African Regime Gone Bad, Part Eight

the Memory Holed Survey by Robert Gersony

AW Kamau, Going Postal
Nyamata Memorial Site, skulls. Nyamata, Rwanda.,
Fanny Schertzer
Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

While continued attempts to persuade Hutu officials to return, the RPF pressed for its own list of candidates for the posts of bourgmestres to be appointed. At grassroots level, the power-sharing principles of the Arusha Accords were ignored. Almost all the names were refugees recently returned from Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zaire. In other words, Tutsis. The bourgmestres tussle, long and heated, culminated in defeat for Rwanda’s Hutu ministers.

Much of this was barely glimpsed (on purpose) by Western (US, UK) diplomats, UN officials and various aid agencies who roared into Kigali in their white, logo-bearing 4-wheel drives, overwhelmed by the question of how to best help the devastated society. Then in September 1994, came an independent survey that blew the lid off the RPF image.

The UNHCR had first begun receiving reports of mass killings of refugees by the RPF in May 1994. The accusations had been contemptuously rejected by the RPF. Amid the general utopian consensus that the RPF had comparatively clean hands, the UN decided to assess prospects for repatriating refugees, given the war was supposed to be over and a multi-ethnic government installed, would it be safe to return them? It hired Robert Gersony, a US consultant with decades of human rights experience in Latin America, South East Asia and Africa (Somalia, Uganda and Mozambique) to undertake a survey. Gersony arrived in August 1994 with a team inclined to be well-disposed to the new authorities.

He promptly ignored a government directive telling NGOs to stick to the main roads. The back roads (rat roads) were immediately used and took them totally by surprise. In Kibungo, two hours drive east of the capital, the team came across a red-brick one-story building in classic Belgian style. They saw what looked like beautifully laid-out packages on the ground in front of it. They were bodies, the team counted 150, all fresh, new bodies, fully clothed, in a straight row and no one about.

This was an area from which the Interahamwe had long ago been expelled, the killings could only be the work of the RPF. The team drove on, anxious to move before being bumped by an RPF patrol. Further down the road, in a church, they found more bodies, one semi-mummified bunch clearly dating back to the April genocide, but also another group that had been freshly slaughtered. And so it went on.

Between August and September, Gersony and his researchers conducted 200 one-to-one, extended interviews in 41 of Rwanda’s 145 communes and nine refugee camps, only to be stunned by their findings, which challenged the unfolding narrative of a disciplined, plucky RPF halting an obscenity in their tracks.

Far from staging sporadic reprisals, the RPF, Gersony came to conclude, had killed tens of thousands of people in areas that had fallen under its control – he put the number at a likely 30,000, months after the genocide’s end. A favourite technique was for the RPF troops to encourage villagers to attend a “peace and reconciliation” meeting with the new powers, then open fire on those conveniently assembled in one place.

Alongside the gun, hand grenade and machete, Gersony singled out the kafuni, the old NRA technique as one of the killing tools used. If the same thing was happening all over the place, someone had to have ordered it as things in Rwanda don’t happen as a result of local people making their own decisions.

The mega cover pp

Gersony was scheduled to brief the Rwandan government and military of its findings. Warned of what was coming, UN SG Boutros Ghali ordered his number two, Kofi Anan and UNHCR Dir of Africa Kamel Morjane, to fly to Kigali to sit in meetings and report back.

From the formal meetings held, the cover-up began. UN envoy Shaharyar Khan recorded the outcome in his cable to UNHQ. Unconvinced by Gersony’s findings, he repeatedly used the term genocide, that Gersony himself had been careful to void in his report.

“The PM and Ministers heard out Mr Gersoni’s (sic) indictment of mass genocide by the RPA with politeness and equanimity. They expressed shock … but made no hint of mala fides. It would not be possible for the government to massacre 30,000 people without the world finding out” he wrote.

Verbally to Kofi Anan however, Gersony was more blunt: A cable from the UN peacekeeping mission UNAMIR confirmed the following:

“Gersony put forward evidence of what he described as calculated, pre-planned, systematic atrocities and genocide against Hutus by the RPA whose methodology and scale, he concluded, (30,000 massacres) could only have been part of a plan implemented as a policy from the highest echelons of the government. In his view, these were not individual cases of revenge and summary trials but a pre-planned, systematic genocide against the Hutus. Gersony staked his 25-year reputation on his conclusions which he recognized were diametrically opposite to the assumptions made, so far, by the UN and the international community”.

It was a circular argument, Gersony’s report obviously represented the world finding out. The UN report has never been released and UN currently states, the “report doesn’t exist”!

Elements of Gersony’s report did make the light of day, the following extracts:

“Significant areas of Butare Prefecture, Kibungo Prefecture, and the southern and eastern areas of Kigali Prefecture have been – and in some cases were reported to remain as early as September – the scene of systematic and sustained killing and persecution of the civilian Hutu populations by the RPA. These activities were reported to have begun, depending on location, between April and July 1994, immediately following the expulsion from each area of former Government military, militia and surrogate forces. These RPA actions were consistently reported to be conducted in areas where opposition forces of any kind – armed or unarmed – or resistance of any kind – other than attempts by the victims of these actions to escape – were absent. Large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women and children, including the sick and elderly, were consistently reported.”

