Rwanda: Genocide and U.S. Policy, 1/2, 5/26/98

Rwanda: Genocide and U.S. Policy, 1/2, 5/26/98

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa

Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +security/peace+

+US policy focus+

Summary Contents:

This posting contains the first part of congressional testimony by Holly Burkhalter on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and U.S. Policy.The next posting contains the remainder of the testimony, together with additional on-line references on Rwanda.

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Physicians for Human Rights

Washington Office

110 Maryland Ave. NE #511

Washington, DC 20002

Phone: (202) 547-9881

Fax: (202) 547-9050



The 1994 Rwandan Genocide and U.S. Policy

Testimony of Holly Burkhalter, Physicians for Human Rights Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations

May 5, 1998

Thank you for holding this important hearing, Chairman Smith, and for inviting me to testify. My name is Holly Burkhalter, and I am the advocacy director of Physicians for Human Rights. Physicians for Human Rights, based in Boston, mobilizes the medical and health communities to protect and promote human rights for all people. Since our founding in 1986, PHR has sent over 75 medical and forensic teams to dozens of countries to investigate reports of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions; prison conditions; landmines; use of chemical weapons and other issues.

I commend you and Representative McKinney for taking this initiative to investigate U.S. policy during the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Mr. Chairman, it is a perverse fact of life that the larger the number of victims the easier it is for the world to ignore them. In this testimony I make many references to "genocide," but that word tends to obscure the fact that genocide -- and torture, pain, and death -- occurs one person at a time. We at Physicians for Human Rights were forcefully reminded of that fact when our doctors and anthropologists excavated a mass grave at Kibuye at the behest of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. We spent months with the victims -- both the living and the dead. We learned about the genocide first hand as we carefully lifted each of 450 victims from the grave: the skull cleaved in two by a machete blow, the baby tied to his dead mother's back, the children with achilles tendons cut so that they couldn't run, the priest in his clerical garb. And we saw that the suffering of the survivors of genocide is experienced one person at a time as we worked with families to help identify the clothing our team retrieved from the mass grave.

Physicians for Human Rights collected yet more evidence of the impact of genocide on individual Rwandans when we conducted a medical survey documenting widespread and heartbreaking mental trauma among child survivors in the refugee camps. At today's hearing, I will use the opportunity to review what I believe went badly wrong during those terrible months of April through June, and to recommend a number of policies which, if enacted, would enable the U.S. to respond more appropriately if there is a resurgence of genocide or mass ethnic killing in Rwanda or elsewhere. We are deeply concerned that four years after the genocide there has been no discernable effort by the executive branch to change American peacekeeping policy so that an appropriate response would be possible during future genocides. And we see no indication that Congress would provide the financial and political support for such policies even were they to be advanced by the executive branch. I hope that this hearing contributes to new thinking in both branches of government.

Mr. Chairman, my organization believes that the Rwandan genocide of 1994 continues today, as the Interhamwe and ex-FAR (former Rwandan army) continue their targeted slaughter of Tutsi exclusively on the basis of their ethnicity. Every week we learn of dozens of killings of unarmed Tutsi men, women, and children by the insurgency whose goals and methods of "eliminating in whole or in part" the Tutsi ethnic minority in Rwanda have not changed over the last four years. It is of course the case that the genocidaires' capacity to commit genocide is greatly reduced from the time that they controlled the military resources of Rwanda, that their victims today number in the hundreds as compared to the hundreds of thousands, and that they are not in a position to topple the present government of Rwanda. None of these factors has the slightest bearing on the fact that the Genocide Convention requires its signatories to do today what it did not do in 1994: to prevent genocide and punish the perpetrators.

It is appropriate and honorable for the Clinton Administration to acknowledge the United States's failure to respond appropriately to the 1994 genocide, as Secretary Albright did in December and President Clinton did last month. Physicians for Human Rights welcomes their candor and commends them for it. We were also highly gratified by President Clinton's pledge to "increase our vigilance and strengthen our stand against those who would commit such atrocities in the future."Yet apologies alone are a poor tribute to the victims of genocide if the policies which frustrated an international response to stop genocide and save lives are still in place. A pledge of "never again" is a hollow one if there is no planning, preparation, resources, or political commitment to take the steps necessary to act on that pledge.

