On April 6th, we will again mark the anniversary of the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana, Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, General Deogratias Nsabyimana, several other Rwandan and Burundian officials, and the French crew of the Falcon 50 airplane that was shot out of the sky over Kanombe Airport by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). This event marked the beginning of the period known as the Rwandan Genocide that is observed from April 6th to July 4th. This year, like last year, I enourage you to take the time to remember all the innocent victims who perished during this period, be they considered Hutu or Tutsi.
This past year has seen numerous developments with regards to Rwanda. The most eventful one was the release of 40 arrest warrants from the Spanish High Court that indicted high-ranking Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) officials for crimes that include genocide and terrorism. One of the other important events is the final months of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The information revealed during the proceedings has been quite interesting to say the least. As some of the key military and government trials are currently calling their defense witnesses, stories that were never told before are now coming forward. However, the international media has failed to cover the recent proceedings.
The Rwandan Government and its backers are concerned about the information from the court leaking out to the public. They are pushing to gain custody of all the convicted prisoners and are seeking the transfer of the remaining detainees whose trials are not finished by the end of the ICTR’s mandate, which runs out at the end of this year.
In a bid to supress the information, the Rwandan Government has asked that all of the hundreds of thousands of documents and audio recordings be physically stored in Kigali and only available to the public through them. The Director of the ICTR documentation centre in Arusha, Mr. Louis Ndiaye, has said that he recieved several offers from online archivists and documentation centers, but he feels Rwanda should host the archives. If this comes to pass, the information will be forever lost to the public and researchers, and its contents will never be known.
Therefore, my project for this year’s anniversary is to open up the ICTR archive so-to-speak. Due to the format of this blog, I am unable to provide the documentation directly, but I can provide the information from the documentation that has been tendered as evidence at the ICTR and where possible, with enough detail that researchers will be able to request the correct documents if they have the right capabilities. I will be adding information continually as time allows so please continue to check back. I will provide the evidence and I will personally comment on it as little as possible. I thank you.
Report dated March 30, 1994: Written from General Dallaire to General Maurice Baril in New York at Gen. Baril’s request. On paragraph 11 on the third page, General Dallaire says "the gendarmerie is assessed to minimum-to minimally in not ineffective." He states it is because of the rapid expansion of the gendarmeries during the war and their subsequent lack of training. On page 4, Gen. Dallaire states many of them did not want to go into real combat. This document number is ID. 11 [Ndindiliyimana].
D. 67B [Ndindiliyimana] This is a copy of the fax known as the "Genocide Fax" as recieved from Ralph Zacklin, a legal officer at the UN, who verified document D 67B as the fax on file at the UN in New York (Mr. Zacklin’s letter is exhibit number D67A [Ndindilyiymana]). The contents of the body of the fax are the same as the copy of the "Genocide Fax" tendered by the prosecution team (which is available to download at the NSA Archives website), but the fax on file with the UN in New York has the following differences: 1. There are fax numbers on the top of page showing it was transmitted 2. The words "Recieved from" are present on the top of the fax. 3. The fax is stamped on page 1, "Not Found in DPKO Files before November 28, 1995." 4. The fax is noted to have been recieved by Lamin Sise on 28th November 1995 on page 1. 5. On page 2, it is noted that the fax was recieved from Colonel Connaughton, a British Army officer located in Camberley, Surrey at the time.
Following a June 30th meeting between President Habyarimana, the OAU, and the UNHCR, it was decided that the Tutsi refugees in Uganda would be allowed to return to Rwanda. The Rwandan Government agreed to create the infrastructure to settle them and the UNHCR agreed to do a census of the refugees to determine the number that would be returning. A delegation of refugees was arranged to meet with the president to discuss the matter, but the delegation never showed up for the meeting in Kigali. However, the UNCHR delegation who went to carry out the census was threatened by the RPF and was not allowed to conduct their business. The RPA invasion of Rwanda on October 1, 1990, occurred shortly after this incident.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the press on October 10th, 1990, "I doubt very much that the troops that are there (FAR) can defeat the rebel force (RPA). Some of them (RPA) are our (Ugandan Army’s) best people."
Daily Situation Report (SITREP) from Gen. Dallaire to SR Booh-Booh on 18 April 1994: Describes how the Belgians in UNAMIR were pulling out of Rwanda and states, "Some heavy armaments and ammo are being left behind by the Belgians."
Senate Belgian Hearings - 13 June 1997 pg. 739: The Senate asked Col. Briot why mortar rounds were in Kigali that were not on the list of authorized weapons for the Belgian contingent. The Senate asked why such arms were secretly being shipped to Kigali. Col. Briot replied "In documents relationg to the dispatch in early December 1993, dispatch of ammunition, you’ll see mention made of mortar bombs. Such ammunition indeed left for Kigali, but it was on the basis of an error because no provision was made for such a dispatch. As soon as that error was taken note of, the decision was taken to leave them in Kigali, but to treat them with discretion because they had to make sure their presence was not known to the UN or the FAR." These weapons were stored in Rutongo on 4 April 1994. Rutongo was also a storage place for food supplies shipped to Kigali.
