national defence policies within the geopolitical context of the international diplomacy at the time.

Barrie Collins underlines the dynamics which developed following the 1990 invasion which generated ethnic hostilities thus creating the conditions that made mass killings of civilians almost inevitable, since the RPF was an overwhelmingly Tutsi organization terrorizing the rural population - 85 per cent Hutu - off their land and into internal displacement camps. By mid 1993 over one million people had moved to camps due to the RPF’s invasion exasperating the security situation.

The unfolding of the Rwandan war saw the Rwandan interim government forces repeatedly ask in April, May and June of 1994 the Tutsi rebel RPF forces for a cease-fire to allow civilian protection measures, starting from the night of 6 April that were each time refused by the RPF. While the government’s requests for cease-fires with the RPF were rejected, it resorted to appeals for calm, condemned ethnic killings and stressed the need for unity. The RPF’s categorical rejection of any sort of armed humanitarian intervention, supported by the US and the UK through UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the repeated pleas of the Rwandan interim government to send UN troops to their help, are other established facts.

In September 2017 Guardian journalist Helen C. Epstein writing an article America’s secret role in the Rwandan genocide points to a clear US involvement: “In 1991, Uganda purchased 10 times more US weapons than in the preceding 40 years combined.” Yet as we read on Epstein exonerates the Clinton administration policy as one of “non-involvement”, Epstein writes: “In the years that followed, Bill Clinton apologized numerous times for the US’s inaction during the genocide. “If we’d gone in sooner, I believe we could have saved at least a third of the lives that were lost,” he told journalist Tania Bryer in 2013.”[x] Edward Herman and David Peterson write on this specific point: “But this is doubly false. What the United States and its Western allies (Britain, Canada, and Belgium) really did was sponsor the U.S.-trained Kagame, support his invasion of Rwanda from Uganda and the massive ethnic cleansing prior to April 1994, weaken the Rwandan state by forcing an economic recession and the RPF’s penetration of the government and throughout the country, and then press for the complete removal of UN troops because they didn’t want UN troops to stand in the way of Kagame’s conquest of the country, even though Rwanda’s Hutu authorities were urging the dispatch of more UN troops. “[xi]

The acceptance of the institutionalized narrative also requires the suppression of key details: on the night of 6 April 1994 following Habyarimana’s assassination the Rwandan government and military was in a disarray, as ministers fled to foreign embassies for their safety in the political vacuum which had ensued. The night of her husband’s assassination Agathe Habyarimana, her son Jean-Luc and two cousins who had witnessed the plane crash from the garden of the Presidential residence spent six hours performing “the gruesome task of searching among the blackened debris for body parts. Their work was made all the more hazardous as they came under automatic weapon fire from the RPF based at Ndera hill opposite within half an hour of the destruction of the plane.[xii]

Edward Herman and David Paterson in Enduring lies provide evidence that as early as 1993 baseless papers by the NGO Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations established the dominant interpretative framework for much of the reporting on Rwanda that followed. This standard model subsequently “entered into the establishment history books and promulgated within the field of genocide studies, in documentaries in the official history at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and even proclaimed for on high by the UN security Council in April 2014.” [xiii]

The Presidential plane after the 6 April 1994. Photos from Charles Onana, France in the Rwandan Terror, éditions Duboiris, Paris, 2014.

Law Professor Luc Reydams writes in a forthcoming paper Politics or Pragmatism? The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Burying of the Investigation into the Assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana (HRQ May 2018) : “It is instructive to read or listen to reactions outside Rwanda immediately after the attack. The US Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam commented that ‘only they [the RPF] appear to have the weapons capable of this act.’ A correspondent for a major international news agency described to me, on condition of anonymity, his reaction on 7 April: They did it again! I had covered the war in Rwanda from the beginning. In October 1990, I saw with my own eyes how a SAM 7 [surface-to-air missile] from the Ugandan army fired by the RPF brought down a government aircraft. After hearing the news [on 7 April 1994] I took the first flight to Kampala and continued on to RPF headquarters in Mulindi. From there I walked with the RPF and press-ganged Hutu carriers to the Parliament building in Kigali [where an RPF battalion was stationed]. During our march, I asked villagers when they had seen the first [RPF] military. They said they had observed combat troops – not supply carriers – marching to Kigali in the 24 hours before the shooting down of the aircraft. There is not a single doubt on my mind that the RPF did it. The theory that blames Hutu extremists I always have found ludicrous.”[xiv]

