February 14, 2009 (the date of publication in Russian)

Alexander Rublev, Grigory Tinsky


Washington and Paris shift responsibility for genocide in Rwanda on to one another


In 1994, an incredibly brutal civil war started in Rwanda, a minor African state, emburdened with social and ethnic contradictions that had been concentrating for centuries. Over 1 million people were slaughtered within three months, mostly – like 17 years earlier in Kampuchea by primitive knives and hacks.

Western powers, particularly the United States and France which compete for geopolitical control of Central Africa, disposed all the required resources to cease the carnage. A brigade of US marines or French paratroopers could efficiently pacify the raging crowds, isolating local provocateurs and assisting the local government in maintaining the state of emergency. But Washington and Paris preferred to refrain from intervention in the same way as in Kampuchea. Why? Did they grudge manpower for the mission? But in 1991, American and French forces did intervene in Kuwait, despite absence of humanitarian urgency.

The striking indifference of Washington and Paris to the tragedy of Rwanda in 1994 was explained with focusing of geopolitical propaganda on the Balkan conflict. Attention of the media audience to the ethnic war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Africa was then inexpedient, as the priority task was to associate the "brutal" Serbs with the "image of evil". Therefore, a scores bloodier ethnic war in Africa was blacked out.

For fifteen years, most of the Western media audience has still been unaware of the fact that in early 1990s, the era of the West's prosperity, dozens of thousands people daily perished in the former Belgian colony of Rwanda. The horrible truth of the Rwandan carnage is downplayed until today. That is not surprising: a substantive discussion on Rwanda would make any assertions of the United States and France for the role of guarantors of international security and observation of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights merely ridiculous.

Still, one cannot hide a pig of this dimension in a poke. During the past 15 years, the Rwandan tragedy has become a subject of a number of detailed journalist researches, while officials were still uneager to comment on its background. Avoiding unpleasant inquiries, Washington and Paris are now trying to shift responsibility for the tragedy on to one another.


In fact, the Western public hasn't lost any sleep over the death of 1mln Rwandans. European courts had to get involved in the investigation of its background only because the civil war’s casualties included a number of French citizens.

The ethnic conflict started after a terrorist group downed an aircraft with two African politicians on board: Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundis President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Both of them belonged to the Hutu tribe that was in serious tensions with the smaller Tutsi tribe in Rwanda.

The relatives of the French pilots who perished in the crash had been demanding official investigation for years. It was eventually launched only seven years after the episode. In 2006, judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued a warrant to arrest six confidents of Paul Kagame, the incumbent President of Rwanda. This group included Lt.-Col. Rose Kabuye, chief of protocol of Kagame's office. According to the version of the investigation, this lady harbored the rebels who downed the aircraft, in her home.

Judge Bruguiere believes Paul Kagame and his associates from the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to be responsible for elimination of Juvenal Habyarimana. After the air crash, Habyarimana's radical partners from the Hutu community had also ascribed the incident to the rivaling tribe, and therefore initiated a massive crackdown upon the Tutsi, provoking a slaughter that victimized hundreds thousands representatives of both tribes.

Recently, Ms. Kabuye was arrested by German police and extradited to France. Paul Kagame reacted by ordering the German ambassador out of the country (the French ambassador had been ordered out back in 2006). In addition, Kagame threatened to sign international warrants for French politicians whom his office regards to have been involved in the 1994 massacre. "You persecute our people, and we'll persecute yours", he said.


The list of 23 Frenchmen whom Paul Kagame's office is going to accuse of involvement in genocide, includes then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur and Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. "The bills of indictment are ready, and warrants may be signed at any moment", a source is Rwandas Ministry of Justice told AFP.

This fee-faw-fum of a tiny "Napoleon" from a backward African state was not going to be taken seriously. However, Kagame's threats were unexpectedly followed with a propagandist campaign against France in US media. French officials are ostracized for having provided political and material support for the Hutu administration that is supposed to be the only side responsible for the tragedy. Mr. Kagame asserts that back in 1990, only French military support enabled the Hutu regime to repel the RPF offensive.

The allegations, raised in US media, are confirmed by Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping contingent in 1994. Mr. Dallaire claims that already during the massacre, French soldiers (including servicemen of the Foreign Legion), arriving in Rwanda, abused their official mission: being officially tasked to organize special security zones for displaced Tutsi civilians, they instead helped the top figures of the Hutu military and the Interahamwe militia, involved in the carnage, to escape from Rwanda to Zaire when the RPF took over.

In their turn, French authors describe Kagame's RPF as an offspring of US special services. They remind that Mr. Kagame, who had started his career in the state intelligence service of the neighboring Uganda, underwent combat training in Fort Leavenworth, US (the place famous for the military college that Colin Powell and Normann Schwarzkopf graduated from), right on the eve of the massacre.

In his study "Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa. 1993-1999", independent researcher Wayne Madsen describes the Rwandan tragedy as a result of a multi-move operation staged by a number of top US intelligence strategists. The scenario involved fuelling up the insurgency of the Tutsi minority, and at the same time, liquidation of the moderate Hutu leader Juvenal Habyarimana. In order to assist RPF to overtake power in Rwanda, the masterminds needed to prevent a large-scale French involvement. Thus, the radical Hutu military were allowed to unleash a brutal massacre, and after the dominating tribe was thus utterly discredited, Kagame was assisted to invade Rwanda from the Ugandan territory, and to establish a dictatorial rule of the Tutsi minority.


In order to downplay the role of US influence in the Rwandan tragedy, the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, is displaying excessive activity in detecting top Hutu "instigators" to blame them for organizing mass genocide. On December 2, 2008, the Tribunal accused Simon Bikindi, known in Rwanda as a popular musician, of organizing paramilitary gangs from ethnic Hutu and "inciting genocide by means of music". Eventually, Bikindi's music was found "politically correct" but the charges of "organizing gangs" based on evidence of a few witnesses that saw the singer "riding across the city with a megaphone and urging Hutu to kill the innocent Tutsi", were sufficient for sentencing the musician to 15 years in jail.

Last year, ICTR passed a life sentence upon Catholic priest Athanase Serombe, similarly accused of "propaganda of genocide". Mr. Serombe, who had escaped from Rwanda to Kenya and later moved to Italy, serving as a priest in a Toscana parish, voluntarily arrived in Arusha in 2002, hoping that his testimony would help truth to triumph. However, he was first sentenced to 15 years, and after appellation, the sentence was severed, as the court deposed the testimony of a driver who, according to his report (not confirmed by anyone else) had been ordered by the priest to pull down a church with 1500 Tutsi civilians inside. Three other clergymen are still under trial; one more, Anglican bishop Samuel Musabyumana, died in jail before trial.


Curiously, UN officials decided to found the Tribunal in the country that once provided a precedent of using ethnic and religious tensions for political purposes. In 1964, the masterminds of unification of Tanganyika, a "liberated" British colony, and Zanzibar, then a sultanate, into a single nation (Tanzania), almost wholly exterminated the island's Arab population. The slaughter with dozens of thousands victims left the European audience indifferent, including that of the mother country. In thirty years, the scale of ethnic warfare was increased by an order in Rwanda. The world hasn't changed: ethnic and religious differences are used for setting minor peoples one upon another in the same way as three decades before, while Western patrons, positioning themselves as "guarantors of international security", display similar flagrant irresponsibility for human lives.

Other articles from this series:

Alexander Rublev THE EMPIRE OF LIE. Part 1: STOLEN IMAGES (


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