|April 6, 1994||
Rwandan President Habyarimana and the Burundian President are killed
when Habyarimana's plane is shot down near Kigali Airport. Hutu extremists,
suspecting that the Rwandan president is finally about to implement the Arusha
Peace Accords, are believed to be behind the attack. The killings begin that
|April 7, 1994||
The Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and Hutu militia (the interahamwe) set up
roadblocks and go from house to house killing Tutsis and moderate Hutu
politicians. Thousands die on the first day. Some U.N. camps shelter civilians,
but most of the U.N. peackeeping forces (UNAMIR--United Nations Assistance
Mission in Rwanda) stand by while the slaughter goes on. They are forbidden to
intervene, as this would breach their "monitoring" mandate. |
On this day, ten Belgian soldiers with UNAMIR, assigned to guard the
moderate Hutu Prime Minister, are tricked into giving up their weapons. They
are tortured and murdered.
Also on this day, President Clinton issues a statement:
"... shocked and deeply saddened ... horrified that elements of the Rwandan
security forces have sought out and murdered Rwandan officials ... extend my
condolences ... condemn these actions and I call on all parties to cease any
such actions immediately ..."
|April 8, 1994||
The Tutsi Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) launches a major
offensive to end the killings and rescue 600 of its troops surrounded in
Kigali. The troops had been based in the city as part of the Arusha Accords.
President Clinton speaks to the press about Rwanda--
"... I mention it only because there are a sizable number of Americans there
and it is a very tense situation. And I just want to assure the families of
those who are there that we are doing everything we possible can to be on top
of the situation to take all the appropriate steps to try to assure the safety
of our citizens there."
|April 9-10, 1994||
France and Belgium send troops to rescue their citizens. American civilians are
also airlifted out. No Rwandans are rescued, not even Rwandans employed by
Western governments in their embassies, consulates, etc. ||
|April 11, 1994||
The International Red Cross estimates that tens of thousands of Rwandans have
At the Don Bosco school, protected by Belgian UNAMIR soldiers, the number of
civilians seeking refuge reaches 2,000. That afternoon, the U.N. soldiers are
ordered to withdraw to the airport. Most of the civilians they abandon are
|April 14, 1994||
One week after the murder of the ten Belgian soldiers, Belgium withdraws from
|April 21, 1994||
The U.N. Security Council votes unanimously to withdraw most of the UNAMIR
troops, cutting the force from 2,500 to 270. |
The International Red Cross estimates that tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands
of Rwandans are now dead.
|April 28, 1994||
State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelley is asked whether what is
happening in Rwanda is a genocide. She responds, |
"...the use of the term
'genocide' has a very precise legal meaning, although it's not strictly a legal
determination. There are other factors in there as well."
However, a secret intelligence report by the State Department issued as early
as the end of April calls the killings a genocide.
|April 30, 1994||
The U.N. Security Council passes a resolution condemning the killing, but omits
the word "genocide." Had the term been used, the U.N. would have been legally
obliged to act to "prevent and punish" the perpetrators. |
Tens of thousands of refugees flee into Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire. In one
day, 250,000 Rwandans, mainly Hutus fleeing the advance of the Tutsi RPF, cross
the border into Tanzania.
The White House starts holding daily confidential briefings on Rwanda with
various U.S. government organizations via secure video link.||
|May 2, 1994||
Kofi Annan, head of U.N. peacekeeping, testifies before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee: |
"When the Belgians left it was clear that the U.N. could
not implement the mandate it had, and either the mandate had to be changed, or
reinforcements introduced ... I do not know what the Council will decide after
they have reviewed and reconsidered the situation today. If the council is
going to recommend reinforcement, the reinforcement that goes in has to be well
equipped, very mobile, and also able to protect itself. If we do not send in
that kind of reinforcement ... then I'm not quite sure they'll be able to bring
about a sort of law and order ... that will lead to the end of the massacres
... here we are watching people being deprived of the most fundamental of
rights, the right to life, and yet we seem a bit helpless ..."
|May 3, 1994||
Clinton signs a Presidential Decision Directive (PDD 25), created after a
review of the nation's peacekeeping policies and programs. PDD 25 aims to limit
U.S. military involvement in international peacekeeping operations.||
|May 5, 1994||
Madeline Albright, U.S. Representative to the U.N., testifies at a
congressional hearing on funding of U.N. programs: |
"But let me just tell you
that on the Rwanda thing, it is my sense that to a great extent the Security
Council and the U.N. missed the boat. We are now dealing with a situation way
beyond anything that anybody expected. And as I mentioned earlier, what
happened was that we were on one process where a smaller United Nations force,
we felt, could deal with some of the issues in the area, and then all of a
sudden with the shootdown of this airplane with the two presidents, it created
an avalanche. And so it is hard to judge whether that particular operations
started out properly."
Anthony Lake, National Security Advisor, gives a press briefing on PDD 25:
"When I wake up every morning and look at the headlines and the stories and the
images on television of these conflicts, I want to work to end every conflict.
