Key facts proving the preparation of the genocide in the months of February 1991-1994
As of January 2017, the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) will publish historical facts detailing the planning and preparation of the genocide against the Tutsi, between April and July 1994.
This summary of historical facts will serve as a remembrance for the 1,074,017 victims of the genocide, as well as being an important record to inform and stand against revisionists and genocide deniers, who include perpetrators among their number.
Starting 1991 to 1994 when the then Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) fighters ended the genocide, the record will detail how month by month, genocide was planned, organized, and executed.
Below are the preparations for the month of February 1991:
Simulation of attack on Bigogwe military Barracks is followed by the murder of the Tutsi living near the barracks
On the night of 4th February 1991, sustained gun fire was heard inside Bigogwe military camp. It was the para-commandos in the camp firing in the air to feign attack by the RPA. This apparently bizarre pantomime had a deadly purpose. It was to justify massacres that had been planned. The following morning the commandos went into Kanzenze sector, entered every home they believed to house Tutsi. They accused the inhabitants of hiding “Inyenzi” or cockroaches, who they claimed had attacked the military camp the night before.
The soldiers then subjected their victims to horrific torture before murdering them. A 1993 commission of inquiry by five Human Rights NGOs, led by International Federation of Human Rights, found that the victims’ faces had been crushed, their skulls, and jaws, fractured, using blunt instruments, some of which were found at the scene. There were blood stains where the victims’ blood had flowed.
A. FEBRUARY 1992:
Weapons distributed in Byumba Prefecture
On 7th February 1992, the head of Byumba prefecture, Vincent Rwirahira, sent an official notification to his superior, informing him that weapons were ready to be distributed. He further reported that at a meeting of the Byumba Prefecture Security Council, held at Muvumba Commune offices, participants were briefed about progress on the so called civilian self defence for the Mutara region.
The meeting was informed that 300 weapons had been released by the Ministry of Defence to be distributed to several communes. 76 went to Muvumba commune, 40 to Kivuye, 40 to Kiyombe, and 24 to Cyumba commune.
In Muvumba Commune a group of 250 individuals was selected by Mayor Onesphore Rwabukombe and sent to Gabiro for weapons training. They remained there from 29th January to 5th February.
B. FEBRUARY 1993
1. France recommends a united front in support of President HABYARIMANA
On 28th February 1993, France sent its minister for co-operation Marcel Debarge to Rwanda. As well as his visit to President Habyarimana, he also met the leaders of all the opposition parties. He called on them to suspend their opposition to President Habyarimana, and instead form a “common front” against the RPF. The logic was that with such a united front, the Rwandan Government would then be able to prevent implementation of the agreement signed at the Arusha Peace talks, which stipulated the establishment of transitional institutions, involving all the parties, including the RPF.
With such support from a senior French minister, the extremists making preparations for genocide were encouraged to continue with their plans, confident that France was firmly behind their opposition to any peaceful resolution put in place at the Arusha peace talks. They accelerated their preparations for the apocalypse which one of the chief architects of the genocide, Theoneste Bagosora had chillingly threatened to unleash.
On the same day that Debarge had shown his support, violence against Tutsi, including murder, intensified in several areas around Kigali, leading to many Tutsi fleeing their homes to take refuge with the troops of United Nations Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) stationed at Amahoro National Stadium, with others fleeing to Magerwa warehouses in Gikondo.
2. France’s strong commitment to militarily support the FAR
On 8th February 1993, RPF forces had advanced within 30 kilometres of Kigali. As a response to this offensive, from 22nd February to 28th March 1993, France sent in its troops. Named Operation Chimera, the force was under the command of Colonel Didier Tauzin. According to a 1998 report from France’s own Parliamentary information, the aim of the “Chimera” detachment was “to indirectly supervise an army of about 20,000 men and indirectly command it.” France was in effect taking over command of the Rwandan army (FAR), providing them with direct support against RPF forces. The number of personnel in the French contingent was significant: 688 soldiers from the Noroit division, and 100 from the Detachment of Military Assistance (DAMI).
The Noroît contingent was responsible for the security of Kigali and its suburbs, including Kanombe airport, while the DAMI Panda division provided support to other operations in the field. DAMI Artillery and Engineers were directly involved in the fighting. At the strategic level, France had sent an adviser to work directly with the Chief of Staff, Major-General Deogratias Nsabimana. The French Parliamentary Information Mission described his role as to "discreetly advise the Chief of Staff of the FAR on matters relating to the conduct of operations but also the preparation and training of the forces".
