Rwanda Information Portal

Unearthed: The UN “Gersony Report” on Rwandan RPF / RPA mass killings in 1994

Gersony Report existence was denied

When Alison des Forges made several requests to the UN for the report, she was told the report didn’t exist.

“Gersony Report” is the name given to the unpublished 1994 findings made by a team under American Robert Gersony under contract to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that identified mass killings by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.

Gersony Report available here (PDF file)

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.

Cable 1: (Gersony Cable)

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.

Cable 2: (Refugees International)

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

[The Proxy Lake]

September 10, 2010   2 Comments

Belgium and UNAMIR Belgian Commander Luc Marshal dragged to court over Rwanda 1994 Genocide

Brussels – The commander of the Belgian forces during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis is facing prosecution for causing the deaths of 2000 Tutsis after he ordered his troops to withdraw – leaving the victims for dead.

In a landmark case which opened Wednesday in a Brussels court, several Genocide survivors including two renowned women want Belgian Colonel Luc Marchal and the State of Belgium to stand trial. Col Marchal is charged along with two other officers.

Among those who launched the suit in 2004 and then 2007 are: author Florida Mukeshimana-Ngulinzira (in Photo), the widow of ex-Rwandan Foreign Minister Boniface Ngulinzira, and Marie-Agnès Uwali.

Court documents before the judge alleged that on April 11, 1994, the Belgium government through Colonel Luc Marchal withdrew their troops which were protecting a technical school here in Kigali (ETO) where some 2000 Tutsis were taking refuge.

The refugees were taken up a hill, where “most of them were killed with machine guns and finished off with machetes shortly after the departure of the Belgians,” the attorney for the survivors, Eric Gillet, told the Brussels court.

The Belgians withdrew four days earlier after their 10 paratroopers were slaughtered along with ex-PM Agathe Uwiringiyimana.

By abandoning a people under threat from interahamwe militias, the plaintiffs argue, the Belgian State and the three officers are guilty to have ‘failed to act’ – which is prescribed under the Geneva Convention.

The plaintiffs reveal that the order to withdraw from ETO was given to Capt. Lemaire by Major Dewez – with accordance from Colonel Marchal.

However, the defense of the State and the officers argues that the 97 Belgian soldiers stationed at ETO and the entire contingent was under the UN – which apparently gave the pull-out order.

The ex-foreign minister Boniface Ngulinzira, the husband of Ngulinzira – one of the plaintiffs, a “Hutu” who backed the Arusha peace accord, was killed with others as they tried to escape, says the court documents.

The drama was the subject of the critically-acclaimed 2005 movie “Shooting Dogs”.

“I want to know why my husband, whose goal was peace between Rwandans, was abandoned by Blue Helmets whose mission was to protect him along with the other refugees,” the minister’s widow, Florida Ngulinzira, told reporters.

The plaintiffs accused the Belgian government and soldiers of “failing to act” to prevent or put an end to violations of international human rights, a crime recognised by Belgian law since 1993.

The defendant Col Luc Marchal told RFI earlier this year: “We were under critical circumstances, with inadequate weaponry.”

“Everybody was dispersed in the city so it was imperative to regroup. We really had no idea at that moment that the fate of the 2,000 refugees was going to be what it ended up being,” he said.

IBUKA head Theodore Simburudali warned Thursday that more mass suits are coming.

“If the Belgian state is declared criminally liable, all the people abandoned in this place on that day will file a civil suit,” he told AFP news agency.

Two women are behind the Brussels case including author Florida Mukeshimana-Ngulinzira, the widow of ex-Rwandan Foreign Minister Boniface Ngulinzira, and Marie-Agnès Uwali.

“The initiative of these two plaintiffs is a very good thing which we support very much. We ask that it should be supported right to the end,” said Simburudali.

“The role of Belgium and the United Nations no longer needs to be proven. Belgium had the best trained and best equipped force in UNAMIR (the UN mission in Rwanda.

“People pleaded in vain, asking the Belgian soldiers not to abandon them. They even asked in vain to be driven to the zone under the control of the FPR,” Simburudali added, referring to the Rwanda Patriotic Front rebels, which was fighting the government army and extremist militias.

The two plaintiffs accused the Belgian government and soldiers of “failing to act” to prevent or put an end to violations of international human rights, a crime recognised by Belgian law since 1993.

“The Belgian soldiers knew, when they left, that these people were going to be killed. It’s all the more serious when it’s the Belgian contingent that had the responsibility for ensuring safety in the capital,” Simburudali said.


September 10, 2010   2 Comments