Judge Bruguière’s Investigation into the Civilian Plane Shoot Down of 6 April 1994--by Col. Luc Marchal [translated from the French by cm/p]
[This is our English translation of Col. Luc Marchal’s article about the investigation by French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière into the SAM 16 missile strike against the Rwandan presidential plane on 6 April 1994. Our translation of judge Bruguière’s report can be found on this blog here: http://newcirqueminime.blogspot.com/2011/09/completed-bruguiere-report-translated.html
There has recently been some--though not much--ado about US/NATO terrorist attacks against civilians in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Cynical and pathetic explanations for this butchery, like ‘The bad guys used these women and kids as human shields!’ or ‘From the looks of the mess, the bad guys did most of the killing with grenades!’ or ‘Wow, looks like we musta screwed the pooch on this one. But we’re NOT the bad guys. Sorry!’ come straight out of the NATO/Mossad terror handbook. Along with, ‘If anybody asks any questions, they’re just anti-Semit--fuck ‘em!’
This is all too reminiscent of the early days of the last US Democratic administration, when $3 Bill Clinton, as his first foreign policy gesture, ordered the bombing of Baghdad and killed a world-renowned artist--a woman--yet none dared call Clinton a ‘femmocidaire’. And Bill was no novice at remote controlled murder, having taken time out of his busy 1991 presidential campaign to sign the death warrant on an auto-lobotomized black man, Ricky Lee Rector--a man so removed from reality that, before entering the infamous Arkansas execution protocol, he stuck a piece of pie, the dessert from his last meal, under his bunk for later, and vowed to fully support his killer’s presidency.
Then, of course, Clinton--in fact, Mr & Mrs Clinton--went on to collaborate on the mass murders of innumerable Middle Easterners, Slavs and Africans, in Palestine, Iraq, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda/Burundi/Congo--just off the top of my addled pate.
Yeah, those Dems were pretty much equal opportunity liquifactionists. So now, the Man from Hope (AR, home of American Mineral Fields, one of the principal parasitic infections in Central Africa), has handed off his executioner’s hood to the Man whose Audacity to Hope he can make a difference is being sorely tested by the wasted nation he has been chosen to lead. When Rush Limbaugh is the Speaker of the Opposition, all I can think of is ‘Praise Jack Lord and pass the Oxycontin!’
But!!! We have not given up on President Obama--yet! However, he is going to have to assert what are coyly called ‘America’s core values’ a little further back into history than just the punishment the Bush/Cheney torture memos. Does ‘We’re Americans! We don’t fucking do that!’ refer only to, like, water-boarding someone with Vanilla Fudge cranked up to 12? Or would CNN’s setting up Radio/Television Serbia, on 23 April 1999, with a Larry King live feed, so that the ‘visibly demented’ General Wesley Clark could fire a Cruise missile into the station and kill 16 of CNN’s putative colleagues--would this qualify as something Americans don’t fucking do?
The Obama administration, if it hopes to save the soul of a nation, is going to have to apply its new standard of decency to the whole murderous juggernaut that has supplanted Cold War anti-communism with an even more barbarous assault on the world’s powerless and poor: the War of Terror on The Terrified.
For the US, through its various military contractors and proxies, like NATO, the IDF, the RPF and al Qaeda, to continue the criminal irrationality currently on display in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Eastern Congo is to condemn his presidency, his nation and its people to a Historical death sentence and a cold, ugly execution at its own hands.--mc]
Judge Bruguière’s investigation into the civilian plane shoot down of 6 April 1994--by Col. Luc Marchal
The investigation by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière has continued to bringing on an outpouring printer’s ink and rabid froth from opponents. The journalist Colette Braeckman is one of those who thinks the storm created by this inquest is blowing over. Colonel Luc Marchal’s view is quite the contrary.
Is Judge Bruguière’s investigation of the 6 April 1994 attack nothing but a burst bladder?
Let’s recall the facts.
The French judge’s investigation was begun in 1998 after a complaint against an unnamed party was filed by the daughter of one the members of the flight crew of the Rwandan presidential Falcon 50 jet, and was, subsequently, joined by other members of the victims’ families. At the end of November 2006, judge Bruguière, First Vice President of the Superior Court of Paris charged with anti-terrorism, issued an order for nine international arrest warrants against close associates of Paul Kagame. Since Kagame, as the sitting president of Rwanda, is protected by executive immunity, judge Bruguière has turned to the Secretary General of the UN and demanded that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which has authority over such matters, take up the adjudication of these charges.
Evidence was presented and testimony heard over an eight year period. The least one can say is that these hearings were not rushed. The Rwandan authorities were well aware of the scope of the proceedings and reacted long before the warrants were issued. In 2005 they threatened several times to take France to court over its complicity in the genocide. Charges along these lines were actually filed in Paris against the French military by Rwandan survivors. Then, in April 2006, a commission (called the ‘Muyco Commission’ after its president, Jean de Dieu Muyco) was set up to investigate ‘the role of France before, during and after the genocide.’
Seventy pages long, the order signed by judge Bruguière is somewhat unusual in that it was not composed solely to justify the issuing of international arrest warrants. But this essential moment in the process allowed the synthesis of investigations conducted by the National Anti-terrorist Division (DNAT). Its conclusion is unequivocal: Paul Kagame is directly implicated in the attack of 6 April 1994.
There were various reactions from Kigali, describing the court order as totally unfounded, based on gossip and rumor, and the French judiciary was accused of being motivated more by politics than justice in this case. Other reactions bordered on the surreal, with certain officials contending that President Habyarimana and General Nsabimana, the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Armed Forces, were legitimate targets in the context of an armed conflict. They were no doubt overlooking that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had recently signed a peace accord, and that the president of Burundi and other dignitaries from both countries were on the Falcon 50. More concretely, Rwanda also broke off diplomatic relations with France, and in March 2007, two Rwandan generals, accused by judge Bruguière, filed a complaint against him in a Belgian court, tantamount to filing charges against the Belgian State.
One should remember two major elements of this situation: First, at the end of 2006, Judge Erik Møse, at that time, Chief Justice of the ICTR and presiding judge in the ‘Military I’ trial, entered the entire Bruguière report into the record of that trial of the four Rwandan officers charged with masterminding the genocide. The second element is the completion, in February 2008, of the investigation of Spanish judge Fernando Andreu Merelles. This inquiry into the killing of nine Spanish nationals carried out in Rwanda between 1994 and 2000, concludes with the ordering of 40 arrest warrants against officers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). In a detailed finding of 181 pages, the judge determined that those charged had committed acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism on the orders of president Kagame. Since Kagame has executive immunity as president of Rwanda, again, a warrant was not issued in his name. In his conclusions, the judge accuses the RPF of having set up a veritable criminal organization. He estimated that since taking power in Kigali in July 1994, the RPF has created an actual reign of terror, not only in the functioning of its dictatorial regime, but especially by the establishment of parallel structures responsible for committing heinous crimes against the civilian populations, both domestic and foreign. He goes on to state that the overarching aim of this policy was an invasion of Congo, which, after being carried out under the pretext of national security, allowed the invaders to make off with precious natural resources and, at the same time, enabled the government to maintain itself in power and exercise geopolitical domination over the region. The judge furthermore points out that the crimes committed in 1994 are within the purview of the ICTR and, more specifically, within the authority of its prosecutor, the Gambian Hassan Bubacar Jallow.
