Friends of evil (Chapter 7) Complicity between the NGOs and the genocidaires

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Book
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The complicity between the genocidaires and various Europeans, both individuals and NGOs, whose interests are not very well known, has a long history. But the history could be summed up in what happened at The Hague, fourteen years after the genocide which the international community did nothing to prevent or end.

Part of history presented in this chapter, and the one following, will also establish the connections of two of Umutesi Beatrice’s friends. There is Frans who traced her in the jungles of Zaire, and Ivan who received her in Brussels, and helped her write her book.

On 16th May 1994, Radio Rwanda journalist, Etienne Karekezi had an interview with Francois Nzabahimana, who was in Belgium at the time. In that interview, Nzabahimana said that there were people in Europe (who had lived in Rwanda for a long time) as well as NGOs willing to come and help Rwandans, but that they were worried about their own security.

Voicing his support to the murderous regime, Karekezi the journalist, had no scruple in assuring his interviewee that the zone under the genocidaire Government’s control was secure.

Etienne Karekezi is currently a journalist with the Voice of America. He is known in Rwanda to have been in league with extremists’ media operators, being in the first team of the MRND mouthpiece-Umurwanashyaka—a paper which forecast the genocide as early as 1991.

François Nzabahimana would later become the first Chairman of the RDR. But in May 1994, he was still the Director of Rwanda Development Bank (RDB), and was in Europe on a special mission.

Nzabahimana played a major role in the coordination of politico-criminal activities with Belgian NGOs (their collaboration existed when the ousted Government was still in office) to come to the rescue of the genocidal government. Their objective was to restore the credibility it had lost before the international community and humanity in general.

When Nzabahimana was saying that there were people willing to come to Rwanda, he seemed to be aware of the visit to Rwanda of two men. These were Ivan Godfroid and Frans Van Hoof—Belgian and Dutch nationals respectively. From 15th May to 8th June 1994 they were on a mission to Rwanda.

In the mission report,[1] these determined men explained they had been sent by EUROSTEP[2]. It would be interesting to know who exactly (what individual) had sent them on such a mission or had convinced them to visit a country in the throes of genocide at the time!

It is not clear exactly when the connivance started between Van Hoof, Godfroid and such NGOs as OXFAM-NOVIB and ICCO, as well as between these and hard-line genocide deniers. Was it that mission which marked the foundation of the complicity between the RDR genocidaires and the above NGOs?

One could even think that such complicity existed before that time, since the NGOs did not move from the start of the genocide against the Tutsi. Both men went on with their mission of helping and collaborating with the propagators of genocide-related hatred.

When Van Hoof and Godfroid came to Rwanda, they had started a project called TRAITS D’UNION RWANDA (TUR) with the objective of making it a forum for regional dialogue. The project grouped together the Belgian NGOs COOPIBO, Vredeseilanden and SOS-FAIM. TUR had the same address as SOS-FAIM.[3]

A closer analysis of events shows that the essential role of their mission was to spread propaganda on behalf of their friends, in a journal of the same name as the project itself— TRAIT D’UNION RWANDA—of which Van Hoof was an active member of the editorial board. The idea of providing a forum to the genocidaires was put into action before the end of 1994.

Those who supported them at the time were organisations in different countries in Europe, particularly Dutch organizations— ICCO and NOVIB, Belgian ones, namely Broederlijk and Talita Koum in Eastern Flanders; Groupe de Développement and Frère des Hommes of Toulouse in France, as well as OXFAM U.K. of Great Britain. They found a fine sounding name for the forum: “Forum d’échange d’Africains pour la Reconstruction du Rwanda. [4]

The three Belgian NGOs dared cobble together a banalisation of the genocide against the Tutsi, by dedicating a forum to criminals. The journal had rubrics reserved for ‘dialogue’. The most important are those concerning politicians and military people.

One could find ideas of people who stopped the genocide on adjacent pages, with those of genocide survivors and next to those ideas of people who had just committed genocide, those who had planned it and those who had supported it.

 

 

Formal support to the genocidaires by the NGOs

Frans Van Hoof and Ivan Godfroid in the Great Lakes Region! And the two men, at the centre of Marie Beatrice Umutesi’s book! What had they come to do in Rwanda at the height of the genocide? And why did they wait for so long before they finally decided to move after about two months of genocide against the Tutsi?

