ANNOUNCER: Ten years ago, in the small East
African country of Rwanda, 800,000 people were slaughtered by their own
BRENT BEARDSLEY, Military Ass't to Gen. Dallaire: This was ordinary men, women and children, and the only reason that they
were killed was because they were Tutsi.
ANNOUNCER: Virtually the entire world turned away
and did almost nothing to stop the genocide.
ALBRIGHT, U.N. Ambassador:
In retrospect, it all looks very
clear. But at the time, what was
happening in Rwanda, the situation was unclear.
GAILLARD, Red Cross: They cannot tell me that they didn't
know. Everybody knew what was
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on FRONTLINE, the full story of perhaps the
darkest and most brutal tragedy of our time. It is a story told by the victims and by the killers, by
those who turned away and by those who stayed and tried desperately to save as
many people as they could.
WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: By the time the genocide was over, I
was so angry at America, America the beautiful, America the brave.
ANNOUNCER: They are all still haunted by what
ROMEO DALLAIRE, U.N. Force Commander, Rwanda: I was the
commander, and hundreds of thousands of people died. I can't find any solace in statements like, "I did my best."
ANNOUNCER: --still haunted by the Ghosts of
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE, U.N. Force Commander, Rwanda: Rwanda
will never, ever leave me. It's in
the pores of my body. My soul is
in those hills. My spirit is with
the spirits of all those people who were slaughtered and killed that I know
of. And lots of those eyes still
haunt me, angry eyes or innocent eyes. No laughing eyes. But the
worst eyes that haunt me are the eyes of those people who were totally
bewildered. They're looking at me,
with my blue beret, and they're saying, "What in the hell happened? How come I'm dying here?" Those eyes dominate, and they're
How come I failed? How come my mission failed? How come, as the commander, I did not convince, I lost soldiers, and
800,000 people died?
NARRATOR: For General Romeo Dallaire, commander
of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, it was his first trip to
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: You know, the first breath of air of
Africa-- oh, what a-- what a phenomenal experience! It's-- it felt like you were in another continent, that you
were-- you were-- it was different. Felt a little nervousness, of course, you know, of the first shaking
hands with-- with those leaders and starting up the mission.
NARRATOR: For Dallaire, a Canadian general who
had never seen action, this was the command of a lifetime, a U.N. peacekeeping
mission in the heart of Africa. His job seemed simple. He
would enforce a peace agreement between the Rwandan government in Kigali and a
rebel army positioned behind a ceasefire line. The rebels were mostly Tutsis, an ethnic minority that had
been persecuted for decades.
Gen. PAUL KAGAME, Cmndr, Rwandan Patriotic Front: Some
of us had been refugees since 1959. And over the years, in the early '60s and '70s, there had been killings
of Tutsis from different parts of Rwanda. So we mainly focused on the very fact that there was a need for change
in the country and that these stateless people, ourselves, who were everywhere
in the neighboring countries and beyond, needed to come back home.
NARRATOR: The rebel threat had heightened
tensions between Tutsis and the ethnic majority, the Hutus. The Hutus had ruled since independence
from Belgium in the early '60s. Under the U.N.-backed peace accord, the Hutus would be forced to share
power with the Tutsi rebels. But
the peace process was already faltering, even as General Dallaire set up his
command center in a rundown Kigali hotel. With only 2,500 lightly-armed troops, he was ill-prepared to enforce a
fragile peace in a country he did not understand.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY, Military Ass't to Gen. Dallaire: We had
very, very little information, knowledge of the background to Rwanda, its
history, its culture, the-- you know, what had taken place in the country since
independence or even before independence, and especially even in the last
couple of years. So we went in quite
NARRATOR: From the moment he arrived, someone was
testing Dallaire's ability to keep the peace. There were mysterious riots and assassinations.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And-- and also, we were already getting
all these stories about a third force, you know, of-- squadrons of killers. And we couldn't confirm anything. We were just getting all that, you
know, as rumors, innuendoes, and we couldn't cross-check the damn stuff because
I was not allowed to have an intelligence capability. So all that sort of-- sort of came as a dark cloud.
Ultimately, I-- I felt we could do it. But that is a bravado, I think, also,
from my part. Nothing was going to
stop me. Bit of innocence in
NARRATOR: Then, from inside the third force, an
informant emerged. The informant
revealed that a secretive group of Hutu extremists was plotting to derail the
peace agreement and exterminate their enemies.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And he was within the higher structures
of the MNND party, which was the hard-line party of the president. He said that he-- he simply wasn't going
to continue to work in that atmosphere, that they were undermining the whole
process and they were ultimately planning the evilest of deeds, of-- of
attacking not only Tutsis but all the moderate Hutu leaders also.
NARRATOR: The informant was a trainer for the
Interahamwe, a paramilitary youth movement. He said they were planning to kill some of Dallaire's
troops, Belgian soldiers, the backbone of the peacekeeping force.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: Jean-Pierre, the informant, said they
felt that if the Belgians were killed, that Belgium and the U.N. would pack up
and leave. So already, the
situation was changing, that somebody didn't want us there and that they were
going to target us to-- to encourage us to go.
NARRATOR: In an urgent cable to the U.N.
leadership, Dallaire repeated the informant's warnings that there was a plan to
exterminate all Tutsis in Kigali, that Belgian peacekeepers would also be
killed in the belief that Belgium would then withdraw all its troops. Dallaire told New York he was going to
raid the militia's arms caches. He
signed off in his native French, "Where there's a will, there's a way. Let's go."
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I sent that, and then I went to bed and
probably slept one of the best nights I had because I felt that, finally, we
were going to-- we were going to take a certain level of control that would
permit us to do so much more.
NARRATOR: The cable arrived in New York at the
United Nations' peacekeeping department, then run by Kofi Annan.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: And the fax came in. And General Dallaire had also been in
touch on the phone with General Baril, and in fact, he has sent other messages
where sometimes his question that, "Somebody came and gave me this
information. I don't know how
sincere it is, whether I'm being manipulated or not," because intelligence can
also be used to manipulate you.
