Info on the role of France/World Bank in Rwandan Genocide

56 posts / 0 new
Last post
Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 24 2013 14:58
Info on the role of France/World Bank in Rwandan Genocide

Reading "Silent Accomplice" by andrew wallis right now. Holy shit! Did not know that France helped arm and train the Interhamwe! So, anyone have any other sources on this? I'm also looking for factors that caused the genocide, Chomsky mentioned something once about how World Bank policies caused the genocide, any more info on this?

Kabila
Offline
Joined: 25-12-13
Dec 25 2013 09:12

Good

baboon
Offline
Joined: 29-07-05
Dec 25 2013 13:14

Hello Soapy, Merry Christmas. I hope you don't mind me following you again but you do raise important questions about important issues.

For me the war in Rwanda was a confirmation of the role of the major imperialisms in what the latter tend to describe in a dismissive way as "ethnic wars". I don't know about any role for the World Bank but leftism tends to use this capitalist organisation as a diversion from a deeper examination of imperialism. This war also convinced me that, forget about nuclear weapons, capitalism will have us tearing each other with knives and forks if it can get away with it.

The war broke out, through action and studied inaction, because of growing imperialist rivalries of the USA and France in this region. The US military, training Tutsi militias (the Rwandan Patriotic Front) came right up against French zones of control. They both helped the war spread and deepen by their own actions and with the use of their own "assets". Belgium and the UN were involved and Britain, with its imperialist interests in Africa, was also complicit in the genocide. Two books attest to this: "Conspiracy to Murder" by Linda Malvern and "Web of Deceit" by Mark Curtis. Both of these books, though well researched, do not present a class analysis that would see this war, and most other wars, as a "natural" consequence of capitalism and its expression of imperialism. On the role of France, here's a link to an article teb years after the event, translated from the French section of the ICC with a deeper analysis http://en.internationalism.org/wr/274_france_rwanda.htm.

Today we are seeing the spread of capitalist decomposition throughout Africa with the wars of the Central African Republic (France and the US at loggerheads again to some extent), the Rwandan war rumbles on in the ludicrously named Democratic Republic of Congo and capitalism "newest" nation, South Sudan, immediately falls divisions and rivalries following a long history of the involvement of the major powers. And China is now well militarily involved in Africa.

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 25 2013 16:11

Merry Christmas! I certainly don't mind your reply, it's quite interesting. I'm wondering if you can go into more detail on this, "Belgium and the UN were involved and Britain, with its imperialist interests in Africa, was also complicit in the genocide." I'm aware that Belgium and the UN were involved, but from what I can tell they were either indifferent to the genocide in the case of Belgium, or opposed but helpless in the case of the UN. However, I do believe there is evidence to suggest that World Bank structural adjustment policies implemented between 1986-1992 greatly exacerbated the conflict. If nothing else the World Bank/IMF loans were blatantly used to fund the Akazu while World Bank observers stood by saying nothing.

Tyrion's picture
Tyrion
Offline
Joined: 12-04-13
Dec 25 2013 17:11

Oddly enough, I learned about the French role in arming the genocidaires from watching Hotel Rwanda when I was younger.

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 25 2013 17:46
Tyrion wrote:
Oddly enough, I learned about the French role in arming the genocidaires from watching Hotel Rwanda when I was younger.

Well there's more to it than just arming them. With the implementation of Operation Turquoise some three months into the genocide, 3,000 French soldiers, 500 support staff backed up by the air force and secret service operatives entered Rwanda from Zaire which was under the control of the French backed dictator Mobutu. The laughable explanation given by Mitterand for the operation was that it was undertaken to save lives. According to survivors of the genocide and members of the Interahamwe, once the French entered Rwanda far from saving Tutsi, they actually participated in the killing and raping Tutsis and informed the Interahamwe of the whereabouts of Tutsis who were in hiding. When the French weren’t participating in the slaughter of Tutsis, they merely stood by and watched. A now imprisoned Interahamwe member describes, “Before leaving Nyarushishi, the French had given us grenades and combat rations. We came back eating, feeling really cheerful. The events carried on. At the border, we continued killing people and throwing them into Lake Kivu. Under the eyes of the French, of course! At one moment the French told us, ‘you Rwandan Hutus aren’t very bright! You’re killing people and throwing them into the water and not doing anything else! Don’t you realize they’ll eventually float up to the surface and they’ll be seen by satellites? You really don’t have a clue!’ It was the French who taught us how to slit their bellies after we’d killed them and throw them into the water without there being any risk of the rising to the surface. We learnt our lesson and started to put it into practice.”

The incident described in Hotel Rwanda is interesting because it showed how at any time the French could have called off the genocide but chose not to. And what is not discussed in Hotel Rwanda is that not only did they not call off the genocide but they actually participated in it! Maybe the thought of the white "civilized" world actively participating in the genocide was too shocking for Western audiences.