Part of the answer can be found in the document titled “Note de renseignement Kamanda Yves[5]“. This document by a certain Prosper Twizeyimana was meant for the FAR Chief of Army Staff General Bizimungu, who used the pseudonym “Kamanda Yves”.

Prosper Twizeyimana is a former student of the Catholic Major Seminary of Nyakibanda. He is an electrician by training, who worked for OXFAM before, during and after the genocide.  Twizeyimana however, was also recruited by the army where he worked as an analyst in the department of military intelligence of the former Rwanda Armed Forces.

This intelligence note is, in actual fact, a summary of an interview which Prosper Twizeyimana had with Frans Van Hoof whom he knew since 1985, “as pioneers of the services Centre to the Cooperatives of Gitarama.[6]

Twizeyimana introduced Frans Van Hoof to his boss as “a Dutchman, married to a Hutu woman from Ruhengeri,” explaining further that some of van Hoof’s in-laws were in Rwanda, while others were at the time in the Kibumba and Mugunga refugee camps around the town of Goma—in North Kivu.

Van Hoof, the note indicated, had worked in Rwanda for over 10 years as a Volunteer of the COMPAGNONS BATISSEURS and later of COOPIBO (the same organisation which only changed names), in Kigali, Ruhengeri and Gitarama. He had left the country in 1988 but kept coming back as an independent consultant, notably at the service of COOPIBO.

Twizeyimana, like Umutesi, praises Van Hoof to the skies, as one of the rare Westerners who came to Rwanda between April and July 1994 (during the genocide). And also, as someone who “knows Kinyarwanda very well” – quite normal for someone who is married to a Rwandese woman – and “is highly respected in Rwandese circles, NGOs and among peasant associations.”

The meeting between Prosper Twizeyimana and Frans Van Hoof took place on 26-27th August 1996 in Goma. Van Hoof told his friend that he was on a two-week mission to Rwanda and Kivu from August 24 to September 8, 1996, and that he had come on that mission to try and resume COOPIBO’s cooperation with Rwanda. In actual fact, he observed, COOPIBO had been “expelled by the RPF Government for giving space in one issue of TRAIT D’UNION to the Prime Minister of the Interim Government and to former Rwanda Army military chiefs”.

In the meantime, he said, Kigali had rejected the attempt, forcing COOPIBO instead to seek to maintain its presence in neighbouring countries. It had been working in Western Tanzania for many years and had been carrying out investigations towards establishing a representation in Uganda.

The essential part of their interview focused on the conditions in refugee camps. Van Hoof told Twizeyimana that the “Dutch Minister of Cooperation had organized a meeting on the Rwanda problem and Frans Van Hoof himself was present together with, among others, Mr. Jean-Pierre Godding” (a Belgian, Volunteer of Caritas in Goma refugee camps).

Speaking about the conditions in the camps, Van Hoof reported what he had discussed with Godding, who said that the political and administrative structures of the former regime were practically no longer existent in the camps, but that the spirit remained unchanged, in the sense that the new structures want to control everything and do not allow people to express themselves freely or take other initiatives. “He however expressed some optimism that despite the intimidation, there are people who have the courage to think independently through associations. Their influence being still marginal, he pleaded for their support so that their influence may grow. He added that unfortunately people encouraging those new initiatives are under threat” and that he himself was among them.

Concerning the opinion in Europe about the problem of Rwandese refugees, Van Hoof expressed disappointment that “people are already losing interest in the problem and that the attention is now focused on Burundi”, the Rwandese problem being too complex and without an end in sight.

To the idea that individuals or organizations having worked in Rwanda for a long time should get in touch and organize a debate in Europe to revive the refugee issue, Van Hoof replied that: “French NGOs are already out of the circuit since France’s past in Rwanda is not honourable; the Walloon NGOs are totally in the RPF camp because of its previous campaign against the Habyarimana regime and which was confirmed by the genocide and massacres; several Dutch men are married to Tutsi women; Flemish NGOs still interested in Rwanda are not accepted by the Kigali Government and therefore their position would be ipso facto perceived as partisan”.

According to Frans Van Hoof, the only NGO capable of intervening in the Rwandese problem was OXFAM because it worked in Rwanda and in refugee camps, is strong in Europe, and has people in charge who are interested and believe that the problem is political. He cited one of them as Mr. Anaclet Odhiambo, acting head of OXFAM in Kigali.

