Mounting evidence that Rwanda is supplying arms and recruits to a rebellion led by an indicted war criminal in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) is the latest indication that, in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, President Paul Kagame’s government will ensure its own security and interests even to the detriment of its neighbors and in defiance of international law.
There had been ethnic massacres in Rwanda before, but nothing on the scale of the genocide that began in April 1994. The killing had been over for nearly a year when a young American reporter, Philip Gourevitch, set foot in Rwanda for the first time the following May. The bodies of the dead were reverting to bone but memories were still raw. Gourevitch wrote of accidentally crushing a skull beneath his foot, so thick were the dead at a massacre site, and of the eerie emptiness of a country where so many had died so violently and so recently. In his first dispatch from Rwanda for The New Yorker, seven months after arriving, he wrote, “It almost seemed as if, with the machete, the nail-studded club, a few well-placed grenades, and a few bursts of automatic rifle fire, the quiet orders of Hutu Power had made the neutron bomb obsolete.” Continue reading One Man’s Rwanda
One afternoon in the hamlet of Mwoga in south-east Rwanda, I met a 43-year-old single mother named Mary Nyiratabaro. Wearing a bright orange igitenge dress, she was holding a piece of paper in her hand which, for her, signalled security. Rwanda is a country of 11 million people, most of whom live in rural areas and work as subsistence farmers. In the past, the state owned the land, but a British-funded programme to formalise and digitise land ownership is changing that. Continue reading An Uncivil Partnership
My friend nervously scanned the paved open-air courtyard. His eyes rested for a few seconds on a nearby table, where three affluent-looking men in suits sipped beers. He glanced into a shadowed corner at a young couple out on a date, then at a group of foreign missionaries gathering for an early dinner.
In 1996 Rwandan troops descended on the Chimanga refugee camp in east Congo, to which their compatriots had fled to avoid genocide at home. The soldiers gathered the refugees together with promises of meat to fortify themselves for a promised return to Rwanda. “At a given moment,” says the draft of a new report from the United Nations, “a whistle sounded and the soldiers positioned all around the camp opened fire on the refugees. According to different sources, between 500 and 800 refugees were killed in this way.” Continue reading Revisiting the killing fields
General Laurent Nkunda is a contradiction. An urbane jungle-dweller; an evangelical Christian warlord; a cerebral military strategist who unleashes awful brutality; a tribal protector and father of six who recruits children into his ranks; a patriot who wages war and steals the resources of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Continue reading Congo’s maverick warlord who kills in the name of Christianity