I want to work to save every child out there. And I know the president does,
and I know the American people do. But neither we nor the international
community have the resources nor the mandate to do so. So we have to make
distinctions. We have to ask the hard questions about where and when we can
intervene. And the reality is that we cannot often solve other people's
problems; we can never build their nations for them ..."
|May 11, 1994||
At a State Department briefing, Mike McCurry is asked, "Has this government
been able to determine whether any of the acts committed in Rwanda since April
6 constitute genocide?" He answers, "I don't know that they've made any legal
determination on that."||
|May 13, 1994||
The U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on restoring UNAMIR's strength in
Rwanda. However, Madeline Albright delays the vote for four days.||
|May 17, 1994||
As the slaughter of the Tutsis continues, the U.N. finally agrees to send 5,500
troops to Rwanda. The Security Council resolution says, "acts of genocide may
have been committed." However, the deployment of the mainly African U.N.
forces is delayed because of arguments over who will pay the bill and provide
the equipment. |
Albright testifies at a Capitol Hill hearing on tensions in U.S.-U.N. relations
and discusses the Security Council's resolution:
"... The United States has been a driving force in the provision of
humanitarian assistance, in condemning the violence and in trying to organize a
U.N. mission designed not simply to promise, but to deliver what it promises.
Sending a U.N. force into the maelstrom in Rwanda without a sound plan of
operations would be folly ... The resolution adopted last night requires the
Secretary-General to report back before the next phase of deployment begins ...
these choices are not easy ones. Emotions can produce wonderful speeches and
stirring op-ed pieces. But emotions alone cannot produce policies that will
achieve what they promise. If we do not keep commitments in line with
capabilities, we will only further undermine U.N. credibility and support. The
actions authorized last night will help. They may save lives. But ultimately,
the future of Rwanda is in Rwandan hands."
|May 19, 1994||
The U.N. requests the U.S. provide 50 armored personnel carriers (APCs).
However, there are arguments between the U.S. and the U.N. over the costs.||
The International Red Cross estimates 500,000 Rwandans have been killed.||
|May 25, 1994||
Mike McCurry, State Department spokesman, is asked at a press briefing, "...
Has the administration yet come to any decision on whether it can be described
He answers, "I'll have to confess, I don't know the answer to that. I know that
the issue was under very active consideration. I think there was a strong
disposition within the department here to view what has happened there;
certainly, constituting acts of genocide that have occurred ..."
|June 10, 1994||
At a State Department briefing, spokesperson Christine Shelley is asked, "How
many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?"|
"That's just not a question that I'm in a position to answer."
"Well, is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word
'genocide' in isolation, but always to preface it with these words 'acts
"I have guidance which I try to use as best as I can. There are
formulations that we are using that we are trying to be consistent in our use
of. I don't have an absolute categorical prescription against something, but I
have the definitions. I have phraseology which has been carefully examined and
arrived at as best as we can apply to exactly the situation and the actions
which have taken place ... "
|June 22, 1994||
With still no sign of U.N. deployment, the Security Council authorizes the
deployment of French forces in south-west Rwanda--"Operation Turquoise."
They create a "safe area" in territory controlled by the government. However,
killings of Tutsis continue in the safe area.||
The Tutsi RPF forces capture Kigali. The Hutu government flees to Zaire,
followed by a tide of refugees. The French end their mission and are replaced
by Ethiopian U.N. troops. The RPF sets up an interim government of national
unity in Kigali.|
Although disease and more killings claim additional lives in the refugee camps,
the genocide is over. An estimated 800,000 Rwandans have been killed in 100 days.
|March 25, 1998||
In Kigali, Rwanda President Clinton apologizes to the victims of genocide.|
"... the international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear
its share of responsibility for this tragedy, as well. We did not act quickly
enough after the killing began. We should not have allowed the refugee camps to
become safe havens for the killers. We did not immediately call these crimes by
their rightful name: genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must
do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of
Click here for more of President Clinton's speech.
|May 7, 1998||
In Kigali, Rwanda U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan apologizes to the Parliament of Rwanda
"... The world must deeply repent this failure. Rwanda's tragedy was the
world's tragedy. All of us who cared about Rwanda, all of us who witnessed its
suffering, fervently wish that we could have prevented the genocide. Looking
back now, we see the signs which then were not recognized. Now we know that
what we did was not nearly enough--not enough to save Rwanda from itself, not
enough to honor the ideals for which the United Nations exists. We will not
deny that, in their greatest hour of need, the world failed the people of
Click here to read Annan's speech.
A French parliamentary commission completes a nine-month inquiry into France's
military involvement in Rwanda before and during the genocide. The commission
concludes that most of the blame lies with the international community,
particularly the United Nations and the United States. Although France is noted
as making "errors of judgment," the government is absolved of responsibility
for the killings.
A week before the fifth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, the Paris-based
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and the U.S.-based Human Rights
Watch release a report titled, "Leave None to Tell the Story." The 900-page report
documents events before and during genocide. It also criticizes the U.N., the U.S.,
France and Belgium for knowing about preparations for the impending slaughter and
not taking action to prevent the killings. |
Click here to read the report.
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