Documents Show Clinton Administration Ignored Mass Killings in Rwanda
April 7, 2014Declassified U.S. documents show the Clinton administration refused to label the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda as a genocide. One State Department document read: "Be careful … Genocide finding could commit U.S.G. to actually 'do something.'"
Samantha Power, who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described the U.S. inaction in her 2001 article, "Bystanders to Genocide." She wrote, "The United States did much more than fail to send troops. It led a successful effort to remove most of the UN peacekeepers who were already in Rwanda. It aggressively worked to block the subsequent authorization of UN reinforcements."
For weeks, the major power nations denied that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda. Even, the United States refused to call the incident "genocide," because using the term would make an obligation for the United States to send troops.
Finally in July 1994, long after the genocide was over, the UN Security Council called for an investigation of the events, and acted to establish an international criminal tribunal to prosecute those individuals most responsible for the genocide. The UN Security Council created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on November 8, 1994 and to judge people responsible for the Rwandan Genocide and other serious violations of international law in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states.
Michael Hourigan, an Australian lawyer, was assigned the job of investigating the Rwandan Genocide of between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsis were killed by Hutu militias, and approximately 2 million refugees (mostly Hutus) left for refugee camps of neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and former Zaire.
Hourigan was assigned this job by then ICTR prosecutor Louise Arbour to determine who shot down the plane with two missile that killed Rwanda’s President Juvenal Habrarimana (a Hutu) and Burundi’s President Cyprian Ntaryamira (a Hutu) and three French nationals flying the government jet on April 6, 1994. The genocide continued until the defeat of Hutu rebel in mid-July. The Hutu and Tutsi conflict has nothing to do with language or religion -- they speak the same Bantu tongues as well as French, and generally practice Christianity. The strife stems from class warfare, with the Tutsis perceived to have greater wealth and social status (as well as favoring cattle ranching over what is seen as the lower-class farming of the Hutus).
After my two years in Rwanda, Hourigan said that he had gotten firsthand witness testimony that Gen. Paul Kagame ordered the assassinations. Hourigan and his team were successful in finding three members of the shoot down team and that they were assisted by a foreign power (unnamed) and that they had the documents to prove it. They asked for protection. Also Hourigan found evidence pointing to the fact that Kagame had used western aid to build up a killing machine network allied to the US.
When Hourigan submitted his report to Chief prosecutor, Louise Arbour, she suppressed it and ordered the investigation closed. A former FBI agent who worked at the ICTR that Arbour did so on the instructions of the US ambassador in Rwanda. And so some of the main offenders responsible for some of the biggest crimes have been left un-prosecuted.
A far more comprehensive eight-year investigation by the French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière, Bruguière issued nine arrest warrants for high-ranking Rwanda Army members close to Kagame, and requested that the ICTR itself take up Kagame’s prosecution, as under French law, Bruguière could not issue an arrest warrant for a head of state.
International courts are formed by treaties between nations, or under the authority of an international organization such as the United Nations — this includes ad hoc tribunals and permanent institutions, but excludes any courts arising purely under national authority.
The International Court of Justice commonly referred to as the World Court or ICJ) is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands. Its main functions are to settle legal disputes submitted to it by states and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by duly authorized international branches, agencies, and the UN General Assembly.