NARRATOR: Annan was skeptical. In his response, he ordered Dallaire,
first, not to take any action, and second, to share the informant's secrets
with the Rwandan government, which he knew had strong ties to the Hutu
KOFI ANNAN, Head of Peacekeeping, U.N.: Why
did we go that route? Often,
sharing-- shining light on these things and telling those planning it at a
governmental level that, "The international community knows what is being
planned, we are monitoring, we are going to deal with you harshly and we know
what you are up to"-- sometimes it's a very good deterrent.
NARRATOR: Annan told Dallaire he was not to raid
the arms caches and he must avoid any action that might cause U.N. troops to
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: The big hammer at the end of the
message that came to me within hours of my sending my information message was,
"Stop, decease, and by the by, you're totally outside of your mandate." At that time, the whole philosophy was,
"We don't want another Mogadishu, and so keep it tight."
NARRATOR: Mogadishu. Three months earlier, when the Black Hawks were shot down in
Somalia and 18 American soldiers died on a U.N. mission, it changed everything
about Washington's commitment to peacekeeping, especially in Africa.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, White House Liaison on Somalia: The
Clinton administration was brought to its knees by the-- by the problem in
Somalia. A secretary of defense
was fired, a presidency was dramatically weakened. They were enormously criticized for this adventure in Somalia. And now you had another situation
unfolding in Rwanda. And
certainly, no one was clamoring for a re-intervention into the heart of Africa.
NARRATOR: Despite the growing sense of danger,
Kigali was teeming with thousands of Western expatriates-- diplomats, aid
workers and their families. The
official line from the U.N. and all their embassies was that Rwanda was still
CARL WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: It was
strange because, on the one hand, here's little groups of eight U.N. soldiers,
fully decked out, you know, with all of their gear and their machine guns and
everything, patrolling the city-- of eight, you know? And we used to joke, you can't-- you can't spit without
hitting a U.N. car. And so you got
all this white vehicles, black "U.N." all over them, and-- and occasionally, you
would see some white tanks or something. There was an incredible sense of security in that. And yet we also knew things were going
NARRATOR: Hutu extremists were now confident the
U.N. would not stand in their way. They imported thousands of machetes, prepared death lists and began
targeting their political opponents.
MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA, Human Rights Activist: [through
interpreter] It became
simply a nightmare for the Tutsis, for all of the members of the opposition
parties, even if they were Hutu, and we lived through a series of political
assassinations almost on a daily basis. Every day, every day God gave us, we had three, four, five dead bodies,
people that we picked up on the streets every day.
JOYCE LEADER, U.S. Embassy, Kigali: The
people tried to tell us and tried to explain to us or help us understand, but
we just-- maybe we just didn't get it. It was just very hard to conceive of something so awful actually being
meticulously planned and carried out.
April 6, 1994,
NARRATOR: In central Kigali, a group of friends
gathered for dinner at the home of a young American diplomat, Laura Lane.
LAURA LANE, U.S. Embassy, Kigali: We had
a couple of friends over, and you know, I just-- we just sat down to dinner, and
all of a sudden, there was a huge explosion. And I-- I-- didn't instantly, you know, come to me what that
was because I wasn't used to hearing those kinds of sounds.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And then at 8:30, the first phone call
came in, saying that there-- originally, the first phone call said that there
had been a big explosion in Kinumbi camp, which is just at the end of the
runway of the airfield, the Kigali airfield, saying that it looked like an
ammunition dump had exploded.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: And it went from "There's been an explosion
at the airport" to "We think it's the ammunition dump at Kinumbi that's blown
up" to "It's a plane that's crashed" to "It's the presidential plane that's
NARRATOR: Someone had fired a missile that shot
down the Hutu president's airplane. Even 10 years later, the responsibility for the attack remains a
Lt. Col. CHARLES VUCKOVIC, Defense Intelligence Agency: There
are many theories as to who shot down the plane. I don't know if anybody has the answer to that. Was it Hutu extremists or was it Tutsi
extremists? Was it done by the
Tutsis as an excuse to begin the movement south by the RPF and take control of
the country? Hard to say. Or was it used by the Hutu extremists
to begin the genocide that took place? I don't know the answer to that.
NARRATOR: That night, U.N. commanders were
summoned to a crisis meeting at Rwandan Army headquarters.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: We were heading through very darkened
streets in Kigali, very quiet streets. There was no-- the streets were just empty. It was like a ghost town.
NARRATOR: They found a leading Hutu extremist,
Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, in control.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: Colonel Bagosora was the chef de
cabinet of the minister of national defense and a hard-line person--
in fact, considered even more than hard-line. He was chairing the meeting.
NARRATOR: Bagosora had once vowed to launch an
"apocalypse" against the Tutsis. Dallaire insisted he step aside and hand power to the moderate acting
prime minister Madame Agathe. Dallaire knew she would resist the extremists' power grab and appeal for
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: Bagosora kept saying that she's of no
use and she never was able to garner her cabinet anyways, and--
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: An officer that was sitting next to me
stunk of booze, started swearing in French underneath his breath about her and
calling her various names and-- so we were stalemated.
April 7, 2:00 AM
NARRATOR: Dallaire asked U.N. headquarters for
guidance. They responded by
tightening his rules of engagement. He was ordered not to intervene, and above all, to avoid armed conflict.
KOFI ANNAN: We were concerned, one, that Dallaire
and his force didn't have the capacity and didn't-- to take on that sort of
responsibility and that if they attempted to do it and any of the peacekeepers
were killed, we may see a repeat of Somalia and we may not even be able to
offer any assistance.
[www.pbs.org: Read Annan's extended interview]
LAURA LANE: You heard gunshots. You heard screams. You heard-- you heard just so much
activity that you knew this was going to be, you know, an awful night. And in-- in the darkness, you were just--
I remember feeling like, "I don't want-- I don't want the daylight to come
because I don't want to see, knowing what I'm hearing."
WILKENS: [home video] Well, what's going on here, huh? We got all the kids in the hallway and the television. This is April 7. It's about-- it's about 6:00 o'clock in
the morning, and we were woken up at about 5:15, 5:20, by a lot of gunfire and
Yeah, the killing was happening right there. Our kids were listening in. We-- while they're describing on the
radio and I'm talking back to them and saying how people are being killed in
their front yard, and I'm saying, "We're trying to get help." And we're just trying to figure out
what we can do. This whole drama's
unfolding, and our kids are standing there, glued to this thing. And all of a sudden, I go, "Whoa." I see, you know, one of them standing
there and just transfixed. So I
say, "Theresa, take him away."
