Rwanda Genocide Remembered: Small Arms Involvement
The 7th of April 2014 was the day when France refused to take part in the commemorations ceremony for the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda was a former French colony. Back in the colonial days, the Germans, Belgians and French enslaved the Rwandan people and set up international corporations, milking the country of its raw materials and natural wealth, they also had a large part to play in the genocide that followed.
All over the news the past few days the genocide has been covered in the most horrific fashion. The usual media culprits have shown on TV how the Rwandan people have come together to forgive one another for the atrocities that were carried out. During the commemoration ceremony, there was dancing and singing, but it was painful to see some people break down as the memories of what happened two decades ago came flooding back. Its difficult to forgive or forget such evil.
I’ve seen death squad leaders reunite with victim families, literally hand in hand,discussing what they did and how both sides are over it.
The eyes never lie.
You can see hellish pain in the retina of both the accuser and the accused and its quite sickening for such murderous behaviour to be treated like this by foreign media. There is so much information that we’re not told about the genocide, and if you think about it, such heinous acts cannot have come about in a few days.
LET THE GUNS FLOW AND PROFITS GROW
How we were told it started
Twenty years ago, one of the worst massacres in modern history began. It is estimated around one million Rwanadans were slaughtered in the genocide which started on April 7th, 1994 and lasted for 3 months.
There were two tribe sets in Rwanda. Hutu’s and Tutsi’s, and On April 6th, 1994, an aeroplane carrying the Hutu President was shot down on its descent killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints & barricades and used Rwandans national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. This is what most people believe to be the starting point of the genocide.
The military, police and political leaders then pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, axes and knives to rape, maim, and kill their Tutsi neighbours, destroy or steal their property, to get revenge. We are told, in one day, the Hutu’s were able arm themselves and systematically slaughter their neighbours, using household tools.
Unspoken truths of the Rwandan Genocide
The genocide was planned months before by members of the core political elite known as the akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government.
Other perpetrators came from the ranks of the Rwandan army, the National Police government-backed militias but whats very surprising is the massive involvement of the Hutu civilian population.
The country was already plagued by ethnic, religious and nationalist conflicts, disaster was always looming on the dark horizons of Rwanda but to what extent was unknown. The Country was about to feel the effects of psychopathic arms dealers, international governments and their love for money.
Profit was now the major motive of the arms business after the post Cold East-West concerns diminished. There was a lot of unused weapons on the market, and these weapons found new homes in Countries were civil unrest was about to over flow into vicious streams of violence.
China, Egypt and South Africa all stepped up the sales of their light ammunition and small arms. Arms dealers and organised crime syndicates were looking for a place to off load their military supplies. Opportunities were sought out and perpetuated, to feed an exponential increase in the demand for guns and ammo. Rwanda, along with many other African nations, was flooded with weapons at low low prices, and as a result the blood could run like water.
The war before the war, a brief history
Rwanda’s genocide, was preceded by a war launched in October 1990 by Tutsi guerrillas of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) against the Hutu-led government. Rwanda was one of the poorest nations in Africa at the time. Although both the government and guerrillas had limited resources with which to buy arms, Rwandan land and raw materials were used as a medium of exchange. International arms suppliers rushed to both sides like vultures to a carcass.
There was a wave of violence between 1959 and 1966, when the Hutu overthrew the Tutsi monarchy, which had been ruling for centuries. Between 50,000 and 100,000 Tutsi were killed in a slaughter that the British philosopher Bertrand Russell then described as “the most horrible and systematic massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.” Thousands of Tutsi exiles ended up in Uganda.
In Uganda, the Tutsis were living under the control of dictators, including Milton Obote and Idi Amin. In the early 1980s at least 2,000 of them joined a guerilla movement led by a former defense minister, Yoweri Museveni.
In 1986 Museveni and his men took power over Uganda and in 1990, when the RPF invaded Rwanda across its Northern border with Uganda, more than half its initial guerrillas and most of its officers were drawn from Uganda’s army. Uganda also provided an array of small arms and other weapons systems, including recoilless cannons and Soviet-made Katyusha multiple-rocket launchers.
To counter the invasion, the Hutu government drew from its existing stock of Belgian automatic rifles and French armoured vehicles. But Rwanda was understocked and under siege. Until then, Belgium, Rwanda’s former colonial ruler, had been its main military patron. But Belgium had an explicit policy against providing lethal arms to a country at war. Following the invasion, Belgium continued to provide military training, boots, and uniforms to the Rwandan army, but no arms. France, however, rushed in 60-mm, 81-mm, and 120-mm mortars and 105-mm light artillery guns. France, which was committed to keeping Rwanda within the bloc of 21 Francophone African nations, also provided seasoned advisers and four companies of 680 combat troops at a time.
An arms race was under way
More than a dozen nations helped fuel the Rwandan war, and both sides appear to have purchased considerable weaponry through private sources on the open market. By its own admission, the Rwandan government bankrupted its economy to pay for those weapons. Former Warsaw Pact countries appear to have supplied both sides, seeing opportunity in Rwanda less than one year after the Berlin Wall fell. It remains unclear how long it took ex-Warsaw Pact equipment to reach Rwanda, but eventually most RPF guerrillas carried Kalashnikov AKM automatic rifles, many manufactured in Romania.
Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and others were now aggressively promoting arms sales. The collapse of Moscow’s central control had given governments and the officials left in charge of existing stockpiles, a free hand. With the Russian ruble devalued and East European nations in need of hard currency, their governments were likely to try to sell even more small arms wherever they could.
By 1993, Rwanda’s Hutu government had begun to look to Russia to buy more arms, especially Kalashnikov AKMs. The key suppliers for government forces were France, Egypt, and South Africa. A $6 million contract between Egypt and Rwanda in March 1992, with Rwanda’s payment guaranteed by a French bank, included 60-mm and 82-mm mortars, 16,000 mortar shells, 122-mm D-30 howitzers, 3,000 artillery shells, rocket-propelled grenades, plastic explosives, anti-personnel land mines, and more than three million rounds of small arms ammunition.
South Africa also supplied small arms, including R-4 automatic rifles, 7.62-mm machine guns, and 12.7-mm Browning machine guns. In October 1992, on the heels of the Egyptian deal, Rwanda made a $5.9 million purchase from South Africa: 100 60-mm mortars, 70 40-mm grenade launchers with 10,000 grenades, 20,000 rifle grenades, 10,000 hand grenades, spare parts and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition for R-4 rifles, and one million rounds of machine gun ammunition.
South Africa developed its arms industry in response to the U.N. embargo against it. Its conventional weaponry is considered to be among the most durable and reliable in the world, a fact Rwanda quickly learned. By late 1993, within a year of its $5.9 million purchase, Rwanda had decided to standardise its infantry forces with South African arms. These purchases from South Africa were in contravention of U.N. Security Council Resolution 558, opposing importation of weapons from South Africa. However, the import prohibition was voluntary, unlike the U.N. ban on arms exports to South Africa, which was lifted in May that year.
The small arms used in the Rwandan Genocide played a big part in the quantity of people that were slaughtered and this is something that is never spoken about. The arms which were purchased by wealthy Rwandans and paranoid government officials a few years before the genocide, would be key to the excessiveness of the atrocity. Foreign countries, looking to make a quick buck, sold weapons to a country which had a long history of civil war. What was to come, was these weapons would be stockpiled, and used in the 1994 massacre which took the lives of one million Rwandans. It wasn’t just machete’s!