By then, Dr Kayishema's efforts had turned to
culling the thousands of Tutsis in the Bisesero hills.
No one is sure how many died in Bisesero but they number in the thousands.
Many were murdered after the arrival of the French army
under a UN mandate to create a "safe haven".


But the French army did provide a safe haven for the murderers,
assisting Dr Kayishema and many of his cohorts
to slip away to Zaire (Congo) when the killing was finally over.

In the many books I've read about the Rwandan Hutu genocide of Tutsis over the years, some incidents in the horror stand out more than others. One of those incidents is the Bisesero Hill Massacre which occurred around June 27, 1994.

By that time the Tutsi RPF had already taken control of east, north, south and central Rwanda and Hutus by the millions were running from justice into the western part of the country that ends at Lake Kivu in the Kibuye province where Bisesero Hill is located.

The RPF - against their better judgement - were convinced by the UN to stop advancing on the Hutu perpetrators fleeing into the west, but to instead allow French soldiers to stop the genocide there and provide humanitarian aid to the survivors. This UN-French operation was named "Operation Turquoise".

To make a long story short, the French soldiers were actually on the side of the defeated Hutu army and instead of stopping the genocide of Tutsis - as they were UN mandated to do - they helped the masterminds and perpetrators continue it.

The last stand of the Tutsis was at Bisesero Hill where thousands of them had run and where their leaders mounted a heroic resistance - throwing rocks and fighting hand to hand against hundreds of powerfully-armed Hutu army and Interahamwe militia soldiers who had been sent there - aided by the French - to finish them off.

French soldiers had been to Bisesero Hill a few days before the final massacre and talked the Tutsis into coming down from the hill, saying the genocide was over and they were there to provide humanitarian aid, although they didn't have any with them, but would return with some soon.

But before the French soldiers returned to Bisesero Hill soldiers from the Hutu army and Interahamwe militia arrived and thousands of Tutsis were killed. Very few survived, but those who did have told the tale, and in the books I've read the tale.

Aware of this betrayal of the Tutsis at Bisesero Hill and the massive massacre that followed, last summer I climbed Bisesero Hill to pay homage to their souls. See BISESERO HILL OF SORROW

View Grave

Godcidently, on the morning of my visit to Bisesero Hill, I witnessed a scene of a movie being acted out in front of my hotel that I subsequently learned was named OPERATION TURQUOISE and would be about the massacre at Bisesero Hill. See HILLYWOOD RWANDA.

Street Street

Since that time I've been keeping my eyes open for when the movie would be released. I'm very interested in seeing it, in part for the scene in front of our hotel but mainly to see if it would be a true depiction of the genocide there.

A month or so ago I got an email from an actor who had actually had a role in the movie and he too was wondering about its status and if I had heard where and when OPERATION TURQUOISE would be released. I directed him to info off google saying it would be a made-for-TV, pay-per-view movie to be shown on French television some day soon.

I was somewhat disappointed that OPERATION TURQUOISE wouldn't be hitting the big screen here in America, nor probably even the small screen with subtitles. But c'est la vie ici en Canada where I haven't even seen the much bigger and heavily promoted Canadian-funded movie of Romeo Dallaire's story, ie SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL. It hasn't come to any theatre in my city yet and so at this point I'm expecting to only see it when it comes out on DVD.

I continued my search for news on OPERATION TURQUOISE and recently I finally came across an article written by a Rwandan who had seen and reviewed it. See RWANDA FRENCH TURQUOISE FILM

Much to my edification the OPERATION TURQUOISE movie review concentrates mainly on the controversy surroundng the Bisesero Hill Massacre - that place so dear to my heart. The reviewer knows about which he critiques because he attended the recent hearings in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where witnesses were testifying to what they saw and experienced at Bisesero. Their testimony greatly implicates French soldiers in the genocide there, something that the French have denied all these years.

The blaring overall message that comes across in OPERATION TURQUOISE, the movie, is that the French soldiers - under pretext of a UN-mandated "humanitarian" mission - helped Hutus finish the genocide of Tutsis at Bisesero Hill before helping them escape over the border to the Congo side of Lake Kivu where, until this day, the UN has helped them recover, recoup and re-arm for a repeat attack on Tutsis in Rwanda, after first slicing through Tutsis in the Congo. See GOMA CAMP MAFIA HOTEL.

Now the only obstacle in the way of a resumed genocide of Tutsis is General Laurent Nkunda, the Congolese soldier who helped Rwanda stop their genocide and fight two subsequent wars in the Congo to (unsuccessfully it turned out) rout the Rwandan Hutus out of the country. The wars only ended in 2003 when a peace treaty was signed by the Great Lakes Region nations of Africa ordering President Joseph Kabila (who'd been helped by Nkunda to come to power) to use his FARDC Congo army to disarm and send the genocidal FDLR Hutu army home to Rwanda for dismantling. When Kabila turned on his own people instead - the Congolese Tutsis - General Nkunda rebelled from the Congo FARDC army and took his loyal soldiers with him to his homeland near Lake Kivu, Congo where, as the CNDP army, he and his soldiers defend their people to this day.

Last year the reviewer of the OPERATION TURQUOISE movie interviewed General Nkunda at his hideaway headquarters in Kirolirwe, Kivu Province, Congo. There he was shown evidence that proves that a French general - the military head of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUC) - is refusing to disarm the FDLR Hutu army soldiers and Interhamwe militia as he is mandated to do by the peace treaty, thus opening the door for genocide against Tutsis in the Congo.

This brings us full circle back to Bisesero Hill where OPERATION TURQUOISE - in helping Hutus kill Rwandan Tutsis and escape - laid the groundwork for future genocide of Congolese Tutsis by these same genocidaires. ~ Jackie Jura

FRANCE NO RSVP RWANDA (reader Badang asks about french response to accusations of Bisesero genocide survivors)

Genocide Dead Rwanda 10 years on (not forgiven, not forgotten). AustraliaAge/LondonGuardian, Apr 3, 2004
The genocide in Rwanda lasted 100 days and claimed about 800,000 lives. The shock waves spread far beyond the borders of the tiny Central African state, dethroning Mobutu Sese Seko after Rwanda's army marched across Zaire to avenge his support for the Hutu murderers....Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan, who was head of UN peacekeeping at the time, offered half-hearted apologies for their failure to save the Tutsis, premised on the lie that they did not know. That was further than France was prepared to go over its military support of the Hutu regime. More recently, the tables have turned with critics of Rwanda's Tutsi leadership accusing it of subsequently overseeing an orgy of killing, rape and plunder in eastern Congo....

Among the others helped by the bank clerk was Louis Rutaganira, who had fled the church for the hills of Bisesero. After that he slipped away to the forest where he was able to send Theoneste a note asking for cash to hire a dugout to take him across Lake Kivu to the Zairean island of Ijwe. But Louis was among the lucky few. By early May 1994, almost all the Tutsis in Kibuye were dead....

By then, Dr Kayishema's efforts had turned to culling the thousands of Tutsis in the Bisesero hills, about 40km south of Kibuye town. No one is sure how many died in Bisesero but they number in the thousands. Many were murdered after the arrival of the French army under a UN mandate to create a "safe haven". The French commander in Kibuye declined to remove the roadblocks manned by the interahamwe on the grounds they were necessary for civil defence. He also took Dr Kayishema's word that he was fighting Tutsi rebels in the hills and allowed the slaughter of women and children to continue for another fortnight. But the French army did provide a safe haven for the murderers, assisting Dr Kayishema and many of his cohorts to slip away to Zaire when the killing was finally over....






Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~