One way events were wrongly portrayed in the beginning of the war and later taken up by the media is revealed by Law Professor Luc Reydams in a 2016 Human Rights Quarterly article, NGO Justice: African Rights as Pseudo-Prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide. Reydams unfolds the untold story of the NGO Africa Rights, whose book Death Despair and Defiance was a sensation when it came out as early as September 1994, barely a few months after the events. Reydams raises many red flags on Africa Rights’s methodology: Journalist Rakiya Omaar, as well as co-founder of Africa Rights, Alex de Waal[xv] readily conceded that they had not been to Rwanda before 1994 and that they were hardly “experts”; Rakiya Omaar was escorted by RPF personal while in the field collecting interviews; Africa Rights subsequently became a front organization for the RPF working from Kigali.

This obscure two-man run London based NGO became “the most important source of publications about Rwanda… Virtually unknown before April 1994, this London-based human rights organization published approximately forty titles (± 4,500 pages) on the genocide and its aftermath. No single institution or individual published more”. Reading the Africa Rights report from May 1994 (in the midst of the mass killings) one reads “It is too late for the United Nations to have a major positive impact in terms of saving lives in Rwanda’. [Should the UN use] Chapter VII of the UN Charter to send troops to enforce a cease-fire . . . the results would be disastrous” This was the RPF rebel position and an odd statement coming from an NGO. Africa Rights also harshly criticized UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, a field-oriented organization, for writing reports on RPF rebels human rights abuses, which it called unfounded. Professor Reydams goes on to demonstrate the impact such reporting had in the media, academia as well as at the ICTR: “African Rights was instrumental in shaping and spreading an easily consumable one-sided narrative of the Rwandan conflict and that the resulting pensée unique contributed to RPF impunity.”[xvi]

Alison Des Forges’s classic on Rwanda 1994, Leave None to Tell the Story cites Africa Rights Death Despair and Defiance 42 times.

Legal scholar Alexander Zahra signalling works such as Philip Goureveitch’s We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, Alison Des Forges’s Leave None to Tell the Story and Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims become Killers, Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, calls their accounts “naive, tendentious, and derivative, written in a judgmental or didactic style foreign to scholastic endeavours”. Zahra explains how they tend to “reduce national defence to criminal conspiracy, political disagreement to ‘tribal’ tension, and a war involving regular and irregular forces, to genocide.”[xvii]

The Arusha tribunal also acted in a historical void: “In the ICTR’s first judgment, the Trial Chamber devotes 33 paragraphs to a ‘history of Rwanda’ from the pre-colonial period to 1994, relying solely on the testimony of the late Alison Des Forges. A single witness provided claims and interpretations that erected a stubbornly persistent prejudicial backdrop against which individual prosecutions were subsequently carried out. Some of us tried to find ways to make debates on history relevant, thus admissible. Those efforts were not always well received, leading to charges of political lawyering, or worse yet, to morally debilitating charges of ‘denial’, writes Tiphaine Dickson, Lead trial counsel for George Rutaganda at the ICTR[xviii].

In fact the ICTR did not try a single person from the RPF and took judicial notice[xix] of genocide in 2006 when no evidence of a preconceived planning of genocide was found: for example the ‘genocide fax’ having proven to be a hoax through investigative work by ICTR defence attorney Christopher Black,[xx]corroborated by an internal UN review by United Nations Secretary General to Rwanda Shahryar Khan in November 1995.[xxi] Despite these facts a copy of the fabricated fax was uploaded by Micheal Dobbs in 2014, on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide for a history project he was running, on the website of the Holocaust Memorial museum and the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Edward S. Herman and attorney Christopher Black among other Rwandan scholars complained - to no avail.

