Open Letter to Paul Kagame From the Political Prisoners of the UN at the ICTR About the Lies and Reality of the Rwanda War

Arusha, Tanzania, 12th May, 2009 (First published on May 27th, 2009 in New York City by Black Star News)


OBJECT: The denunciation of the discriminatory actions and intentions of the Rwandan authorities.

Your excellency, President of the Republic,

The detainees of the ICTR, signatories of the present document have judged it necessary to react to your racist and discriminatory intentions announced by several Rwandan personalities on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan “genocide”, celebrated on Nyanza hill, a Kigali the 11th of April 2009. The Rwandan government stated that 5,000 people were taken from the Official Technical School (ETO) at Kicukiro, the 11th of April 1994 and were then massacred at Nyanza hill. Those who stated this were Charles Muligande, M. Simburudi, president of the IBUKA Association which represents the Tutsi survivors of the “genocide” the deputy mayor of Kigali and Dr. Augustin Iyamuremye, senator and former chief of the civilian intelligence services in the Rwandan government of 1994.

We think that the things said do not take any account of the truth or the reality of the history of our country, but instead, have as the purpose of terrorising, intimidating and humiliating the Hutu people of Rwanda who are globally accused of having planned and committed a “genocide” against the Tutsis. Our reaction is motivated by the fact that the RPF regime wants to wipe from the history of Rwanda, the revolutionary period that liberated the people of Rwanda from the yoke of a feudal monarchy and that ushered in national construction once the country achieved its independence. The ultimate objective of the RPF is clearly to erase the history of Rwanda and the benefits of the republican period to better support their false thesis according to which the Hutus only marked the history of the country with barbarism and “genocide” of the Tutsis. It is a vision both false and divisionist and it is clear that, by propagating it, you have abandoned the interests of the Rwandan people.

1.Pre-colonial Rwanda and Colonial Rwanda cannot be a model

The deputy mayor of Kigali stated “We want to change history in order to present another Rwanda that is not that of the period between 1959 and 1994, a Rwanda like it was before; that which we inherited from our ancestors; the Rwanda of children of Rwanda who live without division, without hate, without discrimination.” Thus the RPF regime pretends that in the precolonial and colonial periods the ethnicities composing the Rwandan nation lived harmoniously in peace, understanding and solidarity. It is a complete reversal of history.[1]

The feudal-monarchical regime of Rwanda is not a model to propose to Rwandans today. It was a period of social, political, economic and cultural inequality that characterised that period and that led to the social revolution of 1959. Many authors including eminent Tutsis in high positions of power have written about this.[2]

We think that in the context of the search for durable solutions for our country, the RPF must stop the manipulation and falsification of the history of Rwanda. We believe that the remedy is to search for a democratic, political compromise in the context of a sincere dialogue between the power and its opponents. Such a step cannot be accommodated with obscurantism of the past. We condemn without reservation all attempts to rewrite the history of Rwanda for propaganda and ideological aims that seek the monopolisation of power by the Tutsi ethnic group to the exclusion of the others composing the Rwandan society.

The Planning Of The Criminal War by the RPF Is The Essential Cause of the Rwandan tragedy

Minister Muligande stated that “the ‘genocide’ of the Tutsis was planned by the government defeated in July 1994, without furnishing the least proof of this alleged planning. Very simply, he stated that the ‘genocide’ was taught over a long time by the MDR/PARMEHUTU and later by the MRND. Such statements are nothing but propaganda. The MDR and MRND parties never practised racism or discrimination against the Tutsis. It is well known that under the Habyarimana regime between 5th July 1973 to the war in October 1990 the Hutus and Tutsis lived in symbiosis. The ethnic divisions of 1990-1994 were the consequence of the strategy of destabilisation of the RPF to rally the Tutsis of the interior of Rwanda to the cause of the RPF Tutsi from Uganda who had invaded the country and to attract sympathy in world opinion.

