Belgians accused of killing President Juvenal Habyarimana

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Evidence Material
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By: Tom Ndahiro

Genocidaires have always justified the extermination of the Tutsi. Victims are blamed to have been behind the death of  their president. The murder in cold blood of ten or eleven Belgians soldiers had also to be validated. On 20 April 1994, a Radio, Voix du Zaire, had an “Exclusive” Interview with Rwandan Ambassador to Zaire, Etienne Sengegera. In this long interview, with assent he accused the Belgians supposedly with United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) as the ones who killed presidents Juvenal Habyarimana and his counterpart, Cyprien Ntaryamira from Burundi.  A week later same accusations were made by a minister in the genocidaire government, Mr. Augustin Ngirabatware.

Ambassador Sengegera said the Belgian soldiers shot down the Rwandan presidential plane with missiles. “First they shot a missile which missed the target; the second missile slightly touched the aircraft and the third, unfortunately, hit the target. The aircraft exploded, and this resulted in an incredible catastrophe which nobody could have imagined. Therefore, certain Belgian elements were involved.”

Here are some excerpts of the interview

[Q] Mr. Ambassador, this is a very serious accusation. What reasons could have prompted the Belgians to support the RPF?

[A] The motives of the Belgians or, to be more precise, of certain Belgians? You will have to ask these people themselves. But the fact is that I am not leveling an accusation – I am only making an observation. This is because it was Belgians – three UNAMIR Belgian soldiers – who shot down the Rwandan presidential plane with missiles. We do not know their motives or interests – you would have to ask those persons themselves – but we are now convinced that behind the war which the RPF is imposing on Rwanda to seize power by force, are certain Belgian circles which are involved for reasons unknown to us. We might also make geostrategic analysis of the country that has been targeted. So, you might as well question the Belgians as to what the rebels’ motives are. Everybody knows that the rebels are not interested in the democratization of Rwanda. They are interested in taking power by force.

[Q] What prompts you to think that it is the Belgians and the Ugandans who are behind the rebels?

[A] The case of Uganda has been proven, because the attack on Rwanda on 1st October 1990 was perpetrated by elements who illegally came from the army of President Museveni. They attacked us with full logistical support from the Ugandan army. Subsequent attacks were supported by Uganda, sometimes with the direct intervention of Ugandan soldiers, which seems to be the present case in this current phase of the war. Concerning the Belgians, we note the shift in their policy towards Rwanda, to the point of undertaking this shameful and ignominious plot against the heads of state – against President Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart. There may be other interested parties in the plot who we have not discovered, but certain Belgians – I repeat certain Belgians – are involved in the current war imposed on Rwanda. I would also like to stress that in the current clashes in Kigali there have been found in certain localities the dead bodies of some white foreign nationals who were killed as they fought alongside the RPF.

[Q] Yes, but tell me, why do you maintain that it is the Belgians who shot down the plane, especially three Belgian soldiers? And what evidence have you to substantiate this?

[A] The evidence? First there is the place from which these missiles were shot.

[Q] From where were the missiles shot?

[A] They were shot from near the Kanombe airport, from a place called Masaka, near Kanombe airport. So, we spotted where the shots came from, and I can even confirm that the three were immediately arrested by UNAMIR police and collected by the Rwandan army. Another fact: Security at Kanombe International Airport in Kigali was ensured by the Belgian contingent, in line with the UNAMIR peace mission. So, you see, at this level there was a lot of complicity. I am also telling you that at the landing strip the pilot of the presidential plane was told to fly around twice because – I don’t know – the plot was probably still being prepared, but the pilot thought that this was for technical reasons, whereas it was for other sinister designs.

[Q] Are the three Belgian soldiers who were arrested still alive?

[A] They were immediately shot dead by the angry Rwandan soldiers.

[Q] So, you are saying that they were among the 10 Belgian Un peacekeepers who were killed a few minutes after the assassination – to repeat your own words – of the two presidents.

[A] Indeed, the three were among the dozen Belgian soldiers killed in Kigali during this outburst of violence. It seems, I repeat seems, that Belgium organized special funeral rights for three soldiers last week, and I think that it was these three soldiers who carried out the attack on Presidents Habyarimana and Ntaryamira.

[Q] Mr Ambassador, according to reports, Belgium is said to have sold arms to the RPF. As the legal representative of the Rwandan government, do you have this same information?

[A] I have received the same information, but have not been able to verify it myself because really it is not this piece of information which interests me, as far as my work is concerned. However, it seems the RPF has bought huge quantities of military equipment from Belgium on credit. This might probably explain a certain attitude by Belgium, which considers that if the RPF does not come into power, we will be done for, if you excuse me the expression, so, we cannot be paid back. But as I said there are probably other objective which are not directed just at Rwanda, as far as the attitude and position of the Belgians are concerned. Also there is another point which does not surprise us. You know, Belgium has just withdrawn its contingent from the UNAMIR mission, but the Belgians at first strongly insisted that they should be supported on the ground with armor, helicopters and a huge deployment of forces. Kigali airport was in their hands and functioning. One wonders whether this evacuation plan by land towards Tanzania was not to serve as a support operation for the RPF. But obviously, the Rwandan government, which was conscious of the danger, strongly opposed this. They left by air as it happened, because we thought the worst might happen. Perhaps the Belgians were even planning a scenario which is not … from the earlier one – cut the Rusumo Bridge which links us with TZ and which has since October 1990 virtually been the only land route for international trade exchanges for Rwanda and Zaire …

[Q] Mr Ambassador, we have this information – which is not a rumor – that the Belgians are sympathetic to the RPF and that this led the Belgians to facilitate the infiltration of RPF soldiers into Kigali, the Rwandan capital? Can you confirm this?

[A] Yes I can confirm this. There are many Belgians who are married to Rwandans, and this may sometimes explain this sympathetic attitude on the part of the Belgians. Apart from this, I would like to recall that it was agreed under the Arusha accord that the RPF was authorized to station a contingent of 600 soldiers in Kigali on the premises of the parliament in Kigali. These fighters were supposedly in Rwanda in line with the mission to protect and ensure the security of the RPF political leaders who were to participate in the transition, in both the new government and in parliament. But we realize that in fact this battalion was getting bigger and bigger due to infiltrations facilitated by the Belgian contingent of the UNAMIR. They sent convoys to their headquarters in the north of the country near the Ugandan border in Mulindi, supposedly to get wood supplies, but in fact they brought back artillery – or rather soldiers – who were infiltrated into Kigali. This occurred to the extent that certain sources reported that the RPF did not have 600 fighters in Kigali, but instead more like 3,000 soldiers…

[Q] Mr Ambassador, it seems that on the ground – I do not know if you have some information on this – the RPF has the upper hand?

[A] That is just media publicity. I think that this is misinformation to try and demoralize people. This situation is different from the presentation in the Western media, notably with all the noise and manipulations orchestrated by certain Western journalists who favor the RPF. The situation is quite [pause] sometimes, we were even told that the RPF had managed to bring down 20,000 soldiers to join their battalion in the capital. That is not true. The RPF only controls one strategic position in Kigali. We have dislodged them from all the major positions which they were able to occupy. Of course, the situation is constantly changing, but as we speak now the Rwandan armed forces control the situation both in Kigali and in the north of the country near the Ugandan border.

A great number of civilians were armed with cut and thrust weapons.

As the genocidaires mounted a criminal diplomatic offensive, on April 27, 1994 Minister Augustin Ngirabatware, spoke to journalist Eugene Lamberne of Africa No. 1 Radio, in Libreville, Gabon, where he reiterated the accusations against the Belgians and denied his government was committing genocide against the Tutsi.

He first said why he was in Gabon.

[Ngirabatware] I brought a message from the president of the republic, which I delivered yesterday, and I am going to another African country. However, I am not on an African tour. This is not a media campaign because we do not have the time yet to undertake such actions. It is absolutely necessary for us to explain some issues concerning the political and military situation in our country. The RPF media campaign and that of its acolytes is such that – if I can say so – the world has received information solely from the RPF which, we know, is often full of lies. Our experiences gained since the beginning of the war in October 1990 can testify to this.

[Q] What is your government saying about the massacres?

[A] The RPF is directly and indirectly responsible for these massacres. Undeniably, the RPF – probably with external support – assassinated President Habyarimana. All the other massacres that followed in Rwanda and the ethnic troubles originated from the assassination of the president of the republic. A private radio in Rwanda had mentioned the assassination plot earlier and people (?argued) that the president knew very well that he was being trailed and that he was running the risk of falling victim to a fatal assassination plot. The only difference is that he never knew whether it was going to happen on the road, in his house, in the office or in the air. At any rate, people never thought of it happening in an aircraft, especially as Kigali international airport and its suburbs were under the control of the Belgian contingents of the UN peacekeeping force.

[Q] Investigations are going on. Are there any facts so far to establish which side is responsible?

[A] Up until now, the Rwandan government has not accused any side. However, many factors can be put together to establish that the RPF, with the support of others, is responsible for the assassination.

[Q] Which supporters, for example?

[A] We cannot mention them just like that, but what we do know is that RPF’s military equipment does not include SAM-7 missiles which were used in the killing of the president of the republic. We also know that the RPF does not have specialists who can handle such missiles and we have noticed that on the battlefield even white soldiers were counted among the dead. So, there is other external support apart from the usual support from Uganda. Certainly, the RPF has other supporters, probably mercenaries or supporters from other circles.

[Q] At present, the massacres in the field are continuing and unfortunately, they will continue still further. The problem is, it is easy to enter a civil war but it is very difficult to get out of it. What steps have you taken to get out of it?

[A] Getting out of this civil war in Rwanda will be a complex issue. We are saying this because, now, the civilians are clearly behind the soldiers, behind the Rwandan armed forces. This means that, even if a great number of civilians are armed with cut and thrust weapons and with modern weapons, the ultimate goal of this provisional government is to get out of this conflict. The first objective of the present transitional government headed by Prime Minister Jean Kambanda is to renegotiate with the RPF, to which he has offered a cease-fire.

Secondly, we want to bring peace to the country because there is fire on almost all the hills of Rwanda. We adhere entirely to the Arusha peace agreements even if there are still imperfections in this agreement. Nevertheless, we believe that it is only through negotiation and peace that lasting peace can be achieved in Rwanda. We are also telling the RPF to cease fire first and to let us sit around the same negotiating table so that we can talk about peace again in Rwanda, especially as the government is convinced that the RPF cannot take power in Rwanda by the force of arms.

Source: BBC SW Monitoring 1994

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