A dubious investigation that is gradually slipping away?
In an article in the daily ’Le Soir’ of 6 April 2008, which was not the first of its kind, the Belgian journalist Colette Braeckman (CB) tried to show that the ‘Bruguière file’ has deflated like a cheap balloon. How does she actually fault the French judge and his investigation?
First off, let’s remember that the only document (in the ‘Bruguière file’) that has been made public is the 17 November 2006 order for international arrest warrants. The full report itself is available only to those who have the specific legal right to see it. That is, at the current stage of the proceedings, only to Mme Rose Kabuye (who has been brought before the French judiciary) and her lawyers. So, one has to wonder just how Mme Braeckman gained access to this file and is able knowingly to comment on it?
Let’s be clear. We are not pretending to know ‘The Truth.’ We do understand, however, that if we are wrong, our errors will be demonstrated to us with objective evidence and not by unwarranted assertions, half-truths, generalizations and other subterfuge aimed at avoiding the essential debate. In a file as fraught with emotion as that of Rwanda and Congo (in the past nearly twenty years, the Great Lakes region of Africa has been transformed into an immense killing field with several million victims), the citizen is within his rights to expect to be informed in the most rigorous fashion. If judge Bruguière’s file, because of whatever human errors, contains certain imperfections or informational lapses, it is quite understandable. But to use such flaws to reduce an eight-year investigation to a mere non-entity, even to question the integrity of the judge and his colleagues, is to cross a line that should never be crossed. And, by crossing it, which seems to be what has happened in this case, one loses all objectivity and credibility.
Three important elements, among others, are brought up in the CB article to justify her lame analysis of the inconsistencies of the file:
--The main witnesses have gone back on their testimonies.
--A Rwandan interpreter and translator, Fabien Singaye, who aided judge Bruguière and his investigators in the interrogation of witnesses, was anything but neutral.
--The authorization given Mme Kabuye to return to Rwanda and to continue her official duties, even though the arrest warrant had not been formally revoked [sic--the international arrest warrant was executed on Mme Kabuye at the Frankfurt airport on 10 November 2008, and she was subsequently transferred to Paris, where her appearance in court satisfied that order and the warrant was no longer in force--cm/p], is indicative of the weakness of the charges against her.
What about these different allegations?
As to the retraction of testimony by key witnesses:
Two important witness have gone back on their statements: Abdul Ruzibiza and Emmanuel Ruzigana. They are, in fact, two key witnesses but hardly the only witnesses to have testified in these matters.
Take the better known case of Abdul Ruzibiza. His book, ‘Rwanda, l’histoire secrète’ (‘Rwanda, the Secret Story,’ though, as far as I know, not only has the book not been translated into English--the new second language of Rwanda--but it has been banned in that country--cm/p), issued by Éditions du Panama in 2005, greatly troubled the debate on Central Africa. Basically, this book made the case that Paul Kagame was responsible for the 6 April 1994 attack as well as the far-ranging massacres carried out in Rwanda and Congo-Zaire. Such accusations were not big news at that time. They had already been made against the Kigali strong man well before Ruzibiza or Ruzigana surfaced--notably by Jean-Pierre Mugabe, Aloys Ruyenzi and Déogratias Mushayidi, to name just a few.
It is true that, in the Soir article of last April 6th, CB indicates that she had met Ruzibiza back in the day and that she found him to be less than credible. Shocking when one considers that Ruzibiza’s book was prefaced by two renowned experts on the African Great Lakes region: Claudine Vidal, emeritus director of research at the CNRS and André Guichaoua, professor of sociology at the University of Paris (1--Panthéon-Sorbonne). These folks are not lightweights!
It is not because Ruzibiza flipped on his testimony before Bruguière that the 495 pages of his book become a crock of inventions, or lies and wild fantasies. It is even less reasonable to assume that having lived through some of the situations described in the book, we can attest that the details concerning them are, in fact, correct. But whatever the case, it seems to us a little impetuous to declare Ruzibiza to be just a minor bullshit artist and that the whole Bruguière report goes flat when its principal witness caves in.
It might be useful to remind Mme Braeckman that Ruzibiza also testified before the ICTR and that his testimony, which covered the principal themes of his book, was given under oath. Under such conditions, it is surprising that the prosecutor at the ICTR did not think it necessary to recall this witness and charge him with perjury, since he had the authority to do so and had, in fact, done so in the past.
On the journalistic side, this move would have been something else again if, instead of taking Ruzibiza’s retractions at face value, a serious investigation had been opened into the real reasons for his flipping on his statements. Isn’t that, after all, the journalist’s job?
To finish up this first point, we could say that if Ruzibiza had been the only person to accuse Paul Kagame of being directly implicated in the Rwandan tragedy, it would be right to call into question the relevance of all his allegations. Given that this is not the case and that many other direct witnesses have said substantially the same thing, it would be reasonable to look for the real reasons for Ruzibiza and Ruzigana to have gone back on their statements. Such an action would doubtlessly permit us to learn what exactly was the real motivation for these reversals.
As to the controversial role of Fabien Singaye:
According to CB, “The unpublished documents discovered in Switzerland--and to which we were able to gain exclusive access--establish that the Rwandan translator who assisted Bruguière in the questioning of witnesses was anything but impartial (. . .) so it is not surprising that witnesses like Emmanuel Ruzindana (who speaks no French) subsequently declared that he recognized none of the statements he had actually made . . .”
But let’s try to stay serious here. Can you imagine for a moment that judge Bruguière, with his vast judicial experience, could have been duped like a fresh rookie? If the unpublished documents referred to by Mme Braeckman are like the so-called “Key witness to the Habyarimana assassination” (Le Soir of 6 May 2006), the only person to allege that there were three surface-to-air missiles fired at the president’s plane, then it is not worthy the time it takes to read it. You would really have to go out and do some serious digging to find such a witness and get such strong stuff! Because everyone who was in Kigali on the night of 6 April 1994 confirms that there were just two missiles, and not three, that were fired on the presidential Falcon 50. Dedicating a one-page article to such a seemingly whacked-out witness has for a long time been a way to cast doubt on the seriousness of the judge’s investigation, which only mentions two missiles being fired.
Is the fact that Fabien Singaye is the son-in-law of Félicien Kabuga, accused of being one of the financiers of the genocide, really irrefutable evidence of the translator’s bias? While we’re at it, why not just put it out there that judge Bruguière is surrounded by a staff of genocidaire associates? A relationship like that of Kabuga with is son-in-law doesn’t fool anyone. Such an allusion is a time-tested means of covering up for the total absence of substance in an argument. If the unpublished documents mentioned are supportive of any real position, why not be more precise as to just what they contain? This would, at least, keep one from falling into vagaries, innuendos, if not outright defamation.
To finish with this second point let me emphasize that the person Mme Braeckman accuses of being a ‘biased interpreter’ was needed for the transcription of the control tower tapes from Kigali airport and the testimony of two witnesses. Fabien Singaye had nothing, directly or indirectly, to do with the testimonies of either Ruzibiza or Ruzigana. Not even with that of Emmanuel Ruzindana, whose name does not even appear in judge Bruguière’s report!