Van Hoof told Twizeyimana that he did not hear the RDR being talked about in European circles he moves in (i.e. NGO circles). Van Hoof said that while he had collaborated with François Nzabahimana for a long time, he had only met him once, and that on this occasion, Nzabahimana had blamed him for re-launching the activities of the Centre for Services to the Cooperatives of Gitarama without prior permission from Nzabahimana himself as the President of the Board of Directors.

On the other hand, Van Hoof noted he had heard from the Belgian Prime Minister, and relies on Mr. Seth Sendashonga of the FRD. Mr. Van Hoof is satisfied that peasant federations operating inside Rwanda are doing well despite the refusal of the authorities to give them a legal status and the unfounded suspicion that they are involved in political activities. However, they limit themselves to social and economic domain and dare not go into issues related to politics such as the return of refugees, justice and national reconciliation.

At the end of the “Note”, Twizeyimana adds a few comments. The first one is about the important role J. Pierre GODDING could play as person who had “delved into political lobbying on the issue of Rwandese refugees”.

Twizeyimana describes Godding as someone with influence in Europe, and who is said to have initiated the task of identifying people in refugee camps who might have a dialogue with the RPF, an idea of which a good number of FAR and RDR officials do not approve. That was the reason why Van Hoof regrets that people in Europe, particularly in Germany, were disappointed by the RPF but could not find a suitable leader to sponsor within the RDR.

Twizeyimana also recommends to Gen. Bizimungu that given his importance, Godding should return to the refugee camps. He expressed his belief that the RDR needed to improve its leadership and to work with associations and individuals inside and outside the camps; and that François Nzabahimana should be the spokesperson of the RDR in Europe in order to convince the people there to give it support. Twizeyimana proposes himself as the person who can influence OXFAM (he knows the NGO very well because he worked with it before the genocide) on the issue of Rwandese refugees[7].

This was not the only note that Prosper Twizeyimana sent to the Chief of Staff of the former Rwanda Armed Forces. He had sent him an earlier note on July 4, 1996. The note was about “the Situation in the Great Lakes Countries and the possible developments during the second semester of 1996.”

On the issue of Rwandese refugees, Twizeyimana notes that despite the efforts made to seek conditions for an “honourable return of refugees to the country,” what was expected was a categorical refusal by the authorities in Kigali; and that one was not to rely on the international community: “already weary of caring for Rwandese refugees, it will refuse to put pressure on Kigali”.

He says what would then be expected is an unconditional and gradual return of the refugees or, in a worst case scenario, the dismantling of camps close to the border, which could engender the repatriation of a sizeable part of the refugees, and provisional settlement for those not subjected to a forced repatriation.

According to certain sources, he observed, the UNHCR was in favour of a temporary integration of refugees in Zaire, if the Zairean Government would agree. On the Tanzanian side, he said, they would pose no problem provided that the situation does not last for too long. However, Twizeyimana believed that even if the refugee problem is solved in Eastern Zaire, destabilization of Eastern Zaire in Kivu by its Eastern neighbours would not stop and that ethnic conflict in North Kivu could be revived. In the meantime, Twizeyimana identifies an interim solution.

For its own stability, he said, Zaire had no choice. Its interests converged with those of Rwandese refugees. In order to re-conquer (Rwanda) and extend its influence in the East, both parties must find a solution which is favourable to them.

He urged the RDR and the former FAR to approach the Zairean government, so that they might plan together in a manner that would benefit both parties in a sustainable way. He said it would be naïve to believe that the international community is still envisaging negotiations.

Let us return to the August 1996 meeting between Twizeyimana and Van Hoof. According to Twizeyimana himself, he had gone to meet Van Hoof “in order to get some Western information and considerations on the Rwandan problem”. Let us recall that we are already in August 1996.

It appears that Van Hoof was no ordinary person: He is a friend of the extremist Hutus, who is proud of being one of theirs after getting married to a Hutu woman, and proud of having come to Rwanda when nobody else dared venture there. He is obviously an important partner of the Rwanda Government in exile.

The August 1996 visit is not the first, since Van Hoof came before and during the genocide, from May 15 to June 8, 1994, and there is every reason to believe that Twizeyimana was aware of it.

Van Hoof had come with Ivan Godfroid, sent by NCOS (an umbrella for Flemish NGOs with its head office at 11, Vlasfabriekstraat in Brussels), and EUROSTEP which also has its head office at 115, rue Stevin[8] in Brussels.