3. Persecution of journalists who report on French military fighting alongside the FAR.
On 9th February 1993, issue number 4 of the opposition newspaper, Le Flambeau, published a story about the involvement of French troops in the fighting against the RPF, with supporting photographic evidence. A Major Corriere, one of four French gendarmes who operated in the criminology department of the Rwandan gendarmerie, entered the journalists’ offices, demanding to know who had authorized them to publish the story and to photograph French military personnel. The editor, Adrien Rangira sought the help of UN troops in GOMN (? Stands for?), who persuaded the major to leave the paper.
Others connected with the story were not so fortunate. Major Corriere went straight to Photolab, which as the only such lab in the city, he knew had processed the photographs. There he arrested two Tutsi employees, Japhet Rudasingwa and Anne-Marie Byukusenge. He took them to the Criminology Office, tortured them into admitting that they had processed the photographs. They managed to escape when friends alerted their whereabouts to the Red Cross.
4. French citizens denounce French involvement in Rwanda
On 23rd February 1993, the "Federation of French Abroad", Burundi section, sent a letter of protest to the Socialist Party of President Francois Mitterrand, denouncing France's support for what they termed the Rwandan criminal regime: "Rwanda is more than ever on fire and drowning in blood. International organizations have rationalized away several mass graves. General Habyarimana's militias are massacring the Tutsi population with impunity. The French military intervention in Rwanda has neither succeeded in avoiding massacres nor in restoring peace in the region. Worse, it now appears that the presence of the French military is using international protection as cover to allow General Habyarimana to order more atrocities.”
On 23rd February 1993, the right wing French Republican Party, also denounced France’s role. "The Republican Party would like to express grave reservations about committing the French military to these missions which appear political, rather than humanitarian. The French government seems locked into sending more and more troops, day by day. The Republican Party calls on the government to realise that its support of a regime which has no interest in democracy, on the pretext of protecting French nationals, will prove detrimental to France’s image in Africa”.
On 28th February 1993, the International Secretariat of the Socialist Party published a declaration in Agence France Press (AFP) signed by Gerard Fuchs, head of the French Diaspora in Burundi. The declaration warned, "I question the decision to send more French troops to Rwanda, given that human rights violations by General Habyarimana’s regime show no sign of stopping, and instead multiply. I hope that our Minister of Cooperation will either find more convincing reasons in Kigali for a military presence which at the moment appears designed to help a dictatorial regime, or have French forces pulled out.”
5. Senior French politicians disassociate themselves from France's policy of support for the Habyarimana government.
Two ministers, former Prime Minister Michel Rocard and former Defence Minister Pierre Joxe, publicly declared their stand against France’s Rwandan policy at the beginning of 1993. In a letter to President Mitterand on 23rd February 1993, Pierre Joxe unambiguously expressed his reservations about France’s policy in Rwanda: "I remain concerned about our position in Rwanda and the role of our 690 soldiers there, with a Rwandan army that no longer seems able to fight. And the sending of two additional contingents in the face of widespread opposition to such support encourages Habyarimana to feel that he is France’s most protected of African leaders. This is not the best way to get him to make the necessary concessions. He remains politically inflexible, despite his inability to mobilise his own army. If the RPF regains its advantage, our soldiers could find themselves facing the rebels in a matter of hours. Discounting direct intervention, the only remaining way to exert some pressure, is if he feels that there is a possibility of our disengagement. "
1. Colonel Déogratias NSABIMANA lists 1500 people to be murdered.
On 20th February 1994, with preparations for genocide well under way, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan army, Colonel Deogratias Nsabimana, forward a list to his cousin, Jean-Berchmas Birara, then Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda. On the list were 1,500 people marked out for murder.
In an interview with Belgian Newspaper, La Libre Belgique, on 24th May 1994, Birara testifies that he gave the information to a number of Western diplomats, including the Belgian Embassy. In questioning before the Belgian senate in 1997, the Belgium Ambassador at the time, Johann Winnen confirmed that he did indeed receive such information.
In a diary entry of 21st February 1994, found among his papers, Bagosora noted the need to begin “identifications of reservists”; a clear indication that he was preparing for war. UNAMIR reports at around the same time show evidence of an organized network of death squads for the extermination of Tutsi, and senior members of the political opposition.