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 26 2013 01:09

There is a particularly notable incident that took place in the area of Bisesero and was actually a watershed moment for the French rank and file soldier who up until that point had been brainwashed by French military "information sessions" which were designed to convince soldiers that Tutsi in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) were actually the ones carrying out the genocide against the Hutu in the Interahamwe. In the area of Bisesero some 70,000 Tutsi had banded together to resist the genocide when it started in April of 1994, by June there were just 2,000 left, struggling to survive without food or water as they hid in the area’s dense foliage. When the French came they announced on loudspeakers that they had come to stop the killings, and desperate Tutsi emerged from their months of horror thinking they had finally been saved. But much to their shock when they emerged from hiding they found leaders of the Interahamwe standing alongside the French soldiers. According to survivors, after explaining their story to the French troops, the Tutsi were told by the French that they would come back in “two or three days.” What happened next was predictable. After the French left, the remaining Tutsi who were now out of hiding, in the open, were slaughtered by the Interahamwe. Some, so demoralized from the betrayal, simply gave up and allowed themselves to be killed. When the French finally returned three days later it was to save a French priest who lived nearby. While they were assisting the priest, a Sergeant-Major broke ranks and took his troops to assist the surviving residents in Bisesero. The survivors were finally rounded up and taken to a refugee camp. The rescue attempt was actually a violation of direct orders given to not assist the survivors because according to high command they were potential RPF members. A rescue attempt mounted one-day prior had been stopped by a general who landed his helicopter in the path of the French contingent to order them to turn around. The 1,000 surviving Tutsi now in the French refugee camp were given two choices, stay under French “protection” in the French created “Safe Humanitarian Zone,” or be escorted to the RPF controlled territory close by. None of the Tutsi opted for the “safety’ of the “Safe Humanitarian Zone.” The French troops’ response was resentment. Their demeanor changed and they stopped giving the survivors food and water at regular intervals. One survivor of Bisesero, Charles Seromba, was asked to give his thoughts on the French intervention saying, “‘If a French soldiers stood in front of me now I would accuse those soldiers of being criminals. They killed my family.’” Charles’s brother was killed during the three days it took for the French to return to Bisesero. As Charles Seromba points out, the RPF were close to Bisesero and in a few days time probably would have saved the Tutsi who remained there regardless of the French.

Spassmaschine
Offline
Joined: 29-01-07
Dec 25 2013 23:47

Soapy, very interesting posts. Where did you get your information from?

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 26 2013 01:08

All from "silent accomplice" by andrew wallis

Tomorrow going to check out "The Rwandan Crisis" by Gerard Prunier.

Probably will write something about this, simply combining info from the two books.

Tyrion's picture
Tyrion
Offline
Joined: 12-04-13
Dec 26 2013 01:42

As Spassmachine wrote, very interesting posts. I hadn't at all been aware of the extent of French collaboration with genocidaire forces during the genocide. I had assumed that it had been more or less the typical sort of imperialist role (i.e. providing technical and diplomatic assistance as well as arms), but it seems to have gone much further than that.

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 26 2013 03:15
Tyrion wrote:
As Spassmachine wrote, very interesting posts. I hadn't at all been aware of the extent of French collaboration with genocidaire forces during the genocide. I had assumed that it had been more or less the typical sort of imperialist role (i.e. providing technical and diplomatic assistance as well as arms), but it seems to have gone much further than that.

Shockingly far. The Mitterrand administration behaved like spoiled children losing one of their favorite toys. It's amazing how far the French went to support the genocide before, during, and long afterwards.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Dec 26 2013 08:06

What do people make of Herman's controversial work "The Politics of Genocide" in which he argues Srebrennica and Rwandan genocides are mis-characterized as such by Western media and governments?

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/hp020911.html

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 26 2013 17:51
Pennoid wrote:
What do people make of Herman's controversial work "The Politics of Genocide" in which he argues Srebrennica and Rwandan genocides are mis-characterized as such by Western media and governments?

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/hp020911.html

Shit...well now I'm seriously confused...I'm gonna go ahead and read the Herman book, also probably a book written by Alison Des Forges.

Reddebrek's picture
Reddebrek
Offline
Joined: 4-01-12
Dec 27 2013 00:27

I'm afraid I don't have any information about the role of the French but I did read an article about the links between the US and the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front that was quite interesting. I can't seem to find that article but these two seem to cover the same ground.

http://www.leninology.com/2009/12/what-happened-in-rwanda.html
http://www.leninology.com/2009/08/hutus-willing-executioners.html

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Dec 27 2013 04:35

There's also this exchange between Monbiot and Chomsky that Monbiot published which devoid of context (as it so "skillfully" is) might make Chomsky look like he was dodging the questions. But as he points out, Monbiot is largely ignoring their (Herman and Peterson's) central thesis: The "genocides" were exalted as such to facilitate a favorable regime change in the eyes of the U.S., in fitting with the propaganda model layed out in Manufacturing Consent.

I'm not super knowledgable on the history of the Genocide, I've simply read The Politics of Geneocide, and it seems well documented, sourced, and coherently argued. Seeing Monbiot (who I'm not all that familiar with, though I know he's SOME kind of leftist) make such a stink about it forces me tongue the aching tooth.

Perhaps I sould pick up the De Forges book as well...

HMM!

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 27 2013 05:50
Pennoid wrote:
There's also this exchange between Monbiot and Chomsky that Monbiot published which devoid of context (as it so "skillfully" is) might make Chomsky look like he was dodging the questions. But as he points out, Monbiot is largely ignoring their (Herman and Peterson's) central thesis: The "genocides" were exalted as such to facilitate a favorable regime change in the eyes of the U.S., in fitting with the propaganda model layed out in Manufacturing Consent.

I'm not super knowledgable on the history of the Genocide, I've simply read The Politics of Geneocide, and it seems well documented, sourced, and coherently argued. Seeing Monbiot (who I'm not all that familiar with, though I know he's SOME kind of leftist) make such a stink about it forces me tongue the aching tooth.

Perhaps I sould pick up the De Forges book as well...

