June 30, 2004

Day 86

Ten years ago today: UNAMIR commander Gen. Romeo Dallaire said that the UN would not be able to meet its new peacekeeping commitments by the time that Operation Turquoise was due to end.

Nearly 50 French troops advanced to Gishyita near Lake Kivu as part of a mission to protect Tutsi who had been hiding from government militiamen. France Inter Radio reported:

The patrol stopped on the hill at Bisesero and immediately people came out of the woods. They were Tutsis who were in a horrific state; all starving, very thin - many of them with bullet or machete wounds. We saw pierced legs, split skulls. These people had been hiding in the forest for weeks, trying to escape from Hutu villagers. This morning, yesterday, the day before, some of them had been caught and killed on the spot. In the fields, all around, there are bodies.
On seeing the French soldiers dozens of people gathered around, but on the surrounding ridges several hundred armed Hutus then appeared. The Tutsis kept coming out of the woods, and very soon the four French soldiers found themselves standing between a group of 400 terrified Tutsis and a horde of Hutus less than 300 metres away. The soldiers took up positions in a ditch, their fingers on the trigger, ready to shoot if the Hutus approached.

By this day, 25,000 Tutsi had been killed at Bisesero by militiamen in a series of attacks since late April.

Germany's Office for the Recognition of Refugees sent a rejection letter to a Tutsi man who had lost his family in the genocide and was applying for asylum:

There is no reason he cannot be deported, because his problems are no different from those of other Rwandans. The application is clearly without merit.

US Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Congress,

It's clear there's genocide -- acts of genocide -- in Rwanda and they ought to be pursued. I think the right way to pursue them would be through some sort of tribunal that would follow up.


Posted by NYCO at 04:10 PM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2004

Day 85

Ten years ago today: Twenty Russian trucks carrying 120 tons of food arrived at Benaco camp in Tanzania. A UN convoy managed to deliver food to 9,000 refugees still dodging battle fire in Kigali.

France's defense minister, Francois Leotard, toured French outposts in western Rwanda and called for international support of the mission. Although 1,500 troops were operating in the country, only 100 to 200 were camping inside Rwanda's borders overnight. The AP noted:

French marines blaze to wherever they want to go in Rwanda, breezing past thugs at roadblocks who pose no obstacle to their speeding jeeps. Once the dust clears and the French machine guns are out of sight, the barriers go back up - as does the risk of death by club or machete. A week into its humanitarian operation to save lives in Rwanda, France is speaking softly and carrying a puny stick.

The New York Times reported on the hundreds of Tutsi still in hiding in French-patrolled southwestern Rwanda:

In a thicket of tall weeds, thorny bramble, dead cornstalks and eucalyptus trees, a few ferns have been laid. It is where three men have been sleeping and hiding for more than two months, since Hutu militia attacked this village in April, killing scores of Tutsi and forcing others to flee. These men still live in fear, daring to venture out only at night to scavenge for food, the men said, as a French military helicopter flew over. "I am still afraid, very afraid," said one of the three men, 46-year-old Charles Rwakazina, who nervously played with a blue handkerchief and cried as he told his story. A few days after the attack, Mr. Rwakazina returned to his mud home -- several hundred yards from where he now hides -- and found the bodies of his mother and father, who had been hacked to death with machetes. A week ago, a journey along almost any road in this area was perilous. There were road blocks every 200 or 300 yards, manned by young men in civilian clothes, armed with machetes, clubs and rifles.

This week:

Rwandan refugees from the 1994 war and genocide are once again urged to return home.

Posted by NYCO at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2004

Day 84

Ten years ago today: The UN Commission on Human Rights released a report stating that the killings of Tutsis in Rwanda constituted genocide. It called for an international tribunal to bring the organizers of the genocide to trial. The report estimated the dead in Rwanda between 500,000 and one million.

French commandos rescued 43 American, Belgian, British and Rwandan nuns and Rwandan orphans who were being menaced at a convent by militiamen. 1,400 French troops were in Rwanda on this day.

"Journey into Darkness," a film by reporter Fergal Keane on what he saw in Rwanda, aired on BBC.

On this day, on a road outside of Kibuye, Rwanda Minister for Information Eliezer Niyigeteka ordered Interahamwe militia to undress and mutilate the body of a Tutsi woman they had just killed.

[He] instructed one of them to undress the woman and to fetch a piece of wood. That person brought a branch from the tree, which [Niyigeteka] asked him to sharpen to a point. He then asked them to bring the bodies from the vehicle, and ordered that the piece of wood be inserted in the genitalia of the woman. This was done by the Interahamwe pursuant to his instructions. When the witness returned from the camp that same day, he saw the corpse of the woman still lying there, and a piece of wood in her genitalia. The woman’s body remained there for three days with flies all over it.

