BBC's Rwanda's Untold Story: Why Do Kagame And His Supporters Fear Debating His Documented Role In Assassination Of President Habyarimana?

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Juvenal Habyarimana: In BBC documentary "Rwanda's Untold Story," several former aides blame Paul Kagame for the assassination

[Commentary: Open Letter To BBC Director-General Tony Hall]

Dear Mr. Hall,

I wish to add my voice to those who support a public discussion of the events in the Rwandan War that took place between October1, 1990 and July 1994 and its aftermath and to express my profound disgust at the attempt by the signatories of the letter to you of October 12, 2014 by a number of RPF propagandists and hangers-on to attack the BBC for broadcasting the documentary by Conroy and Corbin,  "Rwanda, The Untold Story".

The signatories include those who have been active propagandists for the RPF regime from the beginning such as Linda Melvern and Gerald Caplan, whose false histories of the war are infamous. It includes others such as General Romeo Dallaire whose role in helping the RPF prepare its final offensive and the murder of President Habyarimana were exposed in the trials at the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda and are part of the trial record, and Barbara Mulvaney, who was a senior prosecutor at the ICTR and who, therefore, cannot claim to be ignorant of the facts of her own case.

Others such as Mr. Monbiot et al appear to be those who Jacques Ellul described very well in his book 'On Propaganda"; intellectuals who know little but think they have to have an opinion on everything and so are the most easily propagandized.

The signatories make the most egregious claims that were proved false in the trials many years ago. One of their claims concerns the Interahamwe. In the Military II trial at the ICTR, the trial of the Rwandan Army Chief of Staff and the Gendarmerie Chief of Staff and other officers, the prosecutor called witness 006/AOG, who was the former treasurer of the Interahamwe.

This man is now living in Canada under Canadian government protection and support. In his testimony he stated that there were only 1,500 members of the Interahamwe and most of those in Kigali and that there was no Interahamwe presence in the southern regions of Butare and Gitarama as the MRND party had little presence on those areas. He also confirmed that, like the other youth militias of other parties, they were not armed and further confirmed that the president of the Interahamwe was a Tutsi and there were other Tutsis in the organisation. Barbara Mulvaney cannot claim anything else since she was part of the prosecution team at the time this witness testified.

Further, minutes of meetings were produced in evidence of meetings between General Dallaire and the leaders of the Interahamwe to negotiate handling of such things as demonstrations and meetings and so General Dallaire cannot claim ignorance of the true state of affairs either.

The reason that these claims of the existence of  tens of thousands of Interahamwe are continually propagated is to justify the suppression of the MRND party which was the most popular political party at the time and to cover up the real role of the RPF forces in the massacres that took place.

They also make the astounding claim, long ago proved to be false, that Hutu extremists" shot down the plane when the ICTR prosecutor's own investigation lead by Michael Hourigan established as far back as 1997 that it was the RPF that did it. But as with Louise Arbour, who immediately suppressed that information, the signatories also want to suppress that fact. Ms. Mulvaney adds her name to those prosecutors at the ICTR who cover for and protect the murderers of all those on board the plane and are therefore accessories after the fact to the crime. General Dallaire's role in the shoot down has yet to be explained but it is clear that he has a deep personal interest in the truth not coming out.

The signatories compound their ignorance or deliberate duplicity by falsely stating the evidence of the sequence of events of April 1994.  The evidence at the war crimes trials is that the RPF forces attacked as soon as the plane went down the night of April 6th. They first attacked the Presidential Guard camp at Kanombe according to Belgian intelligence reports filed in evidence in the Military II trial. They then attacked and wiped out he 500 man Military Police Camp at Kami in the early morning hours of April 7th and attacked and wiped out the Gendarme camp at Remera and then began the systematic massacres of Hutus in the Remera district and began the intense bombardment of the army and gendarme camps in the capital.

During the night of the 6-7th the Rwandan Army and Gendarme leaders met with General Dallaire and Belgian Colonel Luc Marchal to try to get the RPF to stop their attacks and establish a ceasefire and resumption of the Arusha Accords. The RPF refused all cease-fire offers and maintained their offensive and slaughter of civilians.

The RPF forces then occupied the grounds of the UN headquarters at the Amohoro  stadium the HQ of Dallaire and began selecting and summarily executing Hutu intellectuals. Despite pleas by Hutus in the stadium to General Dallaire personally to stop these murders, he did nothing. This is all evidence in the trials.

The Rwandan Army and Gendarmerie were pinned down from the night of the 6th until they were forced to retreat for lack of ammunition in July and could hardly defend themselves let alone waste time and ammunition hunting down civilians. Several witnesses, including Colonel Marchal, Colonel Andre Vincent, deputy head of Belgian Army intelligence and Belgian Ambassador Swinnen all testified that the Rwandan Army supported the Arusha Accords and only the RPF opposed them and that it was the RPF that continuously obstructed the peace accords and attempts to stabilize the situation.

There was also testimony in the Military II trial that US Air Force C130 Hercules aircraft were observed dropping men and supplies to the RPF forces after April 6th and American personnel were seen at  Kagame's HQ at Mulindi just two days before the president's plane was shot down. This testimony was never challenged by the prosecution.

Dr. Alison Desforges, in her testimony as a witness for the prosecution in the Military Trial in 2005, testified that the Rwandan government did not and could not have planned a genocide because it was a mulit-ethnic government, not a Hutu government as the signatories claim, in which Tutsis and pro-RPF people held key ministries. President Habyarimana by January 1994 had no power at all . He had been reduced to a figure as President. All power lay with the pro-RPF prime ministers. Melvern, Caplan, Dallaire, Mulvaney et all all know these facts as this is the evidence in the trials and it is prosecution evidence, not defence evidence. There was also evidence that both the Army and Gendarmerie had both Tutsi officers and men in the ranks. In fact, my client's close protection unit were all Tutsi officers and NCOs.

Having said all that, I would criticise the documentary for ignoring these established facts and for ignoring the evidence at the war crimes trials and for not speaking with defence counsel involved who have many years of experience in investigating the facts of the Rwanda War, which was just the first phase of the greater war for control by the west of the resources of central Africa.

That is the documentary could have gone much further than it did. The facts are all there in the trial transcripts if only one wants to know them.

Christopher Black,

Barrister, Lead Counsel to General Augustin Ndindiliyimana, Chief of Staff, Rwanda Gendarmerie

Acquitted of all charges at the ICTR, February, 2014

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