Paul Kagame – did he really stop the genocide?

Dedicatory of the book Africa, la madre ultrajada

(Africa, the outraged mother) by Joan Carrero, march 2010

Precisely 50 years later

Un buf d´aire esfodrà

els castells de la mentida

i la nua veritat

brillarà de llum vestida.[1]

This poem by the Mallorquinian writer Miquel Ferrà is engraved on a monolith which stands at the foot of the time-honored and amazing 365 steps which unite the town hall of Pollença with El Calvari, a small hermitage dating back to the 14th century. The City Council commemorates with these verses the victims of the intolerance unleashed in Spain from July 18, 1936, the start of the “Crusade of Liberation” which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in less than four years. It took decades of resistance and courageous struggle for the castles of lies to finally come tumbling down. Because, indeed, you can only describe as lies the attempt to hide an important part of the truth and then present the other part as though it were the whole truth.

It was also on July 18, in 1994 – a day after the takeover of Gisenyi and the flight of the legitimate Rwandan government – that the ‘liberators’ of the RPF/RPA (Rwandan Patriotic Front/Rwandan Patriotic Army) stopped the war they themselves had started less than four years before, leaving a trail of a more than a million dead and a ravaged country. Merely two years later, the RPF/RPA already felt strong enough, their backs only too well covered by their powerful godfathers, to set out on their second crusade, the one their big Anglo-Saxon patrons actually cared about:conquering Zaire. The outcome, to date: almost nine million fatalities, among them more than three million Rwandan dead, mostly Hutu, either in Rwanda or in Congo, as well as more than five million Congolese. This count, however, does not include the equally shocking number of human beings who have been seriously wounded, physically and emotionally.The mass rapes that took place are a matter of outrage. Yet both ethnic groups should rest assured: sooner or later, the naked truth will emerge and shine through.

The fact that a significant number of these victims were not killed by weapons but rather died from disease, wounds or malnutrition in the hostile jungles they ventured into as they scrambled to flee their persecutors, or died as a result of other causes related to the military aggression suffered by both countries, does not diminish the importance of these appalling figures. The systematic blockade of the food, medical supplies and other goods intended to ensure the survival of Hutu refugees in Zaire also constituted another manner of genocide – genocide through starvation, as it was already called in 1996. Genocide resulting as well from epidemics, such as cholera, which were the logical outcome of the state of vulnerability they had been forced into. The official version pales in comparison to the magnitude of these figures, that official version imposed far and wide about ‘the’ genocide of the Tutsi and alleging hundreds of thousands of Tutsi were brutally assassinated (at any rate, not more than 400,000 according to the most recent and reliable count.) “The” (only) genocide no longer constitutes the only reality, much less the central reality, of this huge conflict. The doctrine of the ‘only’ genocide, the one planned by a Hutu government and people, intrinsically genocidal, totally dominated the scene for years. But today even the U.N.’s own investigations, that Anglo-Saxon powers had blocked for years, point to mass massacres of Hutus, massacres of a genocidal nature carried out by the Tutsi extremists who make up the RPF/RPA.

These Tutsi extremists were members of the Ugandan army, the NRA (National Resistance Army), and descendants of Rwanda’s old feudal lords. On October 1, 1990 they had set off from Uganda to claim back the land of their ancestors and conducted an offensive operation to bring down Juvenal Habyarimana’s republican government, which had a Hutu majority. A handful of powerful godfathers from the West financed the extremists, gave them all sorts of undercover support, including military aid, and then proceeded to cover up or justify their attack in major international diplomatic forums. Four years later, with the invaluable help of the big international media at their disposal, these powerful lobbies and their regional protegés finally reached the goal their propaganda machine had been seeking all along: to present the aggressors as victims, to present the RPF to the world as the true representatives and liberators of the persecuted Tutsi people. Further still, they managed to present the RPF not as just any liberator, but rather as the liberators who stopped a genocide. And for that matter, not just any genocide, but rather, according to their account, as a genocide comparable to the one perpetrated by the Nazis, both in terms of magnitude as to the premeditation involved.

