THE GENERAL'S BOOK ON RWANDA
by Mick Collins, with the unique participation of Rwandan Major General Augustin Ndindiliyimana
[Copyright 2004 by CirqueMinime/Paris--ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]
[For all information regarding republication, reproduction or any other uses of this material, please contact CM/P at firstname.lastname@example.org]
General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, former chief of the Rwandan National Gendarmerie, says in his April 2004 report titled Dix ans après (Ten Years After):
Since two opposing forces cannot plan the same operation at the same
time, it seems obvious that the RPF, which initiated the events by attacking
Rwanda in October 1990, by assassinating President Juvenal Habyarimana,
and by pushing the war in Kigali and on all the other fronts, is the only
‘strategic planner’ of this tragedy. The atrocities reported were due directly
to the insensate war they imposed, and to their determined desire to seize
power at any cost; the extreme conditions caused by the chaotic situation
that resulted from the decapitation of the Rwandan State with the assassination
of President Habyarimana plunged the country into anarchy, panic and disorder.
* * *
Genocide. Yeah, sure, that’s the angle. Genocide. True Crime. The Rwandan genocide. Strong. Very strong. Kicks you right in the stomach—or lower. So many dead. How can you doubt all those pictures? All those ‘humanitarian experts’? The Hutu genocide of the Tutsis. Makes you sit up and take notice—even if you don’t know or care who’s who—you take notice of what pulls on your heart strings—murdered mothers with their babies still at their breast—and not of what actually happened: who did what and with which and to whom. Anyway, there’s a Tribunal in Arusha, in Tanzania, where all the bad guys, the ‘genocidaires’, are getting sorted out.
See, by crying ‘Oh, the genocide!’ ‘How could we let it happen?!’ ‘Again!’ ‘Never again!’ and then claiming to have arrested and eradicated the forces driving this timeless, photographed-for-National-Geographic genocide of the Tutsi Dons Quixote along with their Hutu Sanchos Panza (some date this ‘final solution of the Tutsi problem’ back to the social revolution of 1959), the real international criminals, the blood-thirsty mercenaries and war lovers, could retroactively justify—and furnish plausible deniability to—their seizure of Rwanda: the foreign invasion, with its boundless, indiscriminate carnage, the subsequent four-year Contra-like reign of terror, and the eventual military dictatorship that the refugee invaders set up in the capital city of Kigali. This whole campaign to clear Central Africa, from The Horn through to the Atlantic oil states, of all popular resistance to Western commercial and financial domination was planned out of the US State, Defense, and Commerce Departments, and run through the sinister offices of various International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and numerous morally bereft NGOs and FBSSs (faith-based [or fat-backed] social services), all brokering deals for private mineral, medical and military multinationals. This latest war for King Solomon’s mines kicked off in Rwanda back in 1990, but it continues to this day, having imposed its influence on pre-existing upheavals in neighboring Burundi and Congo (and even Sudan, where much Western attention is currently focused), and has cost upward of six million Central African lives. (Some ‘experts’ say only three million, but I don’t want to be the one to low-ball a holocaust—besides, what’s a few million dead between learned colleagues, right?)
The assault on, infiltration of, and eventual seizure of state power in the once thriving popular democracy of Rwanda (the growth rate was above the Sub-Saharan average of 36% between 1960 and 1980, but fell to minus 15% between 1980 and 1998 when IMF and World Bank structural adjustments, the collapse of the global coffee market, and years of fighting off the onslaughts of a foreign invasion and subsequent occupation brought it to the killing floor ) by a Ugandan-based political party of Rwandan refugees, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), whose army (RPA) was financed, equipped, trained, manned, and led by the Ugandan government, returned an ancient feudal ruling elite, designated as Tutsi and never representing more than 14% of the population, to lord it over their former subjects, the 85% of Rwanda designated as Hutu, whose revolutionary government had brought the country from the absolute bottom to near the top of the scale of African standard-of-living. And the only way this unbalanced social equation could be democratically rationalized—using that time-honored gambit for sublating the interests of the great majority of citizens to those of a tiny, foreign-backed, reactionary elite—was by factoring in a mythic variable, like ‘God is on our side’ or ‘Compton niggers is crazy’: the imposition of, then the cynically proffered defense against, military terror unto genocide.
