Rwanda’s Butchers: the Interahamwe and Former Rwandan Army

Special Report No 13

Military history will record the Interahamwe and allied Rwandan soldiers uniquely. Back in April 1994, they achieved a dramatic tactical success, while failing entirely in their strategic vision. When faced with having to share power both with a Tutsi guerrilla movement (RPF) and with moderate Hutu politicians, their leaders decided that if they could just eliminate both elements they could stay in power. Over the ensuing weeks, they and their followers successfully managed to kill about 800,000 people, including nearly all of Rwanda’s moderate Hutu political activists and at least half of the country’s then-resident Tutsi population. Yet, they still lost the war.

Today, the propensity of the surviving Interahamwe and former Rwandan Army elements to carry out seemingly irrational acts of terrorism should not be underestimated. Even before they embarked on genocide, these same forces were responsible for a wave of bombings of civilian markets as well as landmines left on rural roads. These killed mostly their own fellow Hutus in the cynical hope that Hutu survivors would blame these attacks on Tutsis.

Isolated now in the jungles of central Zaire, the Interahamwe and former Rwandan forces have nowhere to go. Collective starvation, like death from disease, is a palpable scenario. These forces are unlikely to allow any of the civilians still travelling with them to leave. And they still may have access to funds from radical supporters in the diaspora, and could use them to buy arms either through or from the Zairian Army. And unlike the latter, the Interahamwe and former Rwandan combatants now have nothing to lose by fighting.

The Interahamwe and their allies are well-supplied with small arms, including Kalashnikov, R-4 and Belgian FN assault rifles, FN MAG Belgian machine guns, RPG-7 grenade launchers, hand grenades, and mortars. These forces have also used landmines and South African No 2 mines modeled upon the US Claymore.

Central African Conflict: Rwanda and Burundi Sink into Abyss of a Long War

Nyamiagabe, Rwanda — Recent killings by Hutu rebels in Rwanda and Burundi, and retaliatory attacks by the Tutsi-dominated army in each country indicate that the combatants are digging in for protracted war.

Such a development would scuttle efforts by African leaders and international mediators to bring stability to the East Central African region and prevent widespread bloodletting.

In recent months, Hutu rebels in Burundi and Rwanda have begun making the successful transition from a conventional to an insurgent force, increasingly hiding among the local populations rather than returning to camps in Zaire after attacks, observers say.

They are battling Tutsis who control the government and military in both countries, yet make up only 15 percent of each country’s population. The rebels sometimes coordinate efforts from their respective bases across both countries’ borders in eastern Zaire.

Last month, Hutu rebels massacred more than 300 Tutsi civilians in Gitega province in the heart of Burundi, leading to a coup.

Amnesty International accused the Tutsi-led army of retaliating by killing more than 200 Hutu civilians in the same region during a military operation lasting several days.

Similarly in Rwanda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that Hutu rebels have killed more than 100 witnesses and other survivors of Hutu-led genocide in Cyangugu, Gisenyi and Ruhengeri provinces near the border with Zaire. In Gisenyi and Ruhengeri, the Tutsi-controlled army has killed at least 132 people suspected of supporting the rebels, the U.N. says.

“Civilians are completely caught in the middle,” said one international observer in Gisenyi. “If they report rebel activity, the rebels will kill them. And if they don’t, the government may kill them. ”

Most of the victims in Rwanda since 1990 have been Tutsis, although its president is a Hutu. More than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutus there in genocide that began in April 1994.

In Burundi, more than 150,000 Tutsis and Hutus have been killed since 1993, after Tutsi army officers assassinated the country’s first elected Hutu president.

The slaughter shows no sign of a letup as the rebel forces move from camps in Zaire to the provinces and assume the role of an insurgency. In recent months, Hutu rebels have infiltrated farther into each country, stoking Tutsi fears and cries for vengeance for the recent genocide, U.N. officials say.

More than 500,000 Tutsis who fled the Hutu regime in Rwanda have also returned, protected by an army of Tutsis that was unable to prevent the genocide against their brethren who never left Rwanda, but who, three frenzied months after it started, overthrew the Hutu government that was responsible for their deaths.

Changing their name from the Rwandan Patriotic Front guerrillas to the Rwandan Patriotic Army, these Tutsi fighters and their military commanders rule Rwanda today.

But deep distrust remains between the government and the governed.

