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15 Years ago today...

by papicek Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 07:20:10 AM EST

Author's Note:  This diary is dedicated to the memory of Alison Des Forges, of Human Rights Watch, and author, or principle author, of "Leave None to Tell the Story," Human Rights Watch's narrative of the events of the Rwandan Genocide. It surpasses excellence. It's not that I knew or ever met her, but I'm sure she felt personally compelled, as I have, to write about Rwanda, and certainly found it even more difficult. In her memory, in the memory of those both living and dead who have been touched by this, I have done my level best here. And like General Romeo Dallaire, head of the failed UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda, I find I can take no consolation from that fact.

Virtually the entire world ignored this genocide, and why that happened is what I try to answer here.


We had a couple of friends over, and you know, I just--we just sat down to dinner, and all of a sudden, there was this huge explosion. And I--I--didn't naturally, you know, come to me what that was because I wasn't used to hearing those kinds of sounds." --Laura Lane, U.S. Embassy, Kigali, Rwanda[1]

"And it went from "There's been an explosion at the airport" to "We think it's the ammunition dump at Kinumbi that's blown up" to "It's a plane that's crashed" to "It's the presidential plane that crashed." --Brent Beardsley, Military Assistant to General Dallaire[2]

On the evening of 6 April 1994, the presidential airplane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana as well as Cyprien Ntaryamira, President of Burundi was shot down as it slowed and descended on approach to the airport in Kigali, Rwanda. Two shoulder mounted surface-to-air missiles struck the aircraft, the first hitting a wing, and the second impacting the tail. A pair of empty SA-16 missile tubes were later found, their serial numbers indicating that they had once been part of the Iraqi arsenal. Even today, it's not known who was responsible, but what is known is that within hours, maybe within minutes, certain neighborhoods in Kigali were being patrolled by units of the elite Rwandan Presidential Guard and by the National Police. By daybreak the killing had begun.

The bloodshed continued and spread for eleven weeks, and by the time it was over, an estimated 657,000 men, women and children had perished.

Front-paged by afew


The mission was supposed to be straight forward: oversee a peace agreement between a stable government in place and a well organized, disciplined rebel militia, the RPF, both of whom had requested UN participation in their peace process. Chosen to head the mission, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire had never seen combat, had never been to Africa, and had never had a command. He and his aide, Major Brent Beardsley arrived in Rwanda knowing nothing of what awaited them:

"We had very, very little information, knowledge of the background to Rwanda, its history, its culture--you know, what had taken place in the country since independence or even before independence, and especially even in the last couple years. So we went in quite blind."[3]

In Washington and at the UN, there was little enthusiasm for the peacekeeping mission, which had been approved just days after the "Blackhawk Down" shootout in Mogadishu, Somalia. There was even less enthusiasm for paying for the mission. The Clinton administration was already unhappy with the fact that it was supposed to be paying one-third of the costs of the seventeen then current peacekeeping missions around the world, and was already in arrears to the UN to the tune of half a billion dollars. The Rwandan mission was sold, primarily by the French, as a cheap, easy victory for peacekeeping--a counter-argument to Somalia.

Warned at the outset not to ask for too much, Dallaire scaled his force down to 5,000 peacekeepers. This was, however, more than anyone was willing to field, and he had to settle for half that number. Even so, with hard work and the right deployments of peacekeepers, Dallaire thought he could get the job done. And he had some early success. He managed successfully to open a safe corridor and transport a contingent of RPF troops and leadership to Kigali without incident. Several prohibited transports of weapons into Rwanda were successfully interdicted by peacekeepers and he was able, if not to create the weapons-free zone in Kigali mandated by the Arusha Accords, he was at least able to drive the arms buildup underground.

It quickly became apparent to Dallaire that the peacekeeping mission wasn't going to run as straightforwardly as those in New York had led him to believe. Violence had never completely vanished. The Hutu political coalition, the CDR, their militias, and Radio Mille Collines continued to spread hate propaganda and promise Tutsi extinction.