As to the special privileges extended to Mme Rose Kabuye:
Here in Belgium we have recently become aware of a governmental crisis brought on by a simple interference by the executive branch into the judicial branch, or maybe it was the other way round. How do our French friends see the ‘separation of powers’? If we follow the smarmy, self-serving statements of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner with regard to the Kabuye affair, we get the feeling--shared by many--that the bubbly Mr K. has taken great and grave liberties with regard to the principle of the separation of powers. Strangely enough, his flagrant interfering has not brought anywhere near as great a reaction from French legislators as what we have seen here in Belgium.
To speak of the charges against Mme Kabuye as being a huge ‘misunderstanding’ is a sort of provocation of the French judiciary. It is also a harsh blow to the families of the victims of the 6 April attack. Even if the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The concern of the French president and his Foreign Minister about normalizing troubled relations between France and Rwanda are, in and of themselves, laudable. Nevertheless, we believe that all is not acceptable in the name realpolitik, and this normalization of relations would be tantamount to the obliteration of the histories of the several million victims sacrificed on the altar of absolute power. No, there are boundaries that should not be crossed.
As disturbing is the appeal made at the beginning of this year by president Sarkozy to set up a new system for managing the resources and the territory of the provinces in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. What? Does he think he’s the Bismarck of the Great Lakes here? Could he have forgotten what the French used to sing with their hands over their hearts and a tremolo in their throats? “They will not take Alsace and Lorraine . . .!” By what right would he force on the Congolese something which, in the past, the French paid an enormous price fighting against? And how much is he ready to do in order to roll out the red carpet for the new Mwami (King) of Rwanda? In any case, King Kagame is going to laugh until his lips fall off!
Given what we have just seen, to suggest, as CB does, that the privileged treatment that Mme Kabuye received showed the Bruguière report to be nothing but an empty vessel, is to take her readers for idiots.
So many years after the 6 April 1994 attack and things are still not back to normal. If after all these years this terrorist act is still spawning books and other documents about its consequences, it is because things are still unclear. Things are still so unclear that there are many who strive, with or against the current, to impose ‘their unilateral view’ of history on the world. But these views just do not stand up to historical analysis. And it is impossible to ignore that these tenants of public opinion, which enforce, far and wide, a sort of intellectual dictatorship by appropriating the ideas of ‘revisionism’ and ‘negationism’ to overwhelm all those who would dare pose even the slightest challenge to their version of history.
The press should be content simply to play its noble role: to inform the public with complete objectivity. It should avoid, for its own obscure reasons, trying to take on the role of the judiciary. Justice is perfectly capable of meeting its own responsibilities.
To pretend that the Bruguière investigation is about to collapse for want of consistency, is to trivialize another investigation that preceded it and came to the same conclusions. In 1997, Michael Hourigan, lead investigator for the ICTR working out of Kigali, put together a file which implicated the current Kigali regime in the murders of presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira. This investigation was well executed from beginning to end. While it started out with the presumption that the attack was the responsibility of extremist Hutus, the accumulation of evidence indicated that, in reality, the responsibility lay with the RPF. And, of course, we know what became of the ‘Hourigan file’: it was first shoved into the back of a drawer by Canadian Louise Arbour, the ICTR prosecutor at that time. Hourigan was told, summarily, to stop his investigation and to destroy all his supporting documents.
And then, it is not the attempts to denigrate the Bruguière investigation by certain members of the press that will make us change our opinion on the necessity for the judicial process to take its normal course and to bring forth a trial. Only a trial will allow a true debate, with the confrontation of opposing arguments, to take place. It is also by way of a trial that, after all these years of obfuscation, we can hope to bring some real clarity to the history of the attack of 6 April 1994.
L'enquête du juge Bruguière sur l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 -- par Col. Luc Marchal
L'enquête du juge Bruguière sur l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 ne cesse de faire couler d'encre et de salive. La journaliste Colette Braeckman est de ceux qui pensent que cette enquête se dégonfle. Le Colonel Luc Marchal est d'un avis contraire.
L'enquête du juge Bruguière sur l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 : rien qu'un vulgaire pétard mouillé ?
Rappel des faits
L'enquête du juge français fut initiée en 1998 suite à une plainte contre X déposée initialement par la fille d'un des membres de l'équipage du Falcon présidentiel, plainte à laquelle se sont joints ensuite d'autres membres des familles. Fin novembre 2006, le juge Bruguière, Premier vice-président du Tribunal de grande instance de Paris en charge de la coordination antiterroriste, rend une ordonnance par laquelle il demande que neuf mandats d'arrêt internationaux soient décernés à l'encontre de proches collaborateurs de Paul Kagame. En ce qui concerne le président en exercice du Rwanda, couvert par son immunité de chef d'Etat, le juge se tourne vers le Secrétaire Général de l'ONU et préconise que le Tribunal pénal international pour le Rwanda (TPIR), compétent en la matière, prenne le relais des poursuites.
L'instruction couvre donc une période de huit ans. Le moins que l'on puisse dire est qu'elle fut menée en dehors de toute précipitation. Les autorités gouvernementales rwandaises se rendirent parfaitement compte de la portée réelle de la procédure en cours et réagirent bien avant que l'ordonnance ne soit rendue. En 2005 elles menacèrent à différentes reprises la France de poursuites judiciaires pour complicité de génocide. Effectivement des plaintes furent déposées en ce sens à Paris, par des rescapés rwandais, contre l'armée française. Ensuite, en avril 2006, une commission (dite Mucyo du nom de son président) fut mise sur pied pour enquêter sur "le rôle de la France avant, pendant et après le génocide".
Longue de près de 70 pages, l'ordonnance signée par le juge Bruguière est plutôt inhabituelle en ce sens qu'il n'était pas tenu de motiver l'émission de mandats d'arrêt internationaux. Mais ce moment essentiel dans l'instruction du dossier lui permet de faire une synthèse des investigations conduites avec la division nationale antiterroriste (DNAT). Sa conclusion est catégorique : l'implication de Paul Kagame dans l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 est directe.
Les réactions de Kigali vont en sens divers, qualifiant l'ordonnance d'allégations totalement infondées, basée sur des ragots et des rumeurs et reprochant à la justice française d'être plus motivée politiquement que judiciairement dans cette affaire. D'autres réactions frisent le surréalisme, certains officiels affirmant que le président Habyarimana et le général Nsabimana, le chef d'état-major des forces armées rwandaises, étaient des cibles légitimes dans le cadre d'un conflit armé. Oubliant sans doute que le Front patriotique rwandais (FPR) avait signé des accords de paix et que le président du Burundi et d'autres officiels des deux pays se trouvaient à bord du Falcon 50. Plus concrètement le Rwanda rompt également ses relations diplomatiques avec la France et en mars 2007 deux généraux rwandais, inculpés par le juge Bruguière, déposent plainte contre lui devant la justice belge, de même que contre l'Etat belge.