HMM!

Well in the case of the Khmer Rouge Chomsky argued most famously in Manufacturing Consent that the extent of the killings in Cambodia were according to the available evidence being overestimated by the media. And while it was true that the media at the time was making baseless claims about the extent of the killings, it later turned out that their exaggeration was actually correct. Now, of course, this does not make Chomsky wrong, or a genocide denier, as he has been tirelessly criticized as being. He was simply saying "hey, look, according to the available evidence what you are saying is wrong, and also you're saying it because it serves the interests of U.S. foreign policy." Additionally, Chomsky took this example and compared it with media coverage of the genocide taking place in the island of East Timor where the U.S. armed and trained Indonesian military was carrying out a genocide. He researched media coverage of the incident and found that it was simply not reported. And so while the U.S. media could focus on the brutality of the Khmer Rouge (an organization which the U.S. actually turned to supporting after the Vietnam invasion of Cambodia and not to mention the U.S. pretty much created by absolutely devastating Cambodian society during the Nixon/Kissinger bombings) they would say nothing about the genocide that could probably be ended via a phone call.

Additionally, Chomsky has been a tireless critic of the idea that the 1999 NATO bombings in Kosovo were undertaken to prevent a genocide. His book, A New Generation Draws the Line is simply a masterpiece (and actually he basically includes a brief history of Western media coverage of genocide), wherein he completely piece by piece demolishes the NATO premise for intervention. In the three years leading up to the bombings, there was no genocide taking place in Kosovo. The mass killings of Kosovar Albanians did take place, after the start of the 1999 bombings which according to NATO intelligence estimates never would have happened if NATO did not decide to greatly escalate the conflict by starting the bombings. For daring to question the moral righteousness of the NATO powers, Chomsky was relentlessly defamed and slandered in the Guardian. And of course while the media frenzy over the need to intervene in Kosovo was going on, the Clinton administration was supplying Turkey with massive amounts arms so they could carrying out an ethnic cleansing of Turkish Kurds.

This is all quite similar to what we are discussing now in regards to the Guardian articles attacking critics of the conventional wisdom on Rwanda.

Here's a great interview with Chomsky on the subject. http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20060425.htm

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Dec 27 2013 16:59
Pennoid wrote:
What do people make of Herman's controversial work "The Politics of Genocide" in which he argues Srebrennica and Rwandan genocides are mis-characterized as such by Western media and governments?

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/hp020911.html

Well I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on that. That article is pretty horrendous though. I recognise a lot of the tricks of holocaust denial being marshalled in Herman's attempt to relativise/deny the Rwandan genocide. There seems to be no end or depth certain people will not resort to in their opposition to US foreign policy. Herman's basic logic appears to be that if the US says it was a genocide, it must therefore be a fabrication.

French anarchists have written widely on the French state's involvement in the genocide (yes it was a genocide, and yes it did happen - fuck Herman, scumbag). If your read french you could check out some of the stuff on AL or Monde Libertaire.

http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/spip.php?article2842
http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/spip.php?page=recherche&recherche=+...
http://www.monde-libertaire.fr/n1119-16-22avr-1998/9828-rwanda?format=pd...
http://www.monde-libertaire.fr/n1108-29janv-4fevr-1998/9616-rwanda-un-ge...

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 27 2013 18:55
ocelot wrote:
Pennoid wrote:
What do people make of Herman's controversial work "The Politics of Genocide" in which he argues Srebrennica and Rwandan genocides are mis-characterized as such by Western media and governments?

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/hp020911.html

Well I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on that. That article is pretty horrendous though. I recognise a lot of the tricks of holocaust denial being marshalled in Herman's attempt to relativise/deny the Rwandan genocide. There seems to be no end or depth certain people will not resort to in their opposition to US foreign policy. Herman's basic logic appears to be that if the US says it was a genocide, it must therefore be a fabrication.

French anarchists have written widely on the French state's involvement in the genocide (yes it was a genocide, and yes it did happen - fuck Herman, scumbag). If your read french you could check out some of the stuff on AL or Monde Libertaire.

http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/spip.php?article2842
http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/spip.php?page=recherche&recherche=+...
http://www.monde-libertaire.fr/n1119-16-22avr-1998/9828-rwanda?format=pd...
http://www.monde-libertaire.fr/n1108-29janv-4fevr-1998/9616-rwanda-un-ge...

So here's what happened. First, you straw manned Herman by accusing him of denying the Rwandan genocide, why don't you read his article before you call him a scumbag.

"A true picture of the Rwandan genocide would not only acknowledge the predominance of Hutu deaths in 1994, it would recognize that the same pattern of RPF-triggered deaths and displacements stretches from the RPF's invasion of Rwanda in 1990, straight through its major offensive of February-March 1993, its final offensive and seizure of state power in 1994 (Genocide One), and its series of offensives into the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo from 1994 on, resulting in a death toll several times the scale of Rwanda, and creating the greatest theater of atrocities in the contemporary world (Genocide Two).52 But for the past 17 years, no such picture has emerged on the pages of the Guardian-Observer, which continues to toe the party-line in the summer of 2011 on both Yugoslav and Rwandan history."

Then you proceeded to criticize him because "his argument has elements of other arguments that I don't like, therefore it is false".

And then you say "fuck Herman, scumbag". Really great stuff there, ever consider writing for the Guardian?

