Since the very beginning of the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis in , members of Hutu Power, the Akazu, and other interested allies of the former government of Rwanda have been conducting a campaign of genocide denial, one in which they blame the Tutsi dominated Rwandan Patriotic Army for carrying out murder of civilians during the civil war in In this article Linda Melvern examines the role that Hutu Power played in creating the myth of a counter-genocide and the unwitting legitimacy that was given to it by several UN agencies and their associated employees and consultants. From the moment when the leadership of Hutu Power seized control of the government of Rwanda on the evening of 6 April , it had determined to distort the reality of events surrounding the genocide to the outside world. The United Nations was central to these plans. In the wake of the resumed civil war with the Rwanda Patriot Front rpf , the population attacked neighbours in fear and in anger.
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Since the very beginning of the Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis in , members of Hutu Power, the Akazu, and other interested allies of the former government of Rwanda have been conducting a campaign of genocide denial, one in which they blame the Tutsi dominated Rwandan Patriotic Army for carrying out murder of civilians during the civil war in In this article Linda Melvern examines the role that Hutu Power played in creating the myth of a counter-genocide and the unwitting legitimacy that was given to it by several UN agencies and their associated employees and consultants.
From the moment when the leadership of Hutu Power seized control of the government of Rwanda on the evening of 6 April , it had determined to distort the reality of events surrounding the genocide to the outside world. The United Nations was central to these plans.
In the wake of the resumed civil war with the Rwanda Patriot Front rpf , the population attacked neighbours in fear and in anger. The notion of moral equivalence in the circumstances of the genocide of the Tutsi persists to this day. The idea of two genocides, the first nearly wiping out the Tutsi minority, and the second secretly committed by the Tutsi-dominated rpf against Hutu, would have been a sensational news story, if true.
In July after the rpf achieved military victory there was a proliferation of rumours about human rights abuses committed by these troops. A US journalist, Mark Fritz, spent nearly a month looking for evidence but found nothing. A British journalist reporting from Rwanda for the bbc , Mark Doyle, wrote a dispatch to London explaining no convincing evidence existed of the rpf massacring civilians.
Doyle warned the bbc news desk not to broadcast claims about rpf abuses until some convincing evidence emerged. Doyle told them this was not a balanced picture, and there was no moral equivalence. The over-flowing refugee camps in neighbouring countries in the aftermath of the genocide of the Tutsi were the result of one of the more calculated strategies devised by the Hutu Power leadership.
In response whole communities took to the roads. The resulting exodus, during which an estimated two million people fled from Rwanda, broke world records and was unprecedented in speed and size. In Tanzania, an estimated , people settled at a camp called Benaco. Two hundred thousand refugees fled to Burundi. An estimated 1 million people passed into Zaire at Goma, and , more into Bukavu. These people were not, as some journalists and aid agencies later supposed, fleeing the genocide; they included the Interahamwe militia and the authorities who planned and perpetrated the crime of genocide.
The camps were beyond the reach of international justice and in these murderous and terrible places the Hutu Power authorities kept control. Soon a web of Hutu Power committees, neighbourhood security units and associations embraced almost all segments of refugee society. The Hutu Power forces launched attacks into Rwanda from these camps, one of which Mugunga contained the defeated Rwandan government army of 33, troops along with weapons that had been supplied from French military stocks.
In late July and early August, a trickle of refugees returned home but the movement soon slowed. The refugees were told that any Hutu who went back to Rwanda would be massacred immediately by the rpa. Drew designed leaflets to be dropped into the camps from UN helicopters visually portraying Rwanda as a lush and fertile place of safety showing security, fresh water and food.
The plan backfired when at the last minute the UN guarantee of safe passage to returning refugees was put on hold when the UN discovered that possession of one of these leaflets by refugees in the camps was tantamount to an automatic death sentence. In September the repatriation policy that unamir ii tried to foster was thrown into disarray. Ogata told Boutros-Ghali that information received by her office showed the rpf troops had slaughtered 30, Hutu civilians in systematic and preordained massacres as they took control of the country.
The information had come from an experienced consultant Robert Gersony, a US national contracted for sixty days by the unhcr to organise a voluntary repatriation programme for refugees. Information in declassified US state department documents reveals a briefing on September 20 when Gersony provided US officials with graphic descriptions of how rpf troops hunted Hutu from house to house and their weapons hoes, axes, machetes and fire. The burial of bodies was a problem.
As the team travelled towards the south-east, they found the stench of recently dead bodies was overpowering. Gersony told US officials that the voluntary repatriation of the refugees currently promoted by the unhcr could under no circumstances be justified.
A return home for Hutu refugees was too dangerous. From his recent interviews in the camps there was little evidence of forcing refugees to stay put. The information from Gersony ran counter to all the intelligence received in the US State Department that confirmed that the rpf had killed Hutu in battle, and while the rpf had admitted to targeting extremist Hutu whom it believed to be responsible for the massacre of Tutsi, generally the rpf protected Hutu within the territory it controlled.
A partly declassified memorandum from Toby T. Gati to George Moose, the assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, on 16 May , informed him of the killing of Tutsi behind government lines with systematic executions by government-supported militias. The Gersony story was meet with consternation in the ranks of unamir. There were no reports of such killings in any unamir reports.
Additionally the rpf policy of conducting courts martial and punishment of soldiers for revenge killings suggested there was no such rpf campaign. Irrespective, the unverified information from the unhcr consultant spread like wildfire. Khan, a former foreign minister of Pakistan, who arrived in Kigali on 4 July The Gersony figures challenged the credibility of the UN and cast doubt on the competence of the new Force Commander of unamir ii , Canadian general Guy Tousignant, who arrived on 16 August In UN headquarters, secretary-general Boutros-Ghali determined to brief the security council on this dramatic turn of events and the under-secretary-general Kofi Annan, then head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations dpko was dispatched immediately to Rwanda.
Annan met with Gersony in Kigali and was given an oral briefing from notes Gersony kept in his pocket. Gersony believed that between 25, and 45, people had been killed by the rpf including 5, people in August.
Listening to these accounts with disbelief was the UN special representative for Rwanda Ambassador Khan, who was aware that UN Military Observers and aid agencies staff were present in the areas Gersony talked about. Khan wondered how it was be possible to massacre 30, people without attracting attention. In any case, the rpf did not travel with hoes and machetes.
They dispatched experience military observers to those places Gersony mentioned in his briefings. Afterwards these officers were convinced that Gersony and his colleagues were the subject of planted and dramatized evidence. Charles Petrie, deputy director of the UN Rwanda Emergency Office unreo , who also heard rumours about rpf massacres, carried out a careful investigation with the aid agencies in the region, and he rejected the idea of preordained massacres.
Annan and Khan personally visited some of the sites mentioned by Gersony and asked peacekeepers, doctors and engineers working at the grassroots level in the communes about the treatment of returning Hutu to the region.
They were told Hutu who left in panic were returning, but there were pockets of territory still under the control of Hutu Power.
Khan recalled that the descriptions given to Gersony were generally accurate, but the identity of the perpetrators and victims transposed. The US also wanted to put the Gersony claims to the test. At the direction of the Force Commander, Canadian intelligence officer Phillip Drew was tasked with the establishment of a team to investigate.
The team assembled was multi-national; a group of intelligence officers of different nationalities recruited to work with criminal investigators from several UN contingents and non-troop contributing nations. With the protection of members of the Canadian contingent the team left Kigali headed first to the village of Zaza.
The team included a forensic entomologist who was able to determine the approximate date of death of the human remains. The first massacre site was in the south-west, near Kibungo, where Gersony said many Hutu had been slaughtered in the school a few weeks earlier.
Drew recalled how arriving at the school they found partially decomposed bodies everywhere, including in cisterns, wells and latrines. Many of the human remains in the classrooms and outdoor compounds had skeletonized, and identity cards found on some of the bodies showed victims were Tutsi.
Drew recalled finding a diary. A forensic examination of the bodies by the entomologist established the killing had taken place from mid to late April, when Hutu Power was in control of the area as the genocide of the Tutsi progressed countrywide.
In the days to follow the intelligence team visited each site Gersony mentioned and failed to corroborate any of his claims. Many places had seen large numbers of killings, but of Tutsi. Drew never forgot these terrible days as the team visited successive massacre sites.
