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Rwanda: Updates from AAAC and from UN Security Council
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Rwanda: Updates from AAAC and from UN Security Council
Date Distributed (ymd): 950224
(1) All Africa Conference of Churches Feb.16,1995
RWANDA: MANY FACES OF THE AFTERMATH OF GENOCIDE
One has to look carefully to see signs of the hellish killing
fields that were Rwanda six months ago. Kigali's streets are
smooth, the bomb-craters nowhere to be seen as speeding aid
vehicles, flags and stickers waving their humanitarian
greetings, rush madly from one meeting to another. Buildings
pock-marked and windowless once again exude the sleek
self-confidence and optimism that once made Kigali the darling
of development agencies.
There is water and electricity in greater supply than
neighbouring countries. Phones work most of the time. Streets
are well lit and safe. More than 250,000 people live here now,
more than half the population of pre-1994 days.
Out in the rural areas, the fertile valleys and hills are
green, ready for the planting season that is just beginning.
Enormous herds of long-horned cattle have returned to clog the
undulating hills near Tanzania. Once-deserted villages and
roads are filled with people bartering, smoking their pipes,
drinking beer in breaks between renovating their homes. Women,
valleys and terraced green hillsides.
A first-time visitor from America asks "Where was the war?"
And so, one points out the shell-shattered roof of the
Presbyterian Church, the few unrepaired buildings with windows
blown out and the severely damaged former National Assembly
buildings. That is the only material evidence. In the hills if
one looks closely, rubble-filled gaps in the rows of mud
houses can be seen where once Tutsi peasants eked out a
precarious living with their Hutu neighbours in land-hungry
Rwanda before the genocide that killed a million people last
There are still a few church compounds left where the
skeletons of those murdered in Africa's worst genocide in
history are evident. Most have been unceremoniously buried in
anonymous mass graves, soon to be symbolically buried by
churches still in the agony of their own divisions and
One church compound at Nyarubuye still has some 600 or more
remains of people hacked to death by matches and hoes, their
bones slashed and broken in pieces. Grass hides the remains,
the stench of death has gone away, flowers push through the
corpses. The new government says it will preserve Nyarubuye
as a memorial to the genocide, which traumatized a country
half the size of Switzerland.
There is, however, more than one face to Rwanda. Across the
borders with Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi in muddy, fetid
refugee camps more than a million Hutu refugees live in
smouldering rage, unable or unwilling to reclaim the land they
would normally be planting. Most of them arrived last year --
although a few still trickle in along the porous frontiers --
in two convulsive waves convinced they would be slaughtered in
revenge by the victorious rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF)
which drove the extremist interim government from power and
established a Hutu-Tutsi administration in Kigali in July,
These are the "new refugees" in government parlance, those who
are innocent victims, those who were implicated in the
genocide and those whom the murderous militias and former army
and government control through a variety of means including
control of food distribution, coercion and outright terrorism.
"We cannot go home, we will be killed if we do," one ragged
woman in Eastern Zaire complains, as she rests from carrying
a yellow jerry-can filled with dubious water. Another claims
he tried to go back to his village from Cyanika, a camp in
southwest Rwanda which the UN is trying to empty through
Operation Return, and was threatened by soldiers of the Rwanda
These kinds of unsubstantiated stories are spread through the
camps inside and outside Rwanda by the Hutu extremists who
control the camps. UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission
in Rwanda) soldiers, mainly from Africa, offer the refugees
and internally displaced a free ride home under military
escort, enough rations for a month and some basic farm tools,
but few are taking up the offer.
Then, there are the old refugees, Tutsis, who fled to Burundi
and Uganda as far back as 1959 to escape the periodic
massacres at the hands of successive Hutu dictatorships. The
new government says some 600,000 of these have come home and
that another 600,000 Hutus have returned. The UN simply says
these figures are vastly inflated, probably more like 300,000.
