“Rwanda: from War to Genocide”–Open letter from General Augustin Ndindiliyimana (4 August 2010)[translated from the French by Christopher Black & Mick Collins]

[I first saw Guichaoua’s fat purple tome, “Rwanda: de la guerre au genocide,” on the shelves at FNAC. I knew his name, but nothing distinguished him from the other professional Africa experts, the ICTR Prosecution’s private faculty of contractors, who were kept on the UN payroll as long as they kept the Tutsi-Genocide-of-100-days-committed-by-‘extremist’-elements-of-the-Rwandan-(Hutu)-governments-and-military out of the chiottes of Historical Waste where it belongs. As General Ndindiliyimana specifies below in this posted PDF, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) demanded the UN set up a Tribunal to try those who committed the crime of genocide on 12 April 1994, that is, six days into the so-called tribal killing spree. So experts like Guichaoua, Alison Des Forges, Colette Braeckman, Gérard Prunier, Samantha Power, Bernard Lugan and Filip Reyntjens, got their mission plan significantly before all the bodies had fallen, been sorted out and counted. And as more evidence has rolled in with each new trial at the ICTR, most of these ‘experts’—some more than others—have continued to cling to the ‘Genocide Fallacy’ that is at the heart of this chapter in Central African history, just as it is the constitutional rationale for the current Rwandan military dictatorship.

Like the ‘Genetic Fallacy’ in logic, the ‘Genocide Fallacy’ invalidates all arguments or institutions premised on it because of its essential flaw, its original sin, its falsifying bias. But to experts, scholars like Guichaoua et al, the Rwandan Genocide of 800,000 to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus between 6 April 1994 (the date of the assassinations by the RPF [and no one any longer seriously argues this fact, wetfe The New Yorker readership might think!] of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi (Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, resp.), as well as the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army (as The General will point out, this position should not be confused or conflated, as it often is by these experts, with the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces [FAR], which was made up of the Army and the Natl. Gendarmerie, and commanded by the President or, in his absense, the Minister of Defense [both civilian positions]), and 16 July 1994, when the RPF had effectively seized power throughout the country, and claimed to have stopped the 100 days of Genocide (which they, in fact, date as far back as the Social Revolution of 1959-1962 that deposed the Tutsi monarchy and instituted, by majority vote and UN recognition, the Rwandan Republic).

But the evolution of the ‘Genocide Fallacy’ is interesting and should be noted here—because The General is far too erudite and refined, far too polite, and far too compassionate toward his torturers, to speak in such crude terms. Being able to take the low rhetorical road is one of the few indulgences allowed a retired Hollywood day-player whom no one need take seriously.

So . . . In the Beginning was the Word. And the Word was with the RPF, and the Word was Genocide. After years of playing with ethnic numbers (and in the final accounting, the real significance of ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi,’ and the reason the current neo-feudal government in Kigali eschews ethnic distinctions, is that ‘Hutu’ means ‘majority’ and ‘Tutsi’ means ‘[tiny, elitist] minority’) and trying to bury all information relevant to the foreign aggression of 1 October 1990, or the four-year RPF reign of terrorist murder and mayhem that culminated with the multiple assassinations of 6 April 1994, a terrorist act in violation of the duly-signed Arusha Peace Accords of 4 August 1993, and the unilateral resumption, again by the RPF, of the war they had started in October 1990—though it had been in pre-production for more than a decade before with infiltration, the planting of mines and other explosives, and the agitation and propaganda for vile ethnic hatred that became the cover for this primal international crime against Peace—the genocide of the Tutsi minority was declared, by the victorious military leaders of that same Tutsi minority, to be over. The perpetrators of the mass killings, the ruthless prosecutors of the war against Rwanda, declared 16 July 1994 to be VG day. And this fallacy became the raison d’être, not only for the Rwandan military dictatorship, but also for a whole new system of International Justice. The Rwandan Genocide became a sort of Holocaust redux.