A short chronology of attacks on political figures, civilians and on UNAMIR personnel continued throughout the early period of his mission:

  • November 17-18: Unidentified assailants killed some forty persons, including local authorities, in a highly organized attack in the northern communes of Nkumba, Kidaho, Cyeru, and Nyamugali.

  • November 26: A Belgian Red Cross truck was deliberately targeted by government soldiers and blown up by a mine.

  • November 29-30: Unidentified assailants killed more than a dozen persons in the northwestern commune of Mutura.

  • December 2: Assailants armed with machine guns fired on a UNAMIR patrol in northern Rwanda.

  • January 5: A crowd of CDR supporters attacked the Tanzanian ambassador whom they regarded as too favorable to peace negotiations.

  • January 8: During a violent demonstration by interahamwe--involving also the sub-prefect of Kigali and soldiers of the Presidential Guard in civilian clothes--the National Police did nothing to intervene. In a meeting afterwards, U.N. officers remarked that the events of the morning make "us think how few possibilities we have to deal with this kind of action." They acknowledged that UNAMIR might have to intervene more actively "to compensate for the lack of effectiveness of the National Police," even if doing so worsened relations with the population, which was already shouting anti-Belgian slogans that morning.

  • January 20: Assassins tried to kill Justin Mugenzi, president of the Liberal Party and head of its Hutu Power faction.

  • January 24: interahamwe were arrested for bombing a house in Kigali and other interahamwe rioted in the streets. In a separate incident, assailants shot at Belgian peacekeepers guarding Booh-Booh's residence. (Roger Booh-Booh was the Secretary-General's personal representative to Rwanda, and in overall charge of UNAMIR)

  • January 26 and 27: Two grenades exploded at the CND building where the RPF were quartered. In another incident, assailants fired on Belgian peacekeepers who were on patrol.

  • January 30-31: A Belgian soldier threw stones and broke windows at the home of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the CDR leader, and supposedly threatened him. RTLM and Radio Rwanda both broadcast the news that Belgian soldiers had tried to kill Barayagwiza. The incident focused attention on the inappropriate behavior of some Belgian soldiers who clearly showed their disdain for pro-Habyarimana forces. In another incident, an assailant threw a grenade at UNAMIR headquarters. The same day, RTLM broadcast that "the time has come to take aim at Belgian targets."

  • February 15: Belgian military intelligence reported that the Rwandan army chief of staff had put all troops on alert, canceled leaves, ordered a check of stocks of ammunition and other war materials, and asked for recruitment of more soldiers.

  • February 20: Assassins tried to kill Prime Minister-designate Twagiramungu and did kill one of his bodyguards. In another incident, a crowd stoned Belgian peacekeepers and they had to fire 63 shots in the air in order to free themselves.

  • February 21: Assassins killed the minister of public works and head of the PSD party, Félicien Gatabazi.

  • February 22: Martin Bucyana, president of the CDR, was killed by a mob in Butare in retaliation for the killing of Gatabazi. In another incident, a UNAMIR convoy escorting the RPF was attacked with grenades; one RPF soldier was killed and a U.N. military observer was wounded. High-ranking RPF leaders were supposed to have been part of the convoy but at the last minute changed their plans.

  • February 23: UNAMIR peacekeepers sent to rescue a judge exchanged fire with attackers.

  • February 22-26: interahamwe killed some seventy people and destroyed property in Kigali. Belgian officers described the situation as "explosive."

  • February 28: A shell struck between the CND building where the RPF was quartered and the UNAMIR headquarters.

