Rwandan genocide: a Shared Responsibility

Patrick de Saint-Exupéry

“A review of murders against Hutus by the RPF from 1990 up to now”

By Arnold Gakuba

We have read the article by Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol published on March 30, 2021 entitled “The disappeared of Congo-Zaïre, 1996-1997. The question on the massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” These authors commented the book of Patrick de Saint-Exupéry entitled ‘’La Traversée – Une odyssée au cœur de l’Afrique’’ which is translated as “The Crossing – An Odyssey in the Heart of Africa” to show the disagreement in the publications (articles and books) of Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, journalist and expert researcher who followed the situation of Rwanda – especially in relation to human rights violations – and who wrote about the genocide perpetrated against Tutsis and massacres against Hutus. He confessed these massacres to be a ‘second genocide’. However, after 24 years, the same author contradicts himself and his publications. We agree with Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol and wonder about this attitude of Patrick de Saint-Exupéry who tries to challenge himself by refuting the truth affirmed and reaffirmed.

The book written by Patrick de Saint-Exupéry was published a little bit before the period Rwanda has 27th commemoration of genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, and whiles the idea of the ‘double genocide and/or second genocide’ remains a controversy. Based on the documented data of Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol, and having been among Rwandan refugees in Zaïre (1996-1997), I may affirm that this article shows the distant and continuous intention of RPF to exterminate the Hutus – as the massacres perpetrated against Hutu refugees in Zaïre (current Democratic Republic of Congo) is concerned.

Many writers including Patrick de Saint-Exupéry have published a lot on the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis. The article by Patrick de Saint-Exupéry published in 1994 under the title of ‘’The slaughter-houses in Rwanda” assured him, among colleagues and readers, a strong legitimacy with regard to the observation of mass violence that has known the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, from 1994 up to now. But, the big question is what motivated the same author to write ’’La Traversée – Une odyssée au cœur de l’Afrique ’’ with the main objective to denounce and condemn the idea of ‘’double genocide and/or second genocide” while he was among the first authors and researchers to use and support this idea after vividly seeing what was happening in Zaïre? Patrick de Saint-Exupéry wrote that ‘’mass massacres against Rwandan Hutu were committed in Congo in 1996-1997; it is about a second genocide, similar to that committed against the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.’’ It is therefore a question to know if he would not be among the people who are being manipulated by Kigali regime like it happened to Dr. Michelle Martin who publically made wrong accusations against Paul Rusesabagina? On the view of Marcellin Cikwanine, in his article, this may be caused of the fear that Patrick de Saint-Exupéry has of Kigali regime. However, we know that nowadays, Paul Kagame regime is doing its best to hide the crimes against the humanity perpetrated since 1990 until today.

Even if Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol refute the idea of “double genocide’’; however,  they ask themselves why Patrick de Saint-Exupéry discredits all his publications and documents published within 24 years. These authors talked of RPF invasion from Uganda towards Kigali which resulted in the conquest of power and led to the massive movement of the population towards Zaïre and that in March-April 1995, a population of more than a million of Rwandans were condensed in refugee camps.  They recognize that in 1996, the leaders of RPF engaged in a systematic operation of destructing refugees’ camps in North and South Kivu (Eastern Region of DRC). This portraits very well that the destruction of refugees’ camps was prepared. Considering what RPF had done for the Hutus since 1990 in Byumba (Umutara) and elsewhere in the country until 1994 – the year of huge massacres of Hutus by the RPF soldiers – the destruction of refugees’ camps was not of good faith; it was its continuous plan to exterminate the Hutus. I have seen, with my own eyes, the massacres of children, women and men in the forests of Masisi and Walikale. Let us point out that the victims were civilians, not military as affirmed certain propagandists of RPF.

Frankly, I qualify what I saw in Zaïre in 1996-1997, when the refugees’ camps were destroyed to be a “manhunt“. Several NGOs retain the figure of 200,000 refugees who perished but this figure is far from the reality. I had also seen and observed RPF soldiers’ killings the Hutus in 1994 when they conquered my place of origin – in collusion with the Tutsis in our place – they made the list of Hutus who should die per cell (basic administrative unit of that time) and by sector. The holders of these lists would mark with a ‘√ ’sign in front of the names of those they were killed. Is this not a prepared and systematic extermination of the Hutus? 

Since 1990, RPF had prepared to kill the Hutus as some statements by the RPF military authorities ascertained. In 1997, a Rwandan officer declared to a mission in South Kivu comprising members of MSF, UNHCR and the NGO Care the following words: ”All those who are in the forest are considered as our enemies” (MSF, report of exploratory mission to South Kivu, April 1997, MSF archives). This statement has been confirmed from multiple sources: survey data and counts from UNHCR, humanitarian NGOs, information reported and summarized by IRIN (the regional newsletter published from October 1996 by the Department of United Nations Humanitarian Affairs), mission reports, MSF archives in Paris, press articles (including those from the New York Times), reports from human rights organizations such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, testimonies, especially religious. Indeed, all these sources attest that preparation of systematic massacres was real. Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol affirm that they knew from 1996-1997, the MSF archives which attest the existence of systematic massacres of Hutus. So, would these authors be right to deny the double genocide and/or the second genocide?

Patrick de Saint-Exupéry declared what has also been supported by several writers and researchers. After 1997, many articles and books of international academic research devoted this mass violence against Hutu refugees in DRC. The findings prompted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare and publish a report entitled ”Mapping Project ” which was about the most serious violations of human rights and international law humanitarian committed between 1993 and 2003 in the DRC. From October 2008 to May 2009, twenty United Nations investigators were in the field to identify information, documents, testimonies on the nature, gravity and number of crimes and violations committed. A part of Chapter II of this report (p. 82-123, § 191-268) is devoted to “attacks on Hutu refugees“. All of this is illustrates the reality of crimes against humanity committed by Paul Kagame and his men from 1990 up to the present day.

For Marc le Pape and Jean-Hervé Bradol, Patrick de Saint-Exupéry concluded in his previous publications that the soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in Zaïre (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) committed genocide acts in one way or another. Thus, there would be no reason to disqualify the idea of ‘’second genocide’’ in his new book “The Crossing – An Odyssey in the Heart of Africa.” The truth remains the truth even if it is denied. But this time around, the truth about the genocide perpetrated against the Hutus is emerging more and more. “To deny is also to affirm” as Alfred Capus said and “To reflect is to deny what one believes” as Emile-Auguste Chartier, nicknamed Alain, said. Finally, Rwanda commemorates each year – in April – the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis. When will, the genocide perpetrated against the Hutus in Rwanda and in Zaïre (current Democratic Republic of Congo) be commemorated?