A Tutsi going by the name “Francois” said he never left Rwanda and claimed to get along now with his Hutu and Tutsi neighbors.

As a truckload of soldiers drove by, toward Zaire and the site of recent fighting, Francois was asked what he thought of Rwanda’s new army.

“Bad,” he said in French, immediately raising his hands and extending his fingers as if he were holding a rifle: “They shoot too much. ”

And what about the Hutu rebels?

“No, I’m not with them,” he responded quietly without animation.

Hutus and Tutsis have a long history of enmity.

From the 16th century until independence, Tutsi kings and lords dominated the East Central African region, owning most of the land and cattle and treating the Hutu masses not unlike serfs in medieval Europe.

Tutsi kings had their own ways of dealing with resisters. One was to hang the genitals of their vanquished enemies on a symbol of divine power known as the Kalinga, or sacred drum.

Now the coals of hate are hot again.

People in the Mist

Well over six feet tall, Louis Nzeyimana has long arms and legs, a strong build and high cheekbones. A veterinary scientist who worked with Rwanda’s mountain gorillas until the country imploded in April, Nzeyimana is an obvious Tutsi, like the vast majority of the 300,000 to 500,000 Rwandans killed in recent months in this Central African nation. But he’s not. He’s a Hutu, generally shorter than Tutsis, but not always. In the madness of Rwanda, Nzeyimana’s Tutsi-like features made him a marked man by his own people, as Hutu government soldiers and rampaging militia men set out to kill anyone remotely resembling a Tutsi.

He was in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, on April 6 when the country blew up with its president, Juvenal Habyarimana, shot down by Hutu extremists in a palace coup. While gunfire and screams filled the air and tens of thousands of corpses stacked the streets, Nzeyimana and his family hid inside their home for 10 days. When he finally got permission to leave the country, he had to drive through a gauntlet of roadblocks where his Tutsi looks put him at the mercy of every gun-toting soldier and goon squad. It was only a 60-mile trip to the Zairean border, but he had to go through 65 checkpoints. At each one, soldiers sticking rifles and machetes in his face demanded to see the governor’s writ of safe passage and the apartheid-like identity card that all Rwandans are required to carry.

“We had to give the identification cards every time,” says Nzeyimana, safe for now in Gloucester, England. His card, like his wife’s, is stamped “Hutu.” His trip was three days of Russian roulette, never knowing which lunatic might not buy his story. The last few roadblocks before Zaire were the most difficult, soldiers scrutinizing his papers incredulously. “I look like a Tutsi,” he admits, still shaken from the ordeal.

Nzeyiniana, who has a Ph.D in Veterinary Science, was the first Rwandan scientist hired by the Karisoke Research Center, which was set up by Dian Fossey, the American researcher, to protect Rwanda’s few remaining mountain gorillas. Fossey’s exploits, portrayed in the film Gorillas in the Mist, brought worldwide fame to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. The gorillas became a prime adventure tourism attraction and an international cause. But the people in the rnist — just as endangered by war, poverty and starvation — were ignored. A year before Rwanda’s present crisis broke out, a dominant male silverback named Mrithi was killed during fighting between the (Hutu) Rwandan army and the (Tutsi) Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The gorilla’s death attracted headlines, but there was no mention of the fact that one out of eight people had been displaced by the civil war at that time, eight of nine Rwandans were poor and one of eight were on the verge of starving. It took a slaughter of apocalyptic proportions for Rwanda’s people to finally receive more attention than its gorillas.

The upheaval began on April 6 when the plane carrying President Habyarimana was shot down near Kigali airport, precipitating a killing frenzy in the nation. “I was at home when it started,” says Nzeyimana. “Some friends called at midnight to say the president’s plane had been shot down. At 5 a.m. the shooting started.”

According to Belgium’s Foreign Minister, William Claes, Belgian troops saw who did it. The rocket that struck the plane came from the area of the Kanombe army base on the eastern border of Kigali airport; farther east are the Presidential Guard headquarters. The Presidential Guard was created by a group of men known, in Kinyarwanda, as the Akazu or “Little House” around the president.

President Habyarimana was a Hutu like them. But more moderate, he had agreed to share power with both Hutu opposition leaders, led by interim Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, and Tutsi RPF guerrillas. in Rwanda (and neighboring Burundi), Hutu are an 85 percent majority, while there were an estimated 800,000 Tutsi in Rwanda.