But, as should have been expected, with the Genocide victims’ actual vanquishing of the genocidaires and driving them all out of their country into neighboring Congo, the ‘hapless victim’ jacket would start to chafe under the coarse weight of the conquistador’s armor. Former-RPF warriors, like Lt Abdul Ruzibiza, in his “Rwanda: L’Histoire secrète,” started bragging about his RPF-mates’ mass killing of Rwandan civilians, the seizure of their lands with millions displaced, and the pillaging of their homes and the looting of the goods and livestock, all to be sent back and sold in Uganda.

As with Naser Oric’s bragging on German TV about his killing and mutilation of Serb civilians around Srebrenica, Ruzibiza’s blood-curdling confessions had little effect on the primary Genocide Fallacy. But with his testimony before the ICTR, as well as to the French anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, a sort of ‘second genocide’ was born: the ‘Extremist Hutu’ government had committed genocide against the Tutsi minority; but so had the Tutsi RPF committed genocide against the majority Hutu civilian population of Rwanda.

And Ruzibiza had the ICTR disinterred certain independent reports on RPF crimes: Gersony and Hourigan had their reports revived, though, unlike the private academic experts, they were under orders from their government patrons to dummy up and stay that way. Of course, being good guys, they didn’t.

Then Pierre Péan, the formidable French investigative journalist, came out with his “Noire fureurs, blancs menteurs” (a seminal work on Rwanda which, shamefully, is still not translated into English) and uncovered the RPF’s vast propaganda network. Again, it became clear that the Genocide Fallacy was instrumental to the cover-up of the imperialist (US/UK) aggression and military occupation of Central Africa; it was the sentimental hook by which the international public was cajoled into accepting the forced conversion of Rwanda into a privatized loading dock for the stolen resources of Congo. After all, those Rwandan Defense Forces were over in Goma and Kivu hunting escaped Hutu genocidaires–and their genocidaire wives and kids. It was just ‘Never Again’ all over again.

But ours is pretty much a monotheistic (mono-genocidal) cosmology. Just as with the one true and living God, the Primal Genocide does not suffer competitors. Yet, there was too much evidence of RPF (Tutsi) mass crimes for the expert witnesses contracted by the ICTR Prosecutor just to continue pretending ignorance. So guys like Prunier and Guichaoua had to start talking about mass crimes on both sides. As they used to say in Yugoslavia: plenty of ethnic atrocities to go around. And though this compromise weakened the One True and Living Genocide theory, there was already too much invested to simply abandon it in favor or irrelevancies like evidence and justice.

And this brings me to the second and last time I saw Guichaoua’s massive volume: During a post-screening discussion of the documentary, “D’Arusha à Arusha,” I was doing my best to compliment the filmmaker, Christophe Gargot, and his well-heeled Human Rights sponsors, on the real effectiveness of their film. But it quickly became clear I was being somewhat less than sincere (you can check out my deconstruction of this doc elsewhere on CM/P at:
because the point I was praising them on was not exactly the point they had intended to make. They had wanted to show how the ICTR was working effectively to end impunity for governments who commit mass crimes like Genocide; I told them their choice of trials and the prominences they gave to the Defense (with great attorneys like Ramsey Clark and Raphael Constant featured), and certain cases, like the Military I trial of Bagosora et al, made a very strong case for the imperialists’ insturmentalization of the Genocide Fallacy—say what?! Their film had cast in doubt almost every premise the Prosecution had.

As if to shut me up by sticking it in my mouth, they whipped out Guichaoua’s book and started talking about how it could answer all the questions they couldn’t—had all the numbers, all the details to demonstrate beyond all doubt that the Tutsis (and ‘moderate’ Hutus) had been genocided by the ‘Extremist Hutus.’ But no one seemed aware of, or could, much less, explain, the outcome of their Star Trial: Military I had acquitted Bagosora et al of ‘conspiracy or planning to commit genocide.’ But, hey, as Don Rumsfeld once mused: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because OJ was acquitted doesn’t mean he didn’t decapitate his wife, while his kids slept nearby. Just because the Genocide is a Fallacy (or at least a paranoid fantasy) does not mean there was no genocide. Right?