2. The purchasing of 581 tons of machetes to be used in the genocide.
In February 1994 a representative of Chillington, a British manufacturing company which makes machetes among other things, reported that they sold more machetes in one month than they had sold throughout the previous year. Applications for Import licences examined by Human Rights Watch, between January 1993 and March 1994, show that 581 tons of machetes were imported into Rwanda. These machetes were ordered for a total of 95 million Rwandan francs, paid for by Felicien Kabuga, who was later found to be one of the main funders of the genocide.
In a report on 24th November 1996, The Sunday Times Newspaper in London reported that in 1993, Chillington sold 1, 600 machetes to two individuals, Eugene Mbarushimana and Francois Burasa. The two were employees of Rwanda export company, RWANDEX. One of the employees, Mbarushimana was also Felicien Kabuga’s son in law, and Secretary-General of the Interahamwe militias nationwide. The Interahamwe militias were the main perpetrators of the genocide, the wielders of machetes and other implements of torture, and mass murder.
François Burasa was also a dyed in the wool extremist. He was a member of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic Party (CDR) and brother to the party’s leader, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. This was a party which took issue with other extremist organisations for their lack of sufficient vigour and enthusiasm for exterminating the Tutsi.
The machetes were to be distributed to civilians who had been given military training, and formed into so called civilian defence forces, in reality murder squads. These were the same “civilian defence forces” in Bagosora’s plan. Some of them were trained to use fire arms, while others were supplied with machetes, and other similar weapons.
3. Constant supply of massive arms flouting the UN embargo
On 27th February 1994 a memorandum from the Belgian intelligence services outlined the continuing trafficking of arms to the Rwandan army, in spite of a UN Security Council arms embargo. To bypass the embargo, arms were purchased through the Angolan rebel movement of Jonas Savimbi, UNITA, which was fighting the left wing government of Angola, with the support of Western powers. The weapons went through Kamina military camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Zaire as was then, through to Goma airport, and then across the border into Rwanda, via Gisenyi. All this was done with full knowledge of UNAMIR, and Western diplomatic missions in Rwanda.
4. Stockpiles of arms concealed from UN inspectors.
As part of monitoring for compliance with the arms embargo rules, UNAMIR had set up a team of inspectors who were to visit military camps to monitor existing stockpiles. The largest stockpile was at Kanombe. In the months of February and March 1994, before UNAMIR inspectors could record them, the Rwandan army emptied the stocks at Kanombe, moving them to Bugesera, Gitarama, Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. This was clearly in preparation for the massacres that would take place. The weapons were distributed to Interahamwe militias.
In an interview on 10th May 1994, a Belgian officer in UNAMIR, Warrant Officer Daubie Benoit testified, "I had access to all the Munitions storage at Kanombe before the attack ... a large part of the depot had been emptied. The quantity of munitions extracted was significant. There remained only about 20 per cent of ammunitions that had been at the depot. It was about a month before the attack and it took a week to transport them. A FAR lieutenant told me that it was in anticipation of an RPF attack. I think that this was done to escape the attention of UN inspectors. I know that the inventory provided by the FAR General Staff to the UN was false, because it did not take into account what had been distributed to the population. What was reported was only what was left in the almost empty store. According to a German military observer, the arms were moved by night”.
5. Hutu Power Union between the MRND, CDR, MDR, PSD and PL parties.
On 25th February 1994 the Interahamwe leadership held an important meeting, under the chairmanship of their overall leader, Robert Kaguga. The meeting urged all the Interahamwe to keep all Tutsi under close observation, especially those who had already been placed on murder lists. The Interahamwe were put on standby, ready to use the distributed fire arms, and other weapons. They were reminded to work closely with Impuzamugambi, the extremist CDR’s own militia, and all the political parties which shared, or were supportive of the extremist Hutu Power ideology. Parties like MDR (Republican Democratic Movement) PSD (Social Democratic Party) and PL (Liberal Party)
This coalition of extremist forces was similar to the coalition which had been formed between the governing MRND, and smaller parties allied to it, PECO (Party of Ecologists), PDI (Islamic Democratic Party), PADER (Rwandan Democratic Party), RTD (Labor Movement for Democracy), MFBP (Mouvement des femmes et du Bas people) and PPJR (Progressive Party of Rwandan Youth).
