"Leave None to Tell the Story": Genocide in Rwanda

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Human Rights Watch, 1999 - Political Science - 789 pages
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In the thirteen weeks after April 6, 1994, at least half a million people perished in the Rwandan genocide, perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were slain because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it. But this genocide was not an uncontrollable outburst of rage by a people consumed by 'ancient tribal hatreds.' Nor was it the preordained result of the impersonal forces of poverty and over-population. This genocide resulted from the deliberate choice of a modern elite to foster hatred and fear to keep itself in power. Like the organizers, the killers who executed the genocide were not demons nor automatons responding to ineluctable forces. They were people who chose to do evil. Policymakers in France, Belgium, and the United States and at the United Nations all knew of the preparations for massive slaughter and failed to take the steps needed to prevent it. When international leaders did finally voice disapproval, the genocidal authorities listened well enough to change their tactics although not their ultimate goal. Far from cause for satisfaction, this small success only underscores the tragedy: if timid protests produced this result in late April, what might have been the result in mid-April had all the world cried 'Never again.' This study, summarized in the introduction, describes in detail how the killing campaign was executed, linking oral testimony with extensive written documentation. It draws upon interviews with those who were marked for extinction but managed to survive, those who killed or directed killings, those who saved or sought to save others, and those who watched and tried not to see. It presents minutes of local meetings where operations against Tutsi were planned and correspondence in which administrators congratulated their subordinates for successfully destroying 'the enemy.' It analyzes the layers of language and the silences that made up the deceptive discourse of genocide, broadcast on the radio and delivered at public meetings. It places the genocide in the immediate political context, showing how local and national political rivalries among Hutu influenced the course of the campaign to eliminate Tutsi. It traces changes in the tactics and organization of the campaign as well as its collapse as the RPF defeated the genocidal government. Drawing on many sources, including previously unpublished testimony and documents from diplomats and United Nations staff, the study shows how international actors failed to avert or stop the genocide. It ties the expansion of the killing campaign to early international inertia and it shows that international protests against the slaughter, when they finally came, were discussed even at local meetings on the distant hills of Rwanda. Thus the study establishes that the international community, so anxious to absent itself from the scene, was in fact present at the genocide.

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