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26 October 2003
AUF Calling For Worldwide Participation In African Genocide Memorial

The newly released book by retired Canadian Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire is shedding new light on the Rwanda Genocide of 1994 and on the subsequent pogroms in the Congo. In his account Dallaire describes personal encounters with many of the key individuals involved in planning and executing the genocide, revealing the intimate details about their attitudes, aptitudes, the rationale for their actions, as well as the events and pressures they inhabited.

In combination with other accounts of genocide survivors and perpetrators, Shake Hands With The Devil rounds out a startling story about the personalities, the circumstances, and reasons that led to the most horrifying orgy of violence, depravity and mass madness the world has ever seen. The book takes you through the events of the Genocide, day by day as observed by the man who organized the UN mission in response to a request to relieve the OAU (Organization of African Unity) in overseeing a run-of-the-mill ceasefire and formation of a coalition government of transition, and explains why the mission failed.

As the UN botched efforts to increase its presence in a timely way, tensions between the belligerent forces escalated. In the middle of rising tensions, a bloody Coup d’Etat by a desparate yet hesitant, uncertain and opportunistic genocidal group supported by French and Belgian military “advisers”, caused the situation to spiral out of control and explode into an unprecedented war of extermination.

Although it is unclear why Lt.Gen. Romeo Dallaire refers to the FAR (Rwandan Armed Forces) as the RGF (Rwanda Government Forces - a name that was never used by any group), possibly causing unfamiliar readers to confuse it with the RPF (Rwandese Patriotic Front), I found his account was largely balanced. What surprised me was the breathtaking fatalism, transience and inconsistency of allegiance on the part of many of the key players (of all nationalities and political shades), their contradictory impulses, and the ambiguity in their personal judgments, which collectively resulted in unimaginable and indescribable horror.

In the pursuit of incongruous and incoherent objectives, policy makers, community leaders and citizens alike, in Rwanda and abroad, abrogated their responsibilities to humanity and to history. It is almost impossible not to attribute the things that happened to some invisible and inhuman force.

It is distressing to read about frustrated Pan Africanist efforts to prevent the violence, and confounding to read about how reasonable Rwandan leaders, moderates with massive popular support, came to lose the political initiative and become bewildered victims paralyzed by fear. Because of the moderate's naivete and indecisiveness in the face of misguided opponents, criminal opportunists with colonialist and racial supremacist agendas hijacked the media and military, and unleashed not just a genocide, but rather a genocide of unmatched cruelty.

Moreover, the overestimation of the capacity of international peacekeeping, and its ultimate weakness, opened the floodgates of hell, and led not only to the obliteration of the moderates as a force in Rwandan politics, but also to the extermination of millions of people. The genocide also exposed the so called “developed world” as steeped in pretentious social norms, hypocritical diplomatic formalities, and as dependent on harmful and contradictory bureaucratic procedures.

Along with several other organizations, the AUF is organizing the AFRICAN GENOCIDE MEMORIAL in commemoration of the lives of ALL victims of genocide and violence in Africa, with special emphasis on Rwanda and The Congo. The month long memorial (lasting the whole of April 2004) marks the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and will be observed all across the world.

Unrelated but perhaps pertinent to the genocide memorial, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire has agreed to help the AUF in our efforts to integrate Africa’s armed forces. The AUF is working to organize military experts and eminent people with peacekeeping experience in Africa to participate in speeding up the efforts to consolidate the African Unions’ armies into a single peacekeeping force. In the past Romeo Dallaire prepared papers recommending the size and structure of an all-African peacekeeping rapid reaction force.

Kind regards,
Dan Kashagama
AUF General Secretary