At five in the morning, a Presidential Guard unit came looking for Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana at her home. She was being guarded by 10 U.N. peacekeepers from Belgium, but it didn’t matter. Uwilingiyimana and three of the peacekeepers were found three blocks away, shot down. A Canadian general found the remaining peacekeepers at Kanombe army base, hacked to death by machete.

The vast majority of victims, however, were Tutsi. Months before the bloodbath, Radio de Milles Collines in Kigali, controlled by the Little House, had incited Hutu listeners against Tutsi: “The grave is half full, who is going to fill it up?” Such taunting fanned Hutus’ historical fear and resentment of Tutsis. Their Mwami kings had ruled over Hutus from the 16th century until this one. While Tutsi comprised the ruling class and owned most of Rwanda’s cattle, the Hutus lived under them as subsistence farmers, like serfs in Europe.

Radio propaganda also reminded Hutu listeners of how they were treated by Belgium, which governed Rwanda as a colonial protectorate from 1917 until its independence in 1962. Belgium’s policy was explicitly racist, educating only the sons of Tutsi. Because the two ethnic groups were often hard to tell apart, Belgian authorities also instituted apartheid-like identity cards that were stamped Tutsi, Hutu or Twa (pygmies, about one percent of the population), still in use today.

But by 1959, Hutus began to revolt and kill Tutsi, with bloodshed continuing for another five years. Philosopher Bertrand Russell called the overthrow and its aftermath “the most horrible and systematic massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.” Historian Alison Des Forges, one of the most quoted experts on Central Africa, believes that up to 20,000 Tutsis perished — a fraction of the present death toll.

Pogroms against Tutsi continued, with the worst massacres in 1990. While the Rwanda army fought the RPF guerrillas, Rwanda’s Hutu leaders directed the slaughter of a few thousand Tutsi civilians. The situation was aggravated further by the abundant supply of arms available to both sides in the war, with hardware flooding Rwanda from around the world. While Uganda armed the RPF, France backed Rwanda’s government, providing weapons, in addition to financing its ability to buy even heavier equipment from Egypt. South Africa also sold Rwanda arms. Much of the weaponry, including hand grenades and automatic rifles, was used this April when Rwanda’s present crisis began.

Within 10 minutes of the president’s plane going down, militiamen known as the Interahamwe or “Those Who Attack Together” began to set up roadblocks in Kigali, and later on all roads leading out of the capital. They slaughtered Tutsi men, women and children and anyone suspected of being one. What was the point of all this carnage? By murdering the Hutu opposition and exterminating the Tutsi as a people, the Little House sought to eliminate all their enemies and to form a pan-Hutu alliance against Tutsi. In particular, they sought to renew the war between the primarily Hutu army and the Tutsi RPF guerrillas, hoping that the Rwandan army, with French backing, would win. But France closed its embassy in Kigali the day that RPF forces began to attack the capital. Six weeks later, the RPF was in control of Kigali airport and the Kanombe army base, while Tutsi guerrillas were photographed lounging triumphantly on late President Habyarimana’s bed.

While the Little House’s plan fell short of its goal concerning the RPF, it did succeed in murdering nearly all of Rwanda’s Hutu opposition leaders along with their spouses and children, and in wiping out perhaps a quarter, perhaps half, of Rwanda’s resident Tutsi population. Even in a world accustomed to wholesale violence, the speed and brutality of Rwanda’s bloodletting has few parallels in modern times.

Beyond politics, the underlying tension that drives hatred between Hutus and Tutsis is the struggle over land. The most densely populated nation in the world, Rwanda is the size of Maryland with a population density just shy of New Jersey. Although the Parc National des Volcans, the gorillas’ habitat, is relatively small with less than 30,000 acres, its rich, black topsoil is among the most fertile in the country.

Within the park, there are about 325 mountain gorillas that sometimes travel into Zaire, with another 320 living in a park in Uganda. But all of them are crowded and live in a closed, genetic pool. And for people living around gorilla habitats, there is not one acre of land to spare. “It’s the same ecosystem,” Nzeyimana told me in Kigali in June, 1993 during a tense cease-fire in the civil war. “In the long-term, to protect the gorillas, we have to find a balance between them and people.”