  • March 1994 was fairly quiet, until the 31st, when Alphonse Ingabire, operational head of the CDR (the ruling coalition of Hutu political parties), was killed. The CDR militia responded with the murder of a member of a rival party.[4]

Throughout this period, warnings that the situation was becoming critical were constant. Aid and human rights personnel inside and outside of Rwanda, Rwandan religious figures, even members of the Rwandan army all sent pleas out to the world warning that if serious attention wasn't paid to the situation, the worst was likely to occur. We now know that both the UN peacekeeping office in New York, then headed by Kofi Annan, as well as the Belgian Foreign Ministry received numerous reports regarding the danger of the situation. The peace process called for in the Arusha Accords, agreed to by the RPF and four other Rwandan political parties (but not the ruling MNRD) was stalled. The Hutu interahamwe militia, along with members of the Presidential Guard in civilian clothes mobbed the inauguration of the transitional government, preventing rival party members from entering the parliament building and taking part as mandated by the accords. The transitional government never got off the ground. A few days later, it was learned that some in the mob were armed and there specifically to target Belgian peacekeepers, who at that time, didn't give them an opening.

On January 11, an interahamwe commander, code-named Jean-Pierre, spoke with Belgian UNAMIR officers requesting asylum for himself and his family in return for which he offered to expose several illegal large arms caches in Kigali. He said that the UNAMIR force had been infiltrated, and that everything the peacekeepers planned was known beforehand. Furthermore, he told peacekeepers that lists of Tutsi residents of Kigali, and of Hutu moderates, were being compiled, which persuaded Jean-Pierre that a mass extermination was being planned. Jean-Pierre revealed that groups of interahamwe milita were being trained in "discipline, weapons, explosives, close combat and tactics" in three week sessions held at Rwandan army camps. He stated that he was a senior member of the President's security forces, and that he reported to Rwandan army chief of staff and to the President of the MNRD[5]

All this and more was detailed in Dallaire's report to UN headquarters, which is now known as the famous genocide fax. Jean-Pierre had claimed that Belgian peacekeepers were being deliberately targeted, as well, with the aim of forcing Belgium to withdraw it's peacekeepers. He pinpointed secret arms caches in Kigali which were to be distributed within days, after which, he said that he believed that ethnic Tutsi, as well as Hutu moderates, were to be attacked. Dallaire then asked New York that his mandate be expanded to enable him to sieze these arms, and offer Jean-Pierre asylum. Dallaire closed his message with the words, "Peux ce que veux. Allons-y" meaning, "Where there's a will, there's a way. Let's go." New York's reply was that pro-active measures such as this undermined UN neutrality, undermined the mission, and instead of being granted asylum, Jean-Pierre's information should be shared with the Rwandan government.

The Belgians were indeed targeted. On the morning of 7 April, Dallaire assigned a detail of 10 Belgians and 5 Ghanian peacekeepers to the home of acting Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, now titular head of the Rwandan government and a Hutu moderate who opposed the division between Hutus and Tutsis. An armed band of interahamwe surrounded the Prime Minister's house, and at gunpoint disarmed the peacekeepers who were under orders not to open fire. Eventually, the Ghanians were released. Not so the Belgians. Dallaire himself spotted them lying on the ground at Kigali military headquarters. He was allowed to collect their bodies later that day.

April 6 to 7, Kigali, Rwanda and Buffalo, NY

'America's best-informed Rwandan observer was not a government official but a private citizen, Alison Des Forges, an historian and a board member of Human Rights Watch, who then lived in Buffalo, New York. Des Forges had been visiting Rwanda since 1963. She had received a Ph.D. from Yale in African history, specializing in Rwanda, and she could speak the Rwandan language, Kinyarwanda. Half an hour after the plane crash Des Forges got a phone call from a close friend in Kigali, human-rights activist Monique Mujawamariya. Des Forges had been worried about Mujawamariya for weeks because the  hate-propagating Radio Mille Collines had branded her "a bad patriot who deserves to die." Mujawamariya had sent Human Rights Watch a chilling warning just a week earlier: "For the last two weeks, all of Kigali has lived under the threat of an instantaneous, carefully planned operation to eliminate all those who give trouble to President Habyarimana."

