Sunday, June 13, 2010

The 1994 RPF Reprisal Killings of Hutu Civilians in South and Southeast Rwanda

United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
September 12, 1994


TO: The Secretary
THROUGH: P-Mr. Tarnoff
FROM: AF-George E. Moose

SUBJECT: New Human Rights Abuses in Rwanda


UNHCR investigative team that spent July and August 1994 in Rwanda has reported systematic human rights abuses by the Government of Rwanda (GOR) forces including systematic killings in the south ant southeast of the country.

The team has concluded that the GOR is aware of these reprisal killings against Hutu civilians and may have sanctioned them. A UN delegation now in Kigali will raise this issue with the GOR and ask what steps will be taken to halt the abuses. The UNHCR plans public release of the report this week and we plan to raise this issue with the GOR in the context of the September 20-23 Wirth visit to Kigali.


The September 17, 1994 debriefing of members of a UNHCR team that spent July and August, 1994 in Rwanda revealed that the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the military wing of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has engaged in a pattern of systematic killing of Hutu civilians in the south and southeast of Rwanda. The UNHCR team witnessed Hutu men with arms bound in the company of RPA troops and Tutsi civilians. The soldiers possessed two-way radios and knew the “party-line”, indicating that their activities were not unknown to authorities in Kigali.

On the basis of interviews with refugees/individuals, the UNHCR team concluded that the pattern of killing had emerged. The RPA convened meetings of displaced persons to discuss peace and security. Once the displaced persons were assembled, RPA soldiers moved in and killed them. In addition to these massacres, the RPA engaged in house to house sweeps and hunted down individuals hiding in swamps. Victims were usually killed with hoes, axes, machetes and fire. Although males aged 18-40 were at high risk, the young and elderly were not spared. The team established that the RPA and Tutsi civilian surrogates had killed 10,000 or more Hutu civilians per month, with the RPA accounting for 95% of the killings.

The UNHCR team speculated that the purpose of the killing was a campaign of ethnic cleansing intended to clear certain areas in the south of Rwanda for Tutsi habitation. The killings also served to reduce the population of Hutu males and discouraged refugees from returning to claim their lands.

The UNHCR team informed us that they will raise their finding with GOR Defense Minister Paul Kagame in Kigali, possibly by September 21, 1994. They will inquire of Kagame what steps he will take to stop the killings. UNSYG Boutros Ghali plans to brief the Security Council and subsequently make the gist of the UNHCR report public. We have been asked not to get out in front of the UN on this issue to avoid putting individuals and NGOs at risk.

We intend to take complementary action. We will use Under Secretary Wirth’s September 22-23, 1994 meeting with Kagame and other senior GOR officials to raise this issue and to underline US commitment to respect human rights and the rule of law if the UN has made its demarche. We will report further on this issue following the GOR response.

Drafted: AF/C: REWhiteheaded
SECC 5044
Cleared: AF/C: ARender

Click here to read the original document in pdf file.


According to Noel Ndanyuzwe in his article titled "Paul Kagame’s blackmail aims at granting him impunity":
"The RPF supporters are right when they say that the Habyarimana’s assassination was not the trigger of the genocide. Indeed, before the war that started on October 1st, 1990, everything was pre-planned. Only the tactics of camouflage and implementation have evolved over time and space. The planning of the genocide against the Hutus preceded the planning of the genocide against the Tutsis. Although these two tragic events are not mutually exclusive, they are complementary to one another.
The Article 14 of the current Rwandan constitution is clear, precise and unconditional about the above statement in these terms: "The State shall, within the limits of its capacity, take special measures for the welfare of the survivors of genocide who were rendered destitute by the genocide committed against the Tutsis from October 1st, 1990 to December 31st, 1994, the disabled, the indigent and the elderly as well as other vulnerable groups."
Rooted in the unspeakable, the Article 14 of the Rwandan Constitution tends the mirror to the obscured past of the RPF regime. The assassination of Habyarimana was quite inevitable, in order to complete, in the government-controlled zones, the genocide initially committed in the areas that were already conquered by the RPF soldiers. If the Rwandan genocide actually spanned from October 1st, 1990 to December 31st, 1994, how this broader Rwandan genocide which has never been investigated can be reduced to Tutsis only?"

Related Materials:
Fax to UNHCR with regard to RPF killings in Rusumo area in May 1994

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Kagame massacred both Hutu and Tutsi

Massacres at the Kagera River in 1994 Rwanda genocide


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