Dian Fossey recognized the same problem in her autobiography, published in 1983. “The fertile soil adjacent to the park contains 780 inhabitants per square mile,” she wrote. “The people freely cross back and forth into the park to collect wood, set illegal traps for antelope [which sometimes catch gorillas by mistake, especially infants, who often die from gangrene in their wounds], collect honey from wild bee hives, graze cattle, and plant plots of potatoes and tobacco. Encroachment upon this terrain may be responsible for the mountain gorilla becoming one of the seven or so other rare species both discovered and extinct within the same century.”

But unlike Nzeyimana, Fossey’s solution was force. She helped create a team of park guards to keep people out. In addition to using them against families living around the park, Fossey also employed them as frontline troops in a heroic campaign against gorilla poachers, who sold captured infants to zoos, and murdered adults for trophies. In 1985, she was murdered for her efforts. The order came from a Little House official who had been involved in poaching, Rwandan army officers say. But while the film depicts Fossey’s murder as the product of an ongoing struggle with gorilla poachers, the fact is that she was killed after she won an outright victory. By 1984, as a result of Fossey’s efforts, the market for direct gorilla poaching had been entirely wiped out.

Dr. Nzeyimana is no fan of Fossey, who advocated force against gorilla poachers and impoverished Rwandans alike. “For many years, they tried to stop the invasion of the park by people, but it’s not possible,” he said. The best method is to educate people about conservation.”

With millions of people dead, dying or starving now, the situation has grown far more critical. But even before the present crisis, many Rwandans resented what they saw as the West’s disproportionate concern for primate preservation. “We have eight million people here,” said an aid worker a year ago in Kigali, “and all you Americans care about are those damn gorillas.” Now, desperate just to survive, Rwandans have little, if any, reason to support efforts to save the mountain gorilla.

The world, slow to act before and during the cataclysm, has lost its credibility with Rwandans, and, to a large degree, so has the Karisoke Center. Nzeyimana says it’s time for a new direction that fully takes into account the issues that created Rwanda’s crisis. To help both people and gorillas, Nzeyimana says education must replace force as a way to encourage people to stay out of the park. But to make it work, education must be coupled with incentive and human development projects. “The people must be convinced that the gorillas are a valuable resource they can count on.”

Despite his harrowing escape, Nzeyimana is anxious to return to his work in Rwanda. But after the horrors of recent months, it’s unclear what he would be returning to. The question remains whether the Karisoke Center will continue to use Nzeyimana to merely educate Rwandans, or also support his proposals for human development. “This is definitely a new area for us,” says Craig Cummings of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund that raises money for the Karisoke Center, by telephone from London. “But it is essential to the overall program.”

If there’s any lesson that can be drawn from the horrors of Rwanda, it’s that there are endangered people as well as animals and habitats. Ignoring Rwanda’s human needs will lead to more tragedy, says Nzeyimana, and the guarantee of a quick extinction for the mountain gorilla.”

The Horror: Rwanda, a history lesson

Original article can be found here.

For most of the world, Rwanda’s dark spasm of violence seemed to come out of nowhere. It didn’t. Though the bloodiness of the killing fields is unprecedented, the country, at least in its post-colonial existence, has been subject to a number of massacres: some took place more than thirty years ago; others occurred just last year.

In any analysis of Rwanda’s tortured modern history, all roads lead to Belgium, which governed the East-Central African country as a protectorate after Germany’s defeat in World War I. Until the late 1950s Belgium allied itself with the minority Tutsi, who had ruled over the rival Hutu for centuries. Since Rwanda’s independence in 1962, Belgian officials claim to have pursued a policy of neutrality; Rwanda’s Hutu leadership disagrees. They accuse Belgium of playing a role in the April death of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparked the current fighting. Hutu-controlled Radio des Milles Collines in Kigali has gone so far as to claim that Belgian troops shot down the president’s plane. According to The Washington Post, Belgian peacekeepers were in such danger of attack that they stripped their uniforms of Belgium’s flag-patch and “traveled in undershirts so they could be mistaken for French.”

For Belgium, Rwanda has never been much of a prize. “In the darkest days of World War I,” Time magazine reported in 1959, “about the only consolation that fell to the Belgians was the capture in Africa of two small and scenically beautiful German territories”: Rwanda and Burundi. Belgium ruled “Rwanda and Burundi through a master tribe of willowy African giants named the Watutsis. The Watutsis had been for four centuries the lords of the Land of the Mountains of the Moon, and there seemed little reason why they should not continue to be so.”