'Now Habyarimana was dead, and Mujawamariya knew instantly that the hard-line Hutu would use the incident as a pretext to begin mass killing. "This is it," she told Des Forges on the phone. For the next twenty-four hours, Des Forges called her friend's home every half hour. With each conversation Des Forges could hear the gunfire grow louder as the Hutu militia drew closer. Finally the gunmen entered Mujawamariya's house. "I don't want you to hear this," Mujawamariya said softly. "Take care of my children." She hung up the phone.'[6]

(Monique Mujawamariya survived. She narrowly escaped her attackers and managed to get out of Kigali and flew to Washington where she met with Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, who though sympathetic, offered no help. She then spoke with a member of Congress who told her, "The United States has no friends. The United States has interests. And in the United States there is no interest in Rwanda."[7])

Repeated calls by Dallaire for more troops, for more equipment, even for jamming equipment to silence Radio Mille Collines and its explicit calls for genocide were refused by New York. By the time it had become clear to the world that a genocide was taking place, Boutros Boutros-Ghali--never shy when it came to the use of force--called for the international community to step up.

Nobody came forward. Even the request for jamming gear was refused, on the grounds that it would violate the free speech of Rwandans. The Security Council, likely at the behest of the Clinton administration, responded by evacuating most of the peacekeeping force. Out of Dallaire's original 2,500 troops, only 270 were left. During the night of 9-10 April, three days after Habyarimana's plane crashed, troops finally arrived. A force of 1,000 Belgian and Franch paratroopers landed in and secured the airport in Kigali. Another force of US Marines sat just over the border in Burundi, about 500 strong. The French and Belgians fanned out across Rwanda, collecting foreign nationals, white foreign nationals. When all were gathered up, civilians and soldiers alike boarded airplanes and left. Americans, perhaps unwilling to chance that anymore SA-16's were floating around, drove overland to the Burundi border. The only international organization that didn't desert the Rwandans was the Red Cross. They, and one American, an aid worker named Carl Wilkens who offered his home as shelter to some Rwandans whom he knew personally, were all of the international community that remained.

The Peacekeeping Problem

The end of the cold war was seen at the UN as removing many of those restraints which great power conflict had placed upon its perceived role. Peace broke out at last, and it was felt that the new world order naturally placed the UN in leadership of those forces representing human reason, international amity, peace, and development. And New York was eager to fulfill this role. Prior to 1990, the UN had amassed a decent record of assisting ex-colonial countries achieve internationally recognized statehood, and had a small track record of mixed results with peacekeeping efforts. By 1990, the UN actively sought an expanded role, and for a variety of reasons, member states were willing go along. The world had changed with Gorbachev's fall, and the UN was both willing to experiment with more aggressive measures and to enlarge the scope of what it considered Chapter VII threats to international peace and stability. This sea-change in the view of the UN's role in the world was outlined in An Agenda for Peace, in which Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali defined a broader view of UN activism that included more than the integrity of states. In the world following the cold war, it was felt that the greatest danger to human rights and human development was in fact, the governments of those people so oppressed. It was believed that, if the UN was to fulfill the promise of its founding, and to work for the principles of those conventions which had been universally adopted as the right of every person, then now was the time to step up.

After the end-of-cold-war celebrations, sentiment in the world quickly soured; Yugoslavia was breaking up, ethnicnationalist conflict broke out across Asia, and unresolved conflict in Africa intensified. Prior to 1990, UN peacekeeping deployments was fairly rare, but there had been enough experience with both successes and failures that New York could begin drawing some tentative conclusions about what worked and what didn't. However, the UN was neither created for, nor equipped to deal with the events unfolding in the early 1990's. Notwithstanding the high water mark of international cooperation with which the world dealt with Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the type of international conflict for which the UN had been formed had now become a rarity. Since 1991, civil wars and other forms of violent domestic unrest have been the dominant form of conflict. Serious structural problems hampered the UN as well. While it is frequently the target of criticism for being overly bureaucratic, the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations was incredibly malnourished. In October 1989, the DPKO consisted of nine people who were incredibly adept at improvising: six civilians and three military advisors oversaw 8,000 peacekeepers in five stable operations.[12] Furthermore, everyone, including the UN Secretariat, ran on a diplomatic schedule. If a peacekeeper ran into trouble after 5 PM US eastern time or on a weekend, there was literally nobody in New York he could reach for guidance. Until 1993, there wasn't even a "situation room" at UN headquarters, and when one was created, it accurately refelected the attitudes of the miserly member states:

"Compared to the situation rooms of most states, it was almost comically outfitted: 1950's fake wood paneling, makeshift maps on the wall, an array of phones sitting on mismatched desks, and a few, scattered fax machines. It looked more like the accomodations for a public access television station than it did the military nerve center for very tenuous peacekeeping operations."[13]

This wasn't necessarily an improvement, for though there were by now some 50 people in the DPKO, the number of peacekeepers had skyrocketed from 8,000 troops in five easy operations in 1989, to over 70,000 in seventeen operations, many of which were in situations where shooting was still taking place.

The political milieu in which the UN became more active also undercut its efforts to broker peace.

"The Mogadishu Line"

The UN first became involved in Somalia with the passage of Resolution 704, creating UNOSOM, the United Nations Operation in Somalia, which consisted of 50 military observers there to monitor the cease-fire agreement. By that time, the situation had deteriorated badly: independent militias split away from the Somali government and the Ethiopian backed Somali National Movement (SNM). Then the militias splintered. The situation was such that, though the world had rushed to provide relief, in the two year period ending in the fall of 1992, some half million Somalis had been starved to death. Ceasefires weren't working. The militias were extorting aid workers and stealing relief supplies. More people were in the direst of peril. All the while, media attention kept Somalia in sharp focus, and the UN mission grew and evolved in an effort to come to grips with the appalling situation: UNOSOM I begat UNOSOM II, and finally, in December 1992, the Security Council responded with Resolution 794, in which the Security Council:

Welcomes the offer by a member state described in the Secretary-General's letter to the council of 29 November 1992 (S/24868) concerning the establishment of an operation to create such a secure environment;

The "member state" was the US in the waning days President George H. W. Bush's administration, and the task force was to be directed by Washington.

By May, thousands of troops were deployed into the bedlam dominated by  "starving Somalis, well-fed, khat-chewing youngsters in jeeps fitted with machine guns, and impotent peacekeepers" [14]. What the operation became could not now be classified as peacekeeping, but rather one of "peace making".

Disagreements over the mission soon emerged, and various bureaucratic concerns began to collide.

"The Americans consistently rebuffed Boutros-Ghali's plans and stated publically that American forces would not be collecting weapons without consent of the parties."[15]

Secretary of State Warren Christopher had written Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali expressing "disquiet" that the UNOSOM mission was getting out of hand. Boutros-Ghali responded that disarming the clans and factions was essential, that the problem wasn't too much force, but that more was needed. The Pentagon was worried as well, and asked for the additional deployment of mechanized units, which was too much for the Clinton White House.

The situation in Somalia exploded on 5 June, 1993, when the militia under command of Mohammed Farrah Aidid ambushed and killed 24 lightly armed Pakistani peacekeepers. Sentiments hardened both in New York and Washington, and Aidid was awarded the status of "Public Enemy Number One," and the mission profile changed to target him. On 3 October 1993, an attack on Aidid by American Army Rangers, resulted in the deaths of 18 Americans. The video of one American's body being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu amid cheering Somalis changed sentiments once again, and heralded the end of the UN missions in Somalia with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress demanding that American troops be brought home at once.

Clinton, who had inherited the Somali mission from his predecessor, saw the domestic agenda for which he was elected imperiled. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin resigned, for "health reasons" and the White House distanced itself from, and began publically criticizing the UN. Clinton was retreating from his earlier predisposition toward peacekeeping and multilateral actions. As a result, the doctrine for overseas intervention now called for no deployment of American troops abroad that was not in direct support of American national interests and under total American direction. The UN Secretariat, desperate for a peacekeeping success, was nonetheless now somewhat prepared to scale back on UN activism. The traditional doctrine of peacekeeping activity was revived, and was intended to become the posture of all future UN peacekeeping activities. Peacekeeping missions would have to rely totally on the perception and guarantee that the United Nations was an impartial participant. Aggressive enforcement was out, and there was to be no more crossing of the "Mogadishu Line" of neutrality, impartiality, and above all, consent of the parties.