This ahistorical approach at the ICTR has brought nightmarish consequences for international criminal justice in Arusha[xxii] and beyond, to this day: a dozen acquitted Hutus are still in Arusha and nearly 200 Hutus are still being persecuted world-wide by national jurisdictions (in Canada, Germany, France, Belgium) accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. These trials are not monitored and rarely reported on.[xxiii]

Habyarimana’s widow, Agathe, demonized in the press and in films, was never indicted nor called to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which opened in Arusha in November 1994. Colonel Théoneste Bagosora was regarded as the mastermind of the genocide, yet his trial ruling has done more than anything else to discredit the dominant narrative. Although revealing that the alleged mastermind of the genocide, Colonel Théoneste Bagosora and his co-defendants, were acquitted of conspiracy and any direct role in the genocide, journalist and author of The Court of Remorse Thierry Cruvellier, in order to salvage the Hutu conspiracy narrative speaks of a “brainless genocide”, an oxymoron at the very least.[xxiv]

Hervé Deguine, a former Reporters without borders (RSF) journalist, says he no longer works with French historian Jean Pierre Chrétien on Rwanda, as he believes he was outright manipulated in the writing of Rwanda, the genocide media (Rwanda, les médias du genocide) in 1995. RSF officially no longer endorses the book, which covers issues of Rwandan media during the war in 1994.[xxv] Deguine wrote a book on a 15- year investigation he undertook on the life of Ferdinand Nahimana, wrongly accused by the ICTR, as one way to excuse himself of the misguided work he had performed.[xxvi]

Fear is another factor that plays a role in silencing the debate. In fact those who research are marginalized and threatened thus further hampering analysis. Charles Onana was charged with defamation by Paul Kagame as well as the Rwandan state for his 2002 book The Secrets of the Rwandan Genocide: Investigating the mysteries behind a president that accused the RPF of shooting down the Presidential plane. Just as the trial was about to begin Kagame and the Rwandan state dropped the charges. In 2005, French investigative journalist Pierre Péan was taken to court on charges of defamation and inciting racism and genocide denial for his Black fury, white liars: Rwanda 1990-1994, by an NGO SOS Racisme. Péan won the case. Canadian journalist Judie Rever took down her website in 2015 and went to the press with three of her colleagues for fear for their lives in Canada.[xxvii]

A further contributing factor for which still today there is no authoritative history of Rwanda’s recent past is also due to a poor debate.

Researchers Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam state on their website that their work was also slowed down as their effort to understand what took placed in Rwanda during 1994 was not shared by everyone: “we were naive in believing that that was the interest of all that we came across as well as most that engaged in similar work. This assumption has not been uniformly accurate and the growing pains with this realization took some time to deal with.”

Following the release of the BBC documentary aired in 2014 Rwanda’s untold story [xxviii], telling a different story from the official version, the Rwandan government suspended BBC programming and said that it would indict the BBC producers for “genocide denial.”

Edward S. Herman writes in The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda: “Although the documentary adheres to some key longstanding falsehoods of the Anglo-American propaganda system’s treatment of the “Rwandan genocide,” above all the claim that in 1994 leaders of the country’s Hutu majority conspired to commit genocide against its Tutsi minority, nevertheless, we believe that the telecast of Rwanda’s Untold Story constituted a first of its kind in the reinterpretation of what really happened in Rwanda in 1994.”[xxix]

Despite the damaging article on Africa Right’s untold story, as well as Alex De Waal’s mea cupla in his 2016 article Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong, he comments on the BBC film Rwanda’s Untold story -without any supporting arguments whatsoever: “they go to an extreme, crudely reversing the accepted narrative. Suddenly the Tutsis are perpetrators and the Hutus victims. The BBC film was rightly met with outrage and removed from the broadcaster’s website, but the uncomfortable truth is that there are still many untold stories about the genocide and its aftermath.” Herman and Peterson write on the conveyors of disinformation in this on-going crisis: “they are actually opposing the misallocation of responsibility for genocide in Rwanda and apologetic for a second and larger genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”[xxx]


On October 12 2014, barely a week after the BBC 2 This world documentary was aired, a response in the form of an open letter signed by 38 "scholars, scientists, researchers, journalists and historians" was sent to the BBC's Director-General Tony Hall, also accused the film producers of genocide denial.