Accordingly, Physicians for Human Rights calls upon the Clinton Administration to develop a "Genocide Prevention and Response" policy initiative, and for the Congress to strongly support it, politically and financially. Such a policy, which I will discuss in detail below, should include the following elements:

* President Clinton should announce that prevention and suppression of genocide is a vital U.S. interest, and that it is the policy of the United States to act on an urgent basis to comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

* Presidential Decision Directive 25 (regarding U.S. guidelines for participation in or support of international peacekeeping endeavors) should be replaced with another directive which explicitly authorizes U.S. support for a United Nations-sanctioned military intervention to deter or stop genocide and to protect the victims.

To prevent or deter genocide, the U.S. should take the following actions:

* Respond quickly and publicly to early warnings of mass ethnic killing or genocide-in-the-making. Publicly condemn actions which foment ethnic hatred, pressure governments responsible by withholding non-humanitarian foreign aid, deny visas to and seize assets of genocide-provoking individuals.

* Engage at the highest levels with other governments to coordinate international condemnation, stigmatization, and isolation of genocide-provoking individuals, entities, or governments, and begin contingency planning with our allies for the use of force to protect victims and stop mass killings;

* Engage in intensive monitoring in the affected area and urge other governments and the United Nations to do the same. Appoint a senior official to direct intelligence gathering and analysis for the purpose of protecting vulnerable communities; deterring attacks; gathering evidence for identification, stigmatization, isolation, and potential prosecution of genocide perpetrators; tracking weapons flows; assisting in the provision of humanitarian relief for the victims; and assessing the likelihood of actual genocide.

* Take steps to stop the flow of weapons and other military aid to perpetrators of ethnic violence.

* Forcibly stop the broadcasting of specific incitements to kill or injure minorities or other targeted groups by jamming the airwaves or providing the equipment and political support for others to do so.

To stop genocide in progress and protect the victims:

* As soon as it becomes apparent, publicly call and condemn by name -- genocide -- acts with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, and condemn those who are engaged in directing or participating in it.

* Provide the United Nations with the financial, military, political, and diplomatic resources to establish and support a standing rapid reaction interventionary force or a standby force such as the African Crisis Response Initiative with Chapter VII authority for the express purpose of intervening to prevent or stop genocide and to protect victims.

* Until such forces are established, equipped, and trained, commit in advance and pre-position equipment and vehicles to permit an ad hoc force to be deployed quickly. Provide resources to the U.N.'s Office of Peacekeeping to draw up contingency plans for intervening in specific situations to suppress genocide. * Apprehend those indicted for genocide and turn them over to the appropriate international tribunal, if such exists. If such a tribunal has not been formed, take the lead in creating such a court immediately.

Ignoring Early Warnings: In a speech to genocide survivors in Rwanda President Clinton apologized for Western inaction during the genocide. His remorse was welcome, but we take exception to the President's suggestion that the U.S. did not respond because the government didn't know what was happening at the time.

As early as 1993, human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, where I was working at the time, made available to Congress, the executive branch, and the U.N. early indicators of the trouble ahead in Rwanda. Those warning signs included selective killings of Tutsi, the formation of armed militia by extremist political parties, the drawing up of lists of Tutsi "enemies" (who were later exterminated), the stockpiling and distribution of thousands of guns and other light weapons to civilians throughout the communes, and the broadcasting of virulently anti-Tutsi messages by extremist radio stations.

We now know that the United Nations, and, presumably, Security Council members, had a great deal more information than the early warning indicators provided by human rights groups. On January 11, 1994, Major General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda (UNAMIR), sent a fax to the United Nations providing details of the genocide to come. The information came from an informant to General Dallaire, and it stated that the informant had been ordered to register all Tutsi in Kigali for purposes, the informant believed, of their extermination. Dallaire requested U.N. authorization to confiscate arms caches within 36 hours, and to provide asylum to the informant and his family. Dallaire's fax also informed U.N. officials that the genocide plan included provoking the Belgium troops making up the bulk of the UNAMIR contingent, killing some of them, and thus ensure that Belgium would withdraw its troops from UNAMIR. This is precisely what occurred.

The United Nations official to whom Dallaire appealed, Major General Maurice Baril, refused to authorize the actions and, according to Belgian Senator Alain Destexhe, ordered Dallaire to inform the President Habyarimana and his political party of the informant's intelligence, along with the U.N.'s decision not to act on it. Secretary General Kofi Annan's spokesman stated that all senior officials at the U.N. Office of Peacekeeping were behind General Baril's decision.