The two came on a mission recommended by EUROSTEP on 26th April 1994 at a European meeting on Rwanda. In their report they say, “The objectives of this mission which took place from the 15th May to the 8th of June 1994 were as follows: to find out the socio-political situation on the ground; find out what the local NGOs are doing and in which way European NGOs can support their activities; and finally, by a presence on the ground show solidarity with Rwandese partners.” [9]

One wonders what encouraged the two emissaries to be present in Rwanda at all cost, and show their solidarity where they were not able to intervene when the genocide started. First –”the feeling of powerlessness” and all of a sudden the exceptional courage of NCOS, EUROSTEP, Van Hoof and Godfroid!

The courage, that drove Van Hoof, took him first to the zone that was controlled by the government of the genocidaires in the prefectures of Butare, Gitarama, Gikongoro, Cyangugu and Gisenyi, where he met with Mr. Jean Kambanda, Prime Minister of the genocidaire Government. He also met prefectural authorities, examined the situation of the NGOs in those prefectures, met the people in charge of the NGOs, and finally visited the camps of IDP.

In Kivu (Zaire), Van Hoof went to meet the people in charge of Zairean and international NGOs, both in Bukavu and Goma. In Goma, he also visited sites of Rwandan refugees. With Ivan Godfroid, he visited the people in charge of international and Burundian NGOs. He even went to meet officials of international and Ugandan NGOs in Kampala and in Kabale. He visited RPF territory in northern Rwanda, and spoke to Antoine Mugesera, the RPF’s Planning Commissioner at Mulindi, Byumba. He ended up in Ngara in Tanzania where he met with international NGOs that took care of Rwandan refugees, and took a few testimonies from refugees.

What supposedly interested both Van Hoof and Godfroid, in May-June 1994, was the situation that prevailed in Rwanda, but especially what they termed as the “anguish” of “the population” in the face of the advancing RPF.

The two ventured to state that “away from the frontline, the situation seems calm again: people are working in the fields, markets are held normally, children are going to school” [10]. It is very clear they had little concern or none at all about the Tutsis who were being or had been exterminated, all over Rwanda, and certainly “away from the frontline.”

One has to wonder if the situation they are talking about was that prevailing in Rwanda during May-June 1994, at the height of the genocide! This is reminiscent of the lies told on the RTLM radio station which, in order to encourage the genocidaires not to surrender before the advancing RPF, was giving false information about what was happening on the ground, covering up the routing of the RAF.

The main aim of Van Hoof and Godfroid’s report appears to have been to legitimize the genocidaire Government at any cost. Thus, they reported that the people being killed were either “RPF infiltrators”, or “Tutsi who are being eliminated for the simple reason that the RPF is advancing and thus they constitute a danger to the militias.”[11]

These “rationales” for genocide are quite similar to those used by the interim genocidal government.

In any case, they report what they heard (or wanted to hear) from the genocidaire Prime Minister, Jean Kambanda, and from officials of NGOs they met. In effect, what explanation could they have given on returning from their mission, which could justify what the world television networks were showing on their screens?

Inevitably, given their leanings and their sources, it was that the reason for the extermination of the Tutsis was “the murder of President Habyarimana and the infiltration of RPF combatants or its allies in all the regions of the country. […] it was the RPF which had a whole plan to eliminate Hutu officials; […] “the massacres were a spontaneous reaction of the population.” Similarly, they could also explain the reason behind the Government’s arming of the population: it was for self-defence, against the RPF and its accomplices.

But what interests Van Hoof the most is rather the issue of internally displaced persons, especially in the West of Rwanda where the number of IDP is estimated at more than one million, and more particularly in the prefectures of Gikongoro, Gitarama and Ruhengeri (i.e. the area still controlled by the genocidal interim government).

According to Van Hoof, the cause of growing number of displaced persons is due to the fact that every push by the RPF forces the population to flee further and further West. A small minority of this “one million IDP” is in what he calls “appropriate zones,” the rest lack everything: no food, and no health care services as only the International Red Cross, Caritas-Burundi, CRS and Terre des Hommes are desperately attempting a few interventions in Western Rwanda.

Van Hoof’s report sends a pressing message to International Organizations to “launch a big scale aid program for the prefectures with the most displaced people, in food and health care”. It suggests that “to achieve their aim of helping the displaced, the international NGOs should help the Rwandan NGOs which have already started organizing the camps.”

