[As I contemplate the UN draft report recently leaked to Le Monde and consider the stark hypocrisy of it, the brazen betrayal of its former collaborator, Paul Kagame and his RPF government today renewed in Kigali, and the pathetic cowardice of this International snitch in calling attention to Rwanda’s crimes in Congo as a way to fuzz out its own—the punk’s way out when the truth is about to hit the warden’s desk and all hopes of a gay bar on D block vanish in the frenzied anticipation of his impending gang-sodomizing by the joint’s Great Powers: my imagination reeled in disgust and staggered back to a book that changed my whole outlook on Central Africa, in general, and the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in particular.

Fautin Ntilikina’s “Rwanda: The Taking of Kigali and the Hunting of Refugees by General Paul Kagame's Army” is still only in French and has only the dimmest hopes of ever getting the English translation it deserves. But this essential work (in cm/p’s humble translation below) will be the subject of the next two parts of our series, The UN—Aid that Kills.

Thinking of just how fey is the UN’s hippedy-hopping onto the Kagame-bashing band wagon—kind of like American Business, after bankrolling the reconstruction in the 1930s of the Third Reich with its myriad promises of destroying Judeo-Soviet Bolshevism, suddenly deciding in 1941 that they were, really, all along, anti-Fascist (with just a minor in anti-Communism)—and this on the split-ends of feckless attempts by some well-intention, though less well-informed, Arusha Defense lawyers to make the RPF’s double assassination of two popular (Hutu) African presidents on 6 April 1994 a civil matter in an Oklahoma City Federal court, rather than one of the more heinous crimes their employers (the UN, which created and supports the illegal ad hoc Tribunals in The Hague and Arusha) have spent the last nearly 20 years covering up; or the bootless protests of any number of Rwandan exile ‘Opposition’ groups, who continuously appeal to the UN for justice and succor, seeking to insinuate themselves into that tiny country’s electoral process (a process premised on the sanctity of the myth of the minority Tutsi genocide of 1994, and codified by Kagame and his legal talent in the Rwandan Constitution of June 2003, just to make any such ‘Opposition’ impossible or, at least, un-survivable), so as to, somehow, inherit the title to what is laughably called Rwandan democracy, but is really just a sort of Walmart for the natural riches ripped off from Congo—outta nowhere, I get an email about Garrison Keillor’s contemplating the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

How existentially absurd it is that all this oil is destroying the planet because of Mankind’s addiction to petroleum—and all this being observed from a seat in a kerosene-sucking airliner as he sips a cocktail from a plastic glass and records his feelings on a coltan-based computer. Yet with all the hair-pulling and chest-pounding over the wasting of the earth’s essential bodily fluid, very little attention is paid to how the life’s blood of several million African has been wantonly wasted, spilt in forests of eastern Congo.

Even in Obama’s offensively ignorant speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he singled out Iran and the DRC for scolding, he distracted the World body’s attention (all too easily and willfully distracted) from the truly horrendous implications of the US and its allies, and especially the World body, itself, in these crimes against humanity unto genocide, through the use of that hackneyed and hysterical old Vagina Monologues dodge, ‘rape as an weapon of war.’

What I wouldn’t give for brother Obama to read brother Ntilikina’s book and see the really grotesque absurdity of his comment about Congo!

So, why not start here?

These are excerpts from “Rwanda: The Taking of Kigali and the Hunting of Refugees by General Paul Kagame's Army.” I told the author, who was an officer with the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR) and has compared the battle for Kigali with the battles for Moscow or Stalingrad, of a vivid image I carried away from my first reading of his book a year and a half ago—like a nightmare I couldn’t shake:

—Sick and starving refugees were waiting for food and medicine to be dropped to them, when in the distance they saw a white plane with blue markings. Certain the UN was coming through on its humanitarian promises, the refugees ran to meet the plane. As this C130 Hercules was almost over them, the side doors slid open and machine guns open up, while what might have at first appeared to be food parcels turned out to be incendiary bombs. Thousand were killed outright, and thousands more were left to wait for death to deliver them from the pain and horror of their existence.—

I asked him if this was really from his book, or had I better watch what I eat after midnight. He sent me the following sections of his book.