Following the social Revolution of 1959, a number of Tutsi dignitaries could not accept the democratic changes proclaimed by the people, and fled the country and during many years systematically rejected all offers made by the government to return peacefully and participate in the construction of the country as Rwandans. They took hostage the Tutsi refugees and prevented them from returning as long as they were not assured of taking back their former power to exercise to their profit. The Tutsi diaspora dominated by these extremists preferred to organise in a movement of “liberation” called the INYENZI[3] and conduct several attacks against Rwanda in the 1960s with the aim of taking power by force of arms. It is for this reason that all the calls made to the refugees for their peaceful return to the country were made in vain.[4]

The MRND party practised a policy of peace, of national unity and progress that was enormously profitable to the Tutsis of the country.[5] It is false and unjust to accuse the MRND of having persecuted Tutsis or having refused the right of return if those Tutsis wishing to return to Rwanda. Everyone knows today that it was the RPF who torpedoed the Accords signed between Rwanda and Uganda under the auspices of the UNHCR, the 31st of July, 1990. Instead of permitting the delegation of refugees awaited in Kigali at the end of September, 1990 to go there in the context of working under that Accord to work out the mechanism for the return en masse of refugees the RPF launched a surprise attack against Rwanda on the 1st of October 1990, beginning its war of aggression.

You must have the courage to recognise that this war, launched at the moment when a political solution had been found to the refugee problem is the origin of the Rwandan tragedy. The RPF sowed desolation and created divisions, a climate of terror and distrust among the population subjected to four years of RPF violence. By these terrorist attacks and subversion, the RPF provoked the total destabilisation of Rwanda.[6] The RPF planned and executed the attack of April 6, 1994 that took the lives of President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi as well as their respective entourage and the French crew knowing full well that the attack would provoke violence in the country. Directly after the attack they attacked on all fronts, precipitating total chaos throughout the country. It was the RPF that planned the destruction of the country. This is attested to by the incapacity of the prosecutor at the ICTR to prove a plan to commit genocide before its international jurisdiction. Indeed, all the heavy condemnations of genocide pronounced against the Hutus before the ICTR are founded on the illegal judicial notice made by the Appeal Chamber of June 16, 2006.[7] In Rwanda, tribunals continue to condemn en masse the Hutus for having allegedly planned “genocide” without the slightest proof, all the while refusing any debate on the question.[8]

Despite the judicial notice imposed by the Appeal Chamber of the ICTR on June 16, 2006, for political reasons having the objective of condemning the accused at the Tribunal, the controversy over this decision continues. Conscious of their enormous responsibilities in the Rwandan tragedy, the RPF does not miss any opportunity to cry about the “genocide of the Tutsis.” So, it was not without some thought that the Minister Muligande stated on 11th April at the Nyanza memorial at Kigali;” We had the chance to win the war to get recognition of the genocide. If not, we would become the Armenians whose genocide is still contested because they lost the war.”. M. Mulligande is very conscious of the responsibilities that fall on the RPF, even if he does not have the courage to admit it. The RPF abuses its actual position to impose the “genocide” of the Tutsis, practising the justice of the victor over the vanquished[9]. The leaders of the RPF must stop falsifying history with ideological propaganda and have the courage to recognise their heavy responsibility in the Rwandan drama.

3.The Reality of the Numbers of Dead in the Rwandan Tragedy

The loss of life is always regrettable. Bu the reality f the numbers of dead in the “Rwandan genocide” remains a great mystery 15 years after the events, Even if public opinion agrees with the number if 800,000 to a million victims, many other numbers have been advanced, ranging from 250,000 to 2 million by experts, the UN, NGOs and the RPF such that total confusion reigns. Gerard Prunier recognises that there is no systematic count and that the numbers rely on opinion more than facts.[10] The Rwandan government of the RPF prefers too maintain this confusion. That is why it has refused to reveal the numbers of survivors of the “genocide” from which it is easy to evaluate the umber of dead Tutsis and dead Hutus. It prefers things blurred so the world does not know the extent of the massacres committed against the Hutus by the RPF and to inflate the number of Tutsi victims. It is necessary too note that the Census of the population organised under the supervision of the UN (UNDP, UNFAP,CEA) and with the aid of countries such as the USA and Canada that terminated on the 15th of August, 1991 fixed the total number of Tutsis in the country at 8.4% of the population of 7,099.844 persons. Thus, the numbers that suggest that the entire Tutsi population was massacred between April and July 1994 are simply fantasies. It is no secret to anyone that many Tutsis survived even if the government in Kigali does not want to publish the figures. We contest these numbers that create confusion that the regime wants to exploit in order to manipulate national and international opinion for ideological objectives.