Posted by NYCO at 02:58 PM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2004

Day 83

Ten years ago today: French troops entered the town of Gikongoro. Gikongoro prefecture, only 20 miles from the war front, contained about 200,000 Hutu refugees fleeing the RPF. Over 40,000 were encamped at Cyanika, where some children were dying of starvation. Cyanika was the scene of a mass slaughter against Tutsi earlier in the spring.

A shell landed on the Sainte Famille church in Kigali, killing five Tutsi refugees out of the 800 still hiding there.

The missing black box from Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was reported to have turned up in Paris.

President Clinton on this day noted the need for a new American policy toward Africa, although also noting that

There is no such thing as a purely humanitarian enterprise, except in cases of natural disaster.

John Sundin, an American doctor with the Red Cross, left Rwanda on this day and sent a fax message back home, the last of many he had transmitted during the genocide and war:

My dispatches end now - I have loved this satellite highway and you have been most good to listen to my blah, blah, blah, about the falling sky - Kigali - where the sky meets the earth, heaven meets hell and you have met me. Love, John.

Posted by NYCO at 03:34 PM | Comments (1)

June 26, 2004

Day 82

Ten years ago today: The French increased their forces inside Rwanda to 1,000. French military leaders stressed that their mission was to protect all civilians, Hutu or Tutsi.

The Hutu residents of Gikongoro planned a parade for the advancing French troops, according to Associated Press:

More than 1,000 government troops roared through town to the cheers of the masses, French flags fluttering from their trucks. Grinning broadly, 20-year-old Caspario Kasarabwe was also happy. He manned a civilian checkpoint in the town of Kitabi to the east. He carried a huge sign decked with magazine photos of French soldiers and snapshots of government troops. His beret had "Interahamwe" written on it. The Interahamwe are the government-backed civilian militias blamed for most of the massacres.... Gikongoro was once heavily populated by Tutsis, but people here say there are few to be found. People often become angry or tense if even the word "Tutsi" is mentioned.

In Kigali's soccer stadium, Hutu and Tutsi refugees held a ceremony honoring the besieged UNAMIR troops with medals that read "In the Service of Peace."

During the ceremony, artillery fire boomed as the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, which controls the area of the stadium, bombarded government troops who hold the city center. When the soldiers broke formation, children flocked to them. "They think we're heroes because we protect them from the killing squads," said John Opollu, 33, of Ghana. "They feel safer with us here." "So many of these children have lost their fathers, and now I think they look to us for fathering," said John Asamoeh, 32. Gesturing to the waist-high crowd around him, he said he was reminded of his own children in Ghana.

This week:

Rwanda and Congo have agreed to respect their 2002 peace accord at an emergency summit in Nigeria.

Posted by NYCO at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)

June 25, 2004

Day 81

Ten years ago today: French troops with Operation Turquoise began dismantling Hutu roadblocks in southwestern Rwanda. They also discovered a mass grave of Tutsi victims at Shangi.

Yet another attempt by UN forces to evacuate civilians and children from threatened parts of Kigali was thwarted by the violation of ceasefire pledges between the Rwandan government and RPF. About 14,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu civilians were trapped in government-controlled areas of Kigali, subject to violence by Hutu militia.

Posted by NYCO at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 24, 2004

Day 80

Ten years ago today: 50 French commandos, newly arrived in Rwanda, began guarding the refugee camp at Nyarushishi in Cyangugu prefecture, where 8,000 Tutsi were gathered. Rwanda's Hutus greeted the French enthusiastically, waving French flags.

UNAMIR troops in Kigali listened to news reports of the French intervention with trepidation, having been threatened with violence by local RPF soldiers if Operation Turquoise got underway. One told the Associated Press:

Have they gone crazy? At best we have to evacuate. At worst the rebels take us all hostage.

Seven patients were killed when a mortar hit the Red Cross hospital in Kigali.

On this day, Ignace Bagilishema, the Hutu mayor of Mabanza commune, sent a letter to other Rwandan officials, complaining of forays by other Hutu militia into his territory, and defending himself against rumors that he was a Tutsi sympathizer:

Concerning the problem of my wife, people believe that she is a Tutsi and that leads them to think that I am an accomplice and that I support Hutu who married Tutsi women and the Tutsi population. I would like to inform you that this rumor is spread out by my political opponents whose intention is to take my place. My wife is a Hutu from the Bagiga family, a very large family residing at Rubengera in Mabanza commune.

As for those pretexting that my mother-in-law is a Tutsi, this is not sound at all, even if she were a Tutsi, a child belongs to the father not to the mother; those who maintain that that my mother-in-law is Tutsi are wrong since she is native from sector Ruragwe, Gitesi commune from the Barenga family, a well-known family of Hutu...

This week:

Rwanda's gacaca courts have been officially inaugurated by President Kagame. After a trial run, they have been expanded nationwide.