It is indeed true that after suffering four years of fierce attacks and the April 6 1994 assassination of Hutu Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, the most hot-headed and fanatic Hutu unleashed all the fury, fear and resentment they had harbored and perpetrated a terrible genocide in the spring of 1994. However, it is shocking to discover the evidence that, on the other hand, the RPF had been pursuing this very aim the years before: namely, to trigger this unbridled reaction by Hutu extremists and create widespread chaos. It is also shocking to see the evidence that years before the genocide of spring of 1994 took place the RPF had repeatedly tried to justify its serious crimes of international aggression by accusing the Habyarimana regime, already back then, of committing genocide.

The analysis of the major massacres following the presidential attack reveals that the circumstances in which they took place were fraught with great complexity, and that the motives and perpetrators were extremely diverse: some people murdered Hutu or Tutsi from the Rwandan hinterlands suspect of being accomplices of the attackers coming from outside; others killed political opponents; others took advantage of the opportunity to settle squabbles from the past or to merely just steal; others raped and murdered, others tortured and took revenge. It was the situation of utter chaos that the RPF had been aiming for precisely in order to justify their ‘liberating’ intervention, well aware that once democracy arrived – imminent at that point – they would lose the chance to seize the absolute power they were vying for.

However, in light of the unstoppable crescendo of the RPF’s final attack, initiated jointly with the presidential assassination, in light of the frenzied crescendo of the RPF’s mass killings of Hutu civilians and rampant barbarian warfare, the extremist Hutu militia started to unleash their violence on the multitude of innocent people whose only crime was being a Tutsi, the ethnic group of the cruel aggressors. These militiamen then started to become the perpetrators of those massacres, forcing even ordinary people to take part in them.

Even so, amidst such widespread violence there was one determining factor – albeit not precisely the ethnic one, that people have attempted to blame for the entire conflict. Claiming that the Tutsi were assassinated for the sheer reason of being Tutsi – and merely because of that – is a scant, false and totally insufficient explanation of their brutal extermination. If we don’t take into account the truly determining factor I talk about we will never be able to understand what happened:

Above all, the fear of returning to the order of ancient times, this fear of finding themselves again under the yoke of an oppressive regime, [was the factor that] accounted for that extreme fury of a people seized by sheer desperation.[1]

Given that the aggressors were precisely the former Tutsi feudal lords, the ethnic motivation of the massacres was undoubtedly and indissolubly linked with a desperation triggered by the dread of returning to the state of oppression of the past. For this reason throughout this present work I call genocide when I refer to the big massacres perpetrated by the Hutu extremists in the spring of 1994. The ethnic motives, characteristic of a genocide, were present in these massacres. Yet stating that the genocide of the Tutsi was the same as the Nazi[2] genocide – genocide at its worst and truest expression –is a great farce. The Jews didn’t commit a crime of international aggression against Germany like the RPF extremists did against Rwanda; nor did the Jews kill the German president and other high government officials, like the RPF did in Rwanda; nor did the Jews seek absolute power, like the RPF did; nor did the Jews seize power in Germany and run the country, exterminating hundreds of thousands of Germans, like the RPF has done in Rwanda; nor did the Jews set on to attack a border country of Germany to overthrow its head of government, like the RPF did in Congo[3]. We face a “masterpiece of disinformation, a state of pure toxicity”[4] but with an expiry date, as all lies have, no matter how subtle. Being an oppressed minority is very different from being a minority that seeks to oppress a majority, like Tutsi extremism does.