NARRATOR: That morning, Dallaire sent Belgian and
Ghanaian peacekeepers to guard Madame Agathe, the moderate prime minister. Then he went to find the extremist
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: Agathe was getting all the protection
she needed, at least, we expected to need. I mean, we ended up by having 25 troops there. With that sort of in hand, my job now,
because I was moving around, is to go get ahold of Bagosora and say, "OK,
what's going on now? What is the
Roadblocks were coming up. But as I got closer to the inner core of the city, the
roadblocks became more serious, and ultimately, the roadblocks in that inner
circle there was controlled by the presidential guard. And so we made our way to the ministry
of defense. Nobody was there. And so I said, "Well, maybe they're
right back to where they were last night." So we just turned and went towards the center.
NARRATOR: As Dallaire looked for the extremist leaders,
the prime minister's house was surrounded by Rwandan troops. Inside, U.N. peacekeepers sent to
protect her were under orders not to use force. The prime minister called her neighbor, American diplomat
JOYCE LEADER: About 8:30 in the morning, she called
and asked if she could come and hide in my house.
JOYCE LEADER: The prime minister. And I didn't give it very much thought,
and I said yes, but then when the Ghanaian peacekeeper who was guarding her-- he
must have put a ladder up on her side of the fence, and he came up above the--
he raised his head above the fence, and there were shots fired, just then.
NARRATOR: Rwandan troops stormed the prime
minister's compound. The
peacekeepers radioed for instructions from Dallaire's Ghanaian deputy.
Gen. HENRY ANYIDOHO, Deputy U.N. Cmndr, Rwanda: We
were in communication with them all along, and it was not even rational for
them to try to oppose them. The
best they could do was to talk to them, to negotiate, to tell them, "Look, what
you are about to do is wrong. You
cannot do it."
NARRATOR: At gunpoint, the U.N. troops
surrendered their weapons to the Rwandans. The Ghanaian peacekeepers were soon released, but the 10
Belgian troops were taken hostage and led away.
Gen. HENRY ANYIDOHO: Their radios became silent. Then you suspected something had gone
wrong because communication was utterly cut off. Then you sense the danger. Something must have happened.
JOYCE LEADER: About another half hour later, we
actually heard a scream and a shot and realized that it was the prime minister
who had been found and killed.
NARRATOR: General Dallaire hadn't heard of the
attack, but he'd learned the extremist leadership was meeting at army
headquarters. As he approached,
Dallaire caught a glimpse of his soldiers inside the Army compound, lying in
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And at the gate, as we went by, I saw
two soldiers in the Belgian uniform lying on the ground about 50-odd meters
inside-- inside the camp. And so
your whole life is dependent on those nano-seconds of taking that right
decisions because it's life and death.
I was already saying, "I can't get those guys out of
there. I just don't have the
forces or the deployment capability. I've got so many other troops that I don't know of and all the
vulnerability of the rest. I can't
take these bastards on." To do
anything for them and for the others, I had to negotiate.
NARRATOR: Dallaire carried on through the next
gate to confront the extremist leadership. But he decided not to mention his troops, who he knew were
being beaten 200 yards away.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: What I said was, "Get a grip of your
units. I'm staying." The informant, Jean-Pierre, had told us
that they were trying to set up to wipe out a dozen or so or 10 Belgians in
order to break the back of our mission because if the Belgians pulled out, I
had no real substantive capability to sustain myself, and that the
international community would pull us all out. These guys knew about Mogadishu also. And so what I was making clear to them
was, is that I'm staying.
NARRATOR: Dallaire later demanded to know what
had happened to the Belgians, but he took no military action to rescue his
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: Finally, a phone call, after
insistence, came in and said that they are all at the hospital, at the
morgue. And so I said,
"Right. Let's go." Morgue was a little shack, and a bit of
an L-shaped small shack. And it
was a 24-watt bulb, at best. And
there in the corner of the L-shape was this pile of potato bags, just looked
like a pile of potato-- big, huge potato bags. And as we got closer, we saw that they were bodies.
NARRATOR: In the wake of Somalia, the murder of
more Western peacekeepers triggered an immediate response.
McCURRY, State Department Spokesman: Good afternoon, everybody. I wanted to start with the situation in
Rwanda. The president called the
secretary of state this morning to express the president's concern about the
safety of Americans in Rwanda in light of the deteriorating situation there.
LAURA LANE, U.S. Embassy, Kigali: By
that morning, we kind of had a sense that we were not going to be able to wait
this out. I took our wedding
album. We took our guns and put
the dog at our feet and literally slumped down in the car and drove down the
streets, like, just looking over the dashboard, you know, as we hear fire in
the background, and made it to the embassy.
NARRATOR: The Clinton administration ordered an
immediate evacuation of all 257 U.S. citizens in Rwanda. It was up to Laura Lane to get every
American out alive.
LAURA LANE: We said, "We have to, you know,
evacuate the American community out" because we couldn't risk, you know, their
lives trying to wait this out because if this was a plan, it had a larger
purpose, and that larger purpose would not be good where you'd want anyone in
NARRATOR: But Lane told Washington she wanted to
stay and keep the embassy open as a safe haven for Rwandans.
LAURA LANE: I felt very, very strongly that if
there is someone who is planning this kind of evil, they need to know that
there is also another group, that we, the Americans, will stand right here and
stand against them. And I felt
very, very strongly about that because otherwise, they'd think they could get
away with it.
GEORGE MOOSE, Ass't Sec'y of State for Africa: Yeah,
I do recall there-- there the notion that, yes, maybe we could stay behind and
maybe we could do something. But
then you have to say, with what do you create a safe haven? If the Belgian troops could not defend
and protect the prime minister from a ruthless attack, what were unarmed
Americans bearing a flag going to do?
LAURA LANE: I may be hopelessly naive. I mean, we are four people in an
embassy, and a very small embassy community. But I don't know, I-- I think one person can make a
difference, and maybe if we just saved one life, that was one life worth
saving. Maybe we couldn't save
everyone, but I would have rather stood there and said-- and stayed and said, "I
am going to stay because it is worth that risk." So in the end, the decision was taken out of my hands.