Posted by NYCO at 04:49 PM | Comments (1)

June 23, 2004

Day 79

Ten years ago today: France's controversial "Operation Turquoise" began with the arrival of French troops from Goma in Zaire. Their intention was to establish a protection zone for civilians in southwestern Rwanda, in Gikongoro, Kibuye and Cyangugu prefectures.

The Pentagon finally began the delivery of 50 armored personnel vehicles to Entebbe, Uganda, which would be brought overland to Rwanda. Four vehicles were airlifted on this day. The vehicles had been requested by the UN in mid-May.

About 2,000 civilians were still trapped in the Sainte Famille church in Kigali as Hutu militia periodically rounded up people by name and took them away, never to be seen again. One refugee told Associated Press:

Here since Saturday they kill about 200 people. They ask what tribe you are. They take them from this building, this church. They have guns and knives and machetes, the people from the government party, so we can't fight back. We don't have arms... My husband is a Hutu. He couldn't fight for me. He was afraid they kill him, too. I don't know where he is. ... I am a Christian. I must forgive.


Posted by NYCO at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)

June 22, 2004

Day 78

Ten years ago today: The UN Security Council, still awaiting the deployment of added UNAMIR troops, passed Resolution 929, which authorized the deployment of French forces in southwestern Rwanda under "Operation Turquoise."

An RTLM broadcast on this day claimed a victory for Hutu Power:

The French said: 'The situation is disastrous in Rwanda, let us go to help, so people will not continue to be exterminated.' Obviously, people who are now being exterminated are the Hutus. That is even the reason why the Tutsis Inkotanyi who are killing them, immediately said through their Tutsi power: 'We do not want you to come.' How can one understand that somebody prevents those who are coming to help dying people from doing so? Obviously, the one who does so is actually the killer... But we must not think that the French are coming to fight for us … we fear that some people at roadblocks will start sleeping when they hear that the French have arrived.

The RPF launched a fierce new offensive on Kigali. The fighting was so heavy that UNAMIR had to withdraw its observers and guards from the Hotel des Mille Collines. Gen. Romeo Dallaire made the decision after the RPF warned that its troops might not distinguish between French soldiers and French-speaking UN troops.

This week:

Fears of a war between Rwanda and Congo are growing after a Congolese dissident officer flees to Rwanda and Rwanda's foreign minister launches accusations against Congo.
 
The Washington Post comments on the ongoing situation in Darfur.

Posted by NYCO at 03:01 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2004

Day 77

Ten years ago today: Jean Kambanda, prime minister of Rwanda, spoke on RTLM radio, praising it and calling it "an indispensible weapon in the fight against the enemy."

Canada approved a deployment of 350 men to aid in communications support for the revamped UNAMIR mission.

Western aid workers returned to Benaco camp in Tanzania, a week after evacuating due to threats from Hutu crowds after Hutu militiamen were asked to leave. The militiamen were still in the camp.

French troops, preparing for a possible operation, were reported in Goma, Zaire on this day as the UN deliberated the plan. Meanwhile, UNAMIR troops in Kigali from countries that had expressed support of the proposed French intervention reported receiving threats. The government of Francois Mitterand continued to receive fierce opposition from RPF spokesmen and criticism from opposition parties and skeptical international observers. One French source told the Independent:

We just want to gesticulate. We said nothing during the massacres and we voted for the UN force in Rwanda to be reduced when the killings started but now the killing is mostly over, we suddenly find a burning desire to save lives.

Posted by NYCO at 03:57 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2004

Day 76

Ten years ago today: The RPF said it would treat any intervening French troops as aggressors. Meanwhile, thousands of students in Burundi protested against plans to allow French troops to move through Burundi to reach Rwanda.

The UN was able to evacuate more people from the church of Sainte Famille in Kigali on this day, but had to leave behind about 2,000 people. The Associated Press reported:

Crowds surged toward U.N. trucks and buses at the Ste. Famille church, where gangs of murderous government-trained militiamen have stepped up nightly visits as the rebel siege of the capital intensifies. Government soldiers pushed and clubbed back the refugees and made them wait for their names to be called from a list. Many people, young and old, pleaded with U.N. soldiers, aid officials and journalists to make space for them, somewhere, anywhere.

"Please save me. I die here," cried one boy. "Put my name on the list," a woman carrying a baby on her back begged each passing stranger. "Please, I cannot keep hiding from them. They find me tonight," a young man pleaded. One gutsy youth, no more than 5 years old, sprinted past guards and leaped onto the flat bed of a U.N. truck as it drove away. Onlookers cheered.

John Sundin, an American Red Cross doctor in Kigali, spoke to the Associated Press about his patients.

We have 30 patients today who need abdominal surgery. We have time to do four. Picking between them is the hardest part of what we do. That guy [over there], his intestines are all hanging out. There's no time to put them back in. It would take two, three hours, and I have several patients whose intestines are in. So he'll die. You just have to pick those who have the better chance of survival.