Rappelons encore dans ce contexte deux éléments majeurs. Le premier est que, fin 2006, le Juge Møse, président à l'époque du TPIR et président de la Chambre compétente dans le procès dit "Militaires I", verse dans son intégralité l'ordonnance du juge Bruguière comme pièce au dossier des quatre officiers rwandais inculpés dans ce procès. Le second élément est l'aboutissement, en février 2008, de l'enquête menée par le juge espagnol Fernando Andreu Merelles. Cette enquête, initiée suite aux assassinats de neuf ressortissants espagnols perpétrés au Rwanda entre 1994 et 2000, se clôture par la délivrance de 40 mandats d'arrêt internationaux à l'encontre d'officiers de l'Armée patriotique rwandaise (APR). Dans un arrêt circonstancié de 181 pages, le juge estime que les personnes visées ont commis des actes de génocide, crimes contre l’humanité, crimes de guerre et terrorisme sur ordre du président Kagame. Ce dernier bénéficie de l’immunité que lui confère sa fonction et n’est donc pas l’objet d’un mandat d’arrêt. Dans ses conclusions, le juge accuse le FPR d’avoir mis en place une véritable méthode criminelle. Il estime que depuis sa prise du pouvoir à Kigali, en juillet 1994, le parti a créé un véritable règne de la terreur, non seulement par l'organisation même de son régime dictatorial, mais surtout par la mise en place de structures parallèles responsables de crimes odieux commis contre la population civile, tant nationale qu’étrangère. Le point culminant de cette politique, poursuit-il, est l'invasion du Congo qui, sous couvert de motif sécuritaire, devait permettre, entre autres, la réalisation du pillage de ressources naturelles précieuses, de façon à se maintenir au pouvoir et exercer une domination géostratégique sur la région. Le juge relève par ailleurs que les crimes commis en 1994 sont du ressort du TPIR et plus spécifiquement de son procureur, le Gambien Hassan Bubacar Jallow, responsable des poursuites.
Une enquête contestée qui se réduirait à une peau de chagrin
Dans un article paru dans le quotidien ''Le Soir'' du 6 avril dernier et qui n'est pas le premier du genre, la journaliste belge Colette Braeckman (CB) tente de démontrer que le "dossier Bruguière" se dégonfle comme une vulgaire baudruche. Que reproche-t-elle concrètement au juge français et à son enquête ?
Précisons avant tout que le seul document porté à la connaissance du commun des mortels est l'ordonnance datée du 17 novembre 2006. Le dossier répressif proprement dit n'est accessible qu'aux ayants droit. C'est-à-dire, au stade actuel, à Madame Rose Kabuye (entendue par la justice française) et ses avocats. Dès lors nous nous demandons en vertu de quelle compétence Madame Braeckman aurait eu accès au dossier du juge Bruguière pour pouvoir le commenter en connaissance de cause ?
Soyons clair. Nous n'avons pas la prétention de croire que nous détenons "la Vérité". Nous entendons cependant que si nous sommes dans l'erreur on nous le démontre avec des éléments objectifs et non par des affirmations gratuites, des demi-vérités, des amalgames et autres subterfuges en vue d'éluder le débat de fond. Dans un dossier aussi émotionnel que celui du Rwanda et du Congo (en près de vingt années la région des Grands Lacs a été transformée en un immense charnier de plusieurs millions de victimes), le citoyen est en droit d'être informé avec la plus grande rigueur. Que le dossier du juge Bruguière, à l'instar de n'importe quelle œuvre humaine, comporte le cas échéant certaines imperfections ou lacunes est dans l'ordre des choses. Mais, de là à réduire un travail d'investigation de huit années à un vulgaire pétard mouillé, voire à mettre en cause la probité du juge et de ses collaborateurs, il y a une marge à ne pas franchir. En la franchissant, ce que nous estimons être le cas, on perd toute objectivité et toute crédibilité.
Trois éléments significatifs sont invoqués, parmi d'autres, dans l'article de CB pour justifier la piètre appréciation qui est la sienne quant à la consistance du dossier ?
· Les principaux témoins à charge se sont rétractés.
· Un interprète et traducteur rwandais, Fabien Singaye, qui assistait le juge Bruguière et ses enquêteurs dans les interrogatoires de témoins était tout sauf neutre.
· L'autorisation faite à Madame Kabuye de regagner le Rwanda et d'y poursuivre ses activités officielles, même si le mandat d'arrêt la concernant n'est pas formellement levé, est symptomatique de la légèreté des charges retenues contre elle.
Qu'en est-il de ces différentes assertions ?
Quant à la rétractation des principaux témoins à charge
Deux témoins à charge se sont rétractés : Abdul Ruzibiza et Emmanuel Ruzigana. Il s'agit, en effet, de deux témoins importants mais qui sont loin d'être les seuls à avoir témoigné à propos des mêmes choses.
Prenons le cas d'Abdul Ruzibiza, le plus connu. Son livre "Rwanda l'histoire secrète", paru aux éditions du Panama en 2005, a jeté un fameux pavé dans la mare lors de sa parution. En synthèse, ce livre met en évidence la responsabilité directe de Paul Kagame dans l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 et dans l'ampleur des massacres perpétrés au Rwanda ainsi qu'au Congo-Zaïre. Pareilles accusations n'avaient cependant à l'époque rien d'un scoop. Elles avaient déjà été exprimées à l'encontre de l'homme fort de Kigali bien avant celles de Ruzibiza ou de Ruzigana. Notamment par Jean-Pierre Mugabe, Aloys Ruyenzi et Déogratias Mushayidi, pour ne citer que ceux-là.
Il est vrai que dans l'article du journal Le Soir du 6 avril dernier, CB précise qu'elle avait rencontré à l'époque Ruzibiza et qu'elle l'avait jugé peu crédible. Etonnant quand on sait que le livre de Ruzibiza a été préfacé par deux experts reconnus de la région des Grands Lacs : Claudine Vidal, directrice de recherches émérite au CNRS et André Guichaoua, professeur de sociologie à l'université de Paris 1. Ce n'est quand même pas rien !
Ce n'est pas parce que Ruzibiza s'est rétracté que forcément les 494 pages de son livre ne sont qu'un salmigondis d'inventions, de mensonges et d'élucubrations diverses. C'est d'autant moins le cas que pour avoir vécu certaines des circonstances décrites dans le livre, nous pouvons attester que les détails fournis les concernant sont tout à fait corrects. Quoi qu'il en soit, il nous semble un peu court de déclarer que Ruzibiza n'est qu'un affabulateur et que par conséquent le dossier du juge Bruguière se dégonfle en même temps que son principal témoin.
Il est peut-être utile de rappeler à Madame Braeckman que l'intéressé a aussi été témoigner au TPIR et que son témoignage, qui reprenait les principaux thèmes de son livre, a été fait sous serment. Dans ces conditions, il est étonnant que le procureur du TPIR n'ait pas jugé utile de rappeler ce témoin pour parjure, alors qu'il a autorité pour le faire et qu'il a déjà fait usage de cette prérogative par le passé. Sur le plan journalistique la démarche aurait été tout autre si, au lieu de prendre la rétractation de Ruzibiza au premier degré, une enquête sérieuse avait été menée pour essayer de déterminer les véritables raisons pour lesquelles l'intéressé est revenu sur ses affirmations. N'est-ce pas cela en réalité le travail du journaliste ?