Concerning the dead interred at Nyanza hill in Kigali, Captain Lemaire who commanded the Belgian detachment at the ETO in Kicukiro en April 1994, testified before the ICTR that the refugees there numbered about 1,000 to 2,000 persons[11] not the 5,000 claimed by the RPF. In the circumstances prevailing at the time the extermination of 5,000 people in several minutes in open terrain is simply impossible. On the contrary, witnesses worthy of the name state that the majority of those buried at Nyzana hill are the thousands of Hutu refugees massacred by the men of the RPF, on the 22 and 23 of May 1994 while they attempted to flee the RPF soldiers who had just captured the garrison at Camp Kanombe.

The deputy mayor of Kigali City presented the Gisozi memorial as the high place of pilgrimage and sad memories of “genocide”. This place stores, according the official declarations of the government, 250,000 human skulls. However, they cannot be from the former prefecture of the city of Kigali as they claim. Indeed, the total population of Kigali city was, according to the census of 15 August 1991, 221, 806 persons, of which 81.4% were Hutu, and 17.9% Tutsi. Using a figure of 3.2% growth per year, the total population of Kigali city was around 240,000 inhabitants in 1994 taken at its maximum, with the Tutsi population being estimated at 50,000 persons at its highest. This figure does not accord with the 250,000 skulls exposed at the Gisozi memorial especially when one remembers that many of the Tutsis in Kigali survived the war.[12] The numbers of skulls is even more incomprehensible when on admits that the city of Kigali has other memorials notably that at Nyanza and Rebero where other thousands of remains are exposed. This example shows how the manipulation of numbers is important on a national level.

Several witnesses have stated before the ICTR that Gisozi was occupied by the RPA (army of the RPF) from the 8th of April. Therefore it was the RPF that ethnically cleansed the zones of Gisozi-Kagugu and Kabuye in the Rutongo commune, in the prefecture of Kigali and all undesirable persons including the war displaced refugees from the refugee camps of Nyacyonga and Rusine, who had fled to the city after their camps were bombarded by the RPF. Several former members of the RPF have denounced the massacres of thousands of persons in these zones.[13] Al these persons were summarily executed by the agents of the DMI (Directorate of Military Intelligence of the RPF) in the military camp at Kami taken by the RPF in mid-April 1994. These massacres were part and parcel of the plan by the RPF to eliminate as large a number as possible of the cadre of Hutu intellectuals. Today, the same logic of annihilation of the Hutu elite that the RPF follows is behind their lists of pretended “Hutu genocidaires” including those already judged and acquitted. It is the same logic followed in the famous law of confessions of guilt that encourages the denunciation of and false statements against the innocent. The “gacaca” procedures are an extra-judicial system beneath all the jurisdictions. It is used by the regime to annihilate all undesirables. We want to insist that you remember that you yourself, Mr. President, who was the first to suggest this strategy when in 1996, at Nyamirambo, in a large meeting organised by your party, you stated that it would be necessary to have the patience “to empty a barrel of water with a coffee spoon”.[14] The damage of your genocidal policy has passed all bounds and we demand that you stop it immediately.

The Responsibilities of the International Community in the Rwandan Drama

In their talks the highest authorities of Rwanda have criticised the role of the international community during the “genocide”. Thus, in your speech of 7 April, 2009, you castigated the attitude of the UN, qualifying it as “cowardice” saying; “We are not those who abandoned the people who needed protection; they left them to be killed; are they not guilty? I think also that is cowardice; they left before a single shot was fired!”