This week:

Are estimates of HIV/AIDS infection in countries like Rwanda being overstated?

An update on Darfur.


Posted by NYCO at 03:14 PM | Comments (1)

June 19, 2004

Day 75

Ten years ago today: Francois Mitterand announced that French troops would deploy from African bases for "Operation Turquoise." The French were criticized by some for wanting to relive colonial ambitions.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggested to the UN Security Council that the proposed French mission to Rwanda might close the gap as the UN continued to prepare for its 5,500-troop deployment at a future date.

RPF soldiers rounded up and shot unarmed Hutu and Tutsi civilians in the village of Rugogwe.

Posted by NYCO at 04:30 PM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2004

Day 74

Ten years ago today: In violation of a UN arms embargo for Rwanda, a shipment of weapons originating in the Seychelles arrived in Goma, Zaire, destined for the Rwandan Hutu government.

France announced it was sending forces to the Rwandan border in preparation for a military intervention to stop the mass killings. The move met with a mixed reaction among African nations. The RPF rejected France's involvement.

The World Food Program warned that Rwanda faced "catastrophic" food shortages because no one was in the fields harvesting crops.

This week:

Rusumo Gacumbitsi, a former mayor who presided over the killings at Nyamirambo, was sentenced to 30 years by the ICTR. Rwanda has protested the sentence, calling for life imprisonment.

Rwanda is planning to reform its gacaca court system by reducing the number of courts and judges.

Posted by NYCO at 04:14 PM | Comments (1)

June 17, 2004

Day 73

Ten years ago today: The RPF conducted a daring raid at 3 a.m. on the Sainte Famille church in Kigali, where they rescued about 600 Tutsi refugees who were being menaced by Hutu militia. Forty died and 40 were wounded in the raid, mostly by mortars laid down by the RPF as cover.

Later in the day, Rwandan soldiers and militia were ordered to attack the church as a reprisal, and some Tutsi refugees died there. Militia also stormed the Hotel des Milles Collines in retaliation, but there were no deaths.

A senior RPF (rebel) officer told a reporter that "reprisals didn't matter because there's been killings there every day anyway."

A UN peacekeeper was killed by a mortar north of Kigali.

Alain Juppe, French foreign minister, wrote in the Guardian,

It is not enough to rely on the presence of the United Nations and its good intentions to salve our consciences. We must act. What must be done on the humanitarian front speaks for itself... We have a real duty to intervene in Rwanda. The time for sitting with our arms crossed is over. We must take the initiative. The urgent necessity for international intervention means we must act with courage and imagination. If the UNAMIR takes such a long time to get to Rwanda, why not use some of the UN soldiers who are still in Somalia and who could get to Kigali more quickly? I have proposed this scheme to the general secretary of the United Nations, who supports it in principle. If all that is not enough, then France is ready to prepare for intervention on the ground, with its main European and African partners, in order to end the massacres and protect those threatened with extermination.

Posted by NYCO at 03:24 PM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2004

Day 72

Ten years ago today: The U.S. said it was expediting plans to supply armored personnel carriers to the UN in Rwanda, in response to criticism from the international community that they were moving too slowly to help implement the UN resolution to send more peacekeepers.

The French Foreign Ministry announced it would be opening a humanitarian aid corridor from Uganda to Kigali. The RPF warned it would defend itself if French troops were to militarily intervene in the war.

UN Special Representative to Rwanda, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, left Rwanda on this day after resigning his post, excoriating both the RPF and the Rwandan government for the genocide. Booh-Booh told French radio he was glad to be leaving Rwanda, where "people do not like each other."

Today was UNICEF's International Day of the African Child.

Posted by NYCO at 04:58 PM | Comments (1)

June 15, 2004

Day 71

Ten years ago today: In Benaco camp in Tanzania, a violent crowd of 5,000 people armed with machetes and sticks demanded that 16 Hutu militiamen, rumored to be involved in the genocide in Rwanda, be allowed to stay in the camp. Tanzanian police had to disperse the crowd by firing shots in the air. As a result of the disturbance, foreign workers with aid agencies had to be temporarily evacuated from Benaco.

France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said that France would be prepared to intervene militarily in Rwanda if the ceasefire between the two warring factions there was not honored.

Shells continued to fall in downtown Kigali, despite the agreement.

This week:

Rwanda denies it is assembling troops on the Congo border.

Alison Des Forges, author of Leave None to Tell the Story, is being cross-examined as a witness in the "military trial" at the ICTR.

Posted by NYCO at 03:54 PM | Comments (1)

June 14, 2004

Day 70

Ten years ago today: A ceasefire agreement between the Rwandan government and the RPF was reached. Fighting continued anyway.