More recently five historians, an NGO activist and a journalist wrote an open letter The"What do I know? Which rocked History [xxxi] on 25 September 2017 in Le Monde newspaper harshly criticizing Filip Reyntjens Que sais- je?

Yet by shifting the debate for example on Reyntjens’s insufficient coverage of France’s role in the events -these historians, all non experts on the region[xxxii], contribute to further stifle the true unaddressed oppositional debate: was Rwanda 1994 a genocide or a war of aggression?

France’s attempt to operate a civilian refugee safe haven as 2 million Hutu were crossing the border by July 1994 into then Zaire as well as other neighbouring countries, the so called Operation Turquoise, was also demonized as a participant in the genocide. Pierre Péan in his 2010 book Carnages. The secret wars of the great powers in Africa[xxxiii] has brought to the forefront evidence of how a French NGO, Survie (one of the signatories of the 2017 Le Monde letter) was infiltrated by the English secret services in 1990 so as to develop the narrative of French implication in the genocide, which left wing groups uncritically followed. Despite the repeated allegations archival research so far has not corroborated a French involvement in the massacres.

Upon reading the Africa Report from May 1994, and knowing today that the organization was embedded with the RPF, an awkward detail comes up: Africa Rights writes at the time that the missiles which killed the Rwandan President Habyarimana were French. It is surprising an NGO should state this as early as May 1994, furthermore today the French trial has confirmed the missiles were Russian and had been bought by Uganda, corroborated by Russia.

A historical analysis on its recent past is today being silenced through terror both outside and inside Rwanda. Since 2003 [xxxiv] under the Rwandan constitution, "revisionism, negationism and trivialisation of genocide" are criminal offences for which thousands have been and are being arrested.

In 2010, opposition politician Victoire Ingabire attempted to run for president against Paul Kagame and went to prison instead and is facing a 15-year sentence. She was convicted among other charges of contradicting the official, legally enforced history of the Rwandan genocide. This year accountant and opposition politician Diane Rwigara was also refused her candidacy in the 7 August Presidential election which saw Paul Kagame win with more than 98% of the vote, securing a third term in office and thus extending his 17 years in power.

Diane Rwigara whose father in 2015 was allegedly the victim of a target assassination in what economist David Himbara in his 2017 book Kagame's Killing Fields defines as Rwanda’s “capitalism without capitalists”, has also seen her mother and sister arrested and kept in solitary confinement on the same charges.

Yale graduate and journalist Anjan Sundaram in Bad News, Last Journalists in a Dictatorship gives a harrowing account of the degree of terror and repression which prevails in today’s Rwanda, through the story of his teaching experience of journalism.

The end of the book reveals a non exhaustive list of 60 journalists who from 1995-2014 suffered severe human rights abuses: 2 were expelled, 29 were forced to flee the country, and the rest were intimidated, beaten, imprisoned.

It is perhaps time for non experts to step aside and make an effort to create an open and protected space for debate that can begin to answer the burning desperate questions raised by Sundaram’s class of contemporary Rwandan journalists: “How can we fight a violent state? Is there a way out for us? America gives them weapons, Israel trains their secret service.”[xxxv]

[i] Others on board who died included Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Defence Forces General Deogratias Nsabimana, five other high level politicians, three French aircraft personnel as well as Habyarimana’s personal physician, Since 1997, when the French investigation was opened at the request of the widows of the three French aircraft personnel, five additional investigations of the crash have been carried out, including one by a UN-appointed team, and one each by French and Spanish judges working independently. These three concluded that Kagame’s Tutsi-dominated, armed wing of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was probably responsible. Two Rwandan government investigations conversely concluded that Hutu elites and members of Habyarimana’s own army were responsible as well as 33 French officials, soldiers from the Operation Turquoise including President Francois Mitterand (Mucyo report). Filip Reyntjens has done a critique of the Mucyo report here as have the Arusha prisoners here Investigative journalist Charles Onana has published an extensive investigation into the 1994 assassination in 2014 La France dans la terreur rwandaise, Paris editions Duboiris, 2014. Video on the book here:

[ii] They include among others Alison Des Forges, Human Rights Watch and Jean-Pierre Chretien and Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, African Rights, Gerard Prunier, David Millwood, the United Nations’ ‘Blue Book’ on Rwanda, Philip Gourevitch, Adelman and Suhrke, Linda Melvern, Shaharyan M. Khan, Mahmood Mamdani and Roméo Dallaire, Gerald Caplan, Colette Braeckman, Samuel Totten and Michael Barnett.

[iii] They include among others the Head of United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, senior officer in the Belgian peacekeeping contingent and UNAMIR) sector commander for the capital Kigali, Luc Marchal, Spanish activist and writer Juan Carreo, investigative journalists Pierrre Péan, Charles Onana, Patrick Mbeko, David Peterson, Robin Philpot, Judi Rever, Wayne Madson, Keith Harmon Snow, Christian Davenport and Allan C. Stam, Professor and attorney Peter Erlinder, Policy analyst and attorney Christopher Black and Professor Bernard Lugan, Professor Edward Herman.

[iv] Filip Reyntjens, Rwanda, Gouverner après le genocide, les belles lettres, 2014. p 9.

[v] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Enduring Lies, The Rwandan genocide in the propaganda system, 20 years later, the real news books, 2014. p 9

[vi] Tiphaine Dickson cit in preface, Barrie Collins, Rwanda 1994: The Myth of the Akazu Genocide Conspiracy and its Consequences (Rethinking Political Violence), Palgrave Macmillan UK. Kindle Edition.

[vii] Furthermore Reyntjens observation points to an embarrassing historical problem if, as the counter-narrative sustains, there was no Tutsi genocide, but an external aggression, as it means scholars have only paid attention to a distorted, often incorrect if not fabricated notion of the events.


[ix] Allan C. Stam cit in cit. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, Monthly Review Press, NewYork, 2010. P 56

[x] Helen C. Epstein, America’s secret role in the Rwandan genocide in The Guardian, 12 September 2017 here

[xi] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, The Monthly Review Press, New York City, 2010. p 63

See UN Security Council Resolution 912 (S/RES/912), April 21, 1994, para. 8. The force levels of the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda were reduced to a target of 270 infantry, down from 1515 on April 20, and 2165 as of April 6. In the words of Rwandan UN Ambassador Jean-Damascène Bizimana: “[T]he international com- munity does not seem to have acted in an appropriate manner to reply to the anguished appeal of the people of Rwanda. This question has often been examined from the point of view of the ways and means to withdraw [UNAMIR], without seeking to give the appropriate weight to the concern of those who have always believed, rightly, that, in view of the security situation now prevailing in Rwanda, UNAMIR’s mem- bers should be increased to enable it to contribute to the re-establish- ment of the cease-fire and to assist in the establishment of security conditions that could bring an end to the violence. The option chosen by the Council, reducing the number of troops in UNAMIR is not a proper response to this crisis. ” “The situation concerning Rwanda,” UN Security Council (S/PV.3368), April 21, 1994, 6. cit. in Politics of Genocide, Monthly Review Press, NewYork, 2010. p.131

[xii] Barrie Collins, op. cit. p 14

[xiii] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, Enduring Lies, op. cit. p 67

[xiv]Luc Reydams, Politics or Pragmatism? The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Burying of the Investigation into the Assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana, HRQ May 2018

[xv] Alex De Waal in a recent 2016 article Writing Human Rights and Getting It Wrong speaks of how he helped craft a genocide narrative that spoke of the events as a “state organized crime” rather than a “tribal war”. He writes a mea culpa for not having spoken out-also as he is afraid of having to face “another set of fires” from advocacy groups, when “what had begun as a minority story became orthodoxy”, and “a license to kill” in eastern Zaire and today’s Congo. Concerning the shooting down of the Presidential plane Alex De Waal –writes in 2016: “African Rights—along with other analysts—presented the second version as fact. We had no more evidence than anyone else, but it fit our narrative, and it was rapidly becoming the official version of events. Our version has not been proven wrong, although the weight of evidence has shifted in the other direction.”