NARRATOR: All embassies in Kigali closed. Aid workers and diplomats were ordered
out of the country.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY, Military Ass't to Gen. Dallaire: We
started going out, picking up our military observers, who were at various
locations, picking up our U.N. staff, picking up diplomats, picking up people
at risk. And we started a whole
series of what we call rescue missions to go pick people up, try to locate
NARRATOR: Beardsley went to rescue Polish
Catholic priests trapped with two U.N. observers in a Kigali church where
Tutsis had sought refuge.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: The military observers and the priests
could hear people screaming over the church, so they'd left their quarters and
had come over to see what was going on. They were grabbed and they were put up against the wall with rifle
underneath their chin, and they were held there while the identity cards were--
were captured and were burned. And
then the militia came in and the gendarmes literally-- the police literally
handed them over to the-- to the militia, who then proceeded through the rest of
the evening to chop them apart with machetes.
Inside the church itself were about 150 people. About 15 of them were still alive. The rest had been attacked with
machetes and had been killed.
And-- and the thing that stood out in my mind, up until that
day, it almost bore resemblance of a coup, taking out the moderates. But this was different. This was-- this was just ordinary men,
women and children, and the only reason whatsoever that they were killed and
targeted was because they were Tutsi.
NARRATOR: Behind the ceasefire line, the Tutsi
rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front were preparing to respond.
Gen. PAUL KAGAME, Cmndr, Rwandan Patriotic Front: The
information very clearly came in very fast, showing how targeted killings were
being carried out and how these were spreading out not only in Kigali, but
going beyond Kigali to other parts of the country. And we knew that was the usual style. The massacres had started, and we have
to take action.
NARRATOR: The rebels declared the peace process
dead and attacked the extremist government. General Kagame had gone through training at Fort
Leavenworth. The U.S. military
maintained contact and understood the rebel leader's intentions.
Lt. Col. CHARLES VUCKOVIC, Defense Intelligence Agency: In
retrospect, there was no chance, I think, that RPF was in any mood to negotiate
right from the beginning.
INTERVIEWER: They wanted what?
Lt. Col. CHARLES VUCKOVIC: They wanted to control
the country. They wanted to take
over control politically, militarily. There was no way you were going to stop the RPF. There was no way that they were in the
mood to negotiate once this all started.
NARRATOR: Overnight, 1,000 French and Belgian
paratroopers had arrived without warning, seizing Kigali airport. These troops were not under U.N.
command. Their mission was solely
to get the expatriates out. Dozens
of journalists had arrived with the new troops. They traveled with Belgian soldiers to Kigali's psychiatric
hospital, where the Western staff was trapped. On the way in, they drove past the Interahamwe waiting
Tutsis emerged from the hospital building, where they'd been
hiding for three days. They said
they were surrounded by the militias, that some of them had already been
killed. When it was clear the
soldiers weren't going to help, the refugees appealed to the journalists.
KATELIJNE HERMANS, Belgian Television: There
was a whole group of people, but in the whole group, one woman started to speak
and started to explain why they were afraid and what was happening to them. And she started begging us to take her
and the others with us. She was
speaking to me, a woman to a woman, saying, "I'm afraid. Please
help me!" And we were just
listening to her, and we couldn't do anything. At that moment, we thought we couldn't do anything, just
listen and say "Yes."
So we left. For
the white people, it's over, but we knew the hundreds that stayed. And we heard the shooting at the moment
we left. So it was clear for me
that hell starts for them.
NARRATOR: All Western troops and U.N.
peacekeepers were under orders not to evacuate ordinary Rwandans.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: What that meant was, anybody that was
white-skinned got to get on an airplane and fly to safety, and anybody that was
black-skinned got to stay in Rwanda and get killed. And that's as simple as it came down to. It still to this day leaves a very,
very bad taste in my mouth that the United States of America could have 350
Marines sitting at Bujumbura Airport, that the French were able to get in 500
or so paratroopers, that the Belgians had over a 1,000 paratroopers. You know, we basically had our
intervention force already on the ground.
You know, what they later told us, is it was impossible to
get on the ground. We had it on
the ground on the 10th of April, within three days of this thing starting and--
but it wasn't there to intervene. It wasn't there to save Rwanda, it was there to save white people. And that's what it came down to.
NARRATOR: With the airport taking fire, the
American embassy decided to evacuate its staff and expatriates overland in
convoys, south to Burundi, where U.S. Marines were waiting.
JOYCE LEADER, U.S. Embassy, Kigali: And
there were people standing on either side of the road, and it's my recollection
that I saw some instruments, like machetes, in their hands. And I remember thinking, "Well, they're
just waiting for us to get out of here before they go on about their gruesome
BONAVENTURE NIYIBIZI, U.S. Embassy Employee: I was
working for the American embassy, basically. I saw them leaving. I saw the flags on the vehicles. I knew all the vehicles. I
know all the people they belong to. And so I said, "OK." I
think it was sad, surprising to see that by the end of the day, you are a
person who have-- who has to die, when other people are allowed to be
alive. This is a strange
feeling. Americans were allowed to
be alive. My neighbors were
allowed to be alive. They were
walking on the street. They were
going to the market. And we were
here, feeling that we had to die anyway.
NARRATOR: As she organized the last American
convoy, Laura Lane made a final attempt to do what she thought was right.
LAURA LANE: We had-- we had a convoy of over 100
vehicles with over 600 people, only 9 Americans. Greg and I were the last two. The ambassador was at the front. And yes, there were-- there were Rwandans in there. There were Tutsis in there, and in some
cases, there were Hutus. And so if
they made it to our checkpoints and we-- you know, we could hide them, we
did. Some of them were-- you know,
we dubbed them Americans for the day, you know what I mean? We made them honorary Americans so that
they could be in the convoy.
CARL WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: If
people in Rwanda ever needed help, now was the time. And everybody's leaving.
NARRATOR: Carl Wilkens had put his family on an
American convoy, but he decided to stay behind with Rwandan colleagues and
workers who'd sought refuge in his home.
CARL WILKENS: That Tutsi young lady and that Tutsi
young man were faces right there to me representing the country, and I felt if
I left, they were going to be killed. And then-- and then I recognized, you know, how is it-- I've got a-- I've
got this blue American passport. That means I can go. But
all of these people don't have a passport. They can't go. And-- and while all of those things played in, the bottom line is it just
seemed the right thing to do.