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Dec 28 2013 17:36

Yeah, Ocelot, I'd look into it a little more. I'm not familiar with French sources but I know Chomsky is, and I suspect Herman is as well. It seems well sourced, are their any factual claims that you would like to make?

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Dec 30 2013 09:44
Soapy wrote:
So here's what happened. First, you straw manned Herman by accusing him of denying the Rwandan genocide, why don't you read his article before you call him a scumbag.

I did read the article. Why else would I call him a scumbag if he hadn't given me reason to think of him thus - i.e. that article.

then you go on to quote from the article in the mistaken belief that what you are quoting nails the "lie" that Herman is relativising/denying the Rwandan genocide.:

Soapy wrote:
"A true picture of the Rwandan genocide would not only acknowledge the predominance of Hutu deaths in 1994, it would recognize that the same pattern of RPF-triggered deaths and displacements stretches from the RPF's invasion of Rwanda in 1990, straight through its major offensive of February-March 1993, its final offensive and seizure of state power in 1994 (Genocide One), and its series of offensives into the mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo from 1994 on, resulting in a death toll several times the scale of Rwanda, and creating the greatest theater of atrocities in the contemporary world (Genocide Two).52 But for the past 17 years, no such picture has emerged on the pages of the Guardian-Observer, which continues to toe the party-line in the summer of 2011 on both Yugoslav and Rwandan history."

But if you read your quote properly it clearly says that "Genocide One" and "Genocide Two" are both either "RPF-triggered deaths and displacements" or directly the work of the RPF itself in their DRC invasion. Of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, Hutu Power, the Interahamwe genocide itself, nothing... All the killing was "RPF-triggered". Like Irving's account of the Nazi's "excesses" in the East being due to the pressure of war with Russia (i.e. Stalinist-triggered). But, whatever. If you can't even be bothered to read the quotes you post in reply, clearly your mind is as made up on this as your average 9/11 Truther. And quite frankly I do not have fleur's patience for arguing with conspiraloons.

Soapy wrote:
And then you say "fuck Herman, scumbag". Really great stuff there, ever consider writing for the Guardian?

Yeah. Of course I'm, exactly the kind of writer the Guardian are looking for. Because, like them, I too am part of TEH CONSPIRACY!!!

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 30 2013 17:51

Well it's interesting, first of all I can't imagine why you are claiming that Herman is trying to "deny" the Rwandan genocide when he clearly isn't. Second of all, if you actually look at his citations, they raise some serious questions. For instance, aside from the wealth of information cited surrounding the the UN inquiry into the massacre, Herman and Peterson cite the work of two respected anthropologists at the University of Michigan, Christian Davenport and Allen Stam. After visiting Rwanda in 1998 and 1999 with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, they stumbled upon some interesting information. They subtracted the number of documented Tutsi survivors from the number of Tutsi counted in the last census of Rwanda taken before the genocide and discovered that there simply could not have been nearly enough Tutsi to account for all 800,000-1 million deaths in the genocide. They corroborated this evidence with data provided Rwandan genocide survivor support network Ibuka which holds that 300,000 Tutsi died during the genocide. This lead Stam and Davenport to insist that the number of Hutu killed must have been 500,000 or more. On top of that, they also determined that deaths during the conflict had risen sharply whenever the RPF had begun an advance. "This conclusion - which has drawn criticism from the Kagame regime and its supporters - is buttressed by the maps that we painstakingly constructed from the best available data and that show significant numbers of people killed in areas under control of the Tutsi-led RPF." They give no explanation as to why and how the victims were killed simply because their work was stopped short after they were banned from Rwanda and were defamed in the corporate media (the Guardian) for being "genocide deniers".

http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/East_Africa/Rwanda_WhatReallyHappened....

Instead of attacking this article on factual grounds, which would be perfectly acceptable, you instead simply call Edward Herman a scumbag, which I find really irritating. Really I just think that you're not looking at this subject objectively.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Dec 31 2013 10:20
Pennoid wrote:
Yeah, Ocelot, I'd look into it a little more. I'm not familiar with French sources but I know Chomsky is, and I suspect Herman is as well.

Just going on that article, there are 98 footnotes, many quoting multiple sources. Not a single French language one, or one by a French author. So on that evidence, no, I suspect Herman is not familiar with the French sources. In fact I suspect he doesn't read French at all.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Dec 31 2013 11:21
Soapy wrote:
Well it's interesting, first of all I can't imagine why you are claiming that Herman is trying to "deny" the Rwandan genocide when he clearly isn't.

The only thing "clear" here, is that you are denying the evidence of your eyes - assuming you have read the article. I have already pointed out that the previous quote you pulled from it is itself a piece of denialism. Something you apparently have no reply to. So let's take another quote from the same article:

Quote:
Monbiot also objects that, in The Politics of Genocide, we place the "Rwandan genocide in inverted commas throughout the text." In fact, we use scare quotes to distinguish between two radically different and incompatible accounts of what happened in Rwanda throughout the period. Thus the "Rwandan genocide" (i.e., inside scare quotes) refers to what in the previous section (above) we call the Hutu conspiracy model -- the false and propagandistic party-line advanced by the U.S., U.K., and Paul Kagame-led RPF, and thereafter enforced by the Rwandan Tribunal, of a "conspiracy" by the majority Hutu around Habyarimana to exterminate the Tutsi minority. We, on the contrary, treat the vast bloodbaths of 1994 as resulting from a pre-planned conspiracy by the RPF, hatched no later than 1990, to seize state power within Rwanda by using aggression, terrorism, and an eventual military takeover of the country.