We are convinced that such singing speeches vis a vis the international community cannot be indefinitely allowed to pass. However, we invite this same international community to react quickly, they who encouraged and supported your criminal project to take power by force of arms, through the disastrous actions of Genera Romeo Dallaire at the head of UNAMIR, to whom you announced the imminent cataclysm on the 2nd of April 1994[15] and who did nothing to stop it, and the no less criminal actions of the successive prosecutors at the ICTR in Arusha, whom you have succeeded in submitting to your law of terror.

We regret that the UN did not help Rwandans to resolve peacefully the conflict that you brought to the country in 1994, notably in pressing Uganda and the RPF sufficiently and condemning the war of aggression of which Rwanda was the victim. The UN did not even condemn the various violations of ceasefires by the RPF and the peace accords that it signed. The international community complied with your ultimatum made on the 12 of April 1994 to all foreign forces to leave the country in 12 hours or be attacked, that accelerated the retreat of UNAMIR from Rwanda at the time when it was needed most.[16] The vote in the Security Council for the resolution to reduce the UNAMIR forces, that was heavy in consequences, aided your organisation in its Machiavellian plans to take power in Kigali as quickly as possible.[17] The UN betrayed the government of Rwanda that launched anguished appeals for help to stabilise the security situation in the country. The UN was paralysed by the USA and the United Kingdom; it could not intervene in time to send the 5,500 men of UNAMIR II as the Security Council finally decided to do after the RPF victory. Those forces arrived in Rwanda after your seizing of power and to consolidate your power. They helped you by not reacting to your massacres of the innocents including the 4,000 refugees you murdered at Kibeho in April 1995.

Not only do we accuse the RPF of having chased the international community from Rwanda at the moment when they were needed the most but also we believe that the decisions of the UN were gravely prejudicial to the people and government of Rwanda, in permitting the military victory of the RPF, obtained in a bloodbath. These same decisions gave the RPF the legitimacy to continue its massacres of the Rwandan people and the right to attribute the role of having stopped the “genocide” to themselves and to judges its real victims.

We note with great disappointment that the presence of UNAMIR II did not deter you from continuing the massacre of the defenceless Hutu population, over the entire country in 1994-95 and we will not forget the silence of the UN in the face of the innumerable atrocities committed by your troops, when they attacked the refugees camps in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) and their long calvary in the Congo forest. We want to remind you of the 200,000 Hutu refugees who were horribly massacred by your troops in 1996-97. We think that the complacency of the international community on your behalf does not exonerate you of your responsibilities in the Rwandan drama. We demand justice for all Rwandans, Tutsi, Hutu and Twa killed or today traumatised by your criminal policy.

The Theory of a Double Genocide
The Minister Muligande vilified “those who try to diminish the genocide, to deny it, by inventing the theory of a “double genocide”, arguing that there were the deaths of Hutus during the genocide.” He clarified his thoughts by referring to the second world war where “there was a genocide of the Jews, but also of 20 million Russians, However, the genocide is recognised as having been against the Jews. This was the same thing concerning the high number of deaths among the German soldiers which surpassed the number of Jews killed,, arguing that the Germans were killed to stop the genocide.”

These words of your adviser show that the leaders of the RPF recognise having massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent Hutus. However, we estimate that the comparison has no sense and that the events in Rwanda in 1990-1994 are not comparable to the history of the Second World War. The launching of the Second World War in 1939 rests the responsibility of the government of Germany, just as the responsibility for the invasion of Rwanda in October 1990 from Uganda rests the responsibility of the state of Uganda and the RPF. Hitler launched his offensive to conquer countries and during that long conquest, the Jews were denounced, arrested, killed or deported to concentration camps, principally in Germany. The Jews did not take up arms against Germany. If it is necessary to make a comparison it is rather the RPF and its allies that made war against Rwanda and who, in their mad war for the conquest of power, they massacred hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.