On page six, “An unmistakable pattern of systematic RPA conduct of such actions is the unavoidable conclusion of the team’s interviews.”

Gersony’s report was used at the International Criminal Tribunal Rwanda (ICTR) in Tanzania. During evidence presented, further evidence detonated Western (US, UK) diplomats. A letter from Gen. Paul Kagame dated 10th of August 1994 to Jean Baptiste Bagaza, President of Burundi, marked ‘confidential’:

“Dear Brother Jean Baptiste Bagaza, we have the greatest honor to extend our sincere gratitude to you both for your financial and technical support in our struggle that has just ended with the taking of Kigali.

“Rest assured that our plan to continue shall be pursued as we agreed at our last meeting in Kampala. Last week I communicated with our big brother Yoweri Museveni and decided to make some modifications to the plan. Indeed, as you have noted, the taking of Kigali quickly provoked a panic among the Hutus who fled to Goma and Bukavu. We have found that the presence of a large number of Rwandan refugees at Goma and the international community can cause our plan for Zaire to fail. We cannot occupy ourselves with Zaire until after the return of these Hutus. All means are being used for their return as rapidly as possible. In any case, our external intelligence services continue to crisscross the east of Zaire and our Belgian, British and American collaborators the rest of Zaire. The action reports are expected in the next few days.

Concerning the Burundi plan, we are very content with your work to ensure the failure of the policies of FRODEBU. It is necessary to paralyze the power of FRODEBU until the total ruin of the situation in order to justify your action that must not miss its target. Our soldiers will be deployed this time not only in Bujumbura but in the places you judge strategic. Our elements stationed at Bugesera are ready to intervene at any moment. The plan for Burundi must be executed as soon as possible before the Hutus of Rwanda can organize themselves.

In the hope of seeing you next time at Kigali, we ask you to accept, dear brother, our most respectful greetings.” – Gen. Paul Kagame Minister of Defense (signed by his assistant, Mr. Rwego) Reference ICTR document number R0002905, letter dated Aug. 10th, 1994, ICTR date stamped 8th December, 1994. Marked as page 8 of 12.

It meant the attack on Rwanda from 1990 was not the prime objective of Kagame and his collaborators. Zaire was always the (Western powers) geopolitical prime objective (and further weaken Francophone influence). Their excuse for the attack on Rwanda about establishing democracy and return of refugees, was completely false. The invasion from Uganda had only one purpose: to clear the path through Rwanda to Zaire. The return of refugees, as many witnesses have stated, was not for humanitarian reasons, but to clear the path for the invasion of Zaire.

It means that the Americans, British, particularly with Kagame, planned the invasion of Zaire in 1994, probably before that, most likely initiated when Kagame was in Fort Leavenworth for training. It means the excuse given for the later invasions of Congo since this letter was written to clear the ‘Interahamwe’ or ‘genocidaires’ is completely false. No mention is made of ‘Interahamwe.’ No mention is made of ‘genocide.’ It means, since this letter was received, 8th December 1994, that information was hidden indicating a conspiracy to commit a war of aggression against Congo-Zaire, Zaire and all of the war crimes flowed from it since and the continuation of those wars in Congo begun 14 years ago, if not longer. And that the principal parties are the principal parties stated in the letter.

It indicates the prime target, Hutus in Rwanda and Burundi, that they want to suppress the Hutu population in order to carry out their plan. Democracy was never their concern. Washington and London made a geopolitical decision to cover up Kagame’s genocide with both having been strategic military partners with the RPF before the genocide. In particular, the de facto immunity from prosecution enjoyed by Kagame served to embolden his authoritarian tendencies domestically as well as, being the US/UK proxy client, his tendency towards international (mis)adventurism, initially on security grounds, but since at least 2001, for economic reasons, and as the preferred Western proxy puppet client. In a nutshell, Kagame needed the wealth extracted from a Western-controlled DRC for domestic-political reasons to politically survive as the Western governments’ preferred proxy.

Grooming intelligence service

Inward-looking and overpopulated, Rwanda in many ways was the ideal environment for a highly effective intelligence service, and it already boasted a solid pedigree. During Habyarimana’s single-party rule, a system of community policing had operated at village level, with one official reporting back on a cluster of 10 houses (nyumba kumi). Replicated across the country, this “cell system” perpetrated the notion that grassing on your fellow citizens was not just forgivable, but admirable. Post genocide, the archives of the Service Central de Renseignements (SCR) – domestic intelligence revealed Rwanda one of the most intensely monitored societies on the planet.

The files revealed 24-hour surveillance reports, and records of intercepted telephone calls and listening devices in hotels and embassies. The archive also contained intercepted mail and family photographs, transcribed interrogations, and the updated address list of Rwandans living abroad.[1]

Impressively the SCR collated the names of every Tutsi teacher, lawyer, clerk or official in the country. Also included were the names of politically subversive, those who ‘distanced themselves from the regime’ or those who couldn’t be trusted as unquestioning supporters were listed.

Now in power, the RPF saw no need to eradicate the mindset or habits that had developed all this paperwork. Kagame, known to personally monitor radio communications in order to keep tabs on armed forces, using his experience as an intelligence operative in Uganda’s bush war. No one knew better the value of information.

[1] Linda Melvern, Intent to Deceive – Denying the Genocide of the Tutsi

© AW Kamau 2023