I wonder how Garrison Keillor would compare these two existential absurdities? –mc]

1. Destruction of the camps at INERA, Kashusha and ADI-Kivu (South Kivu)

On 21 November 1996, many troops of the RPA [the Army of Paul Kagame’s RPF—cm/p] came from Numbi, a center located further north and connected to Masisi by a trail that would support vehicles. These were the same troops who had attacked and destroyed the camp at Mugunga a week before. They were reinforced by some Tutsi militias who were trained in Rwanda and turned back from the ranches of Ngungu and Matanda in a foreshadowing of the operation to attack the camps. Throughout the night they surrounded the village of Shanje by occupying the high ground overlooking the refugees’ installations.

In the morning, a small plane flew over the zone trailing red and white banners that seemed to announce the arrival of Humanitarian Organizations. The presence, higher in the sky, of a four-engined C130 {Hercules} confirmed the general feeling of relief.

The refugees, already envisioning food packages parachuting down, started to come out of their hiding places. It is at this moment that General Paul Kagame’s soldiers showed themselves and opened fire. Like sheep being attacked by a pack of wild beasts, the refugees spread out when the shooting started. But the place offered no protection; the walls of the few houses in the village would not stopped a tossed rock.

Reflexively, the refugees tried to get back to the foot of the hills, trying to find some blind spots. In this panicked scramble, they exposed themselves even more to the crossfire of machine guns and especially to the mortar fire that had earlier been trained on them.

Encouraged by the luck they seemed to have on their side, those who escaped the gun fire began to climb the hills. You had to get skinny, crawl on your belly, to move toward the summit, toward life.

When the first climbers had gotten half-way up the slope, the little plane came back, this time it was firing on them with an on-board machine gun.
According to witnesses, it dropped ‘these fiery packets’, the only way they were described. Those who did not die of their wounds continued to climb the hill, as if they were resolved to go to their meeting with death. At the approach of this enraged crowd moving in on them, the RPA troops deployed on the heights began to pull out, opening up breaches where those who were fleeing could be swallowed up.

So, after a long and anxious moment, several thousand refugees found their way out of the net, leaving behind them the hundreds of dead and wounded, who would either be finished off, or abandoned to await death alone.

And then, more than 5,000 survivors of the mass-killing were captured and forced, under heavy escort, to return to Bukavu and Rwanda. Along the way back, men and teenage boys were systematically cut out of the driven throng to be slaughtered in the brush, and usually with cold weapons. Others were killed openly in public places under the stunned gaze of the rest of the column. The reason often given for these public executions was attempted escape, a crime for which, it was well-known, the penalty was death. They were also gunned down in the open fields.

2. The Assault on the Sake Basin (Attack on the camps of North Kivu)

The morning of 15 November, I was somewhere down on this lava plain, without any kind of cover. As part of my close family, I have two nieces aged 10 and 12. They had miraculously arrived in Katale, without their parents, two weeks before, via the horrible road through the volcanoes. I saw in their innocent gaze a will and courage to face up to this test. I also saw in them the hope of survival, and from then on they were always with me. But I have never felt so responsible for anyone.

Heading off on the trails blazed by those who went before us, we ran full-out toward the front of the pack in hopes of reaching the foot of the mountain where there is a thick vegetation and where we might avoid being shot on sight.

The sky was clear when my group began to climb the mountain. At each open space, the fugitives’ only weapons against the enemy were their numbers, their cries and their breath. The first line of the fleeing refugees were felled by the bullets of individual guns. The second line were killed by grenades. The pressure from the lines of refugees that followed ended up forcing the gunners to give up their positions and retreat to the next clearing higher up the hill.

Encouraged by the luck that still seemed to be with them, the waves of refugees continued to take advantage of these openings and broaden the front by rushing into the small covered spaces inside the banana groves.

In a few hours, the whole base of the hill had become an enormous battlefield. For this battle, Paul Kagame’s troops were not short on means. The RPF soldiers had brought with them heavy weapons that they had had the time to place in strong positions.

Several witnesses, like Chistophe, a refugee who had remained in the camp and was subsequently repatriated by force, saw at least one small plane armed with machine guns and rockets to back up the ground troops by keeping the refugees from making it further up the hill.

3. The great abandonment

It had already been a month since the first attacks on the refugee camps. First, in South Kivu, then in North Kivu. The attackers had come from Rwanda, wearing their national uniforms, in order, once and for all, to defeat the Hutu refugees.

Camp after camp, they killed and littered their trail of death with the bodies of hundreds of their countrymen—and women and children.

