by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News broadcast April 24, 2016
The Rwandan Genocide is commemorated in Rwanda and at the United Nations as “the genocide against the Tutsi.” However, there is ample evidence that hundreds of thousands of Hutus, as well as Tutsis, died in the Rwandan massacres.
KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: On April 7, the Rwandan government began to produce events to reinforce the Rwandan government’s official, constitutionally codified and legally enforced account of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, as it does every year. These events continue for a hundred days, from April 7 into the first week of June and take place around the world, including one here in the East Bay city of Antioch.
The New Times of Rwanda, one of several state sanctioned media outlets, reports that a monument has been built on the banks of the River Nyabarongo “in memory of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis who were dumped into the waters.” KPFA’s Ann Garrison reports that the story is disputed with evidence that the victims were actually Hutus rather than Tutsis.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Rwanda’s Nyabarongo River is the largest tributary to the Kagera River that carried the massacred Rwandan refugees’ bodies into Lake Victoria in Uganda in 1994. Peter Erlinder, former National Lawyers Guild president and former defense counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, quotes the Prutsalis Report produced for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as evidence that the truth of this story is not that now commemorated by a monument in Rwanda.
Peter Erlinder: Let me quote from the Prutsalis Report to UNHCR. He said: “The RPF came and called for a ‘peace meeting.’ Those who did not participate voluntarily were forced to the meeting. At the school people were tied together three by three – men, women, children – and stabbed. The bodies were put on trucks and thrown into the Kagera River, north of the Rusumo Bridge.”
These reports were received in areas that the RPF was occupying early in the war, and in the areas that they occupied in the eastern part of Rwanda. Now in addition to that, Prutsalis also wrote that “the RPF” – his quote now – “comes at five o’clock in the morning, waiting for villagers to open their doors. Villagers are caught and taken away to the river by trucks. No one has ever returned. Refugees of the area have seen people being tied together and thrown into the river. It seems as if guns are only used if somebody tries to escape.”
Now these bodies floating in the Kagera River many people will remember from the terrible visuals of the Rwandan Genocide, but those visions of the bodies floating in the river were said to be Tutsi bodies. But we now know, because of these UNHCR reports that were made public during the U.N. trial, that those actually were Hutu bodies.
KPFA: The Prutsalis Report was, as Erlinder said, presented as evidence at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, and it is included in Erlinder’s book, “The Accidental Genocide,” a compendium of evidentiary documents.
Remigius Kintu of the Ugandan Democratic Coalition also confirms that the bodies that floated down the river into Uganda were in fact those of Hutu victims:
Remigius Kintu: The Hutus who were trying to escape the slaughter had three options, either to go down south into Burundi, or to go east into Tanzania, or to go into Congo through Goma. Now the ones who ran into Tanzania, they were met at the bridge, and then the Hutu – the Hutus who were trying to flee into Tanzania – were captured by the Tutsi forces which had already captured that territory, who dumped them in the river.
And these are the people who floated down the river into Lake Victoria and Uganda. And then Paul Kagame and Museveni and their benefactors outside paraded these dead bodies as “these are the Tutsis who have been killed by the Hutus” when it is the other way around.
KPFA: That was Remigius Kintu of the Ugandan Democratic Coalition.
The official story of the Rwandan Genocide has been used to justify Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s brutal dictatorship in Rwanda, the imprisonment of Victoire Ingabire and many other political prisoners in Rwanda, the death of millions in wars waged by Rwanda and Uganda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the destabilization of Burundi, and wars waged by the U.S. and its NATO partners with urgencies about the moral obligation to “stop the next Rwanda.”
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.