UNAMIR evacuated 400 Tutsi from the Church of Sainte Famille in Kigali despite threats by the militiamen. Shortly afterward, militia entered the church and removed 30 to 40 people, including many children. The refugees were feared dead. About 3,000 Tutsi remained in the church.

Hutu militia from Rwanda crossed over into Burundi and massacred Tutsi at a refugee camp there.

UN leadership sought to avoid an embarrassing situation as Rwanda was scheduled to assume the revolving presidency of the UN Security Council in September. Associated Press reported:

For the guerrillas, the fact that a representative of the Rwandan provisional government currently sits at the Security Council is already a thorn in the side of RPF representative Claude Dusaidi. "We think that even right now the representative of the genocidal Rwandan government shouldn't be sitting on the council. Many other countries in the Security Council are of the opinion that Rwanda shouldn't accept the presidency in September," Dusaidi said. A British diplomat called the current situation intolerable and said "We can't have this guy (Jean Bizimana of Rwanda) glad-handing people everywhere."


Posted by NYCO at 03:45 PM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2004

Day 69

Ten years ago today: NPR's Michael Skoler filed a report from Rwanda (audio available).

As I drove up to a set of orange brick church buildings, I had to clamp a bandana tightly over my nose and mouth. The stench was unbearable. Outside the church, there are maybe two or three dozens bodies, and in the heat here in Rwanda, many of the bodies are already almost fully decomposed. You can see some skulls, some backbones. There are what seem to be women in brightly colored clothing, as well as children, lying about. This is amidst what is a very beautiful area of eucalyptus trees and pine trees.

There are bodies scattered all over the church. The blood on the floor is so thick it's dried to kind of a muddy brown dust that may be in some places a quarter of an inch thick. Most of the bodies are blackened and decomposing. Some lie on mattresses, some on the floor, some are covered with blankets. By the altar, there are probably about 30 bodies clustered around. One is the body of an infant with parents, it seems, on either side. There's a suitcase that is open and kind of torn apart in front of the altar. On the floor of the church, you can see baskets, plastic water cans, pales, combs, brushes, sandals, sneakers, tins of food, a bottle of talcum powder.

Amnesty International estimated that 500,000 Rwandans had been killed by this day.

Posted by NYCO at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)

June 12, 2004

Day 68

Ten years ago today: The RPF captured Gitarama. Ministers of the Rwandan government, who had been governing from Gitarama after fleeing Kigali, fled further west to Gisenyi.

In Kigali, the Red Cross was treating 100 new wounded Rwandans each day.

The Guardian reported on this day that Hutu militia who had escaped to Tanzania were being allowed to form into police squads in the Ngara refugee camp, the second largest camp in Tanzania after Benaco. Hutu militia were already suspected of killing two Tutsi in the camp earlier in the week. An aid worker noted,

It became apparent that the militia and government structure was transferred to Ngara. What seems to be emerging is that the camp police force are the same people as the militia from each area within Rwanda. The question now is whether Ngara is acting as a rear base for activities in Rwanda.

This week:

Rwanda will hold elections next week for 5,000 judges who will preside over gacaca trials.

Posted by NYCO at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2004

Day 67

Ten years ago today: Interahamwe militia removed 170 Tutsi, including many boys, out of St. Paul church in Nyamirambo, Kigali and killed them with machetes on this day. The removal of the refugees was witnessed by a German and French priest at the complex, where a separate massacre took place a few days earlier.

The priests said that a militia member led a group of his men to the church and said he wanted to "evacuate" the people who were inside. When Father Blanchard refused to open the door, they said, a militia member threw a tear gas grenade inside, forcing the people out. Father Mayer said he ran to a nearby Rwandan Army headquarters and begged for help, but was refused. A mortar round landed as he ran back, and he suffered shrapnel wounds to the left arm. After the people were taken away on trucks, the priests said, they fled with the city councilor. As they drove up the street they saw militiamen dumping bodies from one of the trucks.

About 100 Rwandan Hutu refugees were massacred in Kiri, Burundi on this day, allegedly with the help of Burundi's Tutsi-dominated army.

The Vatican's official newspaper criticized the Clinton Administration for their reluctance to use the term "genocide" and their lack of intervention.

Posted by NYCO at 04:09 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2004

Day 66

Ten years ago today: RPF soldiers killed a number of internally displaced civilians at Mututu in Butare prefecture after children were told to go and find adults who were hiding. This was one of a number of killings perpetrated by the invading RPF against Hutu civilians during the war.

Tutsi were killed on this day in the Bisesero Hills in Kibuye prefecture by an organized attack of Interahamwe militia. The group of Tutsi had been defending themselves with sticks and stones against attacks at Bisesero since April on a daily basis, and thousands had already died.

Amnesty International called for a trial for Leon Mugesera, a Rwandan Hutu leader who had been living in Canada for a year, in connection with his role in exhorting the killing of Tutsi.