The report did not completely forget the situation prevailing in the RPF-controlled zone; the displaced are estimated at about 300,000 (that is only what he heard), and are “at the mercy of the RPF soldiers.”

Indeed, according to Van Hoof—mimicking the discourse of genocidaires—the refugees kept flocking to the refugee camps in neighbouring countries (mostly Tanzania) from the RPF zone, as a result of the RPF exactions— killing the civil population. On the other side of the frontline, he said, ‘many rumours about the RPF massacres circulate.’

His sources he refers to as “important number of private people”—supposedly confirmed to him that the RPF was causing a lot of casualties, even among the civilians.

“[…]During a visit, in the refugee camps in the region of Ngara, in Tanzania, it was observed that between 500 and 2,000 refugees arrive daily. Many of them come from the border commune of Rusumo. Others are arriving from as far as Byumba and have taken weeks to reach Tanzania. But what pushed those who come from nearer places to flee, after the arrival of the RPF who claim they are bringing peace? At the same time, we can see more bodies floating in the border river of Akagera. The skin coloration indicates that they were killed barely two days earlier and that they therefore come from the zone controlled by the RPF”[12].

Van Hoof and Godfroid nonetheless hoped that “the pressure on the RPF from the international community, particularly from Uganda would help end the war and negotiations would start, and thereby avoid destabilizing the entire sub-region”.

It appears that getting a cease-fire and negotiations, was the real purpose of their mission to Rwanda at this critical moment for the genocidal government, whose armed forces were losing ground day after day.

In order to justify this hidden agenda, their report describes the scenario to be expected, if a solution to stop the RPF’s advance was not put forward by the international community. Burundi and Kivu region are most concerned.

Consequently, the report makes reference to what had happened recently in Burundi:  “The coup d’état in October 1993, the death of President Ndadaye and the ethnic massacres that followed had an immediate effect on the situation in Rwanda. The Hutu extremists did not fail to shout from rooftops that this is what was to be expected from a Tutsi army, and that the RPF approach was not any different. It is clear that any evolution in Rwanda will have an immediate effect on Burundi, which is what makes it crucial to negotiate a new equilibrium in Rwanda as soon as possible, before Burundi is in turn totally destabilized”[13].

Secondly, Van Hoof and Godfroid argue that: “The situation in Kivu region (ZAIRE) has been made more complex by the massive arrival of Rwandan refugees due to the advance of the RPF. Indeed […] if the RPF continues to advance, the hundreds of thousands of refugees will be left with no other choice than to seek refuge in Kivu, breaking up today’s prevailing precarious equilibrium. It is predictable that the arrival of a big number of refugees will inevitably lead to social tension, which will increase the ethnic tensions that still exist in the region. This is why it was important to stop the fighting in Rwanda before a civil war breaks out in Kivu”[14].

As for Uganda, which the report does not hesitate to implicate directly in the RPF “war against Rwanda” and to accuse of continuing to supply the RPF with arms, Van hoof and Godfroid contend that: “Now that half of Rwanda is in the hands of the RPF, Museveni is adopting a more careful approach. Since it is urgent to stop the war in order to prevent a regional implosion, it is in Museveni’s interest to put pressure on the RPF to agree to a cease-fire and start the negotiations. The international community also has to put pressure on Uganda.”[15]

According to the Van Hoof/Godfroid report, Tanzania is the least affected. However one question remains: “UNHCR expects 95% of the people to return to Rwanda in the following months, one year at the latest. However the refugees themselves are not very enthusiastic. A lot will depend on the composition and approach of the new Government in Rwanda. And it should not be forgotten that many among the refugees participated in the genocide against the Tutsis, and fear prosecution in case the rule of law is installed in Rwanda. Tanzania has not yet expressed its willingness to allow the refugees to permanently reside on its national territory. But such a decision should be expected to be preceded by a hot political debate.”[16]

In its Press release on Rwanda on  June 14, 1994, the NCOS reminds us that when they organized their mission to the Great lakes region, this group of Flemish Non-Governmental Organizations wanted to know what had been the fate of their partner organizations: Rwandan NGOs and human rights associations.

Among the objectives of the mission, there was the will to “see with the local NGOs what had already been done, and in which manner the Northern NGOs could reinforce their actions”. They therefore first visited them, in Rwanda (in the zone controlled by the genocidal interim government), in Kivu, in Burundi, in Tanzania and in Uganda.

