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< Turning Points

Warnings of Catastrophe: Part II


Documents 1–5: Summaries and Links

Document 1 (French)

Document 1 (English)

Date: October 24, 1990
To: French Foreign Ministry
From: [French Ambassador to Rwanda Georges] Martres and [French military attaché] Rene Galinie
Subject: Assessment of the Political Situation

Writing in the aftermath of an invasion of Rwanda by Tutsi-led rebels based in Uganda, Georges Martres, the French ambassador to Rwanda, warns of a political and military backlash by the country’s Hutu majority. He believes that any attempt to restore a Tutsi-dominated regime in Rwanda, such as existed prior to the colonial era, could lead to the “physical elimination” of the country’s Tutsi minority—of between 500,000 and 700,000 people. A longtime French-Africa hand, he frequently expresses opinions that reflect the views of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Document 2

Date: September 18, 1992
To: All African Diplomatic Posts
From: Secretary of State [drafted by Rick Ehrenreich]
Subject: INR African Trends

In a lengthy analysis of the situation in Rwanda, an analyst for the US State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) predicts that Hutu chauvinists might be tempted to play the “genocide card” in response to military threats from Tutsi-led exiles. He mentions the “threat of genocidal violence” as a possible outcome of the Rwanda crisis despite the conclusion of the Arusha peace agreement.

Document 3

Date: August 11, 1993
From: United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights
Rapporteur: Bacre W. Ndiaye
Title: Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions [in Rwanda]

A UN human rights official notes that Tutsis inside the country are being targeted “solely because of their membership of a certain ethnic group,” which could qualify as “genocide” under the terms of the Geneva Convention. The report by Bacre Ndiaye chronicles a series of massacres committed against the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, apparently with Rwandan government support, in the wake of military advances by the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Document 4

Date: February 14, 1994
To: [Kofi] Annan, United Nations, New York
From: [Jacques-Roger] Booh-Booh, UNAMIR, Kigali
Subject: Letter from Foreign Minister of Belgium

In this message, relayed to UNAMIR commander Roméo Dallaire by the UN Secretariat, Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes warns that UNAMIR may find it impossible to fulfill its mission unless it is given greater authority. He warns that the continuation of the political stalemate could result in “an irreversible explosion of violence.”

Document 5

Date: February 17, 1994
To: [US] Secretary of State
From: US Embassy Kigali [Ambassador David Rawson]
Subject: The Military and the Transition to Peace

In a dispatch analyzing the mood in the Rwandan army, the US ambassador to Kigali raises the possibility of a military coup, by either Hutu nationalists or the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front. He adds, however, that “serious evidence” of a planned coup is lacking.

Next: Documents 6–10