Let's add in a quote from the "Politics of Genocide", which is referenced in Herman's wikipedia page:

Quote:
"[The West has] swallowed a propaganda line on Rwanda that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down....the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million".

from p51, 58 of the book, apparently. That may be selective quoting (the gap between page numbers is suspect), but I don't have the book text to hand. Yet the intention is clear - we deny the Rwanda genocide of Tusis by declaring that in fact it was an RPF genocide of Hutus.

In relation to the use of scare quotes around "Rwandan genocide". Frankly I know what I think when I see people write things like - 'the so-called "Holocast" - it means denialism/negationism.

Unfortunately you clearly don't read French either (which makes it a little difficult to answer your original question, n.b., as most of the sources are in French), otherwise you could get some mileage from the wikipedia page on the Négation du génocide au Rwanda (Negationism/denialism of the Rwandan genocide). Obviously as the French state were up to the necks in the preparation and comission of the genocide, there have been a good number of attempts by various figures in the French political establishment, and their tame intellectuals, to relativise or simply deny the genocide. Naturally the Mitterand family and a number of their supporters have been involved (the son, Jean-Christophe "Papamadit" ran the "Cellule Africaine" in Mitterand's administration, and was up to his neck in procurement of arms for the génocidaires). I'm not going to translate you the whole page, but I will throw in this bit :

Quote:
The theory of the double genocide

A fierce controversy is maintained by the currents supporting the former Rwandan regime , with whom the French authorities remained close until the election of Nicolas Sarkozy. They emphasize that a complaint was filed in 2005 before the Spanish courts against the leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Army ( the armed wing of the RPF ) of Paul Kagame for crimes committed in Zaire in 1996 against the Hutu refugees and Spanish citizens part of a humanitarian association. They also argue that a criminal investigation was conducted in France on the causes of the attack of 6 April 1994 by Judge Bruguière. They conclude that these procedures challenge the interpretation of the facts stated above in favor of the double-genocide thesis, assimilating attacks by the RPF in the early 1990s in Rwanda and Zaire in 1996 , into a genocide of the Hutu led by Tutsi. Personalities and French military as François Mitterrand, Dominique de Villepin, Pierre Péan, Colonel Hogard or Bernard Debré, the periodical AfriquEducation, defend or also defended the idea of a double genocide.
[...]
At his hearing before the fact-finding mission to Rwanda, Eric Gillet, Executive Board Member of the FILDH declared : " As to the RPF, the objective of genocide could not be maintained, insofar as a group representing 15% of the population could not reasonably be expected to eliminate the remaining 85%. Selective massacres, with similar effects, such as those committed in Burundi in 1972 nonetheless remained possible. Even if it did not go to such actions, that the RPF behaved with great violence is no more justifiable, although in existential terms the logic is different. In addition to the massacres it repeatedly committed, in particularly it drove out significant populations before it, causing very large movements of displaced persons, particularly in February 1993. It remains as such for legal reasons, it is not possible to establish equality between genocide and violations of human rights committed by the FPR."

What Herman is doing is very much in the "double genocide" model of negationism here. Similar to those WW2 negationnists who play numbers games with the numbers killed by Stalin, compared to those by Hitler, to relativise away the particular character of the Nazi genocide - the intentional extermination of the Jews in totality (vernichtung) - to a simple bodycount relativism.

But the motive for Herman, imo, is different from that of the French denialists. In fact, if you check you will find in that MR article, absolutely no mention of France at all. This is because Herman's agenda is the upside down Yankee patriotism of asserting that all evil in international politics is the result of US foreign policy. I call this the "Counterpunch effect". In the guise of being a principled and progressive stand against american imperialism, it is in fact neither. Imperialism is a manifestation, on a geopolitical level, of the essentially competitive dynamic that drives capitalism. As such, to take a one-sided, partial view of imperialism as simply "the evil that the US does in the world", is to mystify this competitive dynamic - i.e. to obscure the fact that imperialism is the competition between imperialist powers, not the actions of a global hegemon. By reducing anti-imperialism to knee-jerk anti-americanism (throw in Israel for the Counterpunch dudes) you open the door to reactionary "lesser-evilism" politics of "my enemy's enemy is my friend", which is the very opposite of principled internationalist anti-imperialism. "The US is attacking Ghadaffi? Yay, Ghadaffi, anti-imperialist hero!". "The US say the Khmer Rouge have murdered millions? It must be a lie!". etc, etc, ad nauseam. Worse still, a competition with only one competitor is not a competition, it's a conspiracy. And that is the gateway to any amount of reactionary right-wing politics. By denying the 96% of humanity who are unamerican the capacity to commit evil, you deny us our capacity to do good, or be agents at all, which is to say you deny us our humanity. There is no greater racism.

Herman probably in his deluded little mind, thinks he is still "fighting the good fight". But it has taken him down the road of genocide denial, which means he now earns his book royalties and speaking fees from denying the ethnocidal murder of hundreds of thousands of people. Fuck Herman - scumbag.

Soapy's picture
Soapy
Offline
Joined: 30-05-10
Dec 31 2013 16:49

You're response here, aside from still being unnecessarily confrontational, really is basically you still offering the same arguments I dispelled earlier. Really nothing worth responding to.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Dec 31 2013 17:19

EDIT: Upon second thought, Soapy is right.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Dec 31 2013 18:11
Soapy wrote:
You're response here, aside from still being unnecessarily confrontational, really is basically you still offering the same arguments I dispelled earlier. Really nothing worth responding to.