In Rwanda, most of the NGOs formerly based in Kigali had been unable to reorganize themselves. The CFRC-IWACU had moved its office equipment to Gitarama. In the rural areas, the magnitude of the massacres was such that that NGOS were powerless faced with the situation. This was also due to the fact that many leaders were personally wanted by the army and the militia.

Gitarama served as meeting places for the few NGO agents who were able to get back to the town. They had just defined the beginning of a more important assistance program for the displaced people, when the RPF launched its offensive on Gitarama.

A new regrouping was later put into place in Gisenyi, where they had begun a similar program with limited funds provided by the Ministry of Planning. They expressed satisfaction that a few local NGOS situated far from the war zone (ADEHAMU, AJEMAC) seemed to have kept some activities running. Despite the war, they had an intervention capacity not to be underestimated in the interior of the Western part of Rwanda, and they sent calls for help to their partners in Europe to assist them in facing this challenge.[17]

Van Hoof/Godfroid report that: “…In Burundi, the Northern NGOS generally have very little experience with the Burundian NGOs. This resulted in a general lack of awareness.” [18]

They report that in Kivu, […] “a serious crisis seems to be affecting all the NGOs, which then influenced the functioning of federations and networks. Despite this, due to the Rwanda crisis, the CRONGDs from the North and the South organized meetings in Goma, Bukavu and Uvira, to assess the situation. They decided to organize help for the Congolese repatriates left to their fate by the humanitarian organizations (food distribution, transport to their region of origin).

The Van Hoof/Godfroid said that CRONGDs South Kivu had until then taken care of the Rwandan NGO agents who had taken refuge in Bukavu. Access to banks, the post office, telephone and fax on the Rwandan side of the border has become impossible; as a consequence, the Kivu NGOs are facing serious problems in their daily functioning and communication with the outside world. Those in South Kivu are now going to Bukavu; while those in North Kivu have no clear alternative.”[19]

The two messengers of the Northern NGOs reported that: due to the small number of refugees on Ugandan soil and the big number of international humanitarian organizations, which are not used to working through local organizations, the Ugandan NGOs are not directly concerned. RRWF (Rwandan Refugees Welfare Foundation) is the only one to have offered its services, but until now, it has not found a financial partner. This RRWF is blamed that “although they say they are non-partisan, their discourse is very close to that of the RPF, but this should not be surprising since the organization was founded by refugees.”[20]

As can be seen in the “NCOS General conclusions on their mission in the Great Lakes Region” (also by Van Hoof and Godfroid), NCOS called on the international community to urgently send food and medical help, but also pressed another agenda. “The International Community has to immediately organize massive food and medical assistance to avoid further loss of human lives. This urgent help has to be done in close collaboration with the local NGOs, not only to increase their efficiency, but also to allow the Rwandan civil society to start playing a constructive role” [21].

In the name of NCOS, Van Hoof and Godfroid requested that an unconditional cease-fire be imposed, as well as an arms embargo on the entire region. The NCOS claimed not to take sides with “any of the parties in conflict but with the Rwandan people”, meaning the refugees and the displaced persons. NCOS then makes itself the spokesperson for the genocidal interim government which had delegated the “Rwandan NGOs” to make appeals on its behalf, by calling on the European NGOs to go to the field and visit the genocidal government instead of listening to the propaganda machine of the RPF which is the cause of the humanitarian disaster:

“As a Northern NGO, we have to search for creative ways to help the leaders of the Rwandan NGOs who, from both sides of the frontline, are ready to work to fulfil the real needs of the Rwandan people. An operational support even for emergency activities can give the NGOs an active role vis-à-vis the population. They have to become an unavoidable actor as soon as possible, but will only have the right to speak only if the people realize that despite the war they are present and support the displaced persons. The ability to act independently will also allow them to play the role of the critical eye vis-à-vis the authorities” [22].

The NCOS pressed the Belgian government to grant visas to the members of the NGOs (in zones controlled by genocidaires) who wanted to seek refuge in Belgium, since they are the ones needed to rebuild Rwanda.

It is important to note that before the May-June mission of Van Hoof and Godfroid, the NCOS had launched a real media offensive by publishing a number of documents on the Rwandan conflict.

