"I know there is a God, because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil. I have seen him, I have smelt him and I have touched him. I know the devil exists and therefore I know there is a God!"
Shake Hands with the Devil
These are the words of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, the Commander of the United Nations Mission to Rwanda (UNIMIR). His book, Shake Hands With the Devil (which has also been made into a dramatic film), documents the unfolding catastrophe, and as he puts it in the subtitle of his book: "The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.
25 Years Ago
As the people of Rwanda soberly reflect on the holocaust which was unleased upon them 25 years ago, April 1994, there are still compelling questions which demand answers.
How could such dreadful mass murder take place within sight and sound of United Nations peacekeepers without the international community doing anything to stop it?
Could the holocaust in Rwanda have been prevented?
What steps must we take to ensure that such atrocities do not occur again?
Enabling the Genocide
General Dallaire reports that the United Nations leadership knew of the stockpiling of weapons. Indeed UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in his role as Egyptian Foreign Minister, had facilitated a large sale of arms from Egypt to the MRND dictatorship of Rwanda prior to the genocide. The Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) expanded rapidly, trebling in size while receiving much training and weapons from the French government.
Preparation for Genocide
From March 1993 the Hutu MRND government began compiling lists of "traitors" who they planned to kill, meticulously marking their addresses. Radio Television Libre Des Mille Collines (RTLM) broadcast a mixture of tribal propaganda, music and obscene jokes against the Tutsi, continually inciting the Hutu majority to hate, despise and massacre the Tutsi minority.
Hundreds-of-thousands of machetes were imported from Red China. The Interahamwe party thugs of the MRND were armed with AK-47s and massive quantities of machetes distributed throughout the country in preparation for the genocide.
General Dallaire informed the Secretary General of the UN of these ominous developments. However, when he planned to seize the illegal weapon stockpiles, Dallaire was stunned to be ordered to stand down! The general was directly forbidden to intervene!
The assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, by a French heat-seeking missile, fired by his own Presidential Guard, on 6 April 1994, was the pretext to launch the well-prepared genocide of the mostly Protestant Tutsis. Government forces set up a dense network of roadblocks and mobilised Interhambwe mobs to systematically go house-to-house massacring Tutsis. At roadblocks those identified as Tutsi were pulled out and hacked to death on the spot.
A Harvest of Death
Out of a total population of 7.3 million, 84% of who were Hutu, 15% Tutsi and 1% Twa. African Rights calculated 750,000 murdered. The United Nations estimated the toll as above 800,000. The present government of Rwanda and the Holocaust Museum in Kigali, states that 1,171,000 were killed, 90% of which were Tutsi. The Genocide Museum in Kigali calculates that during the 100 days of the genocide, an average of 10,000 were murdered every day, 400 every hour, and 7 every minute. They estimate that over 400,000 were orphaned as a result of the genocide.
The 2005 film, Shooting Dogs, which was released in the United States as Beyond the Gates, focused on the United Nations abandoning of the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) in Kigali, in 1994. Based on the experiences of BBC News producer, David Belton, who worked in Rwanda during the genocide, Belton was the film's co-writer and one of its producers. Unlike Hotel Rwanda, which was filmed in South Africa, using American and South African actors, this film, Beyond the Gates, was shot at the original locations of the scenes it portrays in Rwanda. Most of the actors in the film were Rwandese survivors of the massacre. The film's title, Shooting Dogs, refers to the actions of UN soldiers in shooting the stray dogs that scavenged the bodies of the dead. Since the UN forces were not allowed to shoot at the Hutu mass murderers who were causing the deaths in the first place, the shooting of the dogs was symbolic of the madness of the situation and the insanity of the United Nations rules of engagement
Prior Warnings Ignored
General Dallaire, had sent a fax to United Nations headquarters in January 1994, detailing the planned anti-Tutsi Genocide. He identified the locations of illegal arms cachets, the order to register all Tutsi in Kigali, and the Interhambwe plan to use these lists to exterminate them all. A high level informant provided exact details of the Interhambwe plans including the fact that they calculated that they could kill 1,000 every 20 minutes.
When the UN abandoned the Don Bosco Technical School, filled with 2,000 Tutsi refugees, the Hutu Interhambwe slaughtered them all.
The Administrative Head of UNIMIR, former Cameroonian Foreign Minister, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, maintained close ties to the militant Hutu elite and on every side undermined and frustrated General Dallaire's efforts to prevent the genocide and save lives: The United States president Bill Clinton's administration policy also undermined every effort by General Dallaire to save lives in Rwanda.
The Clinton administration policy was summarised as: "Let's withdraw altogether. Let's get out of Rwanda. Leave it to its fate." The United States Ambassador to the UN at that time, Madelaine Albright, consistently lobbied for a withdrawal of UNIMIR Forces, from the earliest in April 1994. This effectively abandoned all refugees who had sought sanctuary with the UN to their fate at the hand of the Interhambwe. US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, consistently argued against using the term "genocide" until 21 May, and even then US officials waited another three weeks before using that term in public. The US government also refused to jam the extremist RTLM radio broadcasts, which were co-ordinating the genocide, citing the costs and concern with international law!
