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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action
from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived
document may not work.
Rwanda: HRW Arms Report
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Rwanda: HRW Arms Report
Date Distributed (ymd): 950530
Human Rights Watch/Arms Project
485 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017-6104
1522 K Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20005
FOR RELEASE 6:30 PM EDT MONDAY, MAY 29, 1995
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Joost Hiltermann (202) 371-6592 x 143 [w] (202) 387-3744 [h]
Kathi Austin (202) 234-9383 x 238 [w] (202) 265-1868 [h]
Susan Osnos (212) 972-8400 x 216 [w] (203) 622-0472 [h]
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CONDEMNS REARMING OF RWANDA'S
GENOCIDAL FORCES IN EXILE
During their year in exile, the architects of the Rwandan genocide
have rebuilt their military infrastructure, largely in Zaire, and
are rearming themselves in preparation for a violent return to
Rwanda. In Rearming With Impunity: International Support for the
Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide, released today, Human Rights
Watch charges that several members of the international
community, including France, Zaire and South Africa, have actively
aided this effort through a combination of direct shipment of
arms, facilitating such shipments from other sources, and
providing other forms of military assistance, including training.
After a four month field investigation in central Africa, Human
Rights Watch urges the international community to strictly enforce
the May 17, 1994 arms embargo on Rwanda by placing United Nations
monitors at key airports in Zaire; by extending the mandate of the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) when it
comes up for renewal on June 9 to include the Rwandan refugee
camps in Zaire; and by disarming the armed forces and militias
affiliated with the ousted government of Rwanda currently in
Zaire. Human Rights Watch also calls on France, Zaire and South
Africa to fully disclose the nature of their military and security
assistance and arms transfers to the ousted Rwandan government,
and to provide full information on training activity, whether by
their own military trainers and/or at their own military bases,
involving members of the ousted government's armed forces and
Ensconced in refugee camps, primarily in eastern Zaire, former
Rwandan government officials, the former Rwandan Armed Forces
(ex-FAR) and Hutu militias continue to enjoy impunity from
arrest and prosecution for their involvement in last year's
genocide. They rule over the refugee population through
intimidation and terror, effectively preventing the return of
refugees to their homes in Rwanda, while inducting fresh recruits
into the ex-FAR andmilitias. Emboldened by military assistance,
including arms, from France and Zaire, among other countries, they
have openly declared their intention to return to Rwanda.
The ex-FAR has an estimated troop strength of 50,000 in a dozen
camps, and has brought the militias more tightly under its
control. These forces have launched raids across Rwanda's borders
to destabilize the already precarious situation and to prepare for
a future offensive against the current government in Kigali. In
addition, the ex-FAR and Rwandan Hutu militias have aligned
themselves with Hutu militias from neighboring Burundi, inflaming
an already tense situation there and threatening to regionalize
The ex-FAR and its militia auxiliaries have access to sufficient
funds to buy weapons on the open market, using hard currency and
other assets taken out of Rwanda by officials of the rump
government and military when they fled the country last summer.
Additional money and assets in foreign countries (including at
least Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire and the Netherlands) controlled by
the ousted Rwandan government continue to be available to its
leadership in exile. Cash income generation schemes (including
the sale of international relief supplies on the open market) run
by former Rwandan civil and military authorities both in the
civilian refugee camps and local Zairian communities provide for
the maintenance and salaries of officers and troops.
Zaire has offered the former Rwandan government armed forces and
allied militias shelter and protection, and rather than arresting
those suspected of responsibility for the genocide, has
permitted them freedom of movement. In addition, the government
of Zaire has permitted its territory and facilities to be used as
a conduit for weapons supplies to the ex-FAR, and private
cargo companies based in Zaire have acted under contracts with
Zairian officials to transport these weapons.
Behind Zaire stands France, which has maintained troops in Rwanda
and has trained Rwandan army and militia forces since at least
1990. After the start of the genocide, French soldiers
evacuated French citizens, but failed to take action against their
Rwandan allies who had launched the genocidal campaign. Instead,
France diverted its arms supplies to the Rwandan military from
Kigali to Goma airport in Zaire and set up a "safe zone" to which
the architects of the genocide fled and where they received new
weapons shipments. After the Rwandan government's defeat in
July, the French military escorted key perpetrators of the
genocide out of the country and continued to provide military
training for the ex-FAR in the Central African Republic.