Already on the 19th of February in 1993, in its “press release and letter to the Belgian Political leaders”, through its Secretary General, Mr. Paul Van Steenvoort, the NCOS had put forward urgent propositions for Rwanda with a view to finding a solution to the Rwandan conflict. For these Flemish NGOs, the RPF is the real and only problem. Indeed, in their urgent propositions, it is the RPF which is mentioned and which must “stop its armed activities which violate human rights”[23]

The NCOS appealed to the International community to “collaborate to break the RPF supply in arms.”[24]

In addition, it requests Belgium and the international community, to “intervene very rapidly to stop the escalation of the events. The precarious economic and political circumstances could lead to a catastrophic extension of the conflict. The ethnic problem was not the main cause but the final point of the catastrophe and would lead to an unimaginable degradation without any hope of ever returning to the normal Rwandan way of life […] Right now, the wave of destruction could still be stopped and we can still avoid the country slipping into a situation similar to that of Somalia.” [25]

Among other documents the NCOS published in the month of June 1994, there is a “Revue de Presse Rwanda N°5” where Van Hoof gives information on Rwanda. In his article “The drifting of Central Africa”; the author denounces the silence of the big powers and the failure of the UN and its Secretary General in Rwanda and elsewhere.

Then there is the “NCOS position in relation to the last events in Rwanda”, dated May 27, 1994 but published on June 14, 1994.

The NCOS position is that it condemns indiscriminately both the RPF and the genocidaires, as if it was ignorant of what was happening on the ground.  Since the 6th April, part of the Rwandan population, the Tutsis, was being exterminated following a diabolical plan carefully conceived by a genocidal government.

Instead of recognising the genocide, the NCOS only condemns the massacres perpetrated by the government and the murders and the bloody retaliations carried out by certain members of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

This confusion in the formulation appears intended to obfuscate the existence for months, of trained and equipped groups of criminals—the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi—who were only waiting for the signal to start their “work”.

The NCOS nevertheless did not forget to cite “the war by which, since 1990, the RPF has been trying to impose political reforms”, condemning the RPF with all its energy before calling the two parties (the RPF and the genocidal interim government) to stop “their nefarious activities.”[26] To achieve this, the first condition was an effective cease-fire to be sponsored by the international community and the Belgian Government.

In the document “The General Conclusions of the NCOS mission in the Great Lakes region,” apart from an appeal to the international community to send urgent help “to millions of helpless displaced persons inside Rwanda”, the NCOS insists that this help come through “tight collaboration with the heads of local organizations, not only to increase their efficiency, but also to allow the Rwandan civil society to play a constructive role”.

As if the role Rwandan civil society failed to play three months earlier, at the beginning of the genocide, by condemning the extermination of the Tutsi, can now be played in the refugee camps, “to avoid further human losses”.

Then the NCOS see as a lasting solution, negotiations leading to power sharing. “To achieve this, the international community has to assume its responsibilities […] by exerting strong pressure on both parties (both guilty of unacceptable atrocities) and by imposing an arms embargo on the entire region.”

Frans Van Hoof authored a further report dated June 3, 1994 entitled “Rwanda: Three million displaced under threat”—ostensibly a plea in favour of the “Rwandan population”. But Van Hoof is more preoccupied by the people fleeing than by those being killed. In addition, Van Hoof puts all the blame on the RPF and even goes as far as asking for help for the authorities who prepared the genocide and are now on the run.

This is what he says in this report: “The Western media is very interested by the refugee situation in Tanzania and the military fighting and massacres inside the country. On the other hand, little attention is paid to the huge problem of displaced people inside Rwanda. Is the international community indifferent? These people are fleeing in haste before the RPF’s mortar fire. With mattresses, sheep, handfuls of beans, a photo album, they have left everything, and taken only what they could carry. They are in a hurry but nonetheless seem resigned to their fate. For some, it is already the third or fourth exodus towards a safer haven. Once more, they are tracked like game by the RPF [….] the Rwandan population doesn’t understand anything, they feel attacked by the RPF and they are fleeing from the murderous violence of the rebels, and despite this, they have the feeling that the West is on the RPF’s side. The ordinary people, the authorities, everyone insists on the responsibility of the international community, and begs us to react, not to abandon them, to do everything to silence the arms and help the survivors”[27].

Clearly, the NCOS, was very active in the Rwandan conflict. But the question remains: if the genocide (for them it was the ‘escalation of violence’) was so predictable, why did they not do anything when it started?

