"All Politics Is Local"-How we fail today's victims of genocide in Central Africa (Sabine Grund)

 Lance Armstrong, the former cycling star
whose use of performance-enhancing drugs was recently exposed, pursued a
strategy of aggressive lying. Such aggressive lying also exists in politics,
and the forces behind this undermine the international credibility of our
democracies as well as domestic trust in our political system. Western media
have supported Kagame internationally, their silence about the crimes against
humanity in Africa over two decades belies media ethics. As Judge Theodor Meron
said in a CNN interview on 18 February 2013: "By sacrificing justice, you
get nowhere." Democracy needs democrats that defend it and make sure that
people who violate democratic norms are held accountable. This brief
presentation, of the politics of deception in Central Africa, is meant as a
call for democratic action.

Africa in international

A key to the tragic recent history of
Central Africa lies in the late 1980s. When democracy swept to Eastern Europe,
US Secretary of State James Baker and French President François Mitterrand
cooperated to extend it to Africa. On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was
released from prison. On 20 June 1990, at the France-Africa summit at La Baule,
Mitterrand announced that France's Cold War allies should open up to democracy;
national conferences and roundtables were started across Africa. Mitterrand
assured African allies that the French military would protect them in case of
foreign attack. Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana cautioned that a rush
towards democracy could push self-styled liberation movements to create
political facts by military means before elections would bring forth the will
of the people. Mitterrand promised him that France would not allow that to
happen. – These events have been researched by Helmut Strizek, who while
working in the German Ministry of Development (BMZ) finished his dissertation
in 1996 about the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The retired bureaucrat's 2011 book
(unfortunately not yet translated into English) reflects his professional
insights and range of contacts; it puts regional developments in the context of
international politics (Strizek 2011:28ff).
The Clinton administration (Jan. 1993 to
Jan. 2001) introduced a major US reversal of course in Africa, ending the push
for democracy and praising a "new generation of leaders" who had
taken power militarily, not through elections: Afewerki of Eritrea, Zenawi of
Ethiopia, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, John Garang of
Southern Sudan and briefly Laurent Kabila of DR Congo (Strizek 2011:107). The
absence of a strong US reaction to the assassination of newly elected Hutu
president Melchior Ndadaye in Burundi on 21 October 1993 by elements in the
Tutsi army underlines that Clinton policy. US ambassador Robert Krueger
mentions in his 2007 memoirs that, in his analysis, Pierre Buyoya who lost the
June 1993 elections was behind that murder (Strizek 2011:91).