Other countries, including South Africa, the Seychelles and China
have also either provided weapons support to the ex-FAR and
militias, or have facilitated the supply of arms from ostensibly
private sources. While public scrutiny and adverse international
opinion may have discouraged open foreign support of the ex-FAR,
clandestine support has continued. Countries like France and
South Africa that had armed the Rwandan government prior to the
genocide and the international arms embargo now operate through
middlemen and rely on false end-user certificates to conceal the
final destination of the weapons. In light of the evidence
collected by Human Rights Watch of continuing transfers of weapons
and other military support by members of the international
community to the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, despite an
arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council, Human
Rights Watch provides an extensive list of recommendations. Among
To the International Community:
-To strictly enforce the international arms embargo against
Rwanda, and to deploy U.N. monitors at Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu and
Uvira airports in Zaire for this purpose.
-To urge states to arrest and detain persons found within their
territory who might have participated in the genocide in order to
bring them before the International Tribunal.
-To secure the necessary funds for the International Tribunal to
investigate and prosecute those accused of directing the genocide.
-The Security Council must act immediately to extend UNAMIR's
mandate to include the Rwandan camps in Zaire, and to charge
UNAMIR with the task of separating the government-in-
exile's military and militias from the refugee population, and to
disarm the ex-FAR and militias.
-To make future bilateral and multilateral aid to Zaire contingent
on Zaire's full compliance with the international arms embargo
against Rwanda, the cessation of assistance to the ex-FAR, and
the directive to arrest those suspected of participation in th
-To cease from doing business with cargo companies that are known
to be shipping arms to the ex-FAR.
To the Government of France:
-To disclose in detail the nature of French military and security
assistance and arms transfers to the Rwandan government after May
17, 1994, including, but not limited to, five shipments to the
ex-FAR uncovered by the Human Rights Watch investigation and
described in this report.
-To make public information on the number and nature of arms,
munitions and other military equipment held by the FAR and
associated militias that came under the control of French forces
during Operation Turquoise, and the final disposition of these
weapons and equipment.
-To provide information on training activities reportedly carried
out by France at bases maintained in the Central African Republic
and Zaire between January 1994 and the present.
To the Government of Zaire:
-To end all assistance to the former government of Rwanda, the
ex-FAR and Rwandan Hutu militias, in light of the fact that such
assistance has buttressed a force that is widely recognized as
having committed genocide.
-Fully to disclose the nature of Zairian military assistance and
arms transfers to the Rwandan government after May 17, 1994,
including following that government's departure from Rwanda in
-Fully to disclose the nature of the services it has provided
enabling the shipment of arms intended for the FAR/ex-FAR through
Zaire after May 17, 1994.
-To arrest and prosecute all persons in Zaire who are implicated
in arms transfers that are illegal under Zairian national law and
constitute clear violations of the U.N. arms embargo.
To the Government of South Africa:
-Fully to disclose the nature of South African military assistance
and arms transfers to the Rwandan government, including
transactions undertaken by Armscor, after May 17, 1994,
including following that government's departure from Rwanda in
July 1994, in light of the fact that such actions have supported a
force tht is widely recognized as having committed genocide.
-To request the Cameron Commission to investigate the role of
South African government officials in the Seychelles arms deal and
further arms transfers to the FAR/ex-FAR.
Copies of Rearming With Impunity: International Support for the
Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide are available from the
Publications Department, Human Rights Watch, 485 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10017 for $3.60 (domestic) and $4.50
Human Rights Watch was established in 1978 to monitor and promote
internationally recognized human rights worldwide. Kenneth Roth
is the executive director. Robert L. Bernstein is the chair
of the board and Adrian DeWind is the vice chair. The Human
Rights Watch Arms Project was established in 1992 to monitor and
prevent arms transfers to governments or organizations that
commit gross violations of internationally recognized human rights
and the rules of war and to promote freedom of information
regarding arms transfers worldwide. Joost R. Hiltermann is the
director and Stephen D. Goose is the program director. This
report was researched and written by Kathi L. Austin, consultant
to the Arms Project.
This material is being reposted for wider distribution
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the
United States around African issues and the U.S. role
in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a
wide range of groups and individuals. APIC is
affiliated with the Washington Office on Africa (WOA),
a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights
group supported organization that works with Congress
on Africa-related legislation.