NARRATOR: By the evening of April 10th, Carl
Wilkens was the only American left in Rwanda.
CHRISTOPHER, Secretary of State: As far as I know, everyone in Kigali
who's wanted to leave has been able to leave, and they're probably successfully
out by now, safely out by now.
NARRATOR: The Clinton administration breathed a
sigh of relief. In Belgium, the
country was in crisis. With 10 of
its soldiers dead, the government wanted to pull all its peacekeepers out of
Rwanda, but it didn't want to be embarrassed by leaving alone. The foreign minister called Secretary
of State Warren Christopher.
WILLY CLAES, Belgian Foreign Minister: The
reaction of the public opinion in Belgium was-- was very strong. And I may say there was unanimity in
all, in order to ask to pull out the troops after the killing. Warren Christopher told me that he
understood perfectly why the Belgian government took that decision. He confirmed that the preference of the
Americans went to the withdrawal of the MINUAR.
GEORGE MOOSE, Ass't Sec'y of State for Africa: Quite
right. The Belgians wanted to have
the cover of having others leave, as well. And I think-- and we sort of-- we did. We yielded to that request. In retrospect, I wonder if that was the
right thing to do.
NARRATOR: Christopher instructed Madeleine
Albright, America's ambassador at the U.N., to push for the withdrawal of the
entire peacekeeping force.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, U.N. Ambassador: My
instructions were to support full withdrawal. And I listened to the discussion very carefully in the
Security Council, and I could see that we-- our position was wrong, and especially
in listening to the African delegate, Ambassador Gambari from Nigeria was very
moving on this.
IBRAHIM GAMBARI, Nigerian U.N. Ambassador: And I
had the full backing of my of my colleagues to argue, on the contrary, that we
must forget about cutting and running, that it would be-- it would be
callous. It would be contradictory
to the spirit of the charter, which says the Security Council has a
responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,
everywhere in the world, including Africa.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: And I asked my deputy to take my seat
while I left and went out into the hall, into these phone booths, and called
Washington. And they said, "Well,
no, we're worrying about this, and we-- these are your instructions." And I-- I actually screamed into the
phone. I said, "They're
unacceptable. I want them
NARRATOR: Albright's call was to Richard Clarke,
head of peacekeeping at the National Security Council. Clarke declined to talk to FRONTLINE, but he did talk to journalist
SAMANTHA POWER, Author, "A Problem from Hell": And
they end up in a screaming match. The fight is not about whether to send U.S. troops to Rwanda. That's not even contemplated. The fight is simply about how to
withdraw the U.N. peacekeepers and how many to withdraw and how many to leave
in place and what the function of those peacekeepers should be who remain in
place. That's what the fight is
about. That's the extent of the
dissent at the highest level of the U.S. government about this genocide. That's it, that phone call.
NARRATOR: With the United States demanding a
withdrawal, the U.N. instructed General Dallaire to start closing his
peacekeeping mission. Dallaire
turned to his deputy, General Henry Anyidoho, for advice.
GEN. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And I remember sitting in front of his
desk-- huge man sitting there, stoic. And I said, "Henry, they want us out. We've failed in the mission. We've failed in attempting to convince. We've failed the Rwandans. We are going to run and cut the
losses. That's what they want us
Gen. HENRY ANYIDOHO, Deputy U.N. Cmndr, Rwanda: And I
said, "No, we haven't failed. And
as commanders, we are going to sit here, work hard, and see to its
solution. So let's tell those
people back in New York that we do not think that the mission should be closed.
NARRATOR: Anyidoho assured Dallaire his Ghanaian
peacekeepers would stay.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And that was all I needed. That meant that I would still have
troops on the ground, which were good troops-- not well equipped, but good
troops. So I stood up and I said,
"Henry, we're not going to run. We're not going to abandon the mission. And we will not be held in history of being accountable for
the abandonment of the Rwandan people." It was just morally corrupt to do that. And that's why I went back and told them to go to hell.
NARRATOR: As the U.N. debated whether to keep a
peacekeeping force in Kigali, the extremist Hutu leadership implemented the
next phase of its plan, to spread the killing across the nation by exploiting
Rwanda's culture of obedience. They told Hutus the Tutsi rebels were foreign invaders bent on turning
them into slaves. Their propaganda
reminded Hutus that the Tutsis had ruled them for centuries, often treating
them with disdain.
GITERA RWAMUHIZI, Hutu Farmer: [through interpreter]
Tutsis used to abuse Hutus. For
example, if a Tutsi chief wished to stand up from his chair, he would call up a
Hutu, who would allow his foot to be pierced by the Tutsi's spear as he stood
up. My understanding is that
Tutsis are not originally from Rwanda. I heard that they might have come from Egypt or somewhere else.
NARRATOR: An extremist hate radio station told
Hutus to eliminate their Tutsi neighbors.
Tutsis will perish. They will
disappear from the earth. Slowly,
slowly, slowly, we will kill them like rats.
VALENTINA IRIBAGIZA, Tutsi Schoolgirl: [through
interpreter] Then, when
the war began, people changed. One
day across the valley, we saw houses burning and people fleeing from their
NARRATOR: A 12-year-old girl named Valentina
followed her parents into the Catholic church in Nyarubuye, where along with
more than 5,000 other Tutsis, they waited. It was April the 15th.
VALENTINA IRIBAGIZA: [through interpreter] I
was a young girl. My parents
thought the church was safe because no one would be killed in a church. When we arrived, I could see the older
people were very sad and upset. Everybody was scared, but nobody knew what was going to happen.
GITERA RWAMUHIZI: [through interpreter] The
leader of the local community told us that Tutsis had fled to Nyarubuye and
that we're to go there and kill them. On the morning of April 15th, we woke up and started walking towards the
church. It was like going to the
VALENTINA IRIBAGIZA: [through interpreter] I
saw the soldiers come in, and they started shooting and shooting. All we had to defend ourselves were
rocks. And our local governor,
Gacumbizi, came in and stood in front of us. Gacumbizi said that everyone should know what they were
there for. He said that all those
who were there should be killed, that no one should survive.
Then they started killing, hacking with their machetes. They kept doing it, and I was hiding
under dead people. They didn't
kill me. Because of the blood covering
me, they thought they had killed me.