This 100% American-supported invasion of 1 October 1990, which depended for officer training and materiel on USDoD programs like IMET (International Military Education and Training), JCET (Joint Combined Exchange Training—a Special Forces operation) and the Enhanced IMET (updated especially to prepare Rwandan troops for an eventual invasion of Congo), and the $183 million in US ‘non-military’ aid to Uganda between 1989 and 1992 (i.e., twice what was allocated for Rwanda during all the Habyarimana years) , was another in a long line of invasions by refugee Tutsi forces from Uganda dating back to just after Rwanda and Burundi were granted independence from Belgium by the UN on 1 July 1962. Earlier in 1961, in a UN-sponsored referendum, the people of Rwanda had voted overwhelmingly (80%) to abolish the Tutsi monarchy. The period between 1962 and 1967 saw some of the most atrociously murderous raids by irredentist Tutsis against the new Hutu republic. Belgium, which became the colonial champion of Central Africa after the Germans blew an early lead in WWI, had supported the centuries-old and unconscionably cruel Tutsi monarchy as the most expedient way of maintaining control in Rwanda. But when in the 1950s the new wave of anti-colonialist agitation broke on the shores of this land-locked nation, so-called extremist ‘Hutu intellectuals’ began clamoring for social revolution to overturn the class structure that had allowed the colonial powers to seize the land, exploit the labour and expropriate the wealth of these countries, while pretending all along that they were acting for the benefit of the natives. The old Belgians were sharp enough to figure out that, in Rwanda at least, a Hutu majority was more apt to serve their colonial interests, and make it look ‘democratic’, than was a tiny Tutsi minority, with its sole means of political control being the franchise of military violence.
I guess the road show of ‘Oklahoma’ didn’t make it to Kigali and the Rwandans didn’t get to pick up on Aunt Eller’s musical homily, ‘Oh, the farmers and the cow men should be free-unds!’, because after the 1959 social revolution that put political power into the hands of the Hutu agrarian majority, many from the former Royal Houses, primarily the descendants of Tutsi cattle barons, hooked it on up out of Rwanda and into neighboring countries. Some fled into Europe and some as far away as the US and Canada. Like displaced nobility throughout history—like the White Russians who became taxi drivers and piano-bar swamis in Paris, London and New York, after the Bolsheviks had their way with the czar and his ministers—these Black African aristocrats organized their own Diaspora, and, when not preoccupied with keeping the wolf from the door or pining away for their lost droit de cuissage (literally the master’s right to caress the thigh of his serf’s daughter—but you know how those massahs be!), plotted how to regain their old feudal dominions. As always, they found kinship and strong moral and monetary support in such capitals of Capital as New York, London, Paris, Brussels and Montréal—where Kapital’s fair-haired offspring, Kulture, is cultivated for its loveliest of lovey qualities: its ability to hide the toil and suffering that created it—and there they established political bases from which fat nationalist lobbies could hire global PR firms to juice up their ‘self-determination’ and ‘refugees’-rights-of-return’ movements with real potent state sponsorship.
For the Tutsi irredentists who had found a home in Uganda, and particularly for those who, by overcoming the racial, national and tribal prejudices that afflict refugees, were able to jerk themselves up by their combat boot-straps into the highest, most sensitive and most strategic positions of the officer corps—Intelligence, Finance, the Presidential Guard—to become the nerve center of the Ugandan National Resistance Army (NRA), where they were key to president Yoweri Museveni’s overthrow of his predecessor, ‘socialist dictator’ Milton Obote; their irredenta was the most densely populated country in Africa: Rwanda’s population in 1990 was nearly 7 million, with 590 souls per square mile. And though they claimed they were gravely discriminated against in Uganda and that their congeners back in Rwanda were being oppressed by the one-party state led since 1973 by President Juvenal Habyarimana’s Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Developpement (MRND)—a party originally modeled on the North Korean Communist Party but which, in keeping with political fashion after the fall of the Berlin Wall, changed the ‘R’ in its name to ‘Républicain’, got rid of the ‘National’, and stuck in another ‘D’ for ‘Democratie’ (though the same initials, MRND, remained in use until the end)—the RPF’s biggest problem seemed to be how they would, while promoting democratic principles, governmental transparency and Human Rights, clear out all those ‘surplus’ indigenous or ‘interior’ folks, Hutu, Tutsi and (the almost extinct, less than one percent) Twa, who had since 1962 settled down (or ‘squatted’, the RPF would say) on their ancestral grazing lands.
In Burundi, to the south, where the tiny Tutsi elite continued to dominate the academy, the government and the military, this mathematical irrationality of minority rule seemed to go on with little difficulty—other than the occasional mass slaughter of recalcitrant ‘Hutu intellectuals’ by the ethnically pure Tutsi armed forces. ‘Intellectuals’ because that’s the canard authoritarian rulers always fling at those who try to agitate for and organize an opposition against them; actually, in 1972, when hundreds of thousands of Burundian Hutu answered their government’s call for volunteers to bring in the harvest, those with a primary school education were asked to take one step forward. At least 200,000 of those who took that fateful step never danced again. Every few years massacres like that went down, and those lucky enough not to make the Tutsi cut were driven into neighboring countries, thereby guaranteeing the continuity of this retro-colonialist, mono-ethnic government.
