By Georgianne Nienaber
The “International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda and the Surrounding Events” was created by the Organization of African Unity and met in 1998. In its report one can find 157 references to France and its cozy relationship with the Hutu regime. As noted here in the report:
“Like the rapid deployment of national evacuation forces, the sudden availability of thousands of troops for Operation Turquoise, after DPKO [UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations] had been attempting for over a month to find troops to expand UNAMIR II, exposed the varying levels of political will to commit personnel in Rwanda. The Inquiry finds it unfortunate that the resources committed by France and other countries to Operation Turquoise could not instead have been put at the disposal of UNAMIR II.
General Dallaire was furious and frustrated about Operation Turquoise. In June 1994 he wrote a very long cable (23 pages) to the UN in New York detailing the conflicts that would arise between UNAMIR and Operation Turquoise. As usual, Dallaire was ignored.
It is our assessment that the French led initiative both by the way it has been launched politically and in its naive future operations on the ground, has already over the last few days, significantly undermined the months of determined and courageous work accomplished by this mission (UNAMIR).
Samantha Power, now the US Ambassador to the UN, wrote about Operation Turquoise in her 2002 book, “A Problem From Hell.” Power terms France “perhaps the least appropriate country to intervene because of its warm relationship with the genocidal Hutu regime.” She goes on to say that killings of Tutsis continued in the French protected zone (Operation Turquoise); and, “when the Hutus moved their Radio Mille Collines transmitter into the area, French forces seized neither the hate-propagating equipment nor the individuals responsible for orchestrating the genocide.”
Amidst all of this inaction by France to stop the killing, Ladsous was France’s number two at the UN. Yet, in the volumes that have been written about France and its culpability, his name is conspicuously absent from just about every report, analysis, and investigation into the genocide. Still, he was in position at the UN to know about all of these events. Is this a result of document shredding cited by Melvern? Did France try to keep Ladsous’s hands clean?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press has uncovered a document written by Ladsous in 1994. Ladsous is found “bragging how he refuted — falsely — that the Zone was being used as base for military and political (Radio RTML) attacks,” writes Lee.
In fact, Ladsous was more concerned about a safe zone for members of the ruling party that unleashed the genocide.
(translation) According to the department’s instructions, I asked an immediate meeting of Security Council on Rwanda in which I presented the project of Presidential Declaration of cease fire without conditions as it was issued with the department. I therefore talked about the eventual problem of secured refuge for the old Rwandan Government’s members in the Humanitarian’s Zone and asked the Security Counsel to pay high attention to the risk of the change of the nature of that zone. Finally I used that opportunity to refute allegations that our zone was used as a point of military and Political (Radio) against the RPF.
Recall Samantha Power and others who maintained that the “safe zone” of Operation Turquoise continued to be a killing field against Tutsis and that the hate broadcast tower of Radio Mille Collines was relocated there.
The previously classified cable uncovered by Inner City Press catches Ladsous in a lie.
In a another letter to the Security Council, Ladsous includes the text (translated from French here) of a leaflet dropped from airplanes, assuring them “to fear not; the French army watches over your safety.”
NOTICE TO THE PEOPLE OF RWANDA
You are now in the safe humanitarian zone, protected by French I’armee.
Don’t move. Stay there, humanitarian aid will reach you. Fear not, the French army watches over your safety.
Yet, as documented above, the killing continued in the “safe zone” of Operation Turquoise, and the hate broadcasts went on and on and on.
Chris McGreal writes in the Guardian:
The true nature of Operation Turquoise was laid bare by events in the hills of Bisesero in the western province of Kibuye. Even after French soldiers arrived, the governor of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, led militia attacks in the hills to kill Tutsis who had survived the slaughter of about 21,000 people, a slaughter he had organised in local churches and stadiums. The French commander in Kibuye, Captain Marin Gillier, took the attitude that Kayishema was the legal authority and chose to believe the governor when he said the Tutsis in the hills were armed rebels even though the front line with the RPF was about 50km away.
Hundreds more innocents were murdered before Gillier finally ventured into the hills. When he did, he recognised that the Tutsis there were not rebels and were armed only with sticks and bows and arrows to defend themselves. Many were starving, others severely wounded.
Ladsous’s obfuscations are also preserved in a transcript of the 3368th meeting of the Security Council at 9:35 p.m. on April 21, 1994. Despite the massive influx of arms and ammunition to the Hutu government of Rwanda in the years leading up to the 1994 genocide; despite documented training of youth militias and the Interahamwe by French forces; and despite drug and arms trafficking by the French at Kigali’s airport, Ladsous stood before a Thursday late evening meeting of the Security Council and had the audacity to say “France is dismayed by the scale of the violence.” Of course the blame was placed squarely on Dallaire’s ill-fated command of UNAMIR and the Rwandans, who “had several days to conclude a cease-fire.”
As noted here, Ladsous argued for the gutting of UNAMIR.
The United Nations gave the Rwandese parties several days to conclude a cease-fire, which would have allowed UNAMIR to carry out the mandate given to it by Resolution 872 (993).
Unfortunately, there is still no cease-fire, and the Security Council was therefore compelled to reconsider the conditions for UNAMIR’s presence, reducing it to a minimal level. We hope that the Rwandese parties will come to their senses (emphasis added) and realize that the United Nations can neither take their place nor impose peace on them.
Come to their senses.
After this meeting the Security Council fulfilled France’s wish, and passed resolution 912 to withdraw most of the UNAMIR peacekeepers from Rwanda.
Come to their senses. Someone should.
Ladsous did not explain that France underwrote the $6 million dollar arms deal for six D-30 122mm towed guns (with 3000 shells), 50 60mm and 20 82mm mortars (with 10,000 shells), over 6000 shells for 120-mm mortars, 2,000 RPG-7 anti-tank rockets, 2000 MAT-79 anti-personnel landmines, 450 Egyptian made Kalashnikov rifles, 200 kg of plastic explosives, and over 3.2 million rounds of ammunition. See Human Rights Watch Report (Appendices A3 and A4), and T he Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
And this deal was just the tip of an arms flow iceberg that inevitably exploded.
Come to their senses.
Perhaps it is time that the international community comes to its collective senses and asks, “Who is the shadowy Herve Ladsous?” Why has he consistently been at the helm of international “peacekeeping” for France during some of the darkest moments in racially tinged international “diplomacy?”
How culpable is Ladsous in the escalating tensions in central Africa that are now opening old wounds that can traced directly back to his tenure as number two at the United Nations during the worst genocidal killings in modern history?
Are we to believe the words on the leaflets dropped over the bleached bones of up to one million Tutsi corpses during Operation Turquoise?
“Fear not. The French army watches over your safety.”
Why is the international community silent after Congo’s army, working with the UN, targeted the village of Rumangabo saying it was a key site for rebels? Why do we ignore a civilian spokesman for the rebels, Kabasha Amani, who accused the army of targeting civilians, saying three children were among those killed? See this story.
Why is the United States sending drones to the UN peacekeepers under Ladsous while the UN is silent about the Congolese Army’s (FARDC) monstrous corpse desecrations of M23 rebel casualties, and rapes last year of 102 women and 33 girls, some as young as six, in Minova byUS-trained Congolese troops?
Is it about time that the international community comes to its senses and removes the bloody pen of dishonesty from the hands of France?
Posted by Tom Ndahiro