On the same date, the Association of Peace Volunteers (AVP), a Rwandan human rights organization, issued a statement in which it denounced the existence of a plan for massacres, and the hate speech on the extremist Radio Mille Collines (RTLM). They published a list of the victims of state orchestrated murders, especially around Kigali, and sent an urgent appeal to UNAMIR to bring an end the state sponsored murders.
6. Heightened mobilization for genocide through the media
Throughout the month of February 1994 a media campaign calling for extermination of the Tutsi was at its height. A series of articles from several extremist newspapers openly called for genocide. Newspapers like Kangura, which in a particular issue, Kangura No 57, of February 1994, called for mass murders before the now fabled “final attack” from the RPF. They called “all those concerned to action”, a clear reference to the Interahamwe. The “defence” against the supposed final attack was clearly used as code for the start of the murders. You know where the “Inyenzi” (cockroaches), hide, they were told. If you show any reticence in defending yourself now, you yourself might perish when the “final attack comes”. “Those concerned” were being urged to start begin the massacres.
“Who will survive the coming war?” asked another extremist newspaper, La Medaille Nyiramacibiri in issue No5. “The masses will rise and with the help of the armed forces, blood will flow freely”. This was a description of what came to pass, except there was no war, just mass murder of defenceless men, women and children.
7. UNAMIR and Western powers aware regime was preparing genocide.
Numerous documents and research carried out since 1994, including the UN Carlson report in 1997, the OAU report in 2000, the 1997 Belgian Senate report, and many others, show that UNAMIR had clear Information about the determination of the Rwandan regime not to accept the transitional arrangements as stipulated in the Arusha Peace Agreement. Rwandan officials spoke openly about this at public rallies.
On May 19th 1994, testifying before a military court, Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques Beaudouin, military technical coordinator assigned as adviser to the Rwandan Army Chief, stated that, “a month or two before the attack, I was at a cocktail party at General Nsabimana’s home. Present were the Belgian ambassador, Colonel Vincent, head of the Belgian military cooperation mission in Rwanda, Colonel Marshal of UNAMIR, Colonel Le Roy, President Habyarimana, Rwanda minister of defence, Bizimana, and a few other Rwandan officers. In conversation, all the Rwandans were clear that they could not accept the Arusha Peace Agreement. After a few glasses of champagne, Biziamana said to me that his forces were ready to engage the RPF.
Ten days before the attack, on Habyarimana’s aeroplane, the last Friday of March 1994, Colonel Vincent invited General Nsabimana and logistics G3 Colonel Kabirigi to his house. At the meeting, they clearly stated that Arusha was not to be accepted. If there were any attempt to impose it, they would eliminate the RPF and the Tutsi. It would not take more than a fortnight. They seemed very sure of themselves”. It is clear from this, that plans for genocide were established thinking.
8. The UN in New York was well informed of the plan for genocide
On 3rd February 1994, Commander of the UN forces in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, sent a dispatch to the Security Council which showed that UNAMIR had clear information about preparations for genocide. The dispatch asked for UNAMIR to be given authorization to seize weapons: "we expect more ethnically inspired violent demonstrations, more grenade and other armed attacks, more targeted murders, and in all likelihood, attacks against UNAMIR facilities. With each passing of the deadline for authorization to seize the weapons, the security situation deteriorates. If more weapons are distributed, UNAMIR may no longer be able to carry out its mandate.”
On the same day the Belgian Ambassador to Rwanda informed the Belgian authorities that it was urgent to stop the distribution of weapons by the regime to the militia and to destroy existing stocks.
On 15th February 1994, General Dallaire and head of United Nations Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) Jacques Roger BOOH-BOOH sent a joint request to the Security Council in which they reiterated the urgent need to recover the weapons held by the Interahamwe militias. On 17th February 1994, UNAMIR issued a press release in Kigali calling for the cessation of training for the Interahamwe militia, as well as the massive distribution of weapons.
On 27th February 1994, General Dallaire once again requested permission to confiscate weapons, and expressed his fears of the imminence of civil war. The United Nations merely reminded him that his mandate was limited to overseeing the establishment of the transitional institutions.
These records show that the genocide against the Tutsi begun in April 1994 had long been in planning. These plans were well advanced as early as February 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994. All the records show that the United Nations in Rwanda, all the major Western powers that had embassies in Rwanda, and the states which had contributed forces to the UN, were aware of these plans, prior to 1994.
Dr. Jean-Damascème Bizimana
Executive Secretary CNLG.