These two faces of Rwanda -- the optimistic, rebuilding,
rehabilitating Tutsis and moderate Hutus who escaped the
killings and the sullen, potentially explosive residents of
the camps -- are both images of Rwanda today. The one has
erased most of the surface scars of the brutal genocide and
war which lasted for 10 murderous weeks from April to July
last year. The other shields the hard core of killers (some
say as few as 250, others as many as 30,000) who planned and
executed the genocide and who are desperately trying to avoid
the war crimes trials planned by the new government and a
disorganized and faction-riddled UN.
"The leaders of the camps, unwittingly aided and abetted by
the UN and the international humanitarian aid agencies hope
that if they stall long enough, they will not have to pay for
their actions. They also want to rebuild their army and
militias to invade our country or destabilize it further,"
says Christine Umutoni, the articulate young deputy minister
of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the RFP-dominated
government who, herself, lost more than 40 members of her
immediate family during the genocide.
There is still another face to Rwanda, the 151 international
humanitarian aid agencies which have swarmed into the tiny
Central African country -- including the ecumenical Church
World Action-Rwanda (CWA-R) an initiative of the Geneva-based
Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches.
Most are donor-driven, others are extremely dubious including
a number of U.S.-based fundamentalist sects blatantly
exploiting a situation designed to raise easy funds from
congregations in Europe and North America.
The more legitimate of these agencies, all coordinated in some
way by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees), are caught in the middle, knowing they are helping
killers in the camps but clinging to an outmoded or irrelevant
humanitarianism which insists it is unfair to expect Hutus to
return home until they are confident they will be safe from
reprisals and that their land will still be theirs to till.
The government argues, and UNAMIR commanders seem to agree,
that the refugees should be told the days of free food and
water are soon to be over. If assistance were offered in the
hills of Rwanda, rather than in the camps of Tanzania and
Zaire, this argument goes, the people would follow it home.
"The fear of violence and revenge is nothing more than an
excuse used by the old extremist government -- which says its
only mistake was that it failed to finish off all the Tutsis
-- to deny the reality of a new government or national unity,"
says Umutoni from her spartan office devoid of the trappings
of power seen in the agency compounds filled with vehicles,
satellite phones, faxes and well-paid emergency professionals.
The agencies, some of whom simply do not register with
Umutoni's ministry, generally reject this idea, claiming aid
is neutral and people must be fed. Some also believe that the
government in Kigali is prepared to use force to close camps
through pre-emptive strikes, a position the new government
denies. However, it reserves the right to engage in "hot
pursuit" if militias launch guerilla attacks from Zaire which
has occurred near the border of the Great Lakes region.
The UNHCR's special representative in Rwanda, Canadian Carol
Flaubert, is quoted as saying "Our job is to listen and
support rather than thinking we can direct their movements.
The level of aid in the camps, contrary to popular wisdom, is
not really a factor in whether people return home or not."
Umutoni is less optimistic "The world forgot us too fast and
now expects us to do too much, too soon, with too little
support. Our biggest achievement to date is that we stopped
the genocide and returned the country to some level of
stability. You lose sight of this achievement in the North in
your daily round of problems.
"We in government are convinced that the militias and members
of the old genocidal regime must be separated from the
refugees. We want them to come home. We welcome them and
tell them they are secure. It is important that the old and
new refugees return and are resettled. But the UN is
unwilling to take the steps necessary, through a special
police force, to keep the killers away from the refugees."
As Rwanda drifts away from the world's attention, with almost
no functioning justice system, the demands for peace and
reconciliation and healing of trauma are extremely difficult.
"Everyone wants it but no one is sure how to do about it,:
says a Tutsi priest asking for anonymity in fear that neglect
by the international community for Rwanda's plight could
result in further, even unintentional, violence. "We are
living on top of a bomb and even one mistake could cause the
The government insists there can be no reconciliation without
justice. Most of its supporters, including the main Catholic
and Protestant churches, agree but they also accuse the
international community of taking too long to set up the
machinery needed to investigate the allegations and prepare
for the international tribunal which may be set up in Arusha,
Tanzania this year.