You "dispelled"? What is this? A cross-over from the Harry Potter thread? Did you use a wand or something? Because you certainly didn't use arguments. (pro-tip: assertion is not an argument)

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Dec 31 2013 20:10

Ocelot, maybe you should look closer:

Reference number 36 on the Herman essay in MRZINE: http://www.olny.nl/RWANDA/Lu_Pour_Vous/Dossier_Special_Habyarimana/Rappo...

Looks French to me. It is in reference to the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane.

There are also more important facts like this:

Quote:
Apart from the compelling direct evidence that the shoot-down was Kagame's handiwork, there are also the facts that Kagame's RPF mobilized its troops within two hours of the event, and that it was this final RPF offensive that enabled Kagame's forces to quickly conquer Rwanda, rather than face elections in 1995 that he and his minority Tutsi surely would have lost.41 Moreover, the government of Rwanda at the time was a coalition government that had several strategically placed Tutsi members; Alison Des Forges, perhaps the most important advocate for the Hutu conspiracy model, admitted at the Rwanda Tribunal that there was little likelihood that the coalition Hutu and Tutsi government could have planned the assassination and the extermination of the Tutsi, without the knowledge of its Tutsi members.42 But the Guardian never confronts this set of problems. The Hutu conspiracy model is sacrosanct.

That seem like they could od with some discrediting or demonstration of falsity. Is the logic here flawed? I'm open to Herman being wrong, really, but I think he's backing up his arguments with well sourced material.

teh
Offline
Joined: 15-06-09
Dec 31 2013 20:42
ocelot wrote:
there have been a good number of attempts by various figures in the French political establishment, and their tame intellectuals, to relativise or simply deny the genocide.

What about this Libération and Le Monde editor?

Quote:
Poring over a table strewn with papers, Sendashonga and I compare two independent lists of people killed in Gitarama province, central Rwanda, during the first 11 months after the RPF took power. We move forward line by line, name by name, address by address, cross-checking dates. One list has been compiled by parish priests throughout the prefecture; the other established at neighbourhood level for 11 of the 17 communes in Gitarama. The two lists largely tally. The first comprises about 25,000 dead, the second 17,000. Assuming RPF reprisals were equally severe everywhere in Rwanda this leads to an extrapolated figure of 150,000 people killed between July 1994 and April 1995 in the entire country. Based on research completed in August 1994 in 41 of the 145 Rwandan communes, Robert Gersony, a UNHCR consultant, estimated that ‘between 25,000 and 40,000 persons’ were killed during the first 100 days of RPF rule. The Gersony report – in fact just briefing notes – was leaked to the press. Under intense pressure from Kigali and its allies, the UNHCR went on the record denying its existence. No Gersony report, no dead.

In February 1996, Libération published my investigation into the killings allegedly committed by the post-genocide regime. I estimated that ‘more than 100,000’ Hutus had been murdered during the RPF’s first year in power. Libération also published an interview with Gérard Prunier, a specialist on the Great Lakes region, and the eyewitness account of a Rwandan nurse who had described to me two sites where he claimed he had been forced to work: one near Kigali where, he said, prisoners were put to death (their skulls were crushed), and another in a game reserve, the Akagera National Park, where scores of Hutus were cremated. There wasn’t much of a reaction to the dossier, though the Rwandan embassy in Paris issued a strongly worded denial. The wire services picked up the story but it disappeared very quickly. It was just a sour note in a concert.

Seven months later, in October 1996, the Rwandan army dispersed the Hutu camps in eastern Zaire, today’s Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than a million Hutus streamed back into Rwanda, while 300,000 fled deeper into Zaire. Of that 300,000 nearly two-thirds died over the next six months, according to a field study by Médecins sans frontières. They were killed or died of disease, exhaustion and hunger as they made their way across the African interior. The UNHCR spoke of ‘crimes against humanity’, but, again, there was hardly any response. Twelve years later, in August 2010, a fresh investigation by the UN put the number killed at ‘probably in the several tens of thousands’:

The extensive use of edged weapons (primarily hammers) and the apparently systematic nature of the massacres of survivors after the camps had been taken suggests that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage. The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick … the apparent systematic and widespread attacks described in this report reveal a number of inculpatory elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be characterised as crimes of genocide.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n06/stephen-w-smith/rwanda-in-six-scenes

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Jan 2 2014 10:44

Yes, Stephen William Smith would be part of the supporters of the Mitterand regime and an advocate of the "double genocide" thesis. You have to remember that the Mitterand regime was the French Socialist Party (PS) in power, so having a one-time section editor of Libération & Le Monde supporting the denialist position is simply akin to journalists or editors of the Guardian doing the same for a genocide committed under Tony Blair's government, for e.g*.

The double genocide thesis, as advanced by Smith, Pierre Péan, Bernard Lugan and others, does not explicitly deny the 1994 Hutu Power genocide of the 100 days, in the way that Herman does, but instead seeks to relativise the latter by creating a false equivalence with the massacres and war crimes of the RPF. Note, NB, that the quote above says nothing about the genocide of 1994 itself, but restricts itself to the "post-genocide period".

Now the figures given seem credible enough and even the assertion that the systematic elements to some of these massacres "could be characterised as crimes of genocide" are technically correct, under the current 1948 UN Convention. However the OAU sponsered IPEP report (which for all its weaknesses as regards the OP question - i.e. soft-pedalling the involvement of foreign powers in the genocide - is still worth a read, see here, even if you just read ch 7 for e.g.) notes in its recommendations (see ch 24, section E."THE GENOCIDE CONVENTION") that the 1948 convention needs to be revisited, specifically it's definition of genocide. They further include the convention as Annex E to the report for reference. On the question of definition the act says:

Quote:
Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to
destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a. killing members of the group;
b. causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c. deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about
its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d. imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e. forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;

Now as many people have pointed out in the past, this definition is so broad that it makes no distiction between the deliberate attempt to exterminate every last member of an ethnic group in toto, and a local massacre on ethnic lines, such as often occurs in civil wars. In fact - and this is key - this is the very point that Herman makes in relation to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. i.e. that because the Serbs did not kill all the Bosnian women and children but for the most part (albeit not exclusively, see Monbiot/Herman exchanges on this) targetted men of "military age", that it was a massacre, a war crime, but not genocide. Now that is an argument that I have some sympathy with (although NB, I reject entirely Herman's attempt to reduce the numbers killed from ~8,000 to ~800, that is denialism re Srebrenica**) but the key point here is that it is incompatible with the double genocide thesis being advanced by Smith in the above quote. Either Srebnica was not genocide, in which case the RPF massacres referenced by Smith weren't either - legalistic interpretation of the Convention aside - or they both are. Herman is in a cleft stick here.

The double genocide is quite rightly seen by the majority of the international community and the French left (other than those committed to the defence of the PS and Mitterand legacy) as an attempt to relativise the 1994 genocide by equating it to the massacres committed by the RPF on the basis of bodycount statistics (and NB, if over 60 million died in WW2 then the death of 6 million Jews is less than 10% of the total and hence a "mere detail" as Le Pen put it, going on bodycount alone) and, in this case, a legalistic interpretation of a Convention that pretty much everybody - Herman included (after all the "politics of genocide" is only possible if the official definition is so loose as to be applied anywhere the US deems appropriate) - accepts is hopelessly flawed.

----
* And on R4 Today this morning, John Pilger made the point that given that recent survey of UK public showed most people thought casualties from invasion of Iraq were ~10,000 when they were actually closer to a million, you could arguably say that this has happened, with the help of cheerleaders for liberal interventionism like the Guardian, iter alia.
** See in particular the absurd footnote 66 in the MR article which seeks to dismiss the evidence of the 6.500 victims already exhumed and identified on the completely batshit basis that "identified does not mean excuted" - How did they end up in a mass grave then? Bad dose of flu or something? What about the bullet holes? Seriously, if anybody can read that footnote and not see Herman in his true light, I give up.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Jan 2 2014 11:23
Pennoid wrote:
Ocelot, maybe you should look closer:

Reference number 36 on the Herman essay in MRZINE: http://www.olny.nl/RWANDA/Lu_Pour_Vous/Dossier_Special_Habyarimana/Rappo...

Looks French to me. It is in reference to the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane.

Fair point, I had missed that one in my scan of the comments (perhaps because in the comments the title had been translated for some reason). Anyway, for once there is actually an English WP page for Bruguière, it's worth a read for background, both on him (DGSE useful idiot) and on his two sources (I especially suggest also checking out the even more sulfurous Paul Barril as well - Ruzibiza recanted, nb).

For the record, on the question of who actually shot down Habyarimana's plane, I'm actually more minded to be in agreement with the IPEP position:

Quote:
7.4. What we do know, however, is that from October 1, 1990, Rwanda endured three and
a half years of violent anti-Tutsi incidents, each of which in retrospect can easily be
interpreted as a deliberate step in a vast conspiracy culminating in the shooting down of the
President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994, and the subsequent unleashing of the
genocide. But all such interpretations remain speculative. No one yet knows who shot down
the plane
, nor can it be demonstrated that the countless manifestations of anti-Tutsi sentiment
in these years were part of a diabolical master plan. It seems to us from the evidence most
probable that the idea of genocide emerged only gradually, possibly in late 1993 and
accelerating in determination and urgency into 1994

What is clear is that as much as the actual genocide of 1994 was marked by the inter-imperialist struggle between France on one side, and the US & UK on the other, so the struggle over the memory of the events since continues to be one in which the French state, including the DGSE, the French military and sections of the political elite and embedded intellectuals have one interest (i.e. the RPF shot down the plane) and the US & UK have another (it was the Akazu). Frankly the sources of the Bruguière account - a supposed RPF defector, who later retracted his account, and a grim French mercenary, up to his neck in the genocide - make it a less than entirely convincing account. But then the US/UK version doesn't appear to have any real evidence behind it either. But what is clear, whoever shot down that plane does not make a difference to the historical fact of a prepared and planned genocide of Tutsis which was carried out in its aftermath.

Pennoid wrote:
There are also more important facts like this:
Quote:
Apart from the compelling direct evidence [ocelot: sources, please - see above] that the shoot-down was Kagame's handiwork, there are also the facts that Kagame's RPF mobilized its troops within two hours of the event, and that it was this final RPF offensive that enabled Kagame's forces to quickly conquer Rwanda, rather than face elections in 1995 that he and his minority Tutsi surely would have lost.41 Moreover, the government of Rwanda at the time was a coalition government that had several strategically placed Tutsi members; Alison Des Forges, perhaps the most important advocate for the Hutu conspiracy model, admitted at the Rwanda Tribunal that there was little likelihood that the coalition Hutu and Tutsi government could have planned the assassination and the extermination of the Tutsi, without the knowledge of its Tutsi members.42 But the Guardian never confronts this set of problems. The Hutu conspiracy model is sacrosanct.

That seem like they could od with some discrediting or demonstration of falsity. Is the logic here flawed? I'm open to Herman being wrong, really, but I think he's backing up his arguments with well sourced material.

Except that the crucial "damning evidence" of that supposed "admission" by Des Forges is, according to the footnote "(Unavailable online.)". Given all the other inconsistencies and selective use of material by Herman (again, read footnote 66 - go on, read it) you'll excuse me for not taking that on trust.

Also, more importantly, the way the assertion is put "that the coalition Hutu and Tutsi government could have planned the assassination and the extermination of the Tutsi, without the knowledge of its Tutsi members" does not actually say anything about whether the extermination and, possibly (but not necessarily) the assassination, could have and was planned by the Akazu "kitchen cabinet" of the Hutu Power, which would have excluded the Tutsi members of the coalition government, by design.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Jan 2 2014 11:51

In for a penny, in for a pound I guess. So on the Davenport, Stam "arithmetic":

Soapy wrote:
For instance,[...] Herman and Peterson cite the work of two respected anthropologists at the University of Michigan, Christian Davenport and Allen Stam. After visiting Rwanda in 1998 and 1999 with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, they stumbled upon some interesting information. They subtracted the number of documented Tutsi survivors from the number of Tutsi counted in the last census of Rwanda taken before the genocide and discovered that there simply could not have been nearly enough Tutsi to account for all 800,000-1 million deaths in the genocide. They corroborated this evidence with data provided Rwandan genocide survivor support network Ibuka which holds that 300,000 Tutsi died during the genocide. This lead Stam and Davenport to insist that the number of Hutu killed must have been 500,000 or more.

The first ever census of Rwanda was in 1978. There was then no census until 1991. There have been subsequent censuses under the new regime in 2002 and 2012. AFAICS the new regime censuses no longer record Hutu/Tutsi breakdowns (for arguably justifiable reasons).

So 1991. The year after the invasion of Rwanda by the RPF. An invasion which triggered a number of events. E..g from the IPEP report:

Quote:
7.6. The fact that the Rwandan government reacted vigorously to the invasion in itself proves nothing about genocidal intentions. What government anywhere would have done otherwise?[...] It is clear that Habyarimana and his advisers immediately understood what the RPF and Uganda had just handed them – an opportunity to consolidate their eroding support and to mobilize international backing for the war the invaders had begun.

7.7. It is very important to recall that, up to this point, the Tutsi had not been singled out for abuse by the government in some 17 years. Now, as news of the invasion broke, it appears that even many Tutsi were initially unsympathetic to the invaders. [6] Unexpectedly the government had a perfect opportunity to unite the country against the alien raiders. They rejected it.

7.8. As this report will repeatedly emphasize, different identities, ethnic or otherwise, not in themselves cause division or conflict. It is the behaviour of unscrupulous elites that transforms differences into divisions. In the simple phrase of one scholar of conflicts, those who choose to manipulate such differences for their own self-interest, even at the risk of creating major conflict, are “bad leaders.” [7] Fatefully, Rwanda’s bad chose the path of division and hate instead of national unity. Five days into the invasion, the government announced that Kigali had been attacked by RPF forces. [8] In fact, the alleged attack on the capital was a fake. The heavy firing that could be heard across the city had been carried out by Rwanda’s own government troops. The event was carefully staged to provide credible grounds for accusing the Tutsi of supporting the enemy, and the Minister of Justice proceeded with that accusation. Hurling the epithet “ibyitso” (accomplices), he asserted that the Kigali attack could not have been organized without trusted allies on the inside. [9] Who was better suited to this than the Rwandans who happened to be of the same ethnic group as the invaders? Arrests began immediately, and eventually about 13,000 people were imprisoned. [10] They included some Hutu opponents of the regime, whose arrests were meant to either silence or intimidate them into supporting the President. Thousands of detainees were held for months, without charge, in deplorable conditions. Many were tortured, and dozens died. [11] Organized massacres of the Tutsi soon followed.

So. Consider you are a Tutsi living in Rwanda in 1991, having heard of but escaped the organised massacres of Tutsis so far, but against the background above. There has been no census since 1978. All of a sudden the Habyarimana government announces a new census and an official turns up your doorstep asking - "so, are you, like, a Tutsi or what?".

Do you respond:

A) Sure thing. This is my wife and kids, there all Tutsi too. Make sure you get our name and address down right.

B) My papers? Awful sorry, I lost them last year. Me? I'm totes a Hutu. My neighbour Bob* here, who you've just seen his papers marked as a Hutu, can vouch for me, right? Thanks Bob! Oh yeah, and my wife and kids too. No Tutsis here, no sir"

Whaddya reckon?

To me It's an obvious question that appears to have slipped Davenport and Stam's minds. Hence the scientific basis of their "arithmetic" (especially as anthropologists, ffs...) seems a little suspect to me.

But what seems even more suspect to me is that their methodology - i.e. abstracting deaths by violence from the situation, organisation and motivation behind those killings - the "UFO perspective" if you like - has anything to say about the perpetration of genocide, which is specifically to do with intent, preparation, organisation and execution. None of which questions are addressed by the Davenport/Stam methodology. They are careful not to draw too many conclusions on the genocide question from their work. Herman, however, has no such compunction.

-----
* OK, probably not called Bob.