[xvi] Luc Reydams, NGO Justice: African Rights as Pseudo-Prosecutor of the Rwandan Genocide. Human Rights Quarterly 38 p 547–588 Johns Hopkins University Press 2016.

[xvii] Alexander Zahar and Susan Rohol, The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Genocide at the Millenium, Samuel Totten editor, 2005. p 221

[xviii] Tiphaine Dickson cit in preface, Barrie Collins, Barrie Collins, op. cit.

[xix] John Laughland, A History of Political Trials from Charles the I to Saddam Hussein, Peter Lang Oxford, 2008. A chapter is on the Jean Kambanda case at the ICTR and the legal absurdity of taking judicial notice for “genocide”.


[xxi] Charles Onana, Les secrets de la justice internationale : Enquêtes truquées sur le génocide rwandais Paris, Duboiris, 2005. P 264

[xxii] Charles Onana, Les secrets de la justice internationale : Enquêtes truquées sur le génocide rwandais Paris, Duboiris, 2005 and Bernard Lugan, Rwanda : un génocide en questions, editions Rocher, 2014 are two harrowing accounts of the shortcomings of the Arusha tribunal.

[xxiii] The authour visited a NGO, the only one mandated to monitor the German trial of Rwandans Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni held in Stuttgart, and acknolwledged that the person in charge had no background of Rwandan history nor the context of the trials.

[xxiv] Thierry Cruvellier, Brainless genocide in From Arusha to Arusha, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda or an experience of contemporary legal diplomacy, DVD book, a film by Christopher Gargot, 2008. p. 59-74

[xxv] Video testimony here

[xxvi] Hervé Deguine, An ideologue in the Rwandan genocide, an investigation on Ferdinand Nahimana, (Un idéologue dans le génocide rwandais, enquete sur Hervé Deguine ) mille et une nuit, Paris, 2010. A video of Hervé Deguine speaking about his experience:


[xxviii] Nicoletta Fagiolo, Rwanda’s Untold Story. A Commentary on the BBC Two Documentary 17 December 2014

[xxix] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Kagame-Power Lobby’s dishonest attack on BBC documentary on Rwanda, 12 November 2014.’s-dishonest-attack-bbc-documentary-rwanda

[xxx] Edward Herman and David Peterson, Enduring Lies, op.cit. p 73.


[xxxii] Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau is a historian specialized in WWI, Aurélia Kalisky, a researcher in literature; Yves Ternon, a French physician and medical historian who has written books on the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide; Vincent Duclert a historian specialized in the Alfred Dreyfus affair. The fifth historian Hélène Dumas, is a student who just published her PhD on the contemporary gacaca courts systems in today’s Rwanda. Journalist Patrick de Saint-Exupéry has published three books, the first in 2004, all on Rwanda and French complicity in the Rwandan genocide. How can non-experts in contemporary African history or Rwandan history feel they have enough academic clout to sign such an important letter?

[xxxiii] Pierre Péan, Carnages Les guerres secrètes des grandes puissances en Afrique, Paris, Fayard, 2010.

[xxxiv] “The 2003 law went beyond the Parliament’s stated intention of codifying international commitments. The law made it criminal to minimize, negate, or justify the genocide. The 2008 law outlines the crime of genocide ideology. Both laws have been criticized for their vague terminology, which fails to describe in precise terms what behavior does and does not incur criminal liability”. Cit. in

[xxxv] Anjan Sundaram, Bad News, Last Journalists in a Dictatorship, Bloomsbury, Great Britain, 2016. p 4 and Anjan Sundaram's talk at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum Detecting a Dictatorship 2016 here

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