But Military I and the almost contemporaneous Military II trial (the Prosecutor v Ndindiliyimana et al) were the straws that drove the last of the hired experts off the sinking USS Genocide—and out of their tiny, pathetically closed minds.

When the judgment was rendered in Military I on 28 December 2008, the Tribunal acquitted the defendants of ‘planning or conspiracy to commit genocide’. As legal wonks were quick to point out, this only meant the Prosecution could not prove that Colonel Bagosora et al had planned or conspired to commit genocide—not that THERE WAS NO GENOCIDE! In fact, the same judgment convicted them of genocidal crimes committed by those in their charge, crimes like the killing of the 10 Belgian UN Blue Helmets (some say they saw as many as 13 bodies at the morgue) and the murder while under UN protection of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana. But there is no more evidence of Bagosora et al having committed these ‘genocidal crimes’ than there is of their ‘planning and conspiracy to commit genocide’. The strong evidence actually points to the RPF’s responsibility for these, like all the other, killings.

This Mil I conviction was based almost entirely on the 16 June 2006 order to the Trial Chamber in Arusha from the ICTR Appeals Chamber in The Hague (the ICTR and ICTY share a single Appeals Chamber—how conveeeeeeeeeeeenient!) to ‘Take Judicial Notice’ of the Rwandan Genocide. That is to say, that the Genocide Fallacy must be accepted without having to be proved under evidence—like the address of the Courthouse, or who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb.

This patently anti-legal manipulation seems to have befuddled Guichaoua and the Genocide Fallacy claque of private scholastic contractors (whose chief concern has always been the demonization—or, at least, the trivialization—of the Rwandan majority [Hutu, MRND] governmental and military institutions), but it has increased their ranks to the tune of one ICTR Defense lawyers association—who saw in the Mil I judgment, and some of the reconsiderations and reversals of legal fortune that came in its wake, a perfect opportunity for a big payday, the kind of career bump that turns an ambulance chaser into Johnny Cochran (i.e., a rich ambulance chaser).

But when the racist and classist arrogance of these Euro-American scholar/shysters led them directly into the maw of the monster conceived by the Genocide Fallacy, and they started waving their well-researched bona fides around Kigali like Cal pennants at Stanford stadium, things went sideways. They wound up (like their ICTR clients, one might consider) in an African jail having to explain how their multi-genocide theory was not Genocide denial or even revision, high crimes in that nation whose very legal existence is based on this primal Genocide. So, then they went all soft-centered, bent over and grabbed their ankles and started singing every song the jailor requested: Of course there was a Genocide, and just One Genocide and, of course, it’s existence is so far beyond doubt that it need not be proven. Just get me outta here! Genocide akbar!

But, I digress—comme d’hab. General Ndindiliyimana’s observations on Guichaoua’s massive pavé—which, for those gluttons who just can’t get enough disinformation, is backed up with a web site—makes it abundantly clear that many in the West have badly underestimated the sophistication of African social and political institutions. What was destroyed between October 1990 and April 1994 was nothing less than the Rwandan democratic socialist revolution. The counter-revolution led from Kigali and Kampala is on going, with millions and millions of victims in Rwanda and Congo, and the blood on the hands of these liberal academics, journalists and jurists, will not soon dry or ever be washed away. —mc ]

{Because I can’t figure out how to attach a PDF file here, I’m just pasting on the whole text of the General’s observations on Guichaoua’s book.–excuse me.}


Open letter addressed to Mr. André Guichaoua, Professor at the University of Paris 1,
Pantheon-Sorbonne, France
by General Augustin Ndindiliyimana