Nomadic pastoralists, the Tutsi did not come in a sudden invasion to the area southwest of Lake Victoria, but slowly in search of land to graze cattle on. The Hutu were already there farming the same land. By the sixteenth century the Tutsi monarchy was established. The Mwami king was said to be the eye of God: his children were born in the heavens but, by accident, had fallen to earth. The king’s symbol of divine power was the kalinga, or sacred drum, upon which the genitals of vanquished enemies were hung. The Tutsi dynasty lasted eighteen generations. “They are proud, sophisticated and not particularly energetic. Several times we saw Watutsi lords sitting on bicycles and being pushed by their Vassals,” wrote historian John Gunther in 1953. “‘They value women highly, almost as highly as cattle and live on milk and peas.”

Although Tutsi and Hutu have distinct origins as people, with time they came to speak the same language, Kinyarwanda. They also evolved into different classes of the same society. According to historian Alison Des Forges, the Hutu and Tutsi were not so much “tribes or even ethnic groups [but] … amorphous categories based on occupation: Hutu were cultivators and Tutsi, pastoralists.” The distinction had much to do with status: a rich Hutu who owned cattle could become a recognized Tutsi, while a Tutsi who lost cattle could wind up being labeled Hutu. But it also had to do with physical appearance: unlike Hutu, Tutsi tend to be tall, with high cheekbones and sharp facial features. “They are not Negroes even though they may be jet black,” wrote Gunther. “In any case, tallness is the symbol of racial exclusiveness and pure blood.”

In governing the Rwanda protectorate, Belgium’s policy was explicitly racist. Early in its mandate, Belgium declared: “The government should endeavor to maintain and consolidate traditional cadres composed of the Tutsi ruling class, because of its important qualities, its undeniable intellectual superiority and its ruling potential.” Belgium instituted apartheid-like identity cards, which marked the bearer as Tutsi, Hutu, or twa (pygmy). And Belgium educated only male Tutsi.

Schooling for Hutus was generally undertaken by private Catholic missions. Eventually, “the Hutus began to counter Tutsi notions of superiority with a Christian-based liberation movement. This trend was given further impetus by the growing African demand for independence from Europe. By 1957 the Hutu began to organize politically. Fearful. Rwanda’s Tutsi rulers wanted Belgium to give them autonomy quickly, before they lost control.

The Tutsi were too late. In 1959 the Hutu rose up in rebellion. Time reported: “Though the Muhutus left the Watutsi women and children alone, they showed no mercy to the males: those they did not kill they maimed by chopping off their feet. They put banana plantations to the torch, set dozens of villages afire, left some helpless old people to burn to death in their own huts.”

From then until 1964, it only got worse. The philosopher Bertrand Russell described the Hutu rebellion as “the most horrible and systematic massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.” According to Des Forges, as many as 20,006 Tutsis perished. An estimated 150,000 Tutsi exiles — known as Banyarwanda — fled to Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zaire. Most went to Uganda, where they suffered under the tyranny of Milton Obote and Idi Amin.

This repression eventually drove some Banyarwanda to join a guerrilla movement started in 1981 by Yoweri Museveni, a former defense minister under Obote. At least 2,000 Banyarwanda, including a tall Rwandan by the name of Paul Kagame, fought with him. After five years of fighting, Museveni and his men took power. Over time at least 2,000 more Banyarwanda joined Uganda’s army. In October 1990 these Banyarwanda, with Museveni’s silent blessing, declared themselves members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and, with Ugandan weapons, invaded Rwanda. (Uganda insists the weapons were stolen.) At the time of the invasion Kagame was Uganda’s military intelligence chief, he now commands the RPF.

Until the RPF invaded in 1990, Belgium had been Rwanda’s main provider of military assistance and training. But Belgium is unique among former colonial states in that its laws now prohibit it from providing lethal aid to a country at war. After Rwanda’s war started Belgium continued to provide boots, uniforms and training, but no arms. Consequently, President Habyarimana turned to France, which had signed military cooperation pacts with most of Africa’s twenty-one Francophone regimes. (Because Rwanda is an ex-Belgian protectorate, French is an official language along with Kinyarwanda.) Spurred on by the fact that the RPF was English-speaking and backed by English-speaking Uganda, France rushed in weapons, munitions, paratroopers and advisers to keep Rwanda’s government from falling.