Two days after the October attack in Somalia, the Security Council passed the resolution authorizing the Rwandan mission.

Trouble Finding My Feet

"There's no way to satisfy everyone. No matter what is done there will be as many critics as those with praise.  One side or the other will get drowned out by the media, that's the only difference.

I say it's always worth a try to do good, but be ready for the backlash.  Next time around it may not be easy to get participants." (emphasis mine)

There exists an entire genre of genocide literature, as there does regarding international failures to respond to genocide and mass atrocities. If you're interested in it, I warn you, it makes for depressing reading. Depressing enough is Simon Chesterman's Just War or Just Peace: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law which chronicles the trend of the Security Council to authorize Chapter VII actions--those that are deemed threats to international peace and security, and he concludes:

"Central to most arguments in favour of a right of humanitarian intervention is a moral position that, in the face of atrocity, one cannot simply do nothing. . . . For the dichotomy of the just war or just peace is a false, misleading, and dangerous one. It is false in that it implies that humanitarian intervention is morally, if not legally, valid because the ends sought justify the means employed. . . . The dichotomy is misleading because it suggests that normative restraints currently prevent states from intervening on humanitarian grounds. Not only is there no evidence of such reluctance, precisely the contrary is true: states have demonstrated their willingness to intervene on any number of dubious bases--the question, rather, is whether a further and necessarily subjective legal basis should be given for future interventions. Finally, the dichotomy is dangerous because it obscures the fact that unilateral enforcement is not a substitute for but the opposite of collective action: as unilateral action assertions of humanitarianism come to displace multilateral institutional legality, so the normative restraints on the recourse to force weaken."[16] (emphasis his)

Chesterman is a lawyer and law professor, who doesn't need to live with the political consequences of either reacting to atrocity or having an enormous tragedy unfold on millions of television screens, and doing nothing. Yet his point is well made. He documents the various excuses (one cannot dignify them by calling them "reasons") that governments have put out there to justify the various military acts they have taken: the Reagan Doctrine of "democracy promotion", used to justify the invasion of Grenada and by George H. W. Bush in the invasion of Panama. "Democracy restoration" in the US intervention in Haiti. So-called humanitarian intervention elsewhere. The fact of the matter is, states are extremely reluctanct to deploy armed forces unless some perceived national interest is threatened. The problem is, with an international order in which the "realist" image of international relations dominates, there are altogether too many "valid" reasons to deploy in their perceived national interest. Countries are only too willing to do so. Chesterman's concise analysis chronicles the growth of UN activism I mention above, along with the disturbing trends of the Security Council's willingness to relinquish control of interventions to member states, and to retroactively endorse interventions (the NATO bombing in the FRY, for example) already unilaterally taken.

All of which accurately reflect the state of the UN and of international relations today. The United Nations remains an abused institution, asked to do much while the resources to undertake these tasks are only grudgingly given. It remains one forum out of many in which international power politics is played, with perhaps--only perhaps--more regard for humanitarian concerns than in other settings. The genocide in Rwanda was quite possibly preventable, even without military force. Des Forges makes the convincing point that the World Bank and IMF could have warned the Habyarimana government that the spigot was about to be shut off, and that his government, at least the wealthy akuza, might well have taken this to heart. For psycological, legal, political, bureaucratic, and moral reasons, this, and other fairly benign actions were never taken.

The Law Comes To Rwanda

"I once traveled into the field with Alison Des Forges, and somewhere along the road she asked our driver to stop. We got out and walked to the edge of a sewage pit. There, at the bottom, was a mass of human bones, the remains of dead Tutsis. Flies were buzzing all around us, the sun was shining with utter indifference. I wanted to remove them, these victims. . . . Frankly, I could not believe that the government had not already done so. During my next meetings with the prosecutor general and the minister of justice--even before I had raised the issue--both men informed me that exhuming the bones in that sewer was not possible. It would create, I was told, disorder in society. Exhumations and burials had gone on for years already, they said, and it was not necessary to do anymore. Rwanda, they said, was now looking toward the future. Rwanda, they said, needed a quietus."[17]

Perhaps the only answer is the oldest one of all: for good people to stand up and do what they can, both in defense of the right to ethnic expression through state soveriegnty and in support of individuals in need. And yet. . . .