En conclusion de ce premier point, nous disons que si Ruzibiza avait été le seul à accuser nommément Paul Kagame pour son implication directe dans la tragédie rwandaise, il faudrait, en effet, remettre en question la matérialité de ses affirmations. Etant donné que ce n'est pas le cas et que bien d'autres témoins directs disent en substance la même chose, il serait dès lors plus opportun de rechercher les véritables raisons pour lesquelles Ruzibiza et Ruzigana sont revenus sur leurs dires. Pareille démarche permettrait, sans aucun doute, d'appréhender de façon beaucoup plus exacte l'enjeu réel de cette volte-face.
Quant au rôle controversé de Fabien Singaye
Selon CB "des documents inédits découverts en Suisse – et dont nous avons pu prendre connaissance en exclusivité – établissent que le traducteur rwandais qui assista Bruguière dans l'interrogatoire de ses témoins était tout sauf neutre (…) rien d'étonnant à ce que des témoins comme Emmanuel Ruzindana (qui ne parle pas le français) aient déclaré par la suite n'avoir rien reconnu des propos qu'ils avaient réellement tenus …".
De grâce restons sérieux. Peut-on imaginer un seul instant que le juge Bruguière, avec le pedigree qui est le sien, se soit laissé intoxiquer comme un vulgaire débutant ? Si les documents inédits évoqués par Madame Braeckman sont de même nature que le soi-disant "témoin capital de l'assassinat de Habyarimana" (Le Soir du 6 mai 2006), le seul à affirmer que ce sont trois missiles sol-air qui ont été tirés sur l'avion présidentiel, cela ne mérite en aucun cas le détour. Aller dénicher pareil témoin, il fallait le faire. C'est vraiment très fort ! Alors que tout qui se trouvait à Kigali le soir du 6 avril 1994 vous confirmera que ce sont bien deux missiles et non trois qui ont pris le Falcon présidentiel pour cible. Consacrer un article d'une page, à semblable témoignage farfelu, constituait déjà à l'époque une manière de jeter le doute sur le sérieux de l'enquête du juge qui ne mentionne que deux missiles.
Le fait que Fabien Singaye soit le beau-fils de Félicien Kabuga, accusé d'être l'un des financiers du génocide, constitue-t-il vraiment l'argument irréfutable de sa compromission ? Tant que l'on y est, pourquoi ne pas affirmer tout simplement que le juge Bruguière s'est entouré de génocidaires pour l'assister dans son travail ? Pareille association entre Kabuga et son beau-fils ne trompe guère de monde. L'amalgame est une technique éculée dont le but est surtout de camoufler l'indigence de l'argumentation. Si les documents inédits évoqués sont à ce point probants, pourquoi ne pas être plus précis quant à leur contenu ? Ceci éviterait à tout le moins de se cantonner dans le vague et le sous-entendu, si pas la diffamation.
En conclusion de ce second point soulignons que celui qui est accusé, par Madame Braeckman, d'être un interprète "engagé" a été requis pour la transcription des bandes d'enregistrement de la tour de contrôle de Kigali et pour l'audition de deux témoins. Fabien Singaye n'a été impliqué, ni de près ni de loin, dans le témoignage de Ruzibiza ou de Ruzigana. Pas plus, du reste, que dans celui de Emmanuel Ruzindana dont le nom n'apparaît même pas dans l'ordonnance du juge Bruguière !
Quant au régime de faveur dont bénéficie Madame Rose Kabuye
Nous avons tout récemment connu en Belgique une crise gouvernementale provoquée par une simple "suspicion" d'ingérence entre le pouvoir exécutif et le pouvoir judiciaire, à moins que ce ne soit l'inverse. De quelle façon nos amis français perçoivent-ils la notion de "séparation des pouvoirs" ? En tout cas, à suivre les déclarations engagées et les salamalecs répétés de Bernard Kouchner, ministre des Affaires étrangères, à propos de l'affaire Kabuye, nous avons le sentiment (que beaucoup partagent) que le bouillant Monsieur K. a pris de sérieuses latitudes par rapport à ce principe de séparation des pouvoirs. Bizarrement, son ingérence flagrante est loin d'avoir suscité de la part des parlementaires français la même réaction que celle que nous avons connue en Belgique.
Parler d'un "énorme malentendu", en évoquant l'inculpation de Madame Kabuye, a quelque chose de provoquant à l'égard du pouvoir judiciaire. C'est aussi plus que choquant pour les proches des victimes de l'attentat du 6 avril 1994. Même si tout inculpé reste, jusqu'à preuve du contraire, présumé innocent des faits qui lui sont reprochés.
Le souci du président de la République française et de son ministre des Affaires étrangères de normaliser les relations tumultueuses de la France avec le Rwanda est louable en soi. Néanmoins nous restons convaincu que tout n'est pas justifiable au nom de la realpolitik et ce, d'autant moins qu'une normalisation des relations équivaudrait, de facto, au renvoi dans les oubliettes de l'histoire de plusieurs millions de victimes immolées sur l'autel du pouvoir absolu. Non, il y a des limites qui ne peuvent être franchies.
Tout aussi interpellant est cette exhortation lancée par le président Sarkozy, au début de cette année, à mettre en œuvre une nouvelle gestion des ressources et de l'espace géographique des provinces orientales de la République Démocratique du Congo. Se prendrait-il pour le Bismarck des Grands Lacs ? Aurait-il vraiment oublié ce que les Français chantaient jadis la main sur le cœur et le trémolo dans la voix : ils n'auront pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine… ? En vertu de quels critères voudrait-il faire accepter par les Congolais ce que les Français ont combattu à l'époque au prix de lourds sacrifices ? A quoi est-il donc prêt pour dérouler le tapis rouge devant les pieds du nouveau Mwami du Rwanda ? En tout cas, ce dernier doit en ricaner à se démettre les mâchoires !
Aussi, étant donné ce qui précède, invoquer, comme le fait CB, le régime de faveur de Madame Kabuye pour tenter de démontrer que le dossier Bruguière ne serait qu'une calebasse vide, c'est vraiment prendre les lecteurs pour des imbéciles.
Si autant d'années après l'attentat du 6 avril 1994 les choses n'ont toujours pas repris un cours normal. Si autant d'années après cet acte terroriste tant de livres et de documents sont toujours rédigés sur ses conséquences, c'est qu'objectivement les choses ne sont toujours pas claires. Elles le sont d'autant moins que certains s'évertuent, envers et contre tout, à vouloir imposer "leur vision" unilatérale de l'histoire, vision qui ne résiste, mais alors plus du tout, à l'analyse historique. Force nous est aussi de constater que ces tenants de la pensée unique exercent urbi et orbi une véritable dictature intellectuelle en récupérant avec cynisme les concepts de "révisionnisme" et de "négationnisme" dont ils accablent tout qui ose contester un tant soit peu leur version de l'histoire.
Que la presse se contente d'exercer le noble rôle qui est le sien : informer le public en toute objectivité. Qu'elle évite, pour d'obscures raisons qui lui sont propres, de vouloir se substituer à la justice. Cette dernière est parfaitement en mesure d'assumer ses propres responsabilités.