The destabilization of
Rwanda by external attacks since October 1990

Habyarimana was aware that a group of Tutsi
in Ugandan exile under the name Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), whose families
had fled Rwanda at independence in 1962, were determined to return to power in
Rwanda. The RPF had never forgiven the UN for bringing the majority Hutu (about
85 percent) to power at independence via elections – after centuries of Tutsi
domination (14 percent) in pre-colonial and colonial times. These RPF members
had militarily supported Museveni's taking power in 1986 and were determined to
retake 'their' country by force before the introduction of democracy post-1989.
This was known in Western political circles; Strizek (2011:55, fn 123) mentions
that in 1988 the German intelligence agency BND had inquired with a German
diplomat in Central Africa if there were preparations among the exile Tutsi to
regain power in Rwanda. It is reasonable to assume that the US, French and
British services were much better informed.
There were early political mistakes of
President Habyarimana: The former Rwandan ambassador Jean-Marie Vianney
Ndagijimana (2009:35) writes that Habyarimana had kept in contact with
then-rebel Museveni through Habyarimana's brother-in-law Elie Sagatwa in the
early 1980s, while realizing that many in the Ugandan rebel forces were Rwandan
Tutsi who later got high positions in the Ugandan military. Shortly after the
hostile aggression against Rwanda on 1 October 1990 by RPF forces from Uganda,
President Museveni bragged at a London press conference that he had militarily
trained the RPF; the regime in Kigali would not be able to resist them for long
(Ndagijimana 2009:57). And on 4 July 2009, Kagame publicly acknowledged
Museveni's role in the 1990-1994 struggle for power by awarding him the
national liberation medal. The Ugandan newspaper Observer considers that
revelation sensational, since Museveni had claimed that the Rwandans who had
served in the Ugandan National Resistance Army had escaped to Rwanda in 1990
without his knowledge (Strizek 2011:56, fn 127). Strizek (2011:56, fn 126)
quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen's book
"Intervening in Africa" (2000) that, with hindsight, the US should
have followed France in characterizing the Tutsi invasion of Rwanda of 1
October 1990 as an act of aggression.
The first RPF attack on Rwanda on 1 October
1990 was repelled by the Rwandan army with support from French, Belgian and
Zairian forces and political support from the US. Yet advised by Museveni,
Kagame began to use the guerilla tactics that had brought Museveni to power in
Uganda in 1986. From January 1991, he pursued repeated attacks and a strategy
of terror against the civilian population in Rwanda. In June 1992, such an
attack created an estimated 350,000 refugees; the internally displaced people
were part of Kagame's calculation to destabilize Habyarimana's government
(Strizek 2011:61f). Romeo Dallaire, force commander of the UN Assistance
Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) that was supposed to implement the 1993 Arusha
peace accords between the Habyarimana government and the RPF, realized the
impact of internally displaced people on the country. He describes the desolate
situation of 60,000 internal refugees in a camp, whose disturbing poverty was
owed to the fighting since 1990 (Dallaire 2003:63f).

The shooting down of the
presidential plane on 6 April 1994

In this context of tension the plane of
president Habyarimana was shot down on 6 April 1994, when he returned from
peace talks in Tanzania. Also killed in that plane were Burundian president
Cyprien Ntaryamira, seven Rwandan and Burundian officials and the three French
pilots. Mysteriously, as the plane approached Kigali airport, the control tower
repeatedly asked if the two presidents were on board. Then suddenly the runway
turned dark and two rockets were fired at the plane. This description by
Colette Braeckman in her 1994 book is quoted by Strizek (2011:108), who also
refers to confirmations by other sources. On 2 April, Kagame had hinted to
Dallaire (2003:214) that something cataclysmic was going to happen, "and
once it started, no one would be able to control it." Dallaire reports how
Col. Théoneste Bagosora, chef de cabinet of the defense minister (who was
abroad at the time), called a meeting right after the plane had crashed.
Bagosora told Dallaire that the Arusha process must not be jeopardized, and he
agreed with Dallaire that UNAMIR should secure the crash site to facilitate a
proper investigation (2003:222-225). Such investigation was also demanded by
the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Commission, René Degni-Ségui, who
in his report of 28 June 1994 considers it the gordian knot to find the truth.
The UN expert report (Amega Report S/1994/1405) of 9 December 1994 confirms his
demand (Strizek 2011:111). The genocide ended with the RPF taking power and
installing Pasteur Bizimungu as president and Kagame as vice-president on 17
July 1994.
Richard Goldstone, first prosecutor of the
Arusha Tribunal established by the UN in November 1994, asked the Australian
Michael Hourigan to investigate the whole genocide, including the plane crash.
Hourigan and his team worked in Rwanda from April 1996 to May 1997 and came up
with witnesses who testified that the RPF had shot down the plane (Ndagijimana
2009:98ff). Statements by Michael Hourigan, FBI-expert James Lyons, Rwandan
former intelligence official Jean-Pierre Mugabe (in US exile), Aloys Ruyenzi (who
had worked closely with Kagame and fled in 2001), Joshua Ruzibiza's testimony
before the Arusha tribunal on 9 March 2006, and the reports by French
magistrate Bruguiere of 2006 and Spanish judge Merelles of 2008 come to the
same conclusion (Strizek 2011:114f). In contrast, Ndagijimana (2009:91) quotes
former French foreign minister Kouchner's December 2008 response to a
journalist asking him if he knew who shot down the presidential plane on 6
April 1994: "I don't know and I don't want to know."
Many had warned about the bloody
consequences of a renewed RPF war against Habyarimana's regime and attempts to
kill the president. In January 2004, Dallaire testified before the Arusha
tribunal that a government minister in Kigali had warned Kagame because of the likely
consequences for the Tutsi in Rwanda, and Kagame had responded that this was
the price to pay for the RPF victory. Former RPF-officer Christophe Hakizabera
reported that the decision to kill Habyarimana and take over the country had
been made during a meeting in Burkina Faso in March 1994 with Kagame present.
The decision was communicated to the inland Tutsi who warned of the disastrous
consequences. But Kagame estimated that about 500 would be killed, which he
considered justifiable (Strizek 2011:101). Strizek adds that the good relations
of Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso with Museveni were reportedly known across
Africa (2011:102, fn 264).