According to many and powerful international media outlets, the genocide of the Tutsi had been planned well in advance. However, the extraordinary work done by the defense attorneys of the dozens of Hutu politicians and military men accused of instigating and perpetrating the genocide, as well as the efforts by some members of the Chambers of the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania) have revealed that the doctrine alleging that the planning of the genocide took place prior to April 7, 1994 is in fact a theory built artificially on the clearly defined goals it pursued. The ICTR had been surreptitiously given the task of ascertaining and imposing worldwide the doctrine that the genocide had been planned well in advance.The fact is that the ICTR has been unable to prove the claim of such planning – even though the ICTR is a U.N. institution endowed since 1994 with an annual budget of hundreds of millions of dollars financed by an international community which is either unaware or an accomplice of this disgraceful agenda – quite different from the official one – that the United States and Great Britain had laid out for this organization.

On December 18, 2008, when the historic trial for Rwanda finally came to an end, more than six years after it began, the ICTR issued a sentence against Colonel Theoneste Bagosora as the main culprit responsible for instigating and organizing the genocide, together with Major Aloys Ntabakuze and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. A fourth official, General Gratien Kabiligi, was acquitted. The important and new aspect is the fact that the verdict acquits them all of any possible responsibility of conspiring to commit the genocide prior to the presidential attack of April 6, 1994. It is imperative to highlight the import of this sentence whose paramount significance has been ignored or downplayed on purpose: the very people who, according to the inner circle of experts on the official doctrine, had been the chief planners of the genocide…were in fact acquitted of having planned it!

The ICTR was founded on November 8, 1994 by Resolution Nr. 953 of the U.N. Security Council with the purpose of prosecuting not only the perpetrators of the genocide of the Tutsi but also of all the serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by both sides of the conflict. The United States and Great Britain, however, have spearheaded the attempt to turn this tribunal into a mere stage where to consolidate the doctrine of “the (only) planned genocide of the Tutsi,” thus perpetuating power for its RPF “liberators” and crushing any future dissent that could arise against them.

Even though it is completely false, this ‘unquestionable’ axiom about the noble role of liberators ascribed to the RPF/RPA crowd still keeps showing up today as an annoying and inevitable catchphrase in most of what the mass media publish on this major conflict. The same old mantra is repeated again and again to minimize the seriousness and trivialize the mass crimes perpetrated by the RPF in the aftermath of that bloody spring – to even justify them and demand leniency towards the understandable feelings of revenge that motivated them. This mantra is constantly repeated in order to minimize the crimes committed after the genocide of the spring of 1994, given that there is hardly ever any mention of those perpetrated before and during that same time. It’s as though the latter had never taken place, as though the RPF itself hadn’t yet appeared until the spring of 1994, as though it had even been created precisely for the purpose of stopping that genocide. The big media have so much power to distort reality that, for all practical purposes, they are even able to change the chronology of events at will and downplay to the minimum crimes whose figures were much higher than those perpetrated by the Hutu extremists.

Indeed, it is true that the genocide of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi living in the Rwandan countryside came to an end when the RPF claimed victory and gained control of the country. But there is ample proof that the RPF elite didn’t have the slightest interest in stopping the genocide. The top brass of this criminal organization had set their eyes on achieving one sole thing: power – and as fast as possible. Two facts are particularly well-documented: the fact that all their strategies deliberately and systematically paid no attention to the massacres the Hutu extremists were carrying out at the time, and secondly, the fact that their military actions were geared exclusively towards getting a hold of power as fast as possible, no matter how criminal the means were. There is even judicial record of this: in the decision dated February 6, 2008, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional judge Fernando Abreu Merelles issued arrest warrants against 40 top officials of the RPF/RPA and, despite presidential immunity, made charges against Paul Kagame who at the time had headed the RPF/RPA and is now president of Rwanda. He is charged with committing the most flagrant criminal acts possible: crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes against individuals and property protected in the event of armed conflict, membership in a terrorist organization, terrorist acts, pillage of national resources and the assassination of nine Spanish nationals.

This entire situation becomes even more serious when we realize that the RPF chose to seize power by resorting to a modus operandi which turned chaos and provocation into its key weapons. Their strategies were and continue to be so perverse that they thrust any normal human being into sheer helplessness, unable to grasp such degree of psychopathy. The RPF sought to establish a state of chaos and the motives that would justify military force and make democracy impossible – in a democracy, which back then was already in sight, just around the corner, the RPF’s minority group would have had no chance whatsoever of seizing power, the absolute power it was after.