General Dallaire reveals that president Clinton and his cabinet were made aware of the Final Solution to exterminate all Tutsis before the massacres even began. Every request from General Dallaire was frustrated and his peacekeepers did not receive the food, fuel, weapons, equipment, ammunition, or even the armoured personnel carriers, ordered. UN procrastination led to intense suffering, unnecessary deaths and starvation in the UN bases - which were meant to be sanctuaries for refugees fleeing the killing.
The French Connection
The disgraceful role of France in the Rwandan genocide defies belief. The French government provided vast quantities of weapons and numerous military advisors and technical assistance to the Rwandan Armed Forces before and during the genocide. On 22 June, as the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) turned the tide and began to liberate the country, sending the Hutu FAR and Interhambwe fleeing, France launched Operation Turquoise, creating a safe zone into which the Hutu FAR and Interhambwe could flee and receive protection behind a French military screen. The French Operation Turquoise effectively enabled the genocidaries to escape from the RPF and flee into neighbouring Zaire (Congo), where they received generous quantities of foreign aid and caused more massacres leading to the Great Lakes War of 1996 to 1997, in which 12 African nation's armed forces became embroiled and millions died.
Accessories to Genocide
General Dallaire reported that France was supplying weapons and ammunition to the MRND Hutu dictatorship and their FAR, even during the height of the genocide. The findings of the Rwandese Justice Commission were released on 5 August 2008. It accused 32 senior French military and political officials of involvement in the genocide, including: then President Francois Mitterrand, his General Secretary, Hubert Verdrine, the then Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, the then Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe and his Chief Aid, Dominique de Villepin.
Reaction Against French Complicity
As a result of the Rwandese Justice Ministry Commission on the involvement of France in the genocide, the Rwandese government shut down all French institutions in and around Kigali, including schools and cultural organisations. The language of instruction in Rwandese schools was switched from French to English. Rwanda became one of only two members of the British led Commonwealth that had not formerly been British colonies.
In the Valley of Death
I can never forget the overwhelming stench of death as I walked knee deep, and sometimes waist high, amidst corpses in churches in Rwanda. The plague of rats, feasting off the bodies, the millions of flying and crawling insects and suffocating odour of death is not something that one can ever really recover from. I delivered Bibles in Kini-Rwanda, and French to pastors and to prisoners around Rwanda and undertook painful interviews with survivors to document what had happened, and why.
Exposing the Forces Behind the Genocide
We have produced two editions of Holocaust in Rwanda – The Roles of Gun Control, Media Manipulation, Liberal Church Leaders and the United Nations in English, and another edition in French. It needs to be emphasized that Rwanda was a gun-free zone. The mass murderers successfully manipulated and abused the media to vilify the targeted Tutsis and to mobilise masses of Hutus to kill their neighbours. The scandalous role of the French government in providing assistance, training and weapons to the mass murderers and providing sanctuary for architects of the genocide, is also revealed in this book.
In addition, Holocaust in Rwanda looks at the challenge the systematic mass murders presents to the Christian church. The killers did not merely kill people in churches, they killed church workers, pastors, ministers, priests and nuns. However, the most shocking aspect of the anti-Christian mass-murder was how many people responsible for the slaughter were trusted members of congregations! On many occasions, priests, nuns, and ministers were directly involved in the genocide. Several heads of denominations co-operated with the Interhambwe, betraying their Tutsi members and co-workers into the hands of ruthless mass-murderers. Tribalism seemed more important to most.
Judas's in the Church
The role of these traitors, blood-stained bishops and murderous ministers are an indictment upon the theological seminaries and church councils they belonged to. Those who do not wholeheartedly love the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word are not qualified to be spiritual leaders.
Moral Cowardice Helped Cause the Catastrophe
The Rwandan holocaust exposes the emptiness of the superficial and self-centred easy-believism which all too often masquerades as the Gospel. Compromise and moral cowardice helped cause the catastrophe. "…Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you." 2 Chronicles 19:2
David Defeats Goliath
The genocide ultimately failed, in that the victims became the victors and the Tutsi minority surprised everyone by fighting back and gaining control over the whole country. Today Rwanda is one of the best run and most open to free enterprise countries in Africa. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain." Psalm 127:1
Firm Foundations for Freedom
Most important, Holocaust in Rwanda looks at some of the lessons which need to be learned in order to ensure that such atrocities do not occur again. We need to lay solid foundations for the future that will prevent such oppression from ever occurring again. These are Biblical principles which are not only important for Rwanda, but for every society that values life and liberty. Holocaust in Rwanda concludes with the Biblical Principles, which had they been adhered to, there would have been no holocaust in Rwanda.
Learning from Rwanda
There is much for us to learn from the tragic events of 1994 that are most relevant in the light of those talking about a second phase of the revolution in South Africa and threatening to exterminate the white minority. "Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle. My lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge…" Psalm 144:1-2
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Holocaust in Rwanda is also available as an E-Book.
The Holocaust in Rwanda – 25 Years Later
Hotel Rwanda – Genocide in a Gun Free Land
Absolutely on target. Great read. I visited Rwanda six months after genocide, horrible picture, still have nightmares about it. Went back for the first time since in 2018, the most beautiful, advance African nation in on the continent. I met the current president, he shared his story; i met other survivors, and relatives of those lived the nightmare. Out of the ashes, rises a becon of light; truly a beautiful, well run country with much to offer it's people God Bless that land. What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good. Blessings!
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