A December 1963 invasion of Rwanda from Uganda, in which precursors of the RPF took advantage of a Rwandan Army weakened by the new Kayibanda government’s prioritization of social programs over defense to get within 10 miles of Kigali, is described by Belgian ‘expert’, professor Filip Reyntjens, as an attempt at the ‘Burundi-ization’ of Rwanda. Under cross-examination by international defense attorney Tiphaine Dickson during the 1997 trial of Georges Rutaganda before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, Reyntjens states that had it not been for the presence of Belgian military personnel and had this 1963 invasion taken, Rwanda would have become ‘ungovernable’. He goes on to testify that after the 1990 invasion, many NGOs insisted on maintaining the presence of Belgian ‘advisers’ to keep the Rwandan state from just such a ‘Tutsi-ization’. Reyntjens’ somewhat abstract take on how the Burundian ethnic minority-rule model was being force-fitted onto Rwanda was substantiated when, in the six months between October 1993 and April 1994, Burundi’s first two democratically elected Hutu presidents were quickly dispatched by that favored instrument of feudal authority: bloody assassination. Melchior Ndadaye, after only four months in office, was killed by Tutsi officers in a failed miltary coup (it’s rumored his nuts currently adorn a Tutsi royal war drum), and then his successor, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was checked out when the Falcon 50 executive jet of Rwanda’s Hutu president, Juvenal Habyarimana, was hit by one of two surface-to-air missiles fired from near Kigali airport and dropped like a piece of bloody junk sculpture into the garden of the presidential compound. –So, that’s actually THREE Hutu presidents assassinated by Tutsi military men in the six months that preceded the tip-off of the Rwandan genocide of 100 days.— Yet Reyntjens and the other Belgian ‘experts’—along with a Starbucks-full of latte-slarving media dodes—seem to have turned their position against ‘Tutsi-ization’ inside-out and thrown their full moral and academic creds down with the US/UK/UN/Ugandan-backed RPF invaders of October 1990—and that judicial extension of the criminal invasion and occupation, the ICTR—in opposition to the Rwandan (Habyarimana) popular government and its French military fournisseurs.
So while the 1 October 1990 RPF invasion stands out as further validation of Professor Reyntjens’ premise that Rwanda was no Burundi, he, like so many other ‘experts’, seems oblivious to the patent illegality of this aggression, this crime against the peace, and because of this inability to take a stand (for fear of losing Belgian state funding?), becomes complicit with the international criminal element, the death merchants, in their support of the RPF’s flagrant destruction of the very nation they were purporting to save—then spreading the chaos throughout the entire region. Reyntjens’ considered opinion that, by their calamitous military intervention with its hundreds of thousands of dead just in the lead-up to the Arusha Accords of 4 August 1993, the RPF had ‘stopped the genocide’ of the Tutsis begun 30 years before at the time of the social revolution, must be taken as an endorsement of the Western geopolitical strategy—a delusional end justifying the most grotesque criminal means—that has laid waste to Central Africa over the last decade and a half.
* * *
So on 28 September 1990, between three and four thousand officers and men (actually, the average age of the grunts was about 15. So, officers and kids?) said good-bye to their families and friends and headed out of Kampala for a bivouac 350 miles to the southwest in the football stadium at Kabale, just north of the Rwandan border. Besides their personal weapons, they were packing anti-personnel mines, mobile-mounted recoil-less cannons, 107mm Katyoucha multiple rocket launchers, and 60 & 120mm mortars. Ironically enough, on this same September day, Rwandan President Habyarimana was making a speech before the UN General Assembly in New York, offering citizenship and passports to all Rwandan refugees no matter where they now lived, and pledging to repatriate all those who wished to return to Rwanda. But when a war has been booked down—even if the published reasons for it turn out to be humbug (like mass graves in Kosovo, WsMD in Iraq, or bin Laden’s 9/11 command and control center in Tora Bora)—those with a financial stake in that war are going to make goddam sure it gets stepped off.
Two days later, on 1 October, these RPF armed forces (often referred to as the RPA to differentiate them from the political wing of the RPF, which was never registered in Uganda, and only recently in Rwanda, as a formal political party!) punched about 40 miles into Rwanda and set about ‘liberating’ the country—frequently by ‘liberating’—in a most hideous fashion—great numbers of Rwandan civilians, regardless of ancestry or tribal or party affiliation, from their property and a staggering number of them from their very lives. The regional language, Kinyarwanda, has a term which connotes just the sort of cynicism with which the RPF performed these ‘liberations’: ‘kubohoza’ was used to describe the beating of MRND members, during the conversion from single- to multi-party politics in the early 1990s, as a way of discouraging any protracted party affiliations; and ‘kubohoza’ was also used to describe the violent seizure and occupation of (‘squatting’ on) property belonging to Hutus or ‘interior’ (read ‘traitorous’) Tutsis. The RPF had, well before this invasion, begun a process of sowing its agents throughout Rwanda. Just how many of these seeds took and how fruitfully they multiplied can only be speculated, but by the time of the final offensive in April 1994, it was believed there were between 3,000 and 12,000 RPF infiltrators in every government ministry, political party, and self defense unit, and, of course, throughout the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF). The invasion, itself, was run like a single-wing, man-in-motion draw play: where the RPA sent some of its smaller units over to hit certain heavily populated positions along the border, knowing they could sucker and tie down the RAF, and thus create a big hole to run their larger force well into the defensive backfield of this small country with a minimum of interference.