And this extreme solution was not condemned, either by the HCR [the UN High Commissioner for Refugees], or by the UN Security Council, or by the powerful nations who were [or were not] members of this Council.

On the humanitarian scene, in the beginning of November, the UN decided to help these unfortunate refugees by launching a gigantic humanitarian intervention. The Staff Headquarters for this Intervention Force was set up in Kampala, Uganda.

The Force was commanded by Canadian Army General Maurice Baril, already well-known in UN administrative circles for his partiality [his loyal support of fellow Canadian and UN General Roméo Dallaire, with his self-admitted pro-RPF bent—cm/p] in the UNAMIR’s handling of the Rwandan problem during the war and the mass killings of 1994.

UN officials did not hide their real motives when they placed the operation’s headquarters in Uganda, the strong ally of Rwanda in the war against the refugees.

As for General Baril, his proposals left no doubt in the minds of those whose survival depended on his initiatives. Rather than working with officials in Zaire, the country where the refugees found themselves, Baril decided to go through Kigali to ask for authorization to put his troops on the ground.

And at the end of operations, despite regular over-flights by reconnaissance aircraft and the use of other state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, each report from the Humanitarian Force announced that the refugees could not be found.

After several weeks of ‘fruitless’ searching, the Humanitarian Force concluded that the refugees had all gone back home and that aid would be channeled through Rwanda.

4. Death in the shade

How many remained as prisoners in the forests in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo? A quick accounting will give us an idea of the number of people who were chased like wild game into that equatorial forest from November 1996.

In the beginning, there were 200,000 refugees from Katale who left Rukwi on 18 November and subsequently suffered heavy losses at the Rushoga river. With any hopes of getting to the ‘free zone’ dashed, the survivors of these massacres resigned themselves to living, at once, among the local populations and their assailants.

Then there were the 500, to 600,000 refugees from Mugunga and Kibumba, half of whom had been effectively repatriated or killed by the Kigali regime during the attack on the Sake Basin. At least 200,000 survivors got to the Masisi region and tried to go on toward Walikale.

Finally, there were the 300,000 refugees from the Bukavu region who were nearly all led toward the West and got past the cross-country highway at Busurungi. Knowing that estimates from February 1997 of those who managed to get beyond Walikale and into the Tingi-Tingi region were about 200,000, the half million refugees who did not make this count continued to drag themselves through the forests of the Masisi and Walikale zones in the east of the DRC. They were condemned to wander there for the rest of their lives, terrorized and hunted day and night, and all this in a state of extreme deprivation.

Before the RPF launched its war of 1990, each one of these people had a family, a profession, personal possessions and prospects. From one day to the next they had to abandon all of this. They survived in a vegetative state imposed on them by two years in the refugee camps.

They only held on because they had hope and confidence that international arbitration would become interested in their situation and would one day return them to their country, their things, their activities, and their dignity.

After October 1996, the violent attacks on the camps, and on the refugees, made crystal clear the true intentions of the Rwandan regime. This government did not want their return; it wanted their annihilation.

After RPF troops took control of the Bukavu-Walikale road in mid-December 1996, there was no longer anything to hope for. They were resigned to living under persecution, in misery and chaos, and in despair.

For several weeks, they counted on the imminent arrival of the Humanitarian Aid Force created by the UN Security Council and commanded by General Maurice Baril. Hope was also nourished by the appearance of these airplanes that each day were flying over them as they trudged along the route connecting the many encampments, blue camps, white camps or green camps, extending from East to West, that took them several days walking to reach.

To the crushing disappointed of these wanderers, the daily radio reports claimed the refugees could not be found. How could such a long column of souls escape detection by modern military equipment so sensitive as to be able to read the license number on a car hidden in the underbrush?

And what if General Baril’s troops were on the side of the hunters or only pretending to play the old Humanitarian game?

I know the gravity of this accusation, but the facts are there.

Despite the technical means at its disposal, this International Force wound up admitting it was unable to fulfill its mission, leaving the field wide open for Paul Kagame’s forces to have their way with a defenseless people.

In this underbrush where there is neither a road, nor a telephone, these refugees became aware that they could no longer count on International Solidarity or Conventions for their survival. They concluded that they had been abandoned. They were alone to face their suffering, alone to face the physical, mental and moral degeneration that was stalking them. Many among them were already at their final resting place.