The Gersony Report of October 1994

Tasked by USAID and the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, the American Robert Gersony looked for ways to
quickly repatriate the hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees. He detected
the horrendous treatment of refugees by the victorious RPF. In early September
1994, he told UNHCR head Sadako Ogata and USAID that between 25,000 and 45,000
Hutu had been killed in the past two months in only three prefectures. As
expert on refugee issues, Gersony had previously been asked by Assistant
Secretary of State Chester Crocker in 1987 to unveil the crimes of RENAMO in
Mozambique. On 17 September the US State Department was informed about
Gersony's findings by UNHCR. On 19 September, US Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs George Moose wrote to Secretary of State Warren
Christopher, describing how the RPF killed internally displaced persons: The
IDPs were invited to assemblies to discuss peace and security, and when they
had gathered the army came to kill them. In addition, the army undertook
house-to-house searches for individuals. Strizek states that he holds a copy of
that text (2011:186ff, fn 568).
In early October 1994, Rwandan president
Pasteur Bizimungu and foreign minister Ndagijimana travelled to Washington.
They spoke with USAID chief Brian Atwood, who insisted that the Gersony report
was credible. At a subsequent meeting of the Rwandans in the State Department,
Assistant Secretary Moose changed his stance and indicated that the Gersony
report would be suppressed if the RPF stopped the killings. Five days later
Ndagijimana stepped down as foreign minister and went into exile (Ndagijimana

Kibeho, April 1995

In April 1995, the refugee camp Kibeho in
southwestern Rwanda was home to about 100,000 internally displaced people
(Strizek 2011:190). German journalist Hans Christoph Buch was one eyewitness to
the extreme fear and unbearable conditions in this camp. His German books about
this experience, "Kain und Abel in Afrika" (2001) and
"Apokalypse Afrika" (2011) are called 'novels' yet offer insights
that appear very real. In the first book (2001:50f) he quotes the German
ambassador in Rwanda at the time, who commented on the ongoing massacre in
Kibeho by telling him that there are two kinds of genocide, ethnic and
political, the latter for political intimidation; Kibeho represented the latter
case. The ambassador also complained that the German foreign office expected a
certain kind of reporting from him, and mistakes would cost his career. Strizek
(2011:192) adds that the real ambassador was actually exchanged in July 1995
and reporting from the German embassy in Rwanda has changed afterwards to
better suit German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel.
Buch's experiences in Rwanda in 1995, 1996
and in DR Congo 1997 have left scars because of a sense of personal failure: On
a public panel in Berlin, on 16 September 2007, he talked about the moment when
a Rwandan woman in Kibeho tried to hand him over her baby across the barbed
wire and he pushed her back. Being surrounded by soldiers, he said he was
afraid to take that child, but he might actually have been able to save that
one life – and did not. In his two books he estimates that about 80,000 people
in Kibeho will probably all have been killed.
For comparison: In July 1995, about 8,000
Bosnian Muslim men were killed in the Srebrenica massacre. This was widely
reported in the international media, and the Appeals Chamber of the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague has
ruled that it constituted genocide under international law. The brutal killing
of about 80,000 men, women and children in Kibeho in April 1995, under the
responsibility of General Kagame's RPF, has not been widely reported and still
awaits legal consequences. Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, who has served as UN
Human Rights Officer in Rwanda, asks how thousands of people could be massacred
in an internationally designated camp for IDPs in a small country. The army
operation to close Kibeho happened in the presence of more than a dozen UN
agencies, 120 NGOs and 5,500 UN peacekeepers (see www.pbase.com for the brief
presentation of her monograph "The Protection Gap in the International
Protection of Internally Displaced Persons: The Case of Rwanda", published
by University of Geneva, no date given – site accessed February 2013).
Ndagijimana mentions that
Ibingira, RPF commander responsible for closing Kibeho, was subsequently
promoted by Kagame to the rank of general (2009:142).