Prétendre que l'enquête du juge Bruguière est sur le point d'imploser par manque de consistance, c'est faire peu de cas d'une autre enquête qui l'a précédée et dont la conclusion va dans le même sens. En 1997, Michael Hourigan, chef d'une équipe d'enquêteurs du TPIR travaillant à Kigali, avait constitué un dossier dont les éléments mettaient l'actuel régime de Kigali en cause dans l'assassinat des présidents Habyarimana et Ntaryamira. Cette enquête a bien été menée à charge et à décharge, puisqu'elle visait initialement à établir l'implication des extrémistes hutus dans cet attentat, mais que les éléments recueillis pointèrent, en réalité, la responsabilité directe du Front patriotique. Nous savons ce qu'il est advenu du "dossier Hourigan" : rangé de façon péremptoire au fond d'un tiroir par la procureur du TPIR de l'époque, la canadienne Louise Arbour. Quant à Michael Hourigan il fut sommé d'arrêter, sine die, ses investigations et de détruire tous les documents s'y rapportant.
Aussi, ce n'est pas la tentative de dénigrement de l'enquête du juge Bruguière de la part d'une certaine presse qui nous fera changer d'avis sur la nécessité que la procédure judiciaire suive son cours normal et débouche sur un procès. Seul le procès permettra un véritable débat par la confrontation des arguments. Un procès, c'est aussi l'espoir qu'après autant d'années d'obscurantisme, toute la clarté soit enfin faite sur l'attentat du 6 avril 1994.
Civilian Plane Shoot-Downs and International (In)Justice--From [KAL]007 to Rwanda--by Ed Herman
[Here’s a very interesting article our friend Ed Herman wrote for Z Magazine’s May 2009 edition. It concerns a subject very near and dear to CM/P’s heart: The uses of civil aviation as a weapon of terrorist war. In his analysis, Prof Herman takes a good bite out of this long, dark history, and even goes outside the time frame set up by his title: from the 1 September 1983 downing by a Soviet SU-15 of Korean Air Lines flight 007, to the 6 April 1994 double assassination of African (majoritarian Hutu) heads of state, Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi and Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda, in a SAM 16 strike against the Rwandan presidential Falcon 50 by US-trained and equipped commandos of the invading Rwandan Patriotic Army, led by the current president of Rwanda, and pleuri-indicted war criminal, Paul Kagame.
Herman goes back to Israel’s 1973 shooting down of a Lybian airliner, and then, after discussing the US Navy’s downing of an Iranian Airbus in 1988 and the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, just three months later, vividly describes how completely befuddled international justice has become in its attempts to assign actual legal responsibility for these terrorist crimes--at least those crimes that were not the admitted work of US and/or Israeli military intelligence--atrocities like the NATO terror bombing of Serbian civilians in 1999 or any of the IDF ‘incursions’ into Gaza or Lebanon--all of which are merely written off as unhappy errors. (Oops, my bad. Next.)
Herman’s critical model, as always in his work, is rock solid:
“Impunity for the crimes of the United States and its agents and clients; U.S. and client targets available for investigations, trials and punishment in accord with the rule of a politicized system of international (in)justice.”
And though the number of suspicious ‘plane crashes’ is growing every day and too great really to tie up with some common intentional thread, there are two aspects to this phenomenon that help identify its progenitor. First, the most important incidents, like the two cited in the title of this article, have gone without any investigation worthy of the name, or have had all attempts at serious inquiry suppressed and evidence, like black box flight recorders or (in the case of KAL007) US radar tracking records, lost or destroyed. And second, if one looks at the overall beneficiary of all these terrorist acts, whether the perps are claimed to be White supremacist militias or vague cyber networks of swarthy ex-colonial religious fanatics, the big $ prizes (usually in the form of fat insurance claims or major defense budget hikes) always fall to the gangsters of Western waste capital and their private military contractors.
One can only slightly regret that Professor Herman has not delved more deeply into the real motivational context of the West’s proliferation of political terror in the skies. From the Soviet’s shooting down of Gary Power’s U2 spy plane in 1960, to the 1996 missile strike against TWA 800, to the use on 9/11 of ‘civilian airliners as (or ‘and’, depending on how you heard Rumsfeld on that dark Tuesday in 2001) missiles’ against its own people while foisting blame and inflicting murderous retaliation on to the poor and defenseless victims of Imperialism in the Middle East and Central Asia, the West’s war OF terror has always been against the rational, majoritarian and democratic governments of the world--chief among them, Russia and China.
It’s a great honor to have Ed Herman, an old and dear friend, in the CM/P tent. --mc]
[Z Magazine, May 2009]
Civilian Plane Shoot-Downs and International (In)Justice; From 007 to Rwanda
Edward S. Herman
It is enlightening and sometimes even amusing to see how the treatment of the shooting down of civilian planes is politicized, and how in this area, as in so many others, the media propagandize in the service of the government’s agenda and party line. On the humorous side, consider the following New York Times editorial statements: On the Soviet shooting down of Korean Airlines flt.007 on August 31, 1983: “There is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner.” This is “cold blooded mass murder,” and the editors ask “whether the Kremlin accepts its responsibility for a minimally decent international order” (ed., “Murder in the Air,” Sept. 2, 1983). On the Israeli shooting down of Libyan civilian airliner in February 1973: “No useful purpose is served by an acrimonious debate over the assignment of blame for the downing of a Libyan airliner on the Sinai peninsula last week” (ed., “After Sinai,” March 1, 1973). On the shooting down of Iranian Airbus 655 by the USS Vincennes in the Persian Gulf in July 1988, the New York Times editors found that in this case, “while horrifying, it was nonetheless an accident. On present evidence [i.e., on the claims in the immediate official account], it’s hard to see what the navy could have done to avoid it” (ed., “In Captain Rogers Shoes,” NYT, July 5, 1988).
Now, in fact, the Soviets didn’t know that 007 was a civilian airliner, a point that the Reagan administration quickly learned from pilot tape exchanges, but suppressed; but it took almost five years for the Times editors to admit this as “The Lie That Wasn’t Shot Down” (ed., June 18, 1988). The Times itself didn’t learn this by its own investigative effort, but based on somebody else’s use of the FOIA. So they had quickly denounced the Soviets based on a lie that they themselves failed to uncover; whereas in the case of the Israeli shoot-down of a Libyan civilian airliner, it was recognized from the beginning that the Israelis knowingly shot down a civilian plane, but this didn’t bother the editors at all—in this case no “barbarism” or “cold-blooded murder,” but rather apologetics for cold-blooded murder.
In the case of the Iranian airbus shoot-down, here too, in the editorial cited above the editors’ biases approach the humorous: the official account is unquestioned; the editors fail to note that the USS Vincennes was in the Persian Gulf to assist our ally Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, and they make poor Saddam the victim in this war, not the aggressor (they speak of “Iran’s futile eight year war with Iraq”). For many years the Times failed to mention the fact that David Carlson, the commander of a nearby US warship, published a letter in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings of September 1989 on “The Vincennes Incident,” which claimed that the Iranian plane had been in it’s proper flight corridor, that Iranian behavior in the area “was pointedly nonthreatening,” and that Captain Rogers had a reputation as aggressive and the Vincennes as a “Robo-Cruiser.” The Times did have a news article reporting on the hero’s greeting that Captain Rogers received on his return to San Diego (Robert Reinhold, “Crew of Cruiser That Downed Iranian Airliner Gets a Warm Homecoming,” NYT, Oct. 25, 1988), but never had an editorial comment on this, nor on his receipt of a Legion of Merit reward for his “exceptionally meritorious conduct.” Imagine what the paper would have said if the pilot who shot down 007 had received similar treatment in the Soviet Union.