The Responsibility To Protect initiative was, I believe, a well meaning attempt to come to terms with the conflicting priorities of national self-interest, state sovereignty, and the feeling that in the face of atrocity, not that something must be done, but that doing nothing is unacceptable. R2P is not an attempt to get around existing international law, in fact, R2P insists that the Security Council remain the sole source of the legitimate use of force in the world. It is rather, another step in a worldwide debate and attempt to come to a universal consensus over when humanitarian intervention may, if at all, be justified. However, we see even R2P perhaps unwisely invoked in a New York Times Op-ed piece titled, Turn North Korea Into a Human Rights Issue in which stronger action against a regime which is clearly uncaring of the well-being or, for that matter, the very survival of its own people. In the article, the Secretary-General is urged to place great emphasis on human rights and actively confront Kim Jong-il's regime, which is, in fact, brutal and has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its citizens. The writers do not call for greater confrontation with North Korea without precedent, for R2P explicitly allows for such an interventionist posture by the international community on the grounds that his regime is unwilling or unable to fulfill its sovereign responsibility to protect its own people.{18]

The authors?  Vaclav Havel, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and Elie Wiesel.


[1]transcript of Ghosts of Rwanda, FRONTLINE, 2004.
[4]Des Forges, Alison; Leave None to Tell the Story
[5]Habyarimana's party, the MRND [Mouvement Revolutionaire Nationale pour le Developpement], was part of the CDR [Coalition de Defense de la Republique], which was a broadbase multi-party coalition which grew to become the main expression of the "Hutu Power" movement. Within the MRND, there was rumored to be the akuza, the "little house," a small inner circle of wealthy Hutu elites centered around President Habyarimana's wife, who worked closely with the army and who pulled all the strings behind the scenes. Several akuza members, including the now widowed Mme. Habyarimana, were witnessed just after the start of the genocide, in high level government meetings and with army commanders.
[6]Power, Samantha. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2002.
[7]transcript of Ghosts of Rwanda, FRONTLINE, 2004.
[8]Power, pg 341.
[9]Power, pg 341.
[10]transcript of Ghosts of Rwanda, FRONTLINE, 2004.
[11]The Ghosts of Rwanda, FRONTLINE video, 2004.
[12]Barnett, Michael. Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002.
[13]Ibid., pg 31.
[14]Ibid., pg 35.
[15]Ibid., pg 34.
[16]Chesterman, Simon. Just War or Just Peace: Humanitarian Intervention and International Law. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.
[17]Del Ponte, Carla and Sudetic, Chuck. Madame Prosecutor: Confrontations with Humanity's Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity. New York, NY: Other Press, 2009.
[18]This illustrates perfectly the importance of media attention and political will in the humanitarian intervention debate. I find that I myself have no stomach for any military adventures on the Korean Peninsula. On the other hand, I fail to find any photographic or video depictions of the ordinary North Koreans starving on my television screen either, which I'm certain would provoke in me enough feelings of outrage that I could very well favor, or at least not oppose, a more confrontational stance to what I intellectually know is the regime of a madman. Make of it what you will, I'm only being honest about this.

Crossposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/5/41135/73230

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 03:11:38 AM EST
Fifteen years after Rwandan genocide, culprits still at large - Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source
Fifteen years after the Rwandan genocide, which saw the massacre of about 800 000 people, prosecutors say hundreds of suspected perpetrators are still at large.

They include many of those on the wanted list of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), presumed to be living under false identities in Belgium, Canada, France, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experts say.

Some are out in the open claiming political refugee status, as they are eyed with suspicion by families of the victims.

After the massacre of the Tutsi minority many Hutu militants fled the troops of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to neighbouring DRC, still holding on to their weapons.

Some, like Felicien Kabuga, who allegedly bankrolled the 1994 massacre, stayed in Kenya, which according to the ICTR, refuses to apprehend him.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 06:16:46 AM EST
By the time I finished writing this diary, my capacity for outrage was spent. Of course the culprits are still at large. Consider a few facts. The Rwandan genocide was largely carried out by people armed with machetes, knives and sometimes sticks. Furthemore, the Rwandan genocide even beat the Nazi Holocaust for the sheer numbers of people killed in so short a period of time. Rwanda is a nation of genocidaires; hundreds of thousands of them. (Thank you, France. We've no comparable word in English, and it is very useful to have.) Speaking of new words, not all of these people, including some leaders were enthusiastic about the killing, and many needed to be coerced into it. Kinyarwanda, with great irony, gives us a new word for this process: "kubohoza," meaning "to help liberate".

As a matter of law and justice, as a matter of social stability, the leaders should be found and brought to trial. At this point, this is for me mere housekeeping, part of cleaning up the mess afterward.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 11:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Breathtakingly outrageous and sad.

Des Forges once taught at my university, and her husband still teaches here, and she lived nearby.

She is a strong figure in all the literature that comes across my desk these days.

by Upstate NY on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 11:11:11 AM EST
I'd never heard of Des Forges before coming across "Leave None to Tell the Story," but after it, I noted her name everywhere. Evidently, she is central to our understanding of what happened there.

I wish I could fire off an email to thank her for that.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 11:33:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not an awful lot of traction, but this comment on dkos:
"but who could readall that....we all have had unreconized progreesive friends...let us move on"

at first dismissed, made me think a bit. There's very little context in my diary, and this was deliberate. I was aiming to be both immediate and poingant. But I note the omission and so let me share my reply to geeenmike, bad syntax and all:
"Generally I have no patience with people who refuse to read, but since I sometimes move on before finishing a post, your point is well taken. This isn't a "Limbaugh is a Moron" diary. There are more than enough of those. However, there is major disagreement worldwide about the worth of humanitarian intervention - of sending in troops to avert or stop the worst thing in the world, a genocide.

I've enormous respect for both Havel and Wiesel (never heard of Bondevik) yet here, I think they advocate a dangerous course. Witness North Korea's missile test. Their missile flew over Japan. Reckless doesn't begin to describe it.)

And we can't move on. The issue is with us still, and in recent weeks has begun to gain immediacy in Bosnia, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste. Two years from now, at the latest, there will be again war in Sudan. Khartoum knows it, and is already conducting a military buildup.

Someone lost their home due to this banking crisis? The Arctic ice sheet is disappearing? Polar bears are drowning? These are small potatos compared to the troubles we'll see in the developing world if sustained economic development fails to take hold in undeveloped countries and the dislocation of vast numbers of people resulting from a climactic driven loss of habitat occurs.

So what you propose is another "turning away," and that, I find, is absolutely unacceptable.

So read. There are important lessons to be learned from what happened then."

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Apr 6th, 2009 at 11:58:42 AM EST
In this context I think the most relevant information is that Bondevik founded the Oslo Center.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 05:30:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, thank google. I looked him up actually while writing this. Wikipedia said something to the effect that he was the only head of government to take a sick leave due to mental health reasons. Well. If that isn't a slap in the face to parliamentarians, unsupportive staff, etc., I don't know what is. Perhaps the slap was merited though.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Wed Apr 8th, 2009 at 10:20:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not norwegian, but the way it was reported in swedish media was more as a breakthrough for the status of mental illness. And as brave by Bondevik to admit his condition instead of hiding it as a physical illness.

It was not long ago when having a mental illness would destroy any political career, while Bondevik could take a sickleave for depression and return to his post.

In swedish media any background for the illness was not mentioned, perhaps our norwegian ETers probably has some more details.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 9th, 2009 at 04:16:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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