Romeo Dallaire: Shake
Hands with the Devil

Dallaire's 2003 book only covers the period
that he served with the UN and in Rwanda, from August 1993 to his departure on
20 August 1994. He mostly presents his reasoning as soldier on the job and
avoids political conclusions. Even in the last chapter, written with a decade
of hindsight, he does not indicate that he has made up his mind about the
political forces that have driven this disaster. And he remains painstakingly
balanced when writing about Rwandan politics. His many critical remarks about
Habyarimana and his government are not presented here; rather, it appears
striking that Dallaire also offers some clues that fit the big picture of
Strizek's book, who (2011:80) states that Dallaire's mission was set up to
  • When planning his mission at the UN in New York, Dallaire
    noticed that nobody except the Belgians and the French was interested in
    the Rwanda mission (2003:51). Everything was more important, from Bosnia
    to Somalia, Haiti, Mozambique (2003:55).
  • Ugandan approval for the arrival of the UN team was delayed,
    and the reasoning on the corridors of the UN was that the Ugandans had to
    find new ways to supply the RPF with arms first (2003:52).
  • The Canadian defense department had no intelligence information
    for the general that Canada was sending on UN mission (2003:53).
  • When meeting Western diplomats in Rwanda, nobody offered Dallaire
    in-depth political analysis, all "seemed to be singing from the same
    song sheet" – with the exception of the new French ambassador, who
    was interested in Dallaire's work (2003:62).
  • At an August 1993 meeting, the RPF insisted that the
    demilitarized zone needed to remain closed, no return of refugees must
    occur. Dallaire later realized that they may have wanted the area to
    resettle Tutsi from Uganda (2003:66f).
  • Given the tense political situation in Rwanda, demobilization
    of all sides was essential – yet nobody at the diplomatic missions or the
    UN provided any resources or information how to do it (2003:74).
  • Dallaire: "… the Americans never took Rwanda or me
    seriously…" The only NATO country willing to contribute troops was
    Belgium (2003:84).
  • Dallaire suspected the RPF of using Viet Cong tactics to
    smuggle weapons in from Uganda; for the peace process to succeed, this
    would have to be shut down (2003:88). Yet his mission never got enough
    personnel to achieve many essential tasks. And Uganda refused Dallaire the
    100km range of verification on its territory to monitor weapons smuggling
  • Kagame and the RPF had been "relentlessly inflexible"
    (2003:475) about political concessions before the civil war began.
    Dallaire wondered if the campaign and genocide had been orchestrated to
    clear the way for Rwanda's return to pre-1959 status of Tutsi dominance
  • The lack of help from the US in Rwanda after the genocide
    disappointed Dallaire. He sensed that individuals were willing to help, but
    the Pentagon apparently blocked them (485ff).
  • Hutu refugees returning to Rwanda from Zaire were attacked with
    machetes, some killed and others mutilated – as message to those who might
    want to return (2003:488).
  • Kagame broke his promise to allow safe return of refugees and
    refused Dallaire access to dubious security checks, where returnees were
    led to a dirt road behind a hill (2003:502f).
  • US ambassador to UN Madeleine Albright rejected Dallaire's
    wording for a new mandate that would include ensuring stability and
    security in the provinces of Rwanda (2003:505f).
  • Kagame has repeatedly talked to Dallaire about the price his
    fellow Tutsi might have to pay for the cause (2003:515).

