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Offline mayya

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Rwandan politician says Dallaire never spoke of genocide plan 


By Judi Rever
Jan 15, 2014 - 10 hours ago in Politics

A politician at the centre of a 20-year-old controversy over warnings that Hutu extremists were conspiring to commit genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda said the United Nations peacekeeping force never informed him of such a diabolical plan.

Faustin Twagiramungu, the former prime minister designate of Rwanda's broad-based transitional government that should have been created under the Arusha peace agreement in 1994, said the UN force commander Roméo Dallaire kept him in the dark with regard to any supposed campaign for ethnic-based slaughter.

Twenty years ago, Dallaire sent a prescient warning in the form of a so-called ‘genocide fax’ to his UN superiors. On Wednesday, Dallaire appeared in New York at an event sponsored by the UN and the Rwandan government to discuss understanding signals of impending mass violence.

But Twagiramungu said General Dallaire, who is now a Canadian senator hailed for trying in vain to prevent the 1994 carnage, chose to withhold such information from political moderates and officials of Rwanda’s transition government.

“Dallaire never informed me that a situation existed to target Tutsis,” Twagiramungu, who now lives in Brussels, said in an interview with Digital Journal.

“We were in charge of the transitional government. If he knew of this information, he should have informed us,” said Twagiramungu, who said he wished he’d been invited to Wednesday’s meeting so he could clarify historical events.

“It is contemptuous. Our country was not a colony of the United Nations. So we cannot accept that matters so important involving the extermination of our people, are found out by the UN, and authorities are not informed. The UN did not inform the president, they did not inform the prime minister, they did not inform the minister of the interior. They simply informed their UN colleagues. What was their authority to do so?” he asked.

Twagiramungu emerged as a key figure in the controversy over the fax because he was the individual that contacted the United Nations peacekeeping force in the first place -- in January 1994 – about an informant with information regarding a possible threat by Hutu extremists to target opposition politicians.

Twagiramungu said he had received the information through an intermediary who was a colleague from his opposition MDR party. The colleague in question was in contact with the informant that had close ties to the Interahamwe, an extremist Hutu militia that went on to target hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Twagiramungu said he never met the informant, a man named Jean-Pierre Abubakar Turatsinze, and never expressed particular confidence in him to Dallaire or his boss, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative Jacques-Roger Booh Booh.

The informant switched sides just prior to the genocide and joined the ranks of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by current President Paul Kagame.

But in January, Twagiramungu took the threat against political opponents seriously ‘because I had confidence in my MDR colleague, Charles Ntazinda.”

“I did not know the informant or sit down with him. If they (the United Nations) want to build a theory that I knew him or that I knew of a plan to kill Tutsis, then they are wrong.”

In retrospect, Twagiramungu said he believed “this informant was working for the RPF all along. This is my own conclusion.”

Twagramungu said Dallaire indeed later told him he had met with the informant, who gave him information about a stock of weapons found at the ruling party’s headquarters, which UN peacekeepers went to inspect.

“Dallaire did not tell me how many arms they found and did not seem to imply it was urgent.”

“I don’t know what excited Dallaire to send this fax in January 1994. I really don’t know,” he added.

“I think Dallaire is a very humane person, but he may also have been naïve. He believed what the RPF wanted him to believe.”

Critics of Rwanda’s current government have long suspected that intelligence offered to Dallaire for the genocide might have been fabricated by the RPF as it planned to undermine the peace agreement, kill Rwanda’s president Juvenal Habyarimana and instigate war.

In the cable to his UN colleagues, the Canadian general urged his superiors for permission to seize illegal weapons that extremists were suspected of hiding at different locations. In the end, the UN department of peacekeeping operations in New York -- heeding the advice of US officials -- told Dallaire not to take pre-emptive action on the grounds that it was beyond the UN mandate to do so.

A fuller rendering of Dallaire’s communication with the UN at the time -- and the informant he relied on -- was published last week by the National Security Archive, an independent US institute that collects and publishes declassified information.

Rwanda’s genocide began after a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi’s Hutu President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down by unknown assailants over Kigali on April 6.

A day later, Hutu extremists among the presidential guard killed the moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian UN peacekeepers, with militia proceeding to systematically kill Tutsis and Hutu opponents in 100 days, the fastest bloodbath in history.

Dallaire requested more UN troops but most contingents withdrew, leaving him with only 270 peacekeepers. The withdrawal gave Hutu militia carte blanche to kill innocent Tutsis and moderate Hutus that got in their way.

Since leaving Rwanda, Dallaire has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with depression. Requests by this journalist for interviews with the senator have been denied on the grounds that he can’t remember his experience in detail, his secretary explained.

“General Dallaire does not remember details with sufficient accuracy to comment without extensive review of many documents and so he declines all interviews relating to his command in Rwanda,” his secretary David Hyman wrote in an email.

“Practically everything he knows about the tragic events of the 1994 genocide is contained in his book (Shake Hands with The Devil) based on his personal observations and personal diary. He cannot provide more information as everything he has learned since is from reading reports of other observers and journalists,”

And yet Dallaire is regularly invited to -- and attends -- conferences to speak on the Rwandan gencocide.

Dallaire is mostly lionized in the West but is accused by some of fostering uncomfortably close ties with Kagame.

Twagiramungu said he doesn’t fault Dallaire for his initial relationship with the RPF, as he himself did not believe, at the time, that the RPF was inciting violence and preparing for war.

“But as time passed, and knowing today the methods the RPF has used to psychologically instill fear and create chaos, I now understand,” he explained.

“They had experience in creating this kind of atmosphere, Remember they fought in Uganda. They knew how to overthrow governments. They used similar methods in Rwanda. We were so naïve to accept them and believe they would accept the implementation of the peace agreement. Finally they decided to be brutal and kill the president and provoke violence all over the country.”

Twagiramungu also believes that the RPF was behind the killings of Rwandan political figures Felicien Gatabazi and Martin Bucyana in February 1994, and generally spread chaos throughout the capital and countryside.

“The RPF was so organized. We made a mistake in bringing them to the CND (Rwanda’s parliamentary house). This building became a Trojan horse. It became a laboratory that allowed them to cause harm to people, to assassinate opponents like Gatabazi, organizing how to throw grenades all over the country.”

“Mr Gatabazi was killed by the RPF. I was the one who called Voice of America to say that Gatabazi was killed by Habyarimana’s soldiers. I was wrong! I was simply wrong,” Twagiramungu lamented.

Gatabazi, a well-liked Hutu moderate was killed on February 21, 1994. A day later, Martin Bucyana, chairman of the hardline Hutu party CDR was murdered, stoking unrest.

“The RPF tried to incite violence between Hutus from the north and Hutus from the south. They tried all possible means to provoke violence throughout the country. The final decision they took was to assassinate President Habyarimana.”

In confidential interviews with this journalist, former soldiers with Kagame’s army – the Rwandan Patriotic Army -- have explained how senior RPA commanders openly bragged about killing the president until it was politically incorrect to do so. Former allies of Kagame now in exile claim that Kagame was behind the attack on the plane.

The West has long contended that Habyarimana’s assassination was the work of Hutu extremists, but the UN has refused to launch an inquiry into the terrorist act.