While France helped the predominately Hutu Rwandan army repel the 1990 invasion. Rwanda’s hard-line Hutu leaders responded by overseeing the killing of Tutsi civilians. Although fighting was limited to northern Rwanda, soldiers staged a battle in Kigali and used it as a pretext to arrest up to 8,000 people, mostly Tutsi. There were beatings, rapes and murders. Rwandan intelligence distributed Kalashnikovs to municipal authorities in selected villages. They gathered with ruling party militants, most of whom carried staves, clubs or machetes. Sometimes holding cardboard placards of Habyarimana’s portrait above their heads, they went field-to-field in search of Tutsi, killing thousands.

Of course, the RPF wasn’t innocent. An international human rights commission report found them responsible for abuses, including executions of up to several hundred Hutu civilians and military prisoners. In response, supposedly pro-Tutsi Belgium withdrew its Ambassador, Johan Swinnen for two weeks in March 1993. “When I returned we put pressure on [all sides] to react to the report,” he said last June in Kigali, “because the future of the country … depends on it.”

At the same time, however, France continued to defend the Hutu regime. “Civilians were killed as in any war,” said Col. Bernard Cussac. France’s ranking military commander in Kigali. Ambassador Jean-Michel Marlaud was more diplomatic. “There are violations by the Rwandan army,” he said. “[But] more because of a lack of control by, the government rather than the will of the government.” But Belgian officials said that the French were undermining collective diplomatic efforts to influence the regime. “If they would only use their military presence as a lever.” said one. “I would like to see them take a more outspoken policy on democracy and human rights.” France never did

Nevertheless, two months later, in August 1993, President Habyarimana and RPF Commander Kagame signed an agreement to end the war. Habyarimana had already begun to share power with Hutu leaders outside his party. Until then he had run the country with a small group of men, most of whom were related to either him or his wife. Known as the Akazu or “Little House” (as in: the house that surrounded the president), these men controlled the elite Presidential Guard and Radio des Milles Collines. When Habyarimana let opposition members into his Cabinet in 1992, the Little House countered by forming militias called Interahamwe, or “Those Who Attack Together” and Impuzamugambi, or “Those Who Have the Same Goal.”

Soon after, several Hutu opposition leaders were assassinated and terrorist attacks became common. Bombs exploded in public markets, land mines were placed on roads away from fighting. Though no group ever claimed responsibility, all non-French Western diplomats in Kigali suspected the Little House. “We told them it is in your interest to respect human rights,” said one Belgian diplomat, “and if you don’t, we will not be silent.”

France and Radio des Milles Collines, however, blamed the RPF. Col. Cussac said his staff had traced the serial numbers of land mines used in attacks to Belgium, which had sold them to Libya, which in turn had sold them to the RPF. Cussac said Belgium could verify these facts. Belgian officials in Kigali declined comment, referring the query to the Belgian Foreign Ministry in Brussels. There, its spokesman, Ghislain D’Hoop, said that Belgium had sold no land mines to Libya in decades.

In Rwanda now, Belgium and France are even more at odds. Belgium’s foreign minister, William Claes, says Habyarimana was killed by Hutu extremists upset at his liberalizations. The rocket that struck his plane came from the Kanombe army base just east of the Kigali airport; further east are the Presidential Guard headquarters. In April, Paris received two of the “extremists,” Brussels denied them visas.

After the president’s plane went down, one of the first things Hutu Presidential Guard soldiers did was come looking for Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, also a Hutu. Hours later, Uwilingiyimana and three of the peacekeepers were found three blocks away, shot dead. A few hours later, at the Kanombe army base, a Canadian general found the remaining seven peacekeepers. They had been hacked to death by machete.

Belgians are upset at their loss of men in Rwanda, and many blame France. They have a point. In arming the Hutu government, France pursued its own linguistic vision while ignoring Rwanda’s history; along with Tutsi and Hutu victims, Belgium paid the price. “Is there tension now;” repeated Brig. Gen. Andre Desmet by telephone from the Belgian Embassy in Washington. “I will be very cautious in the answer.” He paused. ‘There are maybe different approaches.”

Frank Smyth is the author of Arming Rwanda, a Human Rights Watch/Arms Project report.