And with regard to their return to Rwanda in May 1994, it is not explained anywhere why they did not condemn the genocide and those who perpetrated this heinous crime. Instead, NCOS is far more interested in the testimonies of the refugees concerning the activities of the RPF.

What right does the NCOS, have to speak in the name of the Rwandan population? And why is the word genocide not part of their vocabulary? Indeed, not once does the term genocide appear in their report. Not a word on the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis who had been killed, even in a report issued in June 1994! Although Van Hoof and Godfroid were shocked by “the corpses washing up on the shores of Lake Victoria and which made the price of fish drop (Nile perch)”!

The answer to these questions is clear: the NCOS’ mission had only two real objectives: coming to the rescue of the genocidal government which was out of steam, and to the “Rwandan population” (meaning, for NCOS, the Hutus) which was in need in the camps inside and outside the country. They did not come to Rwanda because of compassion for the Tutsis being exterminated. Instead, it was a mission to deny the genocide and meet the genocidaires, give them moral support, mitigate their shame and cover up their crime.

The diary of Jean Kambanda, ex-Prime Minister of the genocidal interim government,[28] shows that he met Franz Van Hoof on 20th May 1994 in the company of Nkiko Nsengimana, ex-director of the Center Iwacu Kabusunzu and president of the group of Rwandan NGOs under the umbrella known as CCOAIB. Nkiko now lives in Switzerland. He is among those who distinguished themselves because of their revisionist ideas, like Dr. James Gasana, ex-Minister of Defence.

Nkiko Nsengimana is also the vice president of the FDU- Inkingi which is an Umbrella organisation of genocide ideologues as shall be explained further in this book.


[1] Ivan Godfroid and Frans van Hoof, “ La Crise Rwandaise et ses Implications Régionales: la Parole aux ONG-Rapport d’une mission dans la Région des Grands Lacs du 15 mai au 9 juin 1994 (22 juin1994) ”. (Author’s archives) also available on www.grandslacs.net/html/tm/ongfmz.htm

[2] EUROSTEP is a network of European non-governmental development organisations working to influence Europe’s role in the world, particularly in pursuing the eradication of injustice and poverty. It’s not very clear as to why this organisation kept on financing activities and projects which seemed clearly against their mission to “promote an international world order where the peaceful coexistence of all peoples can flourish”. See more on:

http://www.eurostep.org/wcm/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&sectionid=9&id=41&Itemid=48

[3] Their address was (or still is) 4, Rue aux Laines, 1000 Brussels, Belgium. 

[4] Traits d’Union No 5-Special Issue, African Points of View on the reconstruction of Rwanda of 1 November 1994.

[5] Mr. Prosper TWIZEYIMANA’s letter, Bulengo, September 3, 1996. (Author’s archives)

[6] Intelligence note to Yves Kamanda, p.1.

[7] Cfr ” Intelligence note to Yves Kamanda”, p.2-3.

[8] See the mission’s report titled “Rwanda’s crisis and its regional implications: NGOs forum. Report of a mission in the Great Lakes region from 15th May to 9th June 1994” and whose details are available at NCOS – Brussels as well as in the brochure “Traits-d’Union: Rwanda” published by COOPIBO and VREDESEILANDEN.

[9] The Rwanda crisis and its regional implications, NGO Forum, p. 2.

[10] The Rwanda crisis and its regional implications, NGO Forum, p. 2.

[11] The Rwandan crisis and its regional implications, p. 3.

[12] The Rwandan crisis and its regional implications,  (p. 8)

[13] Ibidem, p. 10

[14] Ibidem, p. 11.

[15] The Rwandan crisis and its regional implications, p. 12.

[16] Ibidem, p. 13.

[17] Ibidem, 13-14.

[18] The Rwandan crisis…, p.14.

[19] Ibid. 17.

[20] Ibid., p.17.

[21] See” General conclusions on the NCOS mission in the Great Lakes Region”, 10th June 1994.

[22] The Rwandan crisis…, p.19.

[23] Press release and Letter to Belgium’s Political authorities, 1993, (19th February).

[24]Ibid., p. 1.

[25] Ibid., p. 2.

[26]  See: “NCOS’s position on recent events in Rwanda”, dated 27/05/1994 but published on 14/6/1994.

[27]  See Frans Van Hoof’s report, “Rwanda: Three Million displaced people threatened”. 3/6/1994.

[28] Kambanda, of course, confessed to and was convicted by the ICTR of genocide in 1998

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