State Department spokesperson Christine Shelley was asked how many acts of genocide it takes to make genocide. Her response:

That's just not a question that I'm in a position to answer... I have guidance which I try to use as best as I can. There are formulations that we are using that we are trying to be consistent in our use of. I don't have an absolute categorical prescription against something, but I have the definitions. I have phraseology which has been carefully examined and arrived at as best as we can apply to exactly the situation and the actions which have taken place.

Posted by NYCO at 03:12 PM | Comments (1)

June 09, 2004

Day 65

Ten years ago today: Pope John Paul II addressed a message to the people of Rwanda:

I am profoundly dismayed at the news coming from your country. The dramatic situation which Rwanda is living because of the terrible, lacerating conflict, brings me to beg God, the Father of Mercy, and Christ who gave his life for mankind, to bring about the reconciliation of this martyred nation and to welcome the dead with mercy... Do everything possible to find paths of concord and reconstruction for the country so gravely damaged. Bishops and faithful, people of Rwanda, know that I am with you every day.

The New York Times reported that the White House was seeking to suppress the use of the term genocide by its people:

Trying to avoid the rise of moral pressure to stop the mass killing in Rwanda, the Clinton Administration has instructed its spokesmen not to describe the deaths there as genocide, even though some senior officials believe that is exactly what they represent... American officials say that so stark a label could inflame public calls for action the Administration is unwilling to take. While no memorandum explicitly prohibits a broader denunciation, Administration officials say they recognize the guidance as a boundary on their public pronouncements.

David Rawson, the U.S. ambassador to Rwanda, was quoted:

As a responsible government, you don't just go around hollering "genocide." You say that acts of genocide may have occurred and they need to be investigated.

This week:

Amnesty International criticizes Rwanda for its conviction of former president Pasteur Bizimungu.

Campus radio comes to the National University at Butare, one of the first private radio stations allowed in the country since the days of RTLM.

Posted by NYCO at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)

June 08, 2004

Day 64

Ten years ago today: Jean Kambanda, prime minister of Rwanda, issued a directive encouraging the Interahamwe in their "work."

A French journalist was shot and seriously wounded when Hutu militiamen opened fire on refugees in a school in Nyamirambo, Kigali. According to Associated Press,

Militiamen surrounded the school and began firing through the windows and the walls. Many people were injured and probably killed, both adults and children, [a witness] said. Army troops behind the militiamen did nothing to stop them, he said. U.N. observers in vehicles outside, either unarmed or armed only with pistols, also were able to do nothing. The journalist, pharmacist and U.N. soldiers all left the scene immediately.

4,000 Tutsi and Hutu civilians were still camped out in filthy conditions at Kigali's soccer stadium, trying to escape the fighting.

The UN issued Resolution 925, which formally extended UNAMIR's mandate and provided for additional troops:

Noting with concern that, to date, the parties have not ceased hostilities,
agreed to a cease-fire, or brought an end to the violence and carnage affecting
civilians; Noting with the gravest concern the reports indicating that acts of genocide have occurred in Rwanda and recalling in this context that genocide constitutes a crime punishable under international law; Reiterating its strong condemnation of the ongoing violence in Rwanda and, in particular, the systematic killing of thousands of civilians; Expressing its outrage that the perpetrators of these killings have been able to operate and continue operating within Rwanda with impunity...

The Clinton Administration said on this day that it would take at least a month to provide 50 armored personnel carriers for UNAMIR's use. An agreement on the leasing of the vehicles to the UN also would take a week or more to work out.

Posted by NYCO at 02:17 PM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2004

Day 63

Ten years ago today: The Clinton Administration finally gave consent to the deployment of the 5,500 additional UN forces which had been voted for in May. The U.S., which had wanted forces only to aid outlying areas, agreed to allow forces to fly in directly to Kigali. Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe were among the nations offering troops.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni urged the RPF to accept a ceasefire and work toward power-sharing.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno gave temporary protected status to Rwandans already living in the U.S. Refugees seeking U.S. asylum would have to prove "justified fear of persecution."

The Associated Press reported on Americans' reaction to the images from Rwanda:

Donations from Americans who are noted for opening up their hearts have trickled at a hesitant pace. "People are just not reaching out to help these poor folks," said Kathy Bremer, senior vice president of CARE, which has distributed relief packages to war-torn lands for nearly 50 years. "When people see news coverage that indicates something is hopeless, it makes them less likely to reach out... It's hard for Americans to find sympathy if they don't understand who the victims are."

A survey found that the Rwanda crisis was being followed "very closely or fairly closely" by 34 percent of Americans, while only 29% had a sense of how many Rwandans had been killed.

This week:

Pasteur Bizimungu, Rwanda's ex-president, has been sentenced to 15 years on various charges ranging from misuse of public funds to "inciting civil disobedience."

The UN has determined that the black box found in their headquarters earlier this year is not from the crash of Juvenal Habyarimana's plane.