It might be argued that this was all editorial opinion, and did not necessarily impact news. But this would be quite wrong. The failure to uncover the “lie that was not shot down” or to report David Carlson’s comments on Captain Rogers and his action were first class news failures. The variation in intensity of coverage was also closely correlated with editorial bias. The New York Times had 147 articles, covering 2,789 column inches on the 007 case in the month of September 1983 alone. For ten consecutive days the paper had a special section devoted to the case. And with all this coverage it succeeded in suppressing a great deal of relevant context and critical opinion. By contrast, the shooting down of the Libyan plane by Israel in 1973 and the Iranian airbus in July 1988 received much more muted coverage, and no special sections were devoted to the shoot-downs. Coverage escalated with the shooting down of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, just six months after the destruction of the Iranian airliner.
Plane Shoot-downs and (In)Justice
Plane shoot-downs by the United States or one of its clients seem never to result in punishment for the villains or justice to the victims. But when the United States or one of its clients is the victim, punishment and some kind of “justice” is often forthcoming. Thus, in the case of Israel’s shooting down of the Libyan airliner in 1973, no Israeli was punished or even threatened, and in fact the Israeli Prime Minister was welcomed in Washington only a week after this shoot-down, and without the intrusion of painful questions. On the other hand, after the 007 shoot-down, in addition to the widespread publicity and denunciations of this “barbaric act,” a boycott of Soviet airflights was organized by at least 16 countries, Soviet officials desirous of attending UN meetings were harassed, and there was a marked cooling of relations between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies.
Similarly, while the United States suffered no penalty whatsoever for shooting down Iranian airliner 655, and the responsible Rambo captain of the Vincennes was greeted as a hero and given a medal of honor for his outstanding service, there was serious action carried out by the “international community” against the alleged organizers and participants in the shooting down of Pan Am 103. There was naturally a suspicion that the destruction of Pan Am 103 was Iran-based, given what the United States had done to Airbus 655, and there was soon a consensus of investigators that the act had been carried out by a noted terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine--General Command (PFLP-GC), led by Ahmed Jibril. This group had cells in West Germany, had used bombs such as that employed on Pan Am 103, and airport security in Frankfurt was lax. The working hypothesis of an Iranian involvement was supported further by a claim by Western security officials that Iran had offered a $10 million reward for a retaliatory act.
But then, as relations with Saddam Hussein deteriorated in 1989 and 1990, and the United States sought better relations with Syria and Iran in the run-up to the first Persian Gulf War, Western officials quietly abandoned the Syria-Iran connection, followed by a fairly rapid shift from “definitive” proof of PFLP-Syrian-Iranian involvement to “definitive” proof that it was a Libyan act. As Paul Foot noted, “The evidence against the PFLP which had been so carefully put together and was so immensely impressive was quietly but firmly junked” (“Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice,” Private Eye, May/June 2001, p. 10). Libya provided a suitable new culprit, as it was already on the U.S.-UK hit list and had been subjected to a series of efforts at “regime change,” a hostility based on its independence, support of the Palestinians and other dissident forces (including the ANC and Mandela in their resistance to apartheid South Africa), as well as occasional support of anti-Western terrorists. So Libya it was.
The Libyan connection lasted in pristine condition from 1990 into 2007, during which time Libya was subjected to intensive vilification, costly sanctions imposed by the Security Council, and a highly publicized trial in the Netherlands that resulted in the conviction of a Libyan national for the Lockerbie murders, with further bad publicity for Libya and Kaddafi, and a payment of several billion dollars in victim compensation that Libya felt compelled to provide (although still denying any involvement in the shoot-down). All this despite the fact that many experts and observers, including some victim family members, felt that the trial was a political event and a judicial farce that yielded an unwarranted and unjust conviction. (For details and analysis, see John Ashton and Jan Ferguson, Cover-Up of Convenience [Mainstream: 2001]; Neil Mackay, “UN Claims Lockerbie Trial Rigged”: Sunday Herald [Scotland], April 8, 2001: "http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0408-01.htm" or http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0408-01.htm; Edward Herman,“Lockerbie and the New World Order Rule of Injustice,” Z Magazine, Dec. 2001: "http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticle/12789" or http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticle/12789 .)
UN observer Hans Kochler called it “a spectacular miscarriage of justice;” Robert Black, a Scottish legal authority on the case, spoke of “an astonishing miscarriage of justice.” This belief in the injustice of the court decision was greatly strengthened in June 2007 when a Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission issued a decision that found the 2001 trial and decision flawed and opened the way for a fresh appeal for the convicted Libyan. If this decision is validated, the world will be left without a party responsible for the Pan Am-103 bombing, but with the strong likelihood that attention will be refocused on the PFLP and its sponsors, Syria and Iran. Is it not an amazing coincidence that this second turnaround occurs as Libya becomes more acceptable to the United States and its allies and these Western powers are now retargeting Syria and Iran?
But is it not equally interesting that with the United States a victim the alleged perpetrator can be subjected to multi-year abuse, costly sanctions, billions in expenses, and court actions against it that can never be mobilized against the United States and its clients for similar or analogous shoot-downs? Enemy shoot-downs are barbarism, U.S. and client state shoot-downs are at most “tragic errors.”
It is also revealing that the individual victim in the Pan-Am 103 case, Abdel Basset Al al-Megrahi, almost surely innocent, and suffering from a terminal case of cancer, remains imprisoned and cannot obtain release via bail, early pardon, or based on medical or humanitarian considerations. This is reminiscent of the ICTY’s treatment of Milosevic, who could not get urgent medical treatment in Moscow even with a Russian guarantee of return (he died two weeks after the denial). It contrasts with the ICTY’s permission of the indicted Kosovo Albanian war criminal and hands-on-killer Ramush Haradinaj to leave the Hague in 2005 in order to engage in a political campaign in Kosovo. Haradinaj was also eventually exonerated by the ICTY, helped along by the unexpected deaths of two witnesses, but based more fundamentally on structured ICTY bias. In short, there is a stream of evidence that international (in)justice is a function of power and affiliation.
Rwanda and the 1994 Shoot-down-Assassination by Our Man (Kagame)
On April 6, 1994, a plane was shot-down as it approached Kigali airport, killing the presidents of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana and of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira. This was followed by the mass killings, the “Rwanda genocide,” and a closely paralleling conflict between the Rwandan army associated with the Hutu dominant government of the murdered president Habyarimana and the rebel forces of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame. This assassination and war were the culmination of years of conflict that began with the invasion of Rwanda by elements of the Ugandan army in October 1990. Paul Kagame, who had been Uganda’s head of military intelligence, led the 1990 incursion [small sic here--see Note* below--cm/p], and his Ugandan forces, most of them Ugandan citizens and Tutsis, many earlier exiled from Rwanda, broke off from the Ugandan army and became the patriotic RPF.