After they finished their work they concluded that Gersony and his colleagues had been duped by people in the refugee camps in Zaire. Some speculated that Gersony never set foot in Rwanda and that he relied entirely on information gleaned in the camps. The individual reports written by the intelligence officers in this unique investigative mission remain hidden in government archives. Odom believed there were killings, but they were probably isolated acts of revenge. Meanwhile, Odom reported, Hutu Power was rearming in the camps.
Declassified documents from the US State Department reveal that the French were also dismissive of the Gersony claims.
There had been serious lapses and the collection of inaccurate data. As a result of the numerous investigations conducted by various teams and officials, the senior UN officials on the ground, Major General Tousignant and the UN Special Representative, Shaharyar Khan, along with the US ambassador David Rawson and others, eventually dismissed the Gersony allegations.
Gersony was invited to take part in a joint investigation team established with four Rwandan ministers and four UN representatives, but declined. No Gersony report emerged and his claims ran counter to a tide of overwhelmingly contrary evidence.
This did not matter to the media. Gersony achieved his wish and in a reversal of UN policy the peacekeepers of unamir ii stopped further efforts to encourage refugee return. He spoke of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of the civilian Hutu populations by the rpf between April and July He claimed large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women and children, including the sick and elderly, had been consistently reported. The only written account of the Gersony claims is a precis of what he told this meeting.
She somehow forgot the UN milobs and the peacekeepers of unamir , present in Rwanda in some cases since October and some of whom had thoroughly investigated the Gersony claims and dismissed them as just not credible.
In the years that followed, there were dramatic increases in the death toll of these supposed rpf killings. It did not end there.
In a sensationalist book published in called In Praise of Blood a Canadian journalist, Judi Rever, claimed a second genocide of the Hutu took place and that the methods used resembled those of the Nazis. According to her account, the rpf had established death camps that included cremation pits.
Rever claimed an estimated death toll in hundreds of thousands killed, burned or dissolved in acid, their ashes dispersed with bulldozers. Rever further alleged that the Hutu genocide was carried out in total secrecy; the mass murder leaving barely a trace, and that the western allies lent a hand in the cover—up. The unhcr held a small internal enquiry about the events of which recognised the difficulties with a refugee leadership implicated in genocide and a wide-spread intimidation and abuse in the camps.
It acknowledged that in the exodus of people from Rwanda into eastern Zaire, the political, social and security structure of Hutu Power had survived intact, thanks to the support of the international community.
The unhcr should have been able to rapidly develop a coherent policy to deal with the various disruptive forces active in the camps, many of whom may have been subject to the exclusion clause due to their involvement in the genocide.
In future, a roster of anthropologists and other regional experts needed to be developed with specialist knowledge to provide briefings on the cultural and political backgrounds of refugees. The pernicious influence of Hutu Power lives on in rumour, stereotype, lies and racist propaganda.
Its intent is to deceive, and its purpose the destruction of truth and memory. Linda Melvern is a British investigative journalist.
Since leaving the newspaper she has written six books of non-fiction and is widely published in the British press and academic journals.
Extracted from this PDF file. Background from Human Rights Watch here. As requested by the Commission, we are forwarding herewith a written summary of Mr. We are confident that, as agreed by the President of the Commission of Experts, these documents will be treated as confidential and only be made available to the members of the Commission.
Robert Gersony is an American consultant known for his reports on conflict-affected countries, in particular in Africa. His most famous work, the " Gersony Report ", was never actually finished. The 'Gersony Report' was suppressed by the United Nations , who had originally commissioned it, because it had reached the politically embarrassing conclusion that the Rwandan Patriotic Front , which had taken control of the country after the Rwandan genocide , was carrying out politically-motivated mass killing. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front ended the genocide by defeating the civilian and military authorities responsible for the killing campaign. Its troops encountered little opposition, except around Kigali, and they routed government forces in operations that began in early April and ended in July. As RPF soldiers advanced south down the eastern side of the country and then swept west, they even stopped the killers in the act of attacking or preparing to attack Tutsi at several churches or camps for the displaced. More often they rescued Tutsi with no dramatic confrontation. They drove military, militia, and other assailants from the region and so made it possible for Tutsi to return from the swamps and bush and to emerge from their hiding places. The RPF soldiers saved tens of thousands from annihilation and relentlessly pursued those whom they thought guilty of genocide. In their drive for military victory and a halt to the genocide, the RPF killed thousands, including noncombatants as well as government troops and members of militia.