The RPF specifically opted for magnicide, fully aware that the latter would unleash genocide. After spending years investigating the attack perpetrated on April 6, 1994 which shot down the Falcon 50 presidential plane and claimed the lives of the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, as well as of ten other people on board, French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguière issued arrest warrants against nine top officials of the RPF/RPA on November 17, 2006. Furthermore, Bruguière was of the opinion that Paul Kagame had clear responsibility for this attack, but given that the latter’s presidential immunity prevented – and still prevents- a national court from trying him, he had to be turned over to the ICTR, which could indeed prosecute him.

The top RPF officials were not at all interested in stopping the big massacres of people of their own ethnic group who had been living in the interior of Rwanda for the past three decades. They were people who the extremist Tutsi elite considered traitors for not having gone into exile when the Tutsi monarchy was rejected by democratic vote on 1961. Worse still: that criminal helm did everything in their power to keep off any international intervention that could have thwarted the genocide. They also knew that an intervention of that kind would have stood in the way of their merciless and unstoppable march to power. And, indeed, they were in fact able to boycott and hinder such intervention.

The truth is that the RPF’s big international godfathers – the powerful, mostly Anglo-Saxon lobbies operating through the governments of the U.S. and the United Kingdom – were equally, if in fact not more interested than the RPF, in preventing any international mobilization: they were interested in surreptitiously turning Rwanda, further to their already loyal Uganda, into the hub and military center of their coveted new African area of influence, the wealthy Central Africa awash in natural resources.They had to succeed in taking control of this region , driving out Francois Mitterand’s France from the territory and pre-empting China and other emerging powers in setting foot there.

I finished this work on November 1, 2009, All Saints’ Day, precisely on the day that marked the 50th anniversary of some major events: the incidents on All Saints’ Day in 1959 which sparked the so-called Rwandan revolution. It was a legitimate and inevitable revolution, yet ridden – as all revolutions are- by violence, suffering and death. First and foremost, I dedicate this work, in deep sympathy, to all Rwandan victims, to all victims, to those before and after that first day of November in 1959, to the Twa, the Hutu and the Tutsi victims. But I also dedicate this work to the victims of the long-suffering Congolese people, people who despite their hospitality have often only gotten treason and violence in return. And, of course, to the victims of Rwanda’s brother nation, a people who have long deserved lasting peace: the people of Burundi. All these victims, united forever at last, belong to that countless multitude of male and female saints whose big commemoration we hold on that day.

Finally, I dedicate this work to all those non-African companions who, demonstrating that generosity – that virtue which can save the world – still exists amongst us, have walked alongside us in this hardly easy path of accompanying the African victims. In particular, I dedicate it to my partner and wife Susana without whose sustained generosity throughout the decades I wouldn’t have been able to walk this long path.


[1] A breath of air will bring down / the castles of lies / and the naked truth / will shine, robed in light.

[2] Edouard Kabagcma, Un pueblo descuartizado. Genocidio y Masacres en Ruanda, 1994, page 112. Editorial Milenio 2005, Lleida. This is the only sentence of his entire book that the author highlighted in italics.

[3] Doctor and expert in this conflict Helmut Strizek, several defense lawyers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and other honest experts decried that trying to turn this tribunal into a new Nuremberg is a great infamy, hiding from public opinion that the role of big international aggressors, at the time the Nazis, is now played by the Hima-Tutsi and its big Anglophone godfathers, and not by Juvénal Habyarimana’s regime.

[4] Augustin Ngirabatware, Rwanda. Le faite du mensonge et de l’injustice, Sources du Nil, Lille, pages 233-234

[5] Charles Onana, Ces tueurs tutsis. Au coeur de la tragédie congolaise, Éditions Duboiris, Paris, 2009, p.24