Your soldiers Mr. President, conducted a war of extermination; they violated the cease-fire agreements and the Arusha accords to take power by force of arms without caring about the security of the population. How can you explain to Rwandans the obstinate refusal by you of all cease-fire proposals made to you between April and July 1994 if you had any concerns for the protection of the civilian population? And why did you literally empty the population of all the regions you seized? What can you say when 4,000 Hutu refugees were massacred by your troops a Kibeho in April 1995? These are the sad realities of the RPF regime that you want to hide by the abusive usage of the word “negationism” to stop the parents of victims from expressing their suffering and denouncing the injustices done to them?

Pardon and Reconciliation

It arises from the present account that the members of the RPF committed crimes and massacres against the defenceless civilian population of the sole reason that they were Hutus.[18] This sad reality Minister Muligande wants to cover up by stating it was the Hutus who had to die because the RPF fought to stop the genocide. The coalition of the NRA (Ugandan army) RPF did not attack Rwanda in 1990 to stop a genocide. The manhunt conducted against the peasants of Rwanda, throughout the war, was not designed to stop a “genocide” against the Tutsis. It is illusory to try to deny the responsibility of the RPF in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of victims in Rwanda and the DRC or to minimise them, arrogating only to yourself the right of inquiry, from the sole fact of your military victory. We think that with such a logic national reconciliation is impossible. Because, you want to hide the truth of the tragic events that plunged Rwanda into mourning and that implicate your close collaborators, civil and military. Also we consider that the time has come for your regime to see the reality in front of its face, instead of pursuing your indecent ideological propaganda, that from that time has shamefully exploited unhappiness you have inflicted on the Rwandan people.

The drift of your regime has irremediably distanced the Rwandan people from the objective of national reconciliation, outside the artifices that you have been pleased to serve to the various visitors to Rwanda but which cannot remedy the evil that is very profound. The instrumentalisation of the persecution of the Hutus accused of an “ideology of genocide” constitutes a way to criminalise the Hutus forever; not only those who were alive in 1994 but also those who will be borne in the future. It is sufficient to accuse them of the ideology of genocide to oppress the Hutus and justify this oppression before the world. This policy that has made the immense majority of Rwandans pariahs in the Rwandan society, is inescapable, because it has become a factor of exclusion and marginalising of the Hutus in order to ensure the domination of the Tutsi. The dialogue between power and its opponents is the only voice to get out of this impasse. But after having decreed that only the Tutsis were victims of the war that you launched and that the Hutus do not even have the right to cry for their dead, or even worse, to bury them with dignity, the perspective of political dialogue with your opponents is not on your agenda contrary to dynamic of peace that occupy the other leaders of the region: Kenya, Burundi, RDC, Uganda, Central Africa. You installed the gacaca jurisdiction that has the mandate of criminalising all the Hutus and to force them into self-denunciation and the denunciation of others. In order to allow your regime to get rid of all your political adversaries now and in the future! Such a system can bring augers nothing good and has all the characteristics of fascism; it is the bearer of unhappiness for yourself and for the people of Rwanda. This is why we respectfully demand that you end it. Rwanda must face up to a number of deficiencies. The RPF regime cannot resolve them with humiliation, anathema and marginalising of the majority of the Rwandan population to whom you reserve only unjust and degrading treatment. This is why we encourage all the men and women of good will in Rwanda and around the world to make it possible to have a sincere and constructive dialogue between the power and its opponents in order to put a solid base for a real national reconciliation in Rwanda based on Truth and Justice and equity. We invite the Rwandan government to consider that there can be no national reconciliation in Rwanda based on manipulation and lies and propaganda, of humiliation and inferiority and intimidation of the ideology of genocide used to silence the Hutus who claim their rights. No power, no foreign force can resolve the political problems of Rwanda. It is the Rwandans themselves who must resolve them. As head of state it is entirely your responsibility to bring Rwandans to the path of true reconciliation by denouncing all actions and speeches that are provocative and divisionist as those spoken during the ceremonies of the 15th anniversary of the “genocide” by your close collaborators. In any event you must understand that such speeches do not serve your regime insofar as they are contrary to the vital interests of the Rwandan people and are not going to bring peace and national reconciliation. It is not possible to have national reconciliation as long as the RPF continues to refuse to recognise its clear responsibilities in the Rwandan tragedy, by making the Hutus responsible for a drama that the RPF planned and executed throughout the long war of 1990-1994.

