Unearthed: The UN “Gersony Report” on Rwandan RPF / RPA mass killings in 1994
“Gersony Report” is the name given to the unpublished 1994 findings made by a team under American Robert Gersony under contract to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that identified mass killings by the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels after their military victory in the civil war in post-genocide Rwanda.
Large-scale indiscriminate killings of men, women, children, including the sick and the elderly, were consistently reported … Mass killings at meetings: Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace”, “security” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd has assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers by other means. Large-scale killings which did not involve such “meetings” were also reported.”
Soldiers asking residents to gather in order to attend a meeting, surrounding them and opening fire on the crowd are the same RPA killings pattern reported in DR Congo by the authors of “maping exercise” draft report (see page 118 to 122).
Similar to the recently leaked UN “mapping exercise” Report, Gersony’s findings were leaked to the international media, infuriating the RPF-led Rwandan government which claimed to have not been consulted during the evidence gathering exercise.
The Gersony Report: It’s Findings and more.
(by the World News Journal)
In 1994, as the UNHCR and the U.S. Embassy in Kigali encouraged Rwandan Hutu refugees to come back to Rwanda, reports of wide scale massacres emanated out of the countryside. The UNHCR appointed a team (led by Robert Gersony) to investigate. This team was unique because it was the only team that was allowed to travel freely though the country without RPA escorts. They visited 41 communes and 9 refugee camps to collect evidence. In the report on his findings, Mr. Gersony states he believes that the RPA committed genocide against Hutu in Kibungo, Butare, and parts of Kigali and between early April to mid-September 1994, the RPF killed between 25,000-45,000 Rwandans, both Hutu and Tutsi. At times, Hutu prisoners were used as slave labor to dig the mass graves and dump the bodies in.
The report was so damaging to the UNHCR, RPF and UNAMIR that UN officials covered it up in October 1994, despite the fact UNHCR officials on the ground (on the order of UNHCR head Ms. Sagato Ogata) stopped encouraging Rwandan Hutu refugees to return to Rwanda because of the killings, as reported in the New York Times at the end of September.
Mr. Gersony was instructed never to talk about it publicly.
The public would even be told in later years that the report never existed. In her book “The Turbulent Decade,” Ms. Ogata describes Gersony “formalizing his report for presentation to the commision of experts” on October 11, 1994. In his recent book on the Congo, Mr. Gerard Prunier said Kofi Annan told then VP Kagame, the late Seth Sendashonga (then Interior Minister), PM Faustin Twagiramungu, and President Pasteur Bizimungu the UN would withhold the report to allow the RPF government time to consolidate after providing them with a copy of the report.
The report made its way to the UN Commission of Experts on Human Rights via then UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali. Mr. Gersony briefed the commission in Geneva. However, they inexplicably basically dismissed the report (pg. 15). Mr. Gersony later allegedly told Mr. Prunier during a meeting with him that he had never written a “fully developed version” of his findings because he knew they would not be published. Instead, he had only “field notes” in “documentary form.” (pg. 466) When Alison des Forges made several requests to the UN for the report, she was told the report didn’t exist.
The report was also potentially damaging to the United States, a strong supporter of the new Rwandan government. As described by Mr. Prunier in his book, then Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth was given orders by the State Department to discredit the report. Mr. Wirth travelled to Kigali and several places in New York, spreading disinformation by attacking Gersony’s methodology and claiming it was a “Hutu conspiracy.” He also delivered carefully crafted propagandic press statements. (pg. 31)
Though a physical report itself has proven to be very elusive and, as noted above, some claim it doesn’t exist, a cable from Mr. Shaharyar Kahn to UN HQ in New York gives the findings and is available below. Mr. Gersony and his team subjectively concluded from the investigation that the RPA committed genocide against the Hutu. The cable also shows Kofi Annan (then Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping) and Mrs. Sagato Ogata, head of the UNHCR, expressing their concern if the report were to be released publicly. According to Mr. Kahn, he and Mr. Annan later concluded that RPA massacres did occur, but they were not genocide, contradicting the findings of Mr. Gersony, a seasoned investigator.
The second cable is from Refugees International, who had a station across the Tanzanian-Rwandan border. It describes in detail some of the RPF massacres and served as input for the Gersony Report.
A very special thanks to Canadian Barrister and ICTR defense counsel Chris Black for providing these documents. References to Mr. Pruner’s book do not necessarily constitute an endorsement of his book. — WNJ