To Orwell Today,


I found this webpage very informative and well put together, however I thought you might be interested in a slight clarification to Philip Gourevitch's interview (by the way I enjoyed his book tremendously, it was certainly the most in depth account of the genocide which occured in Rwanda, as well as simply a good read).

My clarification is directed at his comment saying the Hutu refugees were not disarmed. This may be true for much of the military forces which came into the camps already "in charge" but the vast majority of interhamwe forces were forced to disarm at the border, creating huge piles of machetes, clubs, and small arms weaponry (should of been a big clue to the aid workers as to who they were aiding).

I'm not trying in any way to discredit Mr. Gourevitch, as this disarmament had no real effect due to the huge amounts of arms shipments which were organized by the Hutu Power camp leaders, I simply enjoyed reading the interview and thought you might like this little tidbit of additional info.

Travis Hubbard

Greetings Travis,

Thanks for your clarification on the Hutu disarmament as they crossed the border from Rwanda into the Goma "fugitive" camp in Zaire (Congo). It was a thrilling experience to actually go there myself this past summer - not to the Goma camp which is no longer there - but to Goma itself. See GOMA'S LUMUMBA VOLCANO.

In the interview you mention I understand Gourevitch to mean that the general Hutu masses were disarmed of their machetes and clubs, but not the master-minds behind the genocide (those who "presided over" the genocide). The masses would include some of the citizen militia (Interahamwe) who weilded the AK-47s and manned the roadblocks. So it is true that there would be a huge pile of weapons there at the border crossing for all the world to see, including the humanitarian workers who should have been able to arrive at the correct conclusion as to who these people crossing over were.

To me it seems that Gourevitch is saying that the government soldiers were crossing over without being disarmed and their kind of weaponry wouldn't then be piled up for all to see. And of course, as you say, once the Hutu Power leaders were settled in in the Goma refugee/fugitive camp they even had access to weapons being imported into Zaire (Congo).

I think we're all saying the same thing - you, me and Gourevitch - ie that some Hutus were disarmed at the border and others were not, and that the "big guns" weren't seized, literally or figuratively.

Here's the excerpt from the Gourevitch interview that you are no doubt referring to:

"...Yes, I mean the story of Rwanda as it relates to international interventions and do-gooding is a very dismal story. It reflects very dismally on these institutions. In the aftermath of the genocide, several million Rwandan Hutus, about a million and a half probably all told in the end, settled in refugee camps ringing Rwanda, the largest of them in Goma, Zaire [Congo]. These camps were, from the very start, presided over by the same militias, military and political structures that ran the genocidal regime. They became camps of the genocide. And these armies were never disarmed. These people were never regulated: are they even refugees or are they fugitives? The law that defines a refugee is somebody fleeing political persecution, not legitimate legal prosecution for being a criminal...."

Thanks for your interest in the finer points of the Rwandan Genocide. It seems from your comments that you are well informed on the subject and as fascinated by it as I am. And I am very much in agreement with you that Gourevitch's book was tremendously enjoyable and impossible to put down. It's a classic that everyone who wants to understand the Genocide in Rwanda should read. It's the foundation of my original Rwanda article RWANDA'S GOOD MAN KAGAME and I actually have a signed copy - not by the author - but by one of the book's most interesting subjects, Paul Kagame. I describe how this came about in my coverage of RWANDA'S LIVING LEGEND IN LONDON.

Kagame Gourevitch     Kagame Gourevitch

All the best,
Jackie Jura

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