Please accept, Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic, the expression of our high consideration.


Joseph Nzirorera

General Augustin Ndindiliyimana

Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho

Colonel Ephrem Setako

Callixte Karimanzira

Captain Innocent Sagahutu

Edouard Karamera

Copied to all UN agencies including the Security Council, all judges and prosecutor of the ICTR, news organisations, ngos and other organisations

English translation by Christopher Black, Barrister, Toronto, Canada

[email protected]

[1] Many historians, including Tutsis such as Alexis Kagame, wrote about the Rwanda of the colonial period.

[2] In the New review, Book XXVIII, no. 12 december 1958, pages 594-597, the Abbe Bushayijia, a Tutsi priest who sat on the supreme counsel of the country, denounced the injustices and inequalities of that epoch in these tersm: “The feeling of injustice that is sensed at a given moment, the roman plebiens vis a vis the patricians, the serfs vis a vis the lords in the old regime, is such that today it distresses the Bahutu compared with the Batutsi. They seek their emancipation, their place in a world free and equal for all.”

[3] Journal Kanguka No 52 Anne 1992. In his interview in this journal M.M. Aloys Ngurumbe, former Inyenzi chief, explained the origin of this term. He stated that it was a nom de guerre of those Tutsi terrorists of the period 1960-67. He explained that this acronym stood for Ingangurarugo Yiyemeje Kuba Ingenzi.

[4] Msg Andre Perraudin, A Bishop In Rwanda, Editions Saint Augustin, 2003, pp 276-77

[5] Valens Kajeguhakwa, From the Land of Peace to the Land of Blood and After, Editions Remi Perrin, 2001

[6] Many credible witnesses including members of the RPF have confirmed their terrorist and subversive activities carried out inside Rwanda by the RPF over the long course of the war.

[7] This decision taken to accommodate the ICTR completion strategy, is against the Statute of the tribunal as the issue of planning remains a contested issue.

[8] The acquittal of all accused in the Military I trial on December 18, 2008 and against which the prosecutor has filed no appeal, provoked protests in Rwanda. Certain authorities in the RPF are agitated and stated that it’s as if one wanted to place on them the responsibility for planning the genocide. That agitation is justified as they kinw very well that they are the ones responsible.

[9] Carla del Ponte, Confronting Humanity’s Worst Criminals and the Culture of Impunity, Other Press, New York, 2009, pp177-192 , 223-241

[10] Gerard Prunier, 1997, Rwanda, 1959-1996, History of a Genocide

[11] Transcripts of September 30, 1997, pp 61, 110, 146-147. It must be noted that this includes Hutus and Tutsis both.

[12] Note by translator-General Dallaire states that he saw 14,000 Tutsis being led out of the city by RPF forces in mid-April. Bernard Kouchner on his visit to Kigali in late May stated there were then 20,000 Tutsis still in Kigali and it is known that many fled the fighting in the city early on after the RPF began its siege of Kigali. The Tutsi prince Antoine Nyetera testified in the Military II trial that he saw thousands of Tutsis alive in the stadium when the RPF rounded up all inhabitants when Kigali fell to their forces and began executing Hutus. Therefore the number of dead Tutsis killed in Kigali cannot be more than 15,000 and must be lower than that as many escaped the fighting.

[13] All this evidence is to be found in the archives of the ICTR eg in the document listed as R0000230 of 9th February 2002

[14] E Ndahayo, Rwanda. Les dessous des cartes, Ed. L’Harmattan, Paris, 2002, p.157

[15] Romeo Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil, Random House, Canada, 2003 P 279 (French edition)

[16] See the Belgian intelligence report no. 940412/305 of 12 April, 1994

[17] See the Belgian intelligence report no. 940412/305, 12 April, 1994

[18] See for example the file established by the Spanish judge Andreu Fernando Merelles and many statements and reports available in the files of the ICTR.