The KIBAT report states that, on 8 April 1994, thousands of displaced people in Nyacyonga went to the depot for food. It was guarded by Belgian UNAMIR soldiers at the time. The IDPs asked for food, but the Belgians denied them access. The crowd became agitated and so the Belgians gave them a little food to calm them down, but not too much. The crowd remained angry when the RPA arrived and fired into the crowd and killed many of them until the crowd fled. The RPA then took the food and ammunition there.
Testimony of Corporal Thierry Tambour on 30 May 1995, to the auditeur militaire in Brussels: page 306 of Belgian Senate document, page 35 of ICTR document (Item B), "On the night of 6th April 1994, around half past eight, I was in OP nocturnal operations on the hill opposite the CND building. From my position we were about 3 or 4 kilometers from the airport without being able to see it, without having a view of the airport. Around 20:30 hours, I saw, in the sky, a huge reddish yellowish mark in the sky and I heard the sound of an explosion. The sound of the explosion was deafening. I then saw a ball of fire crash in the distance on the ground. Immediately after, our company commander, Captain Vandreissche warned us or informed us by radio and told us that it was apparently an aircraft of the president of Rwanda that had just crashed. At no point did I hear the sound of missiles. However, immediately after the explosion, I heard the sound of gunfire as if it was going off all over the area surrounding our position. At that point, we recieved the order from our company commander by radio to pack our bags and head for the airport.
I think around 22:00 hours we reached the airport. Along the return route, there were some FAR roadblocks we had difficulty passing. At the airport, we were tasked with the protection of the premises. Our Captain Vandriessche then explained to us that the RPF had left the CND and they were moving toward our position in order to go and attack the Kanombe Camp. Orders were clear. If they were to pass by our positions without showing hostilities to us, we were to let them pass. In fact, they passed by the airport. I think they were unable to attack Kanombe because they were intercepted first by the FAR troops. All through the night, we remained in the snipers’ trench at the airport. The following morning, on the 7th of April, we were given the same task, with a specific guard duty." Document Numbers K0075306 and K00735307.
Letter from Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana to the President of the Constitutional Court and CCed to Gen. Dallaire and SR Booh-Booh on 5 January 1994: "I have the honor of informing you that after the swearing-in ceremony of the president of the republic this morning, all the other ceremonies wich were equally seen for today are now cancelled on my order." Document Number K 0077761, Exhibit Number ID 13 [Ndindiliyimana].
Document number K0152453. Dated January 21st, 1994. Lieutenant Nees memorandum to KIB AT Commander Subject: Intelligence. "There are rumors circulating in Kigali according to which the RPF has already left town with 3,000 men, including 600 who are officially installed in the CND. In the north are also found 15,000 soldiers of the RPF waiting for the signal to stage a coup d’etat from Kigali. Thie explains the patience and their passive attitude towards setting up of a government. It they came to power through a coup d’etat, they would explain to the outside world that the country is in a state of chaos and that without their intervention it would have, once more, swung into civil war."
Document number K0152438. Dated February 9th, 1994. Memo from Lieutenant Nees to the KIBAT Commander. "From a well-informed source, the RPF has just placed – or positioned 10 to 20 soldiers in each secteur, and there are about 1,500 in number.
Note sent from the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Gen. Dallaire and SR Booh-Booh dated 11 April 1994. The FM filed complaints to UNAMIR of the following: The lack of security around Kanombe Airport; UNAMIR had failed to prevent RPF incoursions around the CND, where the RPF was killing civilians; elements of UNAMIR had participated in offensive operations with the RPF against the FAR. In regards to the last claim, the letter stated: UNAMIR elements and the RPF attacked the FAR at the Centre Christus de Remera and UNAMIR soldiers had cut off and siezed the crossroads at Sonatube for the RPF. At Gikondo on April 10th, the FM says a UNAMIR vehicle opened fire on FAR who were fleeing from an RPF massacre. On April 10 during the night, UNAMIR did nothing while the RPF massacred civilians in Remera.
Cable from UNOMUR to General Dallaire, March 1st 1994. "The MI branch of UNOMUR gathered some sensitive information that the NRA itself is effectively supporting the RPF with a large amount of ammunition and weaponry. " They listed 122mm weapons, A2 and 60mm mortars, RPGs and heavy weapons.
Report dated February 7th, 1994, from Colonel Matiwaza to General Dallaire states that informants in the NRA told UNOMUR observers that the RPF and FAR might start hostilities by the end of the week.
Code Cable from Colonel Asrar in Kabare to Frank Clayes dated March 2, 1994. Titled "Information about NRA" and included a dossier on the annual military balance of the NRA and its weapons containment.
KIBAT report states there was a communique issued from the GQ sector stating that the UN Security Council was going to pronnounce the proposal for the withdrawal of UNAMIR forces on April 9th at 14:00 hours.