The 'invisible hand' on
the international side

All these observations of Dallaire resonate
in the 2011 book by Strizek (rich in footnotes), as well as in many testimonies
in blogs and books by Rwandans, Cameroonian journalist Charles Onana, and in
Canadian journalist Robin Philpot's 2003 book (available online in English and
German at www.taylor-report.com). Carla Del Ponte, former prosecutor at the
Arusha Tribunal, reports about the onesidedness in Western policy towards
Rwanda in her 2009 book "Madame Prosecutor". She was removed from
office by Kofi Annan when she tried to prosecute the RPF. The international
political support for the RPF, that Western media have not revealed, has killed
uncounted millions and its destructive effects continue in the DR Congo until
On 28 April
2008, the Central Africa expert Gérard Prunier presented the following
10-point-program "How to organize genocide in our times" at a joint
seminar at Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB) with Harvard University:
  1. Lie shamelessly.
  2. Find a scapegoat (climate
    change, tribal strife … "those Africans").
  3. Fudge the issues by issuing
    contradictory statements.
  4. Hire good lobbyists (in US,
  5. Split your critics and organize
    conferences and many peace initiatives.
  6. Bring in irrelevant topics.
  7. Never say no. Always say yes
    and never do it.
  8. Use administrative guerilla
    tactics, hindering all practical initiatives (Russian dolls).
  9. Carefully arrange schedules to
    disturb practical progress.
  10. If you are killing people,
    don't do it yourself – use militias, minority ethnic groups.
A milestone in the search for the 'hidden
hand' behind the Rwanda genocide and the subsequent crimes against humanity in
the DR Congo is an article in the Jerusalem Post of 9 August 2007 by David
Kimche, described as former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry
who often visited Rwanda. He reiterates the 'official story' of the evil Hutu
genocide planners and Kagame as hero who overthrew the government in Kigali;
and Kimche ominously wishes a Kagame for Israel. Kimche died 8 March 2010; the
obituary in the Washington Post on 10 March reveals him as Mossad spymaster and
top foreign policy official who touched off what became the Iran-Contra scandal
in the US. He is also vaguely presented as someone who "was known for
using Israel's military and economic power to influence the internal politics
of Third World countries". In the 1960s he worked undercover in Africa,
appearing in a country some days before a coup and leaving about a week after a
new regime was in control there. Irangate supposedly destroyed his reputation.
The Washington Post does not elaborate on who gave the political orders for
Kimche's spy work, but it is known that Shimon Peres was foreign minister
during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and is one of the most influential politicians
of his country. Inexplicably, all this happened under the eyes of the
international community and the United Nations, whose 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights applies to all human beings on the planet.
"All politics is local!" This US
adage is a reminder to look for the individuals in democratic countries who
have supported the gruesome politics in Central Africa. These are not distant
events to anyone with democratic conviction. These crimes against humanity in
Central Africa have been either caused, or made much worse, by a Western
foreign policy that acted in sharp contradiction to our democratic values.
Democracy depends on checks and balances, and those have failed: in our
politics, in our media, NGOs and church institutions. We owe the victims and we
owe our democracies to investigate and correct this massive failure, by
parliamentary means and in broad public debates.


Hans Christoph Buch (2001)
Kain und Abel in Afrika
Berlin: Verlag Volk & Welt
Hans Christoph Buch (2011)
Apokalypse Afrika oder
Schiffbruch mit Zuschauern
Frankfurt/Main: Eichborn
Romeo Dallaire
with Major Brent Beardsley
Shake Hands with the Devil
New York: Carroll&Graf Publications
Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijimana (2009)
Paul Kagame a sacrifié les Tutsi
Vendome: Editions
la Pagaie
Robin Philpot (2003)
Ca ne c'est pas passé
comme ça à Kigali
Les Intouchables
English and
German version online: www.taylor-report.com
Helmut Strizek (2011)
Clinton am Kivu-See
Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang Verlag
Dr. Sabine Grund
Berlin, 4 March 2013


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