GITERA RWAMUHIZI: [through interpreter] It
was as if we were taken over by Satan. When Satan is using you, you lose your mind. We were not ourselves. You couldn't be normal and you start butchering people for no reason. We'd been attacked by the devil.
VALENTINA IRIBAGIZA: [through interpreter] It
was very late, around 2:00 AM, when the Interahamwe came back. One of them stepped on my head. He was shaking me with his foot to see
if I was alive. He said, "This
thing is dead," and so they left. I lived among the dead for a long time. At night, the dogs would come to eat the bodies. Once a dog was eating someone next to
me. I threw something at the dog
and he ran away. I hid in a small
room. That's where I stayed and
slept for 43 days.
NARRATOR: As the Tutsi rebel army pushed south
towards the capital, they found evidence of massacres in village after
village. With the rebels
approaching, extremist Hutus unleashed more Interahamwe militias to accelerate
the killing. The murdered prime
minister had been replaced by Jean Kambanda, who incited followers to repulse
the Tutsi rebels and their sympathizers, known as Inkotanyi.
KAMBANDA: [through interpreter] The Inkotanyi did not come to conquer power only. They are after you, too. They want to kill you all. Guns are not only for soldiers. Every person can own a gun. If they shoot, you shoot back. I, too, carry one all the time. Here it is.
NARRATOR: Extremist Hutus referred to Tutsi
survivors as "those not finished off." The Red Cross had never left Rwanda, and those who stayed confronted a
stark moral dilemma. What do you
do in the face of evil? A BBC
reporter spoke to the Red Cross leader in Rwanda, Philippe Gaillard.
KEANE, BBC: Walking around here, the images are
quite horrific. You've been
dealing with this for a long time. What do you think?
GAILLARD, Red Cross: I don't know if I-- if I still feel
something. I'm-- I have a brain of
iron. That's the way I've
survived. That's the way I can
speak to you in so clear language.
KEANE: Is there a high price to be paid for
that kind of brain of iron? Later
GAILLARD: Later on, maybe. For the time being, so far, so good.
NARRATOR: Soon after the killing began, Gaillard
decided he had to challenge the extremist government. Rwandan troops had stopped a Red Cross ambulance and killed
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: I decided to call my headquarters in
Geneva to tell the story. And my
counterpart in Geneva told me, "Do you think we could make it public?" And then you think twice. I mean, because if you make it public,
then you know that people might kill you, or would really decided to kill you
because of what you told. It was [unintelligible] We decided to do it. So following day, BBC, Reuters, Radio
France Internationale-- it was everywhere.
NARRATOR: The publicity embarrassed the
extremists, and their government gave the Red Cross safe passage throughout
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: So these six people didn't die for-- for
nothing. I mean, they-- because of
their deaths, hundreds of other people could be saved.
NARRATOR: Gaillard cultivated a relationship with
the extremist leadership, which he believes helped the Red Cross save 65,000
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: When-- when we talk about mass saving, I
think that's best. And the only
way is to talk with the people who want to kill them.
I remember one day, I met by chance Colonel Theoneste
Bagosora. I told him, "Colonel, do
something to stop the killing. I
mean, this is-- this is absurd. I
mean this-- this-- this is suicide. I mean"-- And his answer was-- there are words you never forget, you
know? His answer was, "Listen to,
sir. If I want, tomorrow I
can recruit 50,000 more Interahamwe." So I took him by the shirt. I'm 58 kilograms and he must be 115. Now I took him by the throat, looked his eyes and told him,
"Theoneste, you will lose the war."
NARRATOR: Gaillard's network of aid workers
across Rwanda gave him the most accurate count of the death toll. He estimated that in the first two
weeks, 100,000 Rwandans had been killed.
The Red Cross has a tradition of neutrality and public
silence, but Gaillard decided that this genocide would be different.
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: The International Committee of the Red
Cross, which is a 140 years old organization, was not active during the
Armenian genocide, shut up during the Holocaust. Everybody knew what was happening with the Jews. In such circumstances, if-- if you don't
at least speak out clearly and-- you are participating to-- to the genocide. I mean, if you just shut up when you
see what you see-- and morally, ethically, you cannot shut up! It's a responsibility to-- to talk, to
NARRATOR: A Rwandan human rights activist
traveled to Washington. She'd been
smuggled out of Kigali after a harrowing ordeal. Monique Mujawamariya came to tell American officials what
was happening in her country and ask for stronger U.S. action.
MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA, Human Rights Activist: [through
interpreter] The first
person who I met when I arrived in the United States was Anthony Lake, who at
the time was national security adviser. I will always remember him. He was very pleased to see me.
ANTHONY LAKE, Nat'l Security Advisor to Pres. Clinton: Well,
I met with Monique and was moved and terrified for her by her story of barely
escaping, hiding in the attack for a while and then getting out.
MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA: [through interpreter] I think he was partly affected by what
was happening in Rwanda. But as a
government official, he was not ready to take action. He didn't want to.
ANTHONY LAKE: And it's not that I didn't care, it's
that any caring wasn't translated into any focus, any attention really. On something like this, it would have
taken quite a push. And there's no
question in my mind that, in the end, the president would have had to push it.
MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA: [through interpreter] A congressional official responsible
for Africa gave me an explanation which was discouraging but also
enlightening. He said, "Listen,
Monique, the United States has no friends. The United States has interests. And in the United States, there is no interest in
Rwanda. And we are not interested
in sending young American Marines to bring them back in coffins. We have no incentive."
NARRATOR: As Monique lobbied Washington, America
and the entire U.N. Security Council voted to withdraw 90 percent of the
peacekeepers in Rwanda. This was
the compromise Madeleine Albright had argued for. At least a token force was allowed to remain.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: It was-- it was a very difficult time,
and the situation was unclear. You
know, in retrospect, it all looks very clear. But when you were at the time, when it was unclear about what
was happening in Rwanda, it was very clear that Congress was not supportive of
additional peacekeepers, very clear that the Pentagon was not interested in
getting deeply involved.
INTERVIEWER: What was your gut feeling about the
effectiveness of that force that was being left behind?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that my gut feeling was
that it couldn't do what it had to do.
Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY, Military Ass't to Gen. Dallaire: It was
like the world had disappeared out there. The world just didn't care. And it made no difference what you said or how you said it. We could have packed up dead bodies,
put them on-- flown to New York, walked into the Security Council and dumped
them on the floor in front of the Security Council, and all that would have
happened was we would have been charged for illegally using a U.N. aircraft. They just didn't want to do anything.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: "Forget any idea that somebody's going
to come and help you, Dallaire, or your forces, and that we're going to
actually do something positive. We're just going to continue the movement that the Belgians have started
of withdrawing and withdrawing and pulling out." That scenario brought an enormous gloom because there's no
cavalry coming over the hill.
NARRATOR: General Dallaire was left in Kigali
with only 450 ill-equipped troops from developing countries. Now he faced the moral burden of
bearing witness to a genocide without the means to stop it.
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: He was abandoned by his own
organization. This is
terrible. To be abandoned by his
own organization, it's terrible. I
was always supported. It's a big
difference, a huge difference. We
needed surgeons, nurses, and these kind of very specialized stuff, you know? It arrived to Rwanda within days. It's very efficient, very short. They came. Some people had to be changed because some people got
crazy. But then you find other
people who, yeah, are able to take risks and to-- to do the very little things
you can do, which are always miracles. Do miracles. That's-- yeah,
in such context, it's the only way to do something, I guess, yeah.
WILKENS: [home video] It's Monday, the 25th of April. It's a rainy, cold day, the day before the beginning of the historic
elections in South Africa, and rockets have just been flying over the house.
NARRATOR: Carl Wilkens, the only American not to
evacuate from Rwanda, hadn't left his home in nearly three weeks.
CARL WILKENS: And so when I went out, it was-- it was
wild. There were horses roaming
the streets, and there's no horses in Rwanda except at the Belgian Club, and
someone, I guess, had let them out of their stalls. And there were guys sitting at roadblocks in couches, you
know? And they'd have an old
shotgun across their lap, and they'd have, like, a monkey, you know, on a
leash, some foreigner's pet who had fled. Little kids were playing with all kinds of Western toys all over the
city, little Rwandan kids who'd never seen these toys before, much less been
able to touch them and play with them. It was-- it was a wild place out there.
[www.pbs.org: View Wilkens's video diaries]
NARRATOR: Gromo Alex, a veteran U.N. aid worker,
volunteered to come back to Rwanda and set up a humanitarian team in Kigali.
GROMO ALEX, U.N. Humanitarian Team, Kigali: Very
few people get opportunities to be real heroes, so I wanted to be one of those--
you know, one of those few.
INTERVIEWER: During the genocide, what was it like
GROMO ALEX: Very dead quiet, barriers on most of
the-- almost any road entering into the neighborhood was blocked off with tree
stumps or logs or beer cases.
NARRATOR: Each day, Gromo Alex delivered food to
refugees at U.N. safe havens in the city and learned to navigate the
GROMO ALEX: We started as early as we could in the
morning -- not too early -- and we tried to finish it as early in the afternoon
as possible because at-- by noon, they had been drinking and were intoxicated,
and they had either killed people and wanted to kill more or they hadn't killed
and they wanted to kill.
Killing was like a drink, that if you-- you took one drink,
you wanted another one and you wanted another. You wanted to become more and more intoxicated. Sometimes people kill once, and then to
lessen the impact of that murder on their psyches or on their conscience, they
have to kill again, and then they kill again. And then each-- each murder drives you to kill again, not so
much that you forget that you've killed before but that you've-- you've killed
and it just becomes part of you. I
mean, you've just got to kill and kill and kill.
NARRATOR: Four weeks into the genocide, the Red
Cross estimated 300,000 Rwandans had been killed.
BILL CLINTON: I think the conscience of the world has
grieved for the slaughter in Rwanda. But we also know from not only the Somalia experience but from what we
read of the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis that there is a political
and military element to this. And
so I think we can take the lessons we learned and perhaps do a better job
ANTHONY LAKE, Nat'l Security Advisor to Pres. Clinton: I
think the problem here for me, for the president, for most of us at senior
levels was that it never became a serious issue. We never came to grips with what, in retrospect, should have
been a central issue of do we do much more to insist that the international
community intervene and go out and find the troops that are necessary or even
contemplate an American intervention itself. That issue just never arose.
NARRATOR: The administration left Rwanda to the
bureaucrats and an inter-agency working group led by the deputy assistant
secretary of state for Africa, Prudence Bushnell.
PRUDENCE BUSHNELL, Dpty Ass't Sec'y of State for Africa: I
mean, what an extraordinary way to spend time. "Bye, dear. I'm
going off to the office today to sit with my people and talk about, is there
any way we can save human beings from being slaughtered when there are no
resources, there's no peacekeeping." It was-- these were conversations I'll never, ever forget.
NARRATOR: Bushnell's hands were tied by the government's
policy of non-intervention. So
when she called extremist Hutu leaders, she could threaten them only with
PRUDENCE BUSHNELL: I would set the alarm for 2:00 o'clock
in the morning, and having these bizarre conversations in French. "Hello, this is Prudence Bushnell. Stop it! Stop killing people!"
NARRATOR: When she called General Kagame, the
Tutsi rebel leader, Bushnell's instructions were to demand that he halt his
advance and negotiate with the extremists.
PRUDENCE BUSHNELL: He was always very dispassionate, but
there was a burst in the middle of this conversation of a fair amount of
passion when he said to me, "Madam, they're killing my people." And it wasn't part of my instructions
to be empathetic, to-- and yet it was-- it really pulled at my heart because I
knew they were killing his people.
Gen. PAUL KAGAME, Cmndr, Rwandan Patriotic Front: And
indeed, I talked to Pru Bushnell, and I hate remembering the conversations I
had with her because it always brings back those memories, that while for us,
we were focusing on and seeing that hundreds of thousands of people are being
killed, somebody was talking about something else that had nothing to do with
saving the lives of these people who were being killed.
PRUDENCE BUSHNELL: The only effort I could make, as a
human being, to sort of reach out a hand of humanity by saying, as I signed
off, "General, I wish you peace." And that's the way I ended my conversations with-- it was awful. Excuse me. It's really difficult.