By 4 October they found themselves about 40 miles from Kigali. But they also found themselves without their legendary leader and one of the founders of the RPF, Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema, who just a few months before had been the Ugandan Vice-Minister of Defense. President Museveni had relieved him of his ministerial duties so as to free him up for just this kind of ‘supra-political handling’ of the Rwandan refugee problem in Uganda. Rwigema turned up dead and nobody, at the time, seemed to know how he got that way. It was carded as a KIA (killed in action by the enemy—in this case, for the sake of media image, it was put out that Rwigema bought it from some chic French military advisers—rather than any of those broke-dick RAF dog-faces!), but it didn’t take long for the buzz to get around camp that their storied hero had gotten way too ‘hearts and minds’ with his plan to penetrate Rwanda through the sparsely populated Mutara and Akagera Park—and thereby avoid the unnecessary killing a lot of innocent civilians—too much of a fag for the ‘blood, guts and hair’ boys back at RPF HQ in Kampala, who, essentially, had him ‘put down’. A fellow Tutsi RPF brass hat, Abdul Ruzibiza, claims in testimony given to the press 14 March 2004:
Major General Fred Rwigema, who knew exactly how to direct this war,
was killed by his own men on the second day of the campaign. But those
who ordered his assassination didn’t have the courage immediately
to take over direction of the RPF for fear of attracting suspicion.
So without taking even a moment‘s in memoriam notice, Museveni yanked Major Paul Kagame, his Chief of Military Intelligence, out of a deep cover ‘Is There Any Intelligence in the Military?’ workshop at the US 5th Army’s Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas—where more backward nations are taught the application of US-conceived weapons of mass democracy. Kagame, whose handle back in the NRA days was ‘Pilate’, as in Pontius, because of his knack for making battle plans that absolutely maxed civilian casualties, was chosen to replace Rwigema while the Ugandan President was, like his Rwandan homologue, in the US dealing. But rather than making conciliatory gestures in recognition of the efforts of his friendly neighbor to ameliorate their mutual refugee problems, Museveni was woofing all his old pals up at the World Bank and the IMF about the crucial role played by Ugandan military intelligence in burning up all those arms credits the IFIs had lavished on his country in exchange for tasty access deals to Uganda controlled natural resources, while, cynically, disavowing any knowledge of how these NRA ‘deserters and thieves’ had pulled off the ‘greatest mutiny in Ugandan Army history’ right under his nose. And those ‘thieves and deserters’—who have not, to this day, ever been investigated, charged, or officially separated from the NRA—the actual kids hunkered down among the Rwandan tea and coffee trees, were not all that happy with this management decision.
According to Ruzibiza’s testimony, the second-in-command of the RPF invasion force, Major, Dr. Pierre (aka Peter) Bayingana, told Kagame,
‘You are physically and mentally unfit, how can you lead these men?’
The good doctor further told Pontius Pilate Kagame (aka ‘Kagome’, ‘The Ultimate Evil’ in Kinyarwanda) to go back and suggest to President Museveni,
‘If you have no confidence in the current leadership of the RPF,
you need only send a Ugandan commander down here to run this
And with that, Kagame hooked it up back to Kampala for an executive confab. Museveni’s people turned him around quick-style and sent him back down to Rwanda with Major General Salim Saleh, the president’s kid brother and the dogfather of the natural resources rackets in regions controlled by Uganda, and a dozen jeeps full of presidential guards. When Kagame and Saleh got back to the front was when Dr Pete Bayingana and the RPF’s third-in-command, Major Chris Bunyenyenyezi, joined Rwigema pushing up Rwandan tea leaves.
Our narrator here, Abdul Ruzibiza, is probably the last guy Kagame’d enlist as a character reference—and not just because Ruzibiza is descended from that Tutsi royal line that furnished the last Rwandan King (who’s currently pitching his royal tent near Langley, Virginia) and Kagame’s people furnished the last Rwandan Queen.—
–Yeah, the Queen: Queen Rosalie Gicanda, unlike many
of her regal kin after the 59-62 revolution, stayed home in
Rwanda, in Butare, where she sold milk in the public market.
I guess you could say she was, on the for-real side, what
Marie Antoinette could only pretend to be: one of the people.
And during his Ugandan exile, in the late 70s, Kagame would
sneak across the border (not because the border was so tight,
but because he didn’t want his Kampala homies to know he
was day-tripping in the old sod) to visit his aunt and sound her
out as to what was shaking in the homeland. After the 1990
invasion and throughout the subsequent four year RPF reign
of terror, Queen Gicanda regularly petitioned her nephew,
pleading with him to stop his monstrous crimes against Rwanda
because he was wantonly wasting both Tutsi and Hutu.
To no avail. And finally, during the enormous shit storm
that followed the 6 April 1994 shooting down of the presidential
plane and the RPF’s last—and still balls out—offensive
throughout Rwanda and into Congo, the good Queen was
hacked to death by a bunch of cranked-out banana beer psychos
who’d recently been displaced by the RPF and were just
ripping and running fast enough to stay a couple clicks ahead
those guys who were icing the shit of anyone didn’t move out
fast enough. The Queen’s killers most likely didn’t know or
care who she was—or they were lactate intolerant—or they just
figured she should be next.
But the differences in the stories they tell of how the October 1990 invasion went down are enlightening. Before Ruzibiza came out in the media and in front of French investigative magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière’s inquiry into the missile strike that killed all aboard President Habyarimana’s French-built and crewed Falcon 50 executive jet, Kagame’s version of things was the record they were spinning in the Western media. The RPF leader was eager to describe the deaths of his colleagues Rwigema, Bunyenyenyezi and Bayingana, as having resulted from their own personal mistakes. But he always placed great stress on how it was the French who, in rushing to the aid of the ‘racist and genocidal Habyarimana government’, had capitalized on these ‘personal errors’ and capped the RPF general staff. To this day, when shoved into a corner with some new evidence of his war crimes, Kagame instinctively turns the indictment against the French. But Ruzibiza’s time line for the three assassinations has all of them being offed during the first week of the invasion—and on Kagame’s orders! The French don’t even make the scene until 23 October, well after the RPF’s remodeled killing machine has extinguished tens of thousands of civilian lives, driven another hundred thousand or so into the large cities, and come within ten miles of Kigali. Only after shells started falling on the suburbs of the capital and destroying all public life did the Rwandan army get help from its francophone neighbor, Zaire, and some of those Mitterand-era mutual defense markers get called in, and the RPF—the general staff anyway—get pushed back into the Northwest and across the border into Uganda.
What permitted these alien patriotic marauders, in violation of the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees and the 1969 Organization for African Unity (OAU) Convention on Refugees, to conduct a nearly month-long aggression, to commit the primal crime against the peace, according to the Nuremberg Principles, the crime that begets all other war crimes and crimes against Humanity, against a UN member nation that was signatory to both those conventions? Around 30,000 dead in 30 days—it took a decade for the Kurds and the Turks to book those kind of numbers. How could this foreign-backed refugee invasion, scantily gussied up as a mission to liberate the Rwandan homeland from an oppressive and corrupt one-party regime, and replace it with a government of ‘multi-ethnic social and economic transparency’—how could such a patently and genetically illegal and immoral policy have found currency with First World Left Liberals and Human Rightsters?
It is shocking, indeed, even in our age of anti-Communism morphing unremarkedly into anti-Terrorism, when, in places like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, preventative, preemptive wars, that is to say, expansionist, imperialist aggressions are fobbed off as ‘humanitarian interventions’, or ‘bombing against humanitarian catastrophes’. But there was a whole lot of head and leg work got done before Kagame & Co launched their invasion.
The leaders in those African nations known as the ‘Front Line’, ‘ligne de front’, en français (which was, after all, the first ‘second language’ of these Third World countries!), nations that had fought off Western imperialism and then the ‘dictatorships’ that had replaced it, countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique, all threw in with Uganda’s liberator, Yoweri Museveni, to support the training of Rwandan ‘partisans’ in order to nudge their little, densely populated neighbor into the fold of the New African Democracies. Tutsi in Burundi and Zaire recruited local kids for the RPF, and eastern Zaire served as a staging area for the infiltration of terrorist networks to ravage border areas in northwestern Rwanda around Gisenyi and Cyangugu. Certainly, Zaire under Mobutu was a strong ally of the ‘Haby’ government (Habyarimana’s remains rested for some time, at Mobutu’s request, in Kinshasa), and that enormous member of Francophonia helped the French rescue Rwanda from the 1 October 1990 RPF aggression; but a country as vast as Congo, with so many conflicting regional interests and competing political forces and such vast natural wealth, found plenty of energy to support the other, bigger dog in the fight. Eventually, in 1996, the Kagame regime returned the favor by helping Laurent Kabila depose the man in the leopard-skin pillbox hat and ‘liberate’ Congo from a lot of its gold, diamonds, uranium and coltan.
In Europe, the strongest support for the RPF’s ‘liberation’ came from Rwanda’s old colonial maman, Belgium. The Belgian Left veritably gobbled up the Ugandan/RPF jargon of ‘liberation’, with catchy terms like ‘anti-corruption’, ‘racial equality’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘administrative transparency’. They looked upon Museveni as a real ‘maquisard’, a guerilla fighter right off the Granma, whose authoritarianism would just be temporary—just until he could cut some kind of deal to privatize every square inch and every last calorie and carat of natural energy in the region—and the Great Lakes are lousy with natural energy, with growing power.
[When I was in Arusha in April 2004, I saw beetles the size of John,
Paul, George AND Ringo—in a VW—and word on Tanzanian TV
was that Ugandan agro-business had just introduced a new crop:
genetically engineered bananas—like God wasn’t making them
good enough, and Museveni wanted to let Monsanto give
Mother Nature a little mother goose.]
The alms for arms trade between Belgium and Rwanda had been pretty much business as usual before the October 1990 invasion, with Brussels using its NATO connections to pick up the scarp-military contracts that Paris couldn’t be bothered with. But once the RPF breached the border, the Belgians saw an opportunity to get a leg up on the French and all deals to the Rwanda were off—Belgium reneged on plane-loads of military equipment the Habyarimana government had long before borrowed, bought and paid for.
In the US, talking-necks like Roger Winters at the US Committee for Refugees and Alison Des Forges at Human Rights Watch Africa, and all manner of international Left media types, had the RPF pitch down cold: This plucky band of African ex-pat freedom fighters were acting in total accordance with certain Human Rights principles that demand resistance to all vestiges of colonialist racial or tribal or clanic discrimination in both Rwanda and Uganda; and the Rwandan Patriotic Front was the Rwandan people’s last best chance to overthrow the Habyarimana government and his ruling party, the MRND, which was a fascist one-party dictatorship oppressing both the Tutsi minority and the moderate or democratic elements of the Hutu majority. These were the principal justifications for the October invasion, reiterated and re-enforced by every US, Canadian, Belgian or French ‘expert’ who crawled out from every corner of every sub-basement of every think tank or state-larded academy that pumps out the shit-stinking bilge that passes for neo-imperialist theory. That this rationale was groundless, as well as being in violation of the UN charter, the OAU charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Helsinki Accords, to name just a few, seemed either to escape the Africa hands in the Western media or to be of little relevance in the face of yet another post-Communist struggle on the part of an ethnic minority, posing (behind a grotesquely huge military machine) as a multi-cultural would-be majority, for its right to Wilsonian (as opposed to Leninist) self-determination.
The importance of the October 1990 invasion cannot be overstated. This primal crime against the peace and sovereignty of the Rwandan nation and its revolution was in a very real sense the ‘Genesis of the Genocide’. As we will see further on, because those who justified this illegal invasion as the only way to dispose of the ‘vile and ferociously anti-Tutsi Habyarimana government’ found it impossible to rationalize the indiscriminate slaughter the ‘liberators’ got up to, this alien military presence in Rwanda was faded and fogged out to make it appear as some sort of political donné: the RPF, with the initiation of the Arusha Peace Accords in 1993, morphed from a foreign invasion force into an integral part of the Rwandan political scene. In the discourse that developed in the international media—if that isn’t too fine a term for what was really more obfuscation than illumination—this illicit, heavily armed and financed Ugandan refugee war machine was merged into the multiparty mix that had replaced the MRND’s revolution in the early 1990s—a party mix the RPF, itself, had DJed with samples from every political bounder, arriviste and n’er-do-well who’d sell their national allegiance to the new barn boss in exchange for an indecent advantage over their fellow citizens—and just to make sure there was no doubt as to who held this option on their balls, the RPF/RPA pumped up the chaos by assassinating a dozen or so of these their ‘political operative’ (as usual, making it look like the government’s doing!) right before they kicked off their big 1994 offensive by shooting down President Habyarimana’s plane. But because of its roots in military aggression and the impossibility of its winning any kind of democratic mandate—even within a forced coalition of opposition parties—the RPF never made the slightest attempt to bring peace—or even as much as a cease fire—to the nation they were supposedly liberating. And the dire quality and immeasurable vastness of the RPF’s devastation of Rwanda, Burundi and Congo has not yet abated.
Before the French and the Zairian militaries stepped up to help the Rwandan Army push the RPF back into Uganda—during that last week of October 1990—the fighting by the government forces was both heroic and horrific. The RPF units known as ‘Inkotanyi’ (‘those who fight courageously together’ in Kinyarwanda) seemed to have completely forgotten that pre-war propaganda hand-job about ‘freeing the brothers and sisters back in the homeland’ or ‘making Rwanda governmentally transparent and democratic’, because they got pretty indiscriminate about just whom they would wipe out in this debutante operation. In fact, it seemed like Kagame’s policy was to reduce population density by engaging unarmed civilians whenever and wherever possible, rather than throwing down against Habyarimana’s armed forces. Here’s the way RPFer Abdul Ruzibiza breaks it down:
Attacks on the communities around Muvumba, Kiyombe, Nkana,
Rushashi, Kaniga-Gatuna were accompanied by terrible violence:
Indiscriminate killing of the populations, with the bodies then piled
up in one spot; rapes and executions just so these poor souls wouldn’t
come back and foul up the RPF’s luck; they helped themselves to
livestock and other eatables the locals had stored before chasing them
to places where they would die of hunger; destroyed their tin huts and
ripped off the sheet-metal siding to sell back in Uganda; then dynamited
whatever was left of their houses so as to discourage the residents from
If this sounds familiar it’s because this is just the way the events of 1994 are described by the ‘humanitarian genocide irradicators’. But the hgi’s always claim it was the Rwandan government that was committing these atrocities out of some ancient, premeditated tribal animus or anti-feudal vindictiveness (The Kings Must Die, to paraphrase Mary Renault)—not even out of self-defense.
Over in the villages of Cyumba, Kivuye, Butaro, Nkumba, Kinigi,
Mukingo, and around there, the violence was like that in the Mutara
region . . .
Mutara was the point of entry for the NRA/RPF invaders. Some have claimed that 30,000 Rwandan civilians were wiped out that October just around Mutara.
It is important here to stress that only one person, Paul Kagame,
was responsible for the strategy and conduct of these operations.
It was he who to the smallest detail planned and executed every-
thing. The government forces had so fortified their positions that
it was difficult to get past them. Here are some examples:
In Mutara, the position around Nyagatare, Rwempasha, Kangoma,
Mabare, Mutojo, Bushara, Kabuga, Nyabihera, Gikangati, Karama,
etc., were feared by all Inkotanyi.
In the central region, we knew we had to drive around the positions
in Gatondel, Kaniga 1 & 2, Mukono, and Kivuye. At Ruhengeri,
the most solid positions were those at Nyamicucu, Butaro-
Runaba, Rwanbutama, Kinyababa, Ku Muremure, Kagano Bisate,
and in other places like Ruhengeri and Kinigi.
So the Rwandan Army and the local defense forces, though much weakened by World Bank and IMF restructurings, did not lie down or roll over for these crack(-headed) Soldiers of Fortune.
Each time we tried to attack these positions we were repelled and
retreated. All our frustrations were taken out on the surrounding
populations. Certain forms of reprisal against these populations
consisted of forcing them to evacuate our dead and wounded,
digging the graves where they’d be buried, and taking care of the
livestock we’d raided.
And Ruzibiza is no Tutsi genocide denier—remember, he’s the spawn of Rwandan kings. But the refrain throughout his testimony is that if you want to understand why the Hutu committed genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, you have to see how Kagame and the RPF set the scene for that ‘100-day tragedy’ three years before. It doesn’t make a lot of sense—to qualify only the Tutsi victims of the Rwandan interim government and the Interahamwe youth group as making up the genocide—but it makes about as much sense as these hgi’s can muster on any given Sunday.
We’d always force them to kill one another. The last standing
would be executed by our troops. Or we’d tie them up, arms
and legs, and then dispatch them with a blow to the head from
an ‘agafuni’ (a hoe handle), or stab them many times through
the ribs with knives until they died. Any old reason to kill these
folks would do, even asking them to give up the ‘secrets of the
MRND’, the secrets of the army, and other information that they
obviously had no idea about. After each of these raids we would
return to our bases in Uganda.
The RPF began lying during this period, it never once recognized
that it had committed any such crimes. We went as far as even to
deny the evidence of our operations out of Uganda. This strategy
was followed until the invasion of Congo, because we never admit-
ted the RPA was in the territory of the DRC.
But the war continued like this, if only at a somewhat lower intensity, until a second big invasion in February 1991. While Kagame and the officer corps regrouped on the safe side of the Rwandan/Ugandan border, most of the young troops recruited from Tutsi in Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Congo, remained in-country with their Rwandan homeboys—getting high and playing football, because there wasn’t much in the way of gainful employment out there. All these teenage mutant ninja Tutsi (and their Hutu road dogs) were discouraged from beating it out of Rwanda by word on the street that all retreating RPF soldiers would be summarily executed upon reaching their rear lines in Uganda—and they had no reason to think this was bullshit since these kids had been dishing out exactly that kind of treatment to the Rwandan civilians they’d encountered during this month-long offensive comme pogrom—no play given to women, infants, and old folks.
So these kids merely slipped back into their Air Jordans and Bob Marley t-shirts and blended in with the thousands of RPF infiltrators already poisoning national (and international) opinion against the Habyarimana government. Between November 1990 and February 1991, the RPF tactics changed only from high to low profile. They shifted from a full-frontal military assault to a more guerilla-style infestation, with the establishment of camps throughout the Northwest from which terrorist raids would be launched. This is the style of warfare taught by the US Army at institutions of dire learning like The School of the Americas (where the Latin American death squads were detailed out), the Marines Command and Control Systems School in Quantico, VA, where Canadian General Roméo Dallaire and his Bangladeshi cohort in the general staff of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), Colonel Moen, were formed and fitted, or the 5th Army’s Command and Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KN, where Paul Kagame got his Pilate’s license to kill. Though strikingly similar, the model for this kind of terror war is not really the Nicaraguan Contras or the Salvadoran, Guatamalan or Honduran death squads, but the more mechanized and high-tech ordnance-burning Israeli Defense Forces, who can do more damage to virtually unarmed refugee camps and rural villages per cc of depleted uranium than just about any armed force since the inglorious days of the CIA’s Vietnam-era Phoenix Program, where the politically prominent Kerr(e)y’s (Bob & John), copped all their bona fides for ascension to American government and academic leadership by killing innocent civilians face to face—and getting decorated for it.
The set-back to the RPF’s plans to clear a corridor to Congo dealt out by the Rwandan military—with the help of some old francophone comrades—was really only temporary. After the February 1991 invasion—a bigger and badder version of the one just four months before—the wasting virus of neo-liberal military humanism was in Rwanda for the long haul. The RPA set up a permanent base in the northern tea factory town of Mulindi, which became the second capital of the country, and the one all Western business, diplomatic and human rights representatives used as a convention center and arms fairgrounds. This allowed the purveyors of death and destruction on the installment plan, and their humble humanitarian NGOs, to skirt the international military and economic sanctions that had been imposed on Central Africa. As in Yugoslavia, the use of private ‘security firms’, like Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), allowed the West to violate their own peace-keeping policies, feed both dogs in the fight, as they did in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and never have to drop their humanitarian pretensions.
As we move toward the ‘genocide of 100 days’ between 6 April and 4 July 1994, it will become impossible to ignore the effects of this October 1990 invasion. For it set the bloody tone for the brutal imposition of the New/Old Feudalism that has come to identify global capital’s ultimate liberation from any social or moral strictures into a metaphysical force for the determination of absolute value, even unto the dispensation of life, disease and death. The numbers game is just that, an evil game in which certain quantities are given magical significance: how many dead does it take to qualify for a genocide? 8,000 as in Srebrenica? Or 8 million as with the Jewish Holocaust? Why don’t the 25 million Soviets who perished defending the USSR and liberating Eastern Europe from the Nazis qualify as a genocide? It’s usually not the numbers, but what humanitarian accounting firm is doing the cooking—and to whose tastes—that determines whether a genocide has gone down or not. The Rwandan numbers are so staggering as to make counting obscene. Suffice, for now, to say that the dead began to accumulate significantly on 1 October 1990, and the murder has not ceased today. But it was the Tutsi and Hutu who invaded Rwanda under the rubric of the Right of Return of Tutsi refugees, and who wantonly and cold-bloodedly murdered—or provoked the murder of Hutu and Tutsi living in that country, who today, under the reptilian gaze of Maréchal Paul Kagame, gave birth to and currently sustain the largest genocide in African history.
1 George Monbiot, An empire of denial: The US is choosing to ignore the fact that it is to blame for the stifling of global democracy, The Guardian,Tuesday June 01 2004.
2 Ibid Geo Monbiot: ‘Unaccountable power requires a justifying myth.’
3 Robin Philpot, Ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali, Les Intouchables, Montréal, 2003. p 35.
5 Most famous here are Ruder-Finn and Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaitis, the Croats, the Bosnian Muslims and the Albanian irredentist Kosovo Liberation Army.
6 Grégoire Kayibanda was the leader of the first Rwandan government after the social revolution of
1959-62. He was deposed in 1973 by Juvenal Habyarimana in a military coup. The airport in Kigali is named for him.
7 ICTR-96-3-T -- 24 November 1997 -- LE TRIBUNAL PÉNAL INTERNATIONAL POUR
LE RWANDA—LE PROCUREUR contre GEORGE ANDERSON NDERUBUMWE RUTAGANDA. Pp 29-33.
8 Ibid. p 33.
9 See Annex 3 in Charles Onana’s, Les secrets du génocide rwandais, Duboiris, Paris, 1998.
10 Ibid, p 22.
11 Testimonial by Abdul Ruzibiza, published 14 March 2004.
12 Cf, General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Dix ans après, a personal report to the writer. May 2004. p 14.
13 Ibid. p 16.
14 The road out of hell, Special Report: Rwanda since the genocide; The Economist, 27 March-2 April 2004, pp 25-30.
15 Ruzibiza, op cit. p 9
16 A conservative columnist, Charley Reese, for the King Features Syndicate (ca 25 June 2004), suggested that John Kerry’s experience ‘killing people face to face’ (as well as his ability to speak French) made him, in 2004, a preferable presidential candidate to GW Bush, who had only signed a few dozen execution orders as Texas governor.
17 MPRI’s experience with the Croatian Secessionist Militias in Operation Storm, the largest example of ‘ethnic cleansing in the Balkan wars of the 90s, with the Kosovo Liberation Army in Serbia, and with the Ugandan NRA and its off-shoot the RPF, have produced enough casualties to quality it as the leading private producer of ‘genocides’ in the death market today, and give special poignancy to its corporate pitch: ‘Providing the United States and international clients with programs of uncompromising quality that enhance security,’ justice and well-being – programs that are built on the bedrocks of experience, integrity and the values that flow from a lifetime of service to the nation.