We believe that the U.S. Ambassador in Kigali, Ambassador Rawson, also had extensive information on the gathering genocide. We are troubled by the United Nations's claim that the peacekeeping office did not respond positively to General Dallaire's request because it could not assess the validity of the intelligence he was relying upon. The U.S. could have helped investigate and corroborate Dallaire's information. It would be very useful for this Subcommittee to request all cable traffic between U.S. Embassy/Kigali and the State Department and United Nations to assess what role the U.S. actually did play at this critical time.

Speaking more generally, we believe that the United States and others should devote significant resources to gathering intelligence in situations where preparations for mass ethnic killing appear to be underway so that they can quickly intervene to stop the killing. In Rwanda, we may assume that the government of Belgium was collecting intelligence on such matters as the creation of extremist militia, the broadcasts of hate radio, targeted killings of Tutsi, and the influx of light weapons into communes if only because hundreds of Belgian troops were deployed within UNAMIR and their security would have been of high concern to Brussels.

In Rwanda, as in Bosnia, the real issue has not been the gathering of intelligence but rather the analysis of it and acting on it to prevent abuse and apprehend abusers. Quantities of information so vast as to be unusuable are collected through satellite photography, radio and telephone intercepts, etc. The key to using this material effectively to inform a response to burgeoning genocide is in 1) telling the intelligence gatherers what to look for in a specific area of search and to focus the inquiry on indicators of trouble ahead (such as troop movements, flow of weapons, positioning of vehicles, orders given, received, and acknowledged, etc.) 2) ordering that the material be analyzed and evaluated specifically for purposes of information about the possibility of mass killing; and 3) making that information available to policy makers both in the U.S., the U.N., and other foreign capitals so that it can be acted upon.

Everyone agrees that "early warning" is essential for appropriate response to humanitarian disasters, and the collection and analysis of intelligence and deployment of international monitors can serve this function. But all the warnings in the world are worthless if there is no response. The Clinton Administration could have taken but did not take the following actions in the months before the Rwanda genocide, in response to the early warning indicators: 1) convened a diplomatic meeting of governments with influence on Rwanda, including neighboring governments and donors such as France and Belgium, and publicly demanded that arms caches be identified and destroyed, that hate radio be stopped, that killings of Tutsi leaders be investigated and prosecuted promptly, and that extremist militia be disbanded and disarmed. 2) responded to General Dallaire's intelligence report of genocide to come (the January 11 fax to the United Nations) by insisting that he be authorized to take the actions he requested and leading efforts at the UN to enlarge UNAMIR'a mandate if such were required and provide him with the resources with which to carry it out.

"Peacekeeping" During the Genocide: Shortly after the genocide, General Dallaire stated that he could have saved significant numbers of lives, if not stopped the genocide, if he had had 1,800 additional troops, appropriate mandate, and armored vehicles. The Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, in cooperation with the U.S. Army and the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, addressed General Dallaire's premise and largely concurred with it, concluding that "a modern force of 5,000 troops could have significantly altered the outcome of the conflict."

As you know, Dallaire and his 2,500-strong UNAMIR force were deployed in Rwanda for purposes of monitoring the Arusha peace accord and assisting in the transition to a coalition government, demobolizing military forces, integrating some RPA units into the Rwandan army, and establishing a demilitarized zone. Though UNAMIR's mandate did include contributing to the security of Kigali, some observers believe that in order for UNAMIR to have checked the genocide a Chapter VII mandate to reestablish peace and security and rules of engagement permitting offensive action would be necessary.

It is, however, important to note that even while Dallaire was denied the rules of engagement that he felt were required to take offensive action to save Rwandan lives, UNAMIR troops made several excursions into the countryside for the explicit purpose of evacuating European expatriates without any change in rules or mandate. It would be useful to this investigation if the Subcommittee would solicit information from the U.N. peacekeeping office, from General Dallaire, and from Secretary Albright and those who served with her at the United Nations about this apparent discrepancy between what protection UNAMIR was permitted to offer Europeans and Rwandans during the genocide.

As noted above, the United Nations peacekeeping office denied Dallaire permission for UNAMIR to take steps to head off the genocide four months before it began. He appealed on numerous occasions thereafter, in the period from January - April, 1994, for an increase in troops and a mandate to save lives and was repeatedly denied. Thus when President Habyarimana's plane was shot down on April 6 and the organized killing of Tutsi and moderate Hutu political figures began in Kigali, UNAMIR was ill-equipped to deal with the problem. As predicted by General Dallaire's informant, the extremists did indeed target the Belgian troops, in particular those who were assigned to protect Hutu Prime Minister, Agathe Uwilingiyimana. She was murdered along with three Belgian peacekeepers. The remaining seven peacekeepers in the contingent laid down their arms in the hope that they would appear nonthreatening, given their rules of engagement which required them to avoid combat. They were tortured and murdered.

(continued in part 2)


Rwanda: Genocide and U.S. Policy, 2

Date distributed (ymd): 980526

Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Central Africa

Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+

Summary Contents:

This posting contains the second part of congressional testimony by Holly Burkhalter on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights on the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and U.S. Policy, together with additional on-line references on Rwanda. The first part is continued in the previous posting.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Physicians for Human Rights

Washington Office

110 Maryland Ave. NE #511

Washington, DC 20002

Phone: (202) 547-9881

Fax: (202) 547-9050



The 1994 Rwandan Genocide and U.S. Policy

Testimony of Holly Burkhalter, Physicians for Human Rights Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations May 5, 1998

[continued from part 1]

Within days, Belgium had deployed 850 troops under its own flag to evacuate Belgian citizens from Rwanda. Once that was accomplished, Brussels withdrew its 420 soldiers from UNAMIR. Other soldiers panicked and were sent out of the country, and Dallaire was left with a weakened force while troop contributing nations were demanding assurances that they were not in jeopardy. For two weeks, the Security Council discussed the fate of UNAMIR, with Washington strongly supporting complete withdrawal of the force on the grounds that it could neither carry out its duties nor be protected. On April 21, the Security Council voted to drawn down UNAMIR to a skeletal force of 250.

The decision essentially to withdraw the force as the genocide was gathering speed had enormous practical and political consequences inside Rwanda. It made it impossible for existing troops to expand their efforts to protect the tens of thousands of Tutsi who had taken refuge in churches and schools throughout the country, and sent an unmistakable message to the genocidal forces that there would be no impediment to their finishing the job.

The Clinton Administration defends its support for the Security Council decision on the grounds that no nation wanted to contribute troops and that there was no mandate for UNAMIR to use lethal force to even protect itself, much less Rwandan civilians. But in retrospect, one can imagine a host of different responses. When the decision was made, killings were still largely confined to Kigali and its environs and it is possible that in the early days of the genocide a relatively small force which had appropriate vehicles, weapons, and mandate, could have protected itself and concentrations of Tutsi in the capitol, and sent an unmistakable signal to the presidential guard and militia to stop the killings. Such a force could also have dismantled the road blocks which were erected in Kigali and were rapidly going up all over Rwanda, and helped keep Tutsi civilians in their homes.

This last point is crucial. As noted by Col. Scott Feil, in "Preventing Genocide, How the Use of Force Might Have Succeeded in Rwanda," Rwandan Tutsi are thoroughly integrated into communities and are not easily identified by appearance or name. Thus the militia and Rwandan army soldiers bent on exterminating the Tutsi had to first get whole villages moving and funnel everyone through checkpoints where identity cards could be checked and Tutsi then separated for extermination. "Under these circumstances, measures to prevent people from leaving their villages would be extremely important; "safe sites," smaller and more easily defended community groupings, would be the best way to stabilize and secure the population in Rwanda."

Sabotaging Humanitarian Intervention: In the days following the April 21 decision to reduce UNAMIR forces, mass killings skyrocketed. On April 29, Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali asked the Security Council to reconsider its decision and to consider "forceful action to restore law and order and end the massacres." On May 2, the Secretary General wrote to African heads of state requesting troops for an African peacekeeping force -- a force that at the time the Clinton Administration said it would help finance, equip, and transport.

The African force never materialized. In part, U.S. refusal to commit its own troops to the effort reduced the prestige of the mission and discouraged troop-contributing nations which would have been eager to join an American-led intervention. Accordingly, the U.N. Secretary General floated a new plan -- a UNAMIR II which would enlarge the existing contingent by 800 men and augment it with another battalion within a few weeks. The mandate for UNAMIR II was limited to obtaining a cease-fire, supporting humanitarian assistance, and opening the airport. The U.S. offered an alternative plan, and weeks were lost in negotiating the differences. Finally on May 17, the Security Council voted unanimously to support a compromise plan. But even then, the U.S. insisted that the mandate of the force (which included no Americans) not be expanded to include the use of force to stop killings and demanded a review of the plan before its actual implementation, including before initial planned deployment of 150 military observers. Moreover, the Pentagon successfully blocked even the provision of vehicles and equipment, which, had they been provided, could at least have been used by the existing UNAMIR troops to enhance their security and enable them to travel outside of Kigali to defend concentrations of displaced Tutsi in the countryside.

The case of the mythical armored personnel carriers (apc) is a good example. The U.N. formally requested 50 apc's from the U.S. on May 19 and Washington agreed to provide them two weeks later. For the next two months the U.S. managed to stall on its commitment: weeks were lost while bureaucrats dithered over how much the U.S. would be reimbursed for their use. Weeks later there were hot debates over whether to use tracked or treaded vehicles. Further time was lost while it was determined that the vehicles were the wrong color, then no one was able to figure out how to transport the vehicles from Frankfurt to the African continent, and so on. The upshot of such shenanigans was that the carriers were ready to roll long after the RPA had seized control of Rwanda and ended the genocide.

A New Peacekeeping Policy: The unhappy fate of UNAMIR and UNAMIR II illuminate several policies which could be developed which would permit a more useful response in the event of future genocides.

First, because of American leadership at the Security Council, the U.S. has the capacity to slow deliberations on humanitarian intervention to a virtual standstill, even when there are no American troops involved. Some of the obstruction and delay in 1994 were necessitated by the fact that expanded UNAMIR and other humanitarian initiatives were ad hoc, and American representatives, ever mindful of Congress's opposition to paying its U.N. dues or participating in its operations, put the brakes on while they scrutinized every detail of each new initiative. That is understandable, but in 1994 the genocidal killers moved much more quickly than did the U.S. and U.N. bureaucrats. While U.S. officials demanded reviews, plodded through Pentagon and U.N. procurement bureaucracies, and checked Congress's pulse about intervention, hundreds of thousands of civilians were butchered.

But if it were the policy of the U.S. government to respond vigorously and affirmatively to genocide, a different outcome might be possible. First, peacekeeping policy as articulated in Presidential Decision Directive 25 must be changed, and here, Congress has a very important obligation. PDD 25 was promulgated at the height of the genocide, on May 5, 1994. It appeared to have been designed to thwart American participation in situations just like Rwanda's, including such requirements that any U.N. mission must be a response to threats to international peace and security, must advance American interests at acceptable risk, and must have adequate command and control procedures and an exit strategy. To my knowledge, there were very few public criticisms of the limited nature of PDD 25 by the Congress and no clamor at Congressional hearings to amend the policy in such a way so as to permit an appropriate response to the genocide which at that very moment was unfolding in Rwanda.

If peacekeeping policy was changed so that suppressing genocide was identified as a vital American interest and included among the purposes of U.S. peacekeeping policy, one can imagine a host of activities that the executive branch might engage to operationalize that goal. Steps could include offering U.S. military advice to the U.N. peacekeeping office to draw up interventionary plans on an urgent basis in advance of an actual outbreak of genocide so that the weeks of fumbling during the Rwanda genocide might be avoided. The Pentagon should be ordered to do what the U.N. has long desired: locate, refurbish, and designate a supply of vehicles and equipment which could be seconded to the U.N. on an urgent basis when needed. The Pentagon's red tape for procurement is exceeded only by the U.N.'s. That red tape must be obliterated in times of genocide. The President should order that supplies and equipment and vehicles be identified now, for possible use in times of crisis, and supply them immediately. Congress should warmly support the initiative. But in some cases, these measures alone may not be sufficient to prevent or stop genocide if there are no troops to intervene. In such circumstances of genocide, our own government should offer troops, as well as the material and technical assistance described above, to stop the killing.

Additionally, there are many sophisticated proposals for an international interventionary force and it is not within the expertise of Physicians for Human Rights to endorse any of them in particular. I would note, however, that the standing rapid reaction interventionary force which was proposed many years ago by Sir Brian Urquhart, still offers a vision for preventing and responding to genocide. While we realize that there does not now exist the political will to establish such a force, we urge policy makers to reconsider such an initiative, in light of the genocide in 1994 Rwanda and in Bosnia.

The African Crisis Response Initiative may at some point be able to serve such a function, at the behest of the U.N. or the OAU. As you know, as it is currently configured, ACRI is not designed to play a Chapter VII role; it is, rather, a classic peacekeeping (Chapter VI) initiative. But the ACRI model -- advance training of certain units ina number of countries in advance of any specific crisis -- may lend itself to a different role. One proposal I have heard discussed would be for ten countries (not necessarily all African) to each designate 5,000 troops that would train together as a unit on a regular basis at aU.N./U.S. peacekeeping training facility. They would be reimbursed at U.N. rates, and groups of them would be available for an operation. Commanders for each unit would have been identified long before the intervention and would have trained with the troops and familiar to each other. Thus instead of a pick-up scramble at the last minute -- when chances of success are lowest -- a trained and ready fighting force would be available for intervention before a genocidal situation spiraled out of control. In the absence of a standing U.N. rapid deployment force, the ACRI-plus model or other plans which involve advance training of designated units, deserves close consideration. A key component of any such project must be advance training, drill, and discipline in the laws of armed conflict. Peackeepers have themselves committed extremely serious abuses against the unarmed local population.

Finally, it is worth noting that the failure of troop-contributing countries to supply the United Nations with troops to separate armed men from the gigantic Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire has contributed to the continued killing of Tutsi in the region. As you know, the genocidaires, operating from the refugee camps, exterminated thousands of Zairian Tutsi and launched continuous military operations across the border, killing thousands of Rwandan Tutsi civilians.

Responding to Genocide Today: Mr. Chairman, most of my policy suggestions relate to situations where it is government authorities who are engaged in genocide. In Rwanda today, the attempt to exterminate the minority Tutsi is of course not a government initiative but rather a continuation of the 1994 genocide by the defeated Rwandan military (now known as ex-FAR) and the militia. To my knowledge, the government of Rwanda, which is engaged in active counterinsurgency measures, has not requested international intervention of any type to suppress the genocidaires. Nonetheless, the insurgents have inflicted huge casualties on Rwandan Tutsi civilians, and attacks appear to be spreading throughout the country. Rwandan Hutu civilians who do not necessarily support the genocidaires, are forced to give them food, and, all too often, are targets of reprisals by Rwandan government forces. Numerous human rights organizations, including my own, have reported on killings of Hutu civilians by the RPA in the context of a counterinsurgency campaign which has been extremely brutal.

Physicians for Human Rights believes that the United Nations should take specific actions to help suppress the insurgency, including taking into custody ex-FAR and militamen engaged in the killing of Tutsi civilians, and delivering them for prosecution for genocide. We also would support the provision to the Rwandan authorities of intelligence and other military assistance which would enable them to respond to attacks by the insurgency if attacks and reprisals by the RPA against civilians have stopped and the perpetrators have been punished.

Mr. Chairman, I would conclude by noting that the West's refusal to suppress the genocide in Rwanda was extraordinarily costly in three ways: first and foremost, it was costly in the terrible loss of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi Rwandan men, women, and children and of the courageous Hutu civilians who sheltered them. A second casualty of the genocide was the image and thus the potential effectiveness of the United Nations and its various organizations. In particular, the U.N.'s failure to stop the genocide and subsequent refusal to disarm the camps -- assured, in part, by the United States -- has contributed to a "go it alone" mentality on the part of the Rwandan authorities that has had disastrous consequences for human rights in Rwanda and Congo.

As you know, the Rwandan authorities repeatedly appealed to the international community to disarm the refugee camps. When such action was not forthcoming, the Rwandan army took matters into its own hands and emptied the camps. That action eliminated a very important source of support for the insurgency, but many thousands of unarmed refugees died as a result. When the insurgency surged within Rwanda, as the genocidaire began to return home with the refugees, the RPA again took care of things its way: at the cost of thousands of civilian lives.

Physicians for Human Rights in no way equates RPA killings of Hutu civilians in the Congo and Rwanda with the genocide. We do note, however, that the ruthless character of both the invasion of Congo and the counterinsurgency at home and Rwanda's desperate go-it-alone approach are part of the legacy of the genocide and the West's failure to suppress the genocidaire today. Accordingly, we urge that Rwanda's donors target their military assistance to programs which support reform elements within the Rwandan military and which upgrade both troop behavior and military justice systems designed to address violations by the military. We also urge Rwanda's donors to help the country recover from the genocide by providing generous non-military aid so that health care, housing and jobs may be increased considerably, and shared by all Rwandans.


Additional Rwanda References on the Web

International Response to Conflict and Genocide The full 1996 report from the Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, the indispensable source on the international reaction to the genocide and its aftermath. Also available at

UN Relief Web

Detailed and frequent updates on the Great Lakes region from a variety of sources.

InterMedia Tribunal Reports

Regular coverage of the International Criminal Tribunal Africa for Rwanda, in English and French.

INCORE Country Guide

1997 guide to Internet Sources on conflict and ethnicity in Rwanda.

UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Strategic Humanitarian Coordination in the Great Lakes Region 1996-1997

An independent study released March 1998.

U.S. Committee for Refugees

Testimony on Genocide and the Continuing Cycle of Violence


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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