NARRATOR: As the outside world left Rwanda to its
fate, one U.N. soldier in Kigali was taking matters into his own hands. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal was an
unarmed U.N. observer, renowned for his ability to charm his way past the
ALEX GROMO: He's tall, a tall guy. And he had this smile, you know, a big,
toothy smile. Even in all this
gore and hatred, as long as you can have that brief glimpse of, you know, a
smile or something to laugh about that's good, you grab onto it. And with Mbaye, I think that's what
everybody did. At all those
checkpoints, they all knew him.
NARRATOR: From the first hours of the genocide,
Captain Mbaye had ignored orders to remain neutral. He had rescued the children of Prime Minister Agathe, hiding
them in a closet while their mother was being killed. Based at the Hotel Mille Collines, a safe haven in the
center of Kigali, Captain Mbaye was part of a group of U.N. observers whose
very presence was often enough to keep the killers at bay.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: These guys didn't move, this heart of
observers, the gang that stayed at the Mille Collines -- there were seven or
eight of them. That particular
group, on their own initiative, would go to places where people told there
might be people hidden, and they would get them out and bring them to either
the Mille Collines or another safe place that we had. And Diagne was one of those leaders in that. I mean, he was evident, courageous and
[www.pbs.org: Explore the story of Captain Mbaye]
NARRATOR: But even General Dallaire didn't realize
the full extent of Captain Mbaye's secret rescue missions.
GROMO ALEX: We could see in this back room in the
Amahoro Hotel, the headquarters, they had large groups of people that all of a
sudden appeared and then the next day were gone. We began to put together that Mbaye was bringing people from
all over town to the headquarters and then evacuating them or having them
picked up and taken to safety elsewhere.
MARK DOYLE, BBC World Service: I knew what Mbaye Diagne
was doing. I had a very, very
strong suspicion -- put it that way -- of what he was doing. And had I investigated, I could have
found out, but I didn't want to find out. I didn't want to say, "There is a Senegalese officer saving people in
this town." You can imagine what
the impact of that would have been. He would have been killed.
NARRATOR: While observers like Captain Mbaye were
saving hundreds of lives, General Dallaire had a plan to save tens of thousands
by creating more safe havens like the few his troops were already protecting in
MARK DOYLE: Dallaire had a plan, which was
basically to secure football stadiums in every town around Rwanda. Football stadiums were particularly
defendable areas because they had large concrete stands. And if you have 50 soldiers with guns
on the top of those stands, you can stop people coming in to kill people,
basically. So it was-- I think it
was very doable, if there had been a much bigger U.N.-- not that much bigger, a
few-- a few thousand well-armed U.N. soldiers.
REPORTER: General, you do say that people are being killed, taken out of [unintelligible] What can the U.N. do about it?
ROMEO DALLAIRE: Send me troops.
REPORTER: Will you-- send troops?
ROMEO DALLAIRE: Well, what more do you want me to
say? I'm waiting here. So send me troops.
NARRATOR: But the U.N. Security Council was
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, Peacekeeping Advisor to Amb. Albright: Yeah,
we knew what Dallaire was saying. But remember, the Belgians, which were the primary Western European
force, had left. And there weren't
many other European forces that had real capacity raising their hand up in the
air, volunteering to put battalions on the ground in Rwanda. It just didn't exist.
NARRATOR: American officials worried that U.N.
troops would get embroiled in Rwanda's civil war because the Tutsi rebels of
the Rwanda Patriotic Front made it clear they would oppose a robust U.N. force.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN, Peacekeeping Advisor to Amb. Albright: At the
time, the RPF was determined to take Kigali, take power back in Kigali, and
they weren't interested in the U.N. coming back. And they saw a U.N. force as being a force that would prop
up the Hutu regime that was committing the very atrocities that were
ongoing. So the RPF was not
interested in a U.N. force, and this was crucial to our decision making
regarding whether a force would go in and whether it would go into Kigali.
NARRATOR: The U.N. told Dallaire he would get no
more troops. And without a larger
force, all he could do was to keep trying to negotiate a ceasefire between the
Tutsi rebels and the Hutu government.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I was also determined to continue to
keep negotiations going because maybe it'll stop. Maybe, with a ceasefire, you know, between the two
belligerents, we might be able to stop the massacring.
[www.pbs.org: Gen. Dallaire's extended interview]
NARRATOR: When the ceasefire talks again went
nowhere, Dallaire asked to meet directly with the commanders of the death
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I had to crack the nut of the militias,
and so I asked Bagosora, I said, "Listen, let me meet these guys. Let me negotiate with them."
NARRATOR: Inside a Kigali hotel, the leaders of
the Interahamwe were waiting.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: And so when I arrived, Bagosora
introduced them. And as I was
looking at them and shaking their hands, I noticed some blood spots still on
them. And all of a sudden, it
didn't-- they disappeared from being human. All of a sudden, something happened that turned them into
non-human things. And I was not
talking with humans, I literally was talking with evil. It even became a very difficult ethical
problem. Do I actually negotiate
with the devil to save people, or do I wipe it out, I shoot the bastards right
there? I haven't answered that
NARRATOR: The Interahamwe continued to threaten
U.N. safe havens like St. Famille Church in Kigali. The Tutsi refugees inside suspected the Hutu priest was
helping the killers. They appealed
BONAVENTURE NIYIBIZI, U.S. Embassy Employee: There
were, like, two Senegalese military who were coming from time to time. And we said if they stay here
permanently, we will be more or less protected because, you know, people did
not want to kill and have-- and being seen, especially by the international
community, journalists and so on.
NARRATOR: Dallaire placed the church under U.N.
guard. As elsewhere, sometimes all
he had to offer was a couple of unarmed U.N. soldiers.
ALEX GROMO: Quite amazingly, these people, who were
very brave, managed here and at the ICRC hospital to prevent armed people from
coming in, saying, "Stop. You're
not allowed in here. This is-- this
site is protected by the U.N." And
you ask yourself, well, here's one guy with no gun, sitting on a wooden chair
all day, and-- or, you know, all night, you know, not sleeping, and he's able
with no gun to convince people that they're not allowed in here to kill people.
I mean, there were some powerful, brave things that were
being done by U.N. soldiers completely devoid of any support from New
York. Forget it. I'm sorry. Nothing came from those people.
PHILIPPE GAILLARD, Red Cross: Everybody knew every day,
live, what was happening in this country. You could follow that every day on TV, on radio. