Saturday, April 03, 2004

Rwanda: questioning the genocide

UPDATE: There are a considerable number of problems with this story ... please refer to this post for a detailed explanation.

I don't often state my personal opinion on this blog but in this instance, I feel compelled to do so.

I believe that in 1994, somewhere between 500,000 and a million Rwandans -- Tutsis and Hutus -- were killed in an orgy of violence that lasted a hundred days. I have heard the stories and seen the images ... that is enough for me.

April 6 marks the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide.

Now two US researchers are challenging the very idea that it was a "genocide".
"We consider this more of a totalitarian purge, a politicide, rather than ethnic cleansing or genocide," Professor [Christian] Davenport said in a statement.

... "Our research strongly suggests that a majority of the victims were Hutus - there weren't enough Tutsis in Rwanda at the time to account for all the reported deaths," Professor Davenport said, who worked with an associate, Allan Stam, from Dartmouth College.

"Either the scale of the killing was much less than is widely believed, or more likely, a huge number of Hutus were caught up in the violence as inadvertent victims. ...
Christian Davenport is a prof at the University of Maryland and this seems to be the homepage of the research project. I don't have the energy or the will to go through it right now.

Consider this report from a few days ago ... that US intelligence knew it was a genocide.


The National Post reports that Marie-Rose Habyarimana, daughter of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination marked the start of the Rwanda genocide, is planning to launch a lawsuit against current Rwandan President Paul Kagame and others. She says she wants to know who shot down her father's plane ... an act that a recent French judicial probe said was ordered by Kagame (an allegation denied by the Rwandan government).

The National Post story contains the following allegations ...
After the assassination, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a full investigation. Internal UN documents obtained by the National Post in 2000 show UN investigators launched a probe.

But the same papers, dated 1997, alleged that Louise Arbour, the Canadian Supreme Court Justice who was then chief UN war crimes prosecutor, shut it down after investigators uncovered evidence appearing to implicate Mr. Kagame.

Michael Hourigan, chief of the aborted UN investigation, told the French judicial inquiry he believed the United Nations had caved into pressure from the United States, which saw Mr. Kagame as a "valuable ally" in the region.