Bush and Kerry talk about Darfur.

Posted by NYCO at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

June 06, 2004

Day 62

Ten years ago today: Nine priests and about 170 others were killed in Nyamirambo, a suburb of Kigali, by Interahamwe militia. One of the priests had sent a letter to the United Nations forces asking for help, but the UN later said there was nothing it could do.

Human Rights Watch estimated that at least 88 priests had been killed in the violence since the start of the genocide to this date.

With Kigali's airport closed due to shelling, UN forces began rationing fuel on this day. Only one plane, a Canadian C-130, had been pledged to fly in relief supplies for the city.

The center of Kigali was still under Rwandan government control. Rwandan government forces launched a major counterattack against the RPF at Kabgayi, in southwestern Rwanda, on this day.

Aloysius Gasirabo, an elderly Tutsi refugee, arrived at the RPF-held town of Nyanza on this day, where almost 150 wounded civilians were being treated by only two doctors. The Independent reported,

He had been in hiding in the bush for six weeks, surviving on sporadic supplies of raw potatoes. He drank water from a swamp. His wife and four children had been killed by the Interahamwe in mid-April. His house was destroyed. Afraid for his life, he fled.

Tom Clarke, a Labour Party official recently returned from Africa, said,

What we need now is a D-Day on Lake Victoria, an act of collective intervention to deal with the humanitarian and health crises arising from the holocaust in Rwanda... I went to Lake Victoria, where there are still dreadfully mutilated corpses floating in the water. The British Government is guilty of compliance in the disgraceful decision taken by the Security Council to reduce drastically the number of its peacekeeping troops when death squads were slaughtering vast numbers of Tutsis and other opponents of those in power. It is right and proper that the governments of Western Europe and North America are commemorating the Normandy landings 50 years ago. It is right to remember the struggles and victories of the past. But it is even more important to tackle the challenges of the present.

This week:

Rwanda has closed its border with Congo.

A detailed on-the-ground report from Darfur, Sudan.


Posted by NYCO at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2004

Day 61

Ten years ago today: An Italian fact-finding mission to Kigali had to be called off when the plane from Italy came under fire while landing at the airport. The airport had to be closed due to the shelling.

Ruhongo, near Kabgayi and Gitarama in central Rwanda, was filling up with over 5,000 internally displaced refugees, mostly Tutsi, Associated Press reported. The camp was controlled by the RPF.

In a scene reminiscent of the Somali famine, hundreds of men, women and children huddled together in the former municipal auditorium. Most were too weak to sit up, their bones covered by chafed skin oozing with open sores, their eyes sunken and cheeks hollowed by weeks without food. One little girl in a red dress crawled toward a field of grass used as a communal toilet. Too exhausted to continue, she collapsed in a heap.

The New York Times published a story about the state of Benaco refugee camp in Tanzania, home to 300,000 Rwandans.

Things are also worse because the camp is coming to be recognized as permanent, with all the attendant cursed blessings of the refugee condition. The largesse and the efficiency of the relief agencies are having the negative effect of making the people more dependent. The shops the people set up are not really necessary for their survival. Initiative is rapidly being eroded, and a "gimme" attitude is taking over, among children especially... The worst sign of deterioration is also the most inevitable -- boredom. There is nothing to equal the corrosive, debilitating boredom of refugee-camp life. Every morning in Benaco, the people crawl out from under their bright blue tarps and greet a day that will be just like yesterday and tomorrow. It will be filled with repetitive gossip, aimless walking and a feeling of waiting that becomes an end in itself.

However the camp improves or deterioriates, it will retain its strange character, the mixture of normal life and the presence of evil. Amid the routine chatter about business or news from Rwanda, killers move. They sleep and eat with the others and brush alongside them as they walk, and, possibly, wait for another opportunity to strike.

This week:

A story on what some Rwandan refugees have faced in South Africa.


Posted by NYCO at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2004

Day 60

Ten years ago today: 31 Rwandan orphans were flown to France for medical treatment, a handful out of thousands. Associated Press reported:

All of those chosen need very complicated surgery and intense postoperative care, something impossible to provide in Rwanda's war-weary hospitals, according to Dr. Claude Moncorge, a Parisian who headed the evacuation effort.
"Some of these children no longer have the ability to speak," [a spokesman] said. "They are entirely traumatized. They have seen so much they have nightmares and scream in the night." Some are so shellshocked they are afraid even to ask for a drink when they are thirsty, so the doctors and nurses must offer them water frequently, he said.

More Tutsi children were seeking refuge in Nyanza, now held by the RPF.

Awaiting care on Saturday was 12-year-old Kwizera, who was shot in the leg during a government attack on his village. Beside him, on a mattress on a concrete floor, lay 15-year-old Yvonne, her stomach filled with shrapnel from a grenade blast. Like most children here, they had no idea where their parents are.

On this day, RTLM broadcast instructions on how to continue to eliminate Tutsi:

Look at the person's height and his physical appearance. Just look at his small nose, and then break it... We must fight the inkotanyi. Finish them off, exterminate them, sweep them out of the country... because there is no refuge, no refuge then! There is none, there is none.

This week:

Tensions between Congo and Rwanda rise along with violence along Lake Kivu.

Posted by NYCO at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)

June 03, 2004

Day 59

Ten years ago today: The first reports of the April massacre at Nyarubuye church began to surface in the American media.

The Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, along with four other bishops and eight priests, were killed by RPF soldiers.

The National Catholic Reporter examined the realities of Catholic life in Rwanda:

The Rwandan conflict discloses something alarming: Christian faith has not set down deep enough roots in Africa to overcome tribalism. This theme was tackled by Albert Kanene Obiefuna, bishop of Awka, Nigeria... The typical African, he said, lives a split-level existence: "He lives his family and Christian life in the context of his or her tribal life." Even within the church, divisions about where to build a church or where the bishop comes from are judged according to the benefit they bring to the tribe or clan. There is very little sense of the church as family... Yet, to leave the matter there would be a counsel of despair that would ratify failure. The church-as-family has to be the key to eventual reconciliation.

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were among 14 African nations that pledged troops for Rwanda peacekeeping efforts on this day.

Posted by NYCO at 02:23 PM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2004

Day 58

Ten years ago today: Kenya's news agency cited a report that Rwandan Hutus living in Zaire, near Bukavu, had been scouting and targeting Tutsi refugees in Bukavu for future attacks against them.

The RPF captured Kabgayi and removed several high-ranking Catholic officials from the area to Byimana. Among them was the archbishop of Kigali.

The Red Cross announced that in order to deal with an estimated 750,000 internally displaced people in Rwanda, their budget for the crisis would be increased from $28 million to $70 million. They had 87 field workers in the country. A spokesman said,

Wave upon wave of displaced people are moving toward Gitarama. These people are city-dwellers; they have no cattle with them, no reserves of food. It is hard to see how they are going to survive.

Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose announced that the White House would hold a special conference on Africa "to draw attention to the problems and prospects of the continent," according to Associated Press. Moose also said,

There is no country that has been more active, either diplomatically or in a humanitarian manner, to try to bring about a solution to the problem in Rwanda [than the United States].

The Independent's David Orr filed a story on conditions in Kigali's Meridien Hotel as the fighting continued:

The hotel's guests are now a motley bunch of displaced Rwandans, United Nations' peace-keepers and foreign journalists. There is a remarkable similarity about the interior of the rooms: windows shattered by bullets, bedsteads placed across the balconies for protection against shrapnel, mattresses on the floor, piles of half- eaten military rations on the tables. There is no running water so conditions in the bathrooms are none too sanitary. There is a vocal little group of orphan children who play in the corridors among piles of rubbish. To the amazement of everyone there is electricity, even CNN on television...

This will surely once again be a green and pleasant land whose fields are free of the stench of rotting bodies and whose rivers are empty of bloated corpses. But I have not met many people here who could tell you when that day might come.

This week:

Congo's president Joseph Kabila accuses Rwanda of complicity in the rebel takeover of Bukavu.

The ICTR trial of Theoneste Bagosora, considered by many one of the chief architects of the Rwandan genocide, continues.

A survivor's story: Yvette Rugasagu-hunga, who now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Posted by NYCO at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)

June 01, 2004

Day 57

Ten years ago today: The UN suspended evacuation operations following the death of Capt. Mbaye Diagne.

The Vatican asked the UN to establish a "safe zone" in Rwanda at Kabgayi, where about 38,000 Tutsi refugees were seeking shelter. A UN team, going to Kabgayi to investigate reports of a massacre, was shot at.

Christosome Gatunzi, an elderly Hutu man who lived near Nyamata church, spoke to the New York Times about witnessing the massacre there in April.

Mr. Gatunzi says he heard the screams and watched his neighbors being killed but was too weak to do anything. He talks about how he watched the militias, in groups of 20, round up residents, kill them and then throw their bodies in mass graves a few hundred yards from his house. He cannot hold back his anger and pain. He chokes when he speaks. "I witnessed when they hacked them and put them into a pit," Mr. Gatunzi said. "I knew some of them. I don't know why others want to kill Tutsis. We have lived together for such a long time as neighbors and friends. It's unbelievable seeing your neighbor hacked to death. These people are saying they want to create a new Rwanda. How can you do that by killing neighbors and friends? It has hurt my heart so much."

When asked how he could protect those Rwandans threatened by the war, Gen. Romeo Dallaire, head of UNAMIR, said,

Send me troops.

This week:

NPR interviews Romeo Dallaire.

Posted by NYCO at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)