With war still raging in the Eastern Congo for the fourth time since 1996, serious questions must be asked about the UN’s inability to respond effectively. Former UN Secretary General Boutros-Ghali has been raising such questions ever since Washington vetoed his second mandate at the UN in November 1996. For the English version of my book Rwanda 1994, Colonialism Dies Hard, I interviewed Boutros-Ghali about the wars that have wreaked havoc on Central Africa and especially Rwanda and the former Zaire. His observations about the UN and the possible role of the CIA in the April 6, 1994 assassination of two African heads of state are stunning.
In March 2004, the former Secretary General declared to the French daily Libération that a major problem at the UN was that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was very infiltrated by the American authorities. Here, briefly, is how the UN is infiltrated and the impact.
“The US authorities have taken control of the UN system through financial administration and the appointment of officers and staff who are paid directly by the United States. The UN doesn’t have the means to appoint senior officers and specialist staff. When these people are selected and paid by a foreign government, they are obviously more loyal to that government than to the UN. As a result, reports presented to the Secretary General and to the Security Council are purged and modified.” To find out more about this analysis, Boutros-Ghali recommends reading the paper entitled Multilateralism Besieged that he presented on behalf of the South Centre in October 2004 (www.southcentre.org).
“In practical terms,” he added, “in the case of Rwanda, the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) would send me reports on the situation based on information provided by my special envoy Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, General Romeo Dallaire and others. But these reports would be purged, modified and drafted according to a specific foreign policy.”
Asked about the famous fax sent by General Dallaire to the UN headquarters in January 1994 describing a plan to eliminate many Tutsis, Boutros-Ghali replied: “That story is greatly exaggerated. There was not only one fax. Every day the UN would receive faxes saying ‘We heard there’s a plot afoot’ And that leads to another weakness of the UN. The UN has no intelligence service. Member countries are much more informed about what’s going on than the UN Secretary General. Moreover, they refuse to share their information!”
Boutros-Ghali insisted that he does not wish to understate his own responsibility in Rwanda. “I said publicly that I failed in Rwanda. I did not succeed in convincing Security Council members to act. The United States with the strong support of Great Britain did everything they could to prevent the UN from intervening, and a majority of countries followed their lead.” It should be noted that Boutros-Ghali declared on at least two occasions, including once to me in November 2002, that the “Rwandan genocide was 100 percent American responsibility”.
Why did the United States and Great Britain oppose intervening in Rwanda when it could have been helpful and necessary?
Boutros-Ghali: “Is this not a repetition of Fashoda?” The reference is to the fort on the Upper Nile (now in Sudan) where French and British troops met in September 1898. France was trying to dominate Africa from Dakar to Djibouti while the British wanted to build a railway to link its ‘possessions’ from ‘The Cape to Cairo’. France withdrew and conceded Fashoda to the British.
“Central Africa has been the scene of an Anglo-American conflict with France. After all, what has happened in the Congo: war and at least 100,000 Hutus killed. That whole affair has been suppressed. The report on those deaths was never published. The French supported Mobutu, while the Americans and the British were behind Uganda and Rwanda, and they won. The background to these wars is a repetition of Fashoda. It began with Rwanda, and before that Uganda, which is part of the Anglo-American block. Uganda has no political parties, but it is never criticized, never denounced. () If there had been no foreign aggression by a Uganda against Rwanda in 1990, there would have been no war and no genocide.”
Boutros-Ghali is astonished by the silence concerning the assassination on April 6, 1994, of the heads of state of two African countries, Rwanda and Burundi, which triggered the massive killing.
“It is a very mysterious scandal. Four reports have been made on Rwanda: the French Parliament Report, the Belgian Senate Report, Kofi Annan’s UN report, and the Organization of African Unity report. All four say absolutely nothing about the shooting down of the Rwandan President’s plane. That just goes to show the power of the intelligence services that can force people to be quiet.”
The only partial exception is the seven year investigation conducted by the French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière. That investigation has implicated current Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front for having planned, ordered and carried out the April 6 assassination. But the silence continues since the Bruguière report has not been officially filed, only having been leaked to Le Monde.
According to Boutros-Ghali there’s much left to be found out. “Judge Bruguière, who I invited to a conference in Monaco, told me that according to his investigation, the CIA was involved in that assassination. The Anglo-American intelligence apparatus is much stronger than France’s. Perhaps the French secret service decided that they have no interest in making the Bruguière report public at this time.”
If the CIA was involved in the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana in April 1994, as the French judge has claimed, then it is easier to understand why the Official Story about the Rwandan tragedy continues to call that terrorist attack an “accident” or a “crash”. Worse still, considering the terrible consequences that exceed the wildest predictions of any sorcerer’s apprentice, serious questions remain unanswered about the efforts made and means used to erase the tracks leading to the criminals involved in the killing of the two African heads of state, and to misinform and mislead international public opinion about the real causes of the Rwandan tragedy that followed.
Second thoughts about Hotel Rwanda
Moreover, those who, like most of the movie critics, have been smitten by the two films about Rwanda now showing, “Hotel Rwanda” and the documentary “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire” should read, or reread, two important books that help put it all in perspective. The first one, to help come to grips with the wild imaginings about the devil and his cold hands, is Black Skin, White Masks (1952) by the great anti-colonialist writer and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon. The following excerpt is particularly relevant: “In Europe, Evil is represented by the Black man. The hangman is black, Satan is black, people talk of darkness, and when one is dirty, he is black be it physical or to moral dirt. People would be surprised to see the very large number of expressions, if they were all recorded where the Black man is equated to sin.”
The second book, “The Africa that Never Was” (1970) is the product of a comprehensive study of mainly British literature on Africa from 1560 to 1960. The authors, Hammond and Jablow, identify a set of conventions, metaphors and images that pervade the literature and cinema that together were developed during, and helped to legitimize, slavery and colonialism. Together they offer a fantasy vision of a continent and a people that never existed and never could exist. The authors show for example, that unlike for the tales about bloody wars in Europe, nobody in the literature on Africa finds, or attempts to find, social, economic, political, international or institutional reasons for the wars. Based on the literature, people just seem to like killing each other in Africa.
It is sad to see that these colonialist views pervade modern literature and film about Africa and especially Rwanda.
ROBIN PHILPOT is a Montreal writer. Rwanda 1994: Colonialism dies hard, the English adaptation of the French language book Ça ne s’est pas passé comme ça à Kigali is now published in its entirety on line by the Taylor Report at www.taylor-report.com. ROBIN PHILPOT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.