This invasion, and the further warfare, ethnic cleansing, and political and military penetration into Rwanda, was supported by the United States—Kagame had actually trained at Fort Leavenworth—and Kagame’s and the RPF’s advances and successes were very much a result of this superpower backing, which flowed into support for the RPF by Kofi Annan and the UN, the IMF and World Bank, and Britain and Belgium (in this process the United States was deliberately displacing the French from Central Africa, just as it had displaced Britain in the Middle East). It also meant support of the RPF by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other supposed human rights groups.
Given U.S. support, the invasion of Rwanda by Uganda in 1990 was never an issue at the UN, just as the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006 were not issues—in contrast with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, which elicited immediate UN condemnation and responsive action. It was also never an issue for HRW, which focused on alleged human rights violations by the government under attack from Uganda and being subjected to serious RPF-based and U.S.-backed subversion from within.
A problem for Kagame and his U.S. supporters was that Tutsis were only some 15 percent of the Rwanda population, and large numbers of Hutus were extremely hostile to the RPF, as the RPF’s invasion and ethnic cleansing in northern Rwanda, and ethnic cleansing by Tutsi forces in Burundi, had created a huge refugee population. Thus there was no chance that Kagame and the RPF could win a free election, which had been scheduled under a 1993 accord for 1995. Power could be won only by a violent RPF takeover. Is it not remarkable that this power was won by Kagame in just three months time in 1994, by violence, thus precluding the need for any free election? Isn’t it amazing that he and his Tutsi army and supporters won such a decisive victory in the face of an alleged “genocide” being carried out by the losers? Isn’t it amazing that all serious evidence points to more Hutus than Tutsis being killed during this high killing period?
Isn’t it remarkable that following this Kagame victory he and Uganda’s Musevemi (another U.S. protégé) have repeatedly invaded the Congo, stealing and helping others steal in a resource rich area, killing vast numbers, but again with no impediment on the part of the United States or “international community”? (For details on these matters, Robin Philpot, Rwanda 1994: Colonialism Dies Hard (E-Text as posted to the Taylor Report Website, 2004 (http://www.taylor-report.com/Rwanda_1994/)); Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, forthcoming); and Keith Harmon Snow, "Hotel Rwanda: Hollywood and the Holocaust in Central Africa," November 1, 2007 ( http://www.allthingspass.com/journalism.php?catid=47 or http://cirqueminime.blogcollective.com/blog/_archives/2006/11/16/2505462.html).
This brings me back to the plane shoot-down of April 6, 1996. Again, the convenience of these de facto assassinations for Kagame and the RPF, and its U.S.-UK-Belgian supporters, was noteworthy and remarkable. It precipitated the mass killing that followed over the next several months. In the U.S. mainstream, this was blamed on the Hutus and Hutu government and paramilitaries, but there are acute problems: It was the Hutu head-of-state that was killed, and therefore hardly his doing. It was the RPF that won the ensuing conflict in little more than three months, again remarkable if the assassination and aftermath violence was planned by the Hutu government. The United States fought to have UN troops withdrawn from Rwanda just at the time the supposed genocide by the Hutus was getting underway in April 1994, which the Hutu government opposed but Kagame supported. For Samantha Power and other apologists for the standard model—Hutu aggression and genocide, Kagame as reactive and defensive—the United States just “stood by.” But they had armed Kagame, weakened the Rwanda government, and were clearing the ground for the planned coup and takeover by their client. By another remarkable coincidence, just the previous year Tutsi officers in neighbouring Burundi assassinated their Hutu head-of-state, Melchior Ndadaye, a development celebrated by the RPF.
Still more telling, an investigation of the shoot-down by Michael Hourigan, an Australian lawyer employed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), reported in 1996 that there was compelling evidence provided by three RPF participants that the plane had been shot down by Kagame’s RPF forces. When Hourigan gave this information to Louise Arbour, at that time chief prosecutor for the ICTR, Arbour, after consulting U.S. officials, closed down the investigation and ordered Hourigan to destroy his files, on the ground that investigation of this matter was outside the ICTR’s jurisdiction. This was false, as even Richard Goldstone, the former ICTR prosecutor (and long-time friend of the U.S. State Department) insisted. Subsequently, in 2003, Carla Del Ponte, a successor chief prosecutor of the ICTR, proposed a new investigation of this key 1994 assassination. But she couldn’t persuade Kofi Annan to support her and was soon removed from her position.
Although this assassination precipitated a celebrated genocide, no Security Council investigation and action has been taken over the ensuing 15 years. This April 1994 event was, as Richard Goldstone stated, “the trigger that started the genocide.” But if the “trigger” was pulled by Our Man Kagame, the entire scenario of a Hutu-planned and implemented genocide is called into question. It follows that given U.S. power, with people in service to that power like Louise Arbour and Kofi Annan (et al.), and with the mass media and human rights intellectuals bamboozled and/or following the flag, any attempts to investigate this shoot-down are quashed, and it will not produce any UN Tribunal such as the one just begun in The Hague to deal with the 2005 assassination of the Lebanese leader Rafik al-Hariri.
The rule remains firm: Impunity for the crimes of the United States and its agents and clients; U.S. and client targets available for investigations, trials and punishment in accord with the rule of a politicized system of international (in)justice.
Note*: Kagame was, in fact, still at Ft Leavenworth, pursuing a course in military intelligence (he was, after all, the sitting chief of Ugandan military intelligence), at the time of the 1990 invasion of Rwanda by the RPF. The invasion was led by the Ugandan Defense Minister, Gen. Fred Rwigema, a close friend and Tutsi tribesman of Kagame's. But Rwigema died under mysterious circumstances--casting doubt on his KIA status and turning more than one accusing finger toward 'Pilate' Kagame--just three days into the invasion. Museveni had called Kagame back from the US immediately after the first actions of the invasion were taken--apparently they had not been violent enough or directed against large enough population centers to please Museveni. Suspicions about Kagame's pathological tendencies to solve all problems with violent murders, were heightened when, immediately on his first visit to the RPF HQ in Mulindi, accompanied by Museveni's sinister half-brother and a world-renowned gangster in the natural resources hustle, Salim Saleh, with an assignment from the Ugandan president to take over command of the RPF from the late Rwigema, the latter's seconds, Major Chris Bunyenyenyezi and Dr Pete Bayingana, rejected Museveni's order (on the grounds, as I understand the story, that Kagame was stone cold nuts) and sent Kagame back to Kampala.
Of course, that sort of insubordination would not hold, and Kagame was turned around quick-style. The results were that, as I diplomatically describe it in chapter one of The General's Book [http://cirqueminime.blogcollective.com/blog/_archives/2005/5/21/877913.html],
When Kagame and Saleh got back to the front was when Dr Pete Bayingana and the RPF’s third-in-command, Major Chris Bunyenyenyezi, joined Rwigema pushing up Rwandan tea leaves.
So the bloodletting started early and in a most ethnically indiscriminate fashion, and has not concluded to this day. --cm/p