There are some 9,000 prisoners living in terrible conditions
in Kigali's prison built for 2,000, many of them -- including
two Catholic sisters and two priests -- arrested on hearsay
evidence who cannot be tried because there are no magistrates
"Genocide is the whole world's problem. We could do this
justice ourselves, but we think the world, which has a
convention against genocide requiring governments to act
against it, must make certain the whole world judged the
criminals who planned this atrocity," says Umutoni.
If the tribunal is not launched properly and urgently,
Rwandese fear that the old notion of impunity from crime will
never be purged from Rwandese political culture. Amnesty is
not an option for the government. It would only encourage
acts of rough justice in the villages and individual acts of
revenge, officials say.
A tribunal would also accomplish the task of separating the
planners of the genocide from the innocent. Surviving Hutus,
many of whom also lost family members, feel they all stand
accused of genocide. "It is very painful to be a Hutu these
days. The mass media paints us all as killers and rapists, but
many of us tried very hard to saves lives," says Anglican
Bishop Norman Kayumba, acting dean of the country's Episcopal
The tribunal could also serve as a deterrent to other
countries in the world who see genocide as the "final
solution" to their problems.
Meanwhile Rwanda's neighbours are fearful of further
destabilization in Central and East Africa. Burundi, with a
similar ethnic mix teeters on a knife edge as the government
stumbles from crisis to crisis. Zaire is a scene of chaos and
Tanzanian refugees seem settled in their Ngara camps for a
The international humanitarian community is divided and
unfocused about what to do. The government is badly
underesourced and needs help especially in resuscitating the
justice system. The international community must lift its
vision beyond aid to less glamourous but more essential
development assistance if peace is to be assured and
All Africa Conference of Churches
Ecunet: AACC Internet: AACC.PARTI@ecunet.org
PO Box 14205, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254 2 44-3581 Fax: 254 2 44-3241
(2) Security Council SC/5998 3502nd Meeting 22 February 1995
AM SUMMARY * SECURITY COUNCIL DECIDES ARUSHA TO BE SEAT OF
TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA
Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 977
The Security Council this morning decided that Arusha, United
Republic of Tanzania, will be the seat of the International
Tribunal for Rwanda, subject to the conclusion of appropriate
arrangements between the Tanzanian Government and the United
The Council, by unanimously adopting resolution 977 (1995),
acted on the recommendation of the Secretary-General, who had
based his determination on the criteria of justice and
fairness, and administrative efficiency and economy. The
Council also noted the willingness of the Government of Rwanda
to cooperate with the Tribunal.
Speaking before the resolution was adopted, Rwanda's
Representative Manzi Bakuramutsa, said that he did not share
the view expressed in the Secretary-General's report that the
requirements of justice and fairness meant that the Tribunal
should be seated outside Rwanda. However, despite its
misgivings on the issue, his Government would cooperate with
the Tribunal to help ensure that those who had committed
genocide in the country were brought to justice.
The International Tribunal for Rwanda was established by
Security Council resolution 955 of 8 November 1994 to
prosecute persons responsible for genocide and other
violations of international humanitarian law committed in
Rwanda and Rwandese citizens responsible for such acts in
neighbouring States between 1 January 1994 and 31 December
1994. The Tribunal, according to its statute, shall consist
of: two Trial Chambers, each made up of three judges elected
by the General Assembly to four-year terms, and a five-judge
Appeals Chamber appointed by the President of the Tribunal;
the Prosecutor, who will be responsible for investigating and
prosecuting violations of international humanitarian law; and
a Registry which will be responsible for administering and
servicing the Tribunal.
According to the Secretary-General's report on the Tribunal's
seat, today's action signals the beginning of the second phase
in its operations, meaning that the process of electing the
six trial judges could begin. The Appeals Chamber, which it
shares with the International Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, is already in place.
The Tribunal's first stage of operations began with last
year's creation of the Investigative/Prosecutorial Unit in
Kigali. A Deputy Prosecutor, Honore Rakotomanana (Madagascar),
has been appointed. The office of the Prosecutor will be
filled by the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the
Former Yugoslavia, Richard J. Goldstone.
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