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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Rwanda 94, le crime avait été annoncé

by Jean Chatain

Rwanda 1994 : A Foretold Genocide

“I am preparing the apocalypse,” the genocide planner had boasted

Translated Monday 6 April 2009, by Isabelle Métral

Fifteen years ago, even as the Tutsis were exterminated, Hutu democrats were assassinated.

General Bagosora has appealed his recent conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for planning the genocide. Yet early in 1993 the main author of the carnage had said “he was preparing the apocalypse”...

Hatched by a central power that had been confronted with the rebellion led by the FPR (Rwanda’s patriotic front) since October 1990, all but openly announced two months earlier in the magazine la Médaille Nyiramacibiri (“By the way, the Tutsi race might be eliminated,” the headline ran), the genocide was unleashed in Kigali on April 7, 1994 and quickly swept the whole country. Streets were blocked by the “Hutu power” militias the night before, even as the plane that carried President Juvénal Habyarimana, accompanied by his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira, crashed and all the passengers died. During the following night, Uno’s special envoy Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh was paid an impromptu visit by Colonel Théoneste Bagosora: “Don’t worry, it’s a putsch, but we’re in perfect control of the situation…”

Immediately after the plane attack, “interahamwe” militias (“those that fight together”) set up multiple ”gates” on the strategic thoroughfares, where passers-by were compelled to show their documents, which –so the Belgians had decided- showed their ethnic identity. Those that were specified as Tutsis were put to death, men, women and children. Simultaneously, killer commandos who had been given lists broke into the dwellings of democratic Hutu militants: members of the transition government, following the August 1993 Arusha accords supposed to facilitate the country’s democratization, set up association leaders, declared candidates to elections that were put off as soon as they were announced; all were assassinated, and with them, more often then not, their families.

On the morning of April 7, the targeted murders went on: presidential guards killed two opposition candidates to the transition Assembly presidency, the president of the constitutional court, the transition government’s Hutu prime minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and delivered the ten Belgian blue helmets in charge of her protection to public lynching. These political assassinations were immediately swept up in the mad flood of “ethnic” blood: the madness lasted three months and caused a million deaths in the population that had the “Tutsi” label on their documents.

These massacres were in no way spontaneous. They had been prepared by an intensive campaign in the press and especially on the radio, a campaign meant to condition ordinary Hutu citizens (for murder), then to disseminate orders during the genocide itself. The slogan hammered by RTLM (the thousand hills’ free television and radio broadcasting corporation) ran like this: “There is still room to spare in the graves. Who’s ready to do a good job and help us fill them up?”

Colonel Bagasora has appealed his recent conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for “planning” the genocide. He will find it difficult to wipe out of memory the angry warning he delivered in front of newspaper men who were questioning him on his abrupt departure from Arusha on January 8, even though the peace negotiations between the government and the Front had just started: I am going back home “to prepare the apocalypse,” he exclaimed. Colonel Bagosora is an alumnus of the French War College.

Another verbal outburst occurred after the defeat of the genocide camp: as he was questioned in Goma (in what used to be Mobutu’s Zaire) by the French TV team of a documentary program “La Marche du siècle” (this century’s march), the same Bagosora defied his interlocutor to present to him “the people he had killed”. As the dumbfounded reporter asked how he could possibly do that, the furious racist genocide planner completely lost control of himself: “So you’ve been paid as well?... I’ve had enough! Some day you’ll die too… Don’t ever flout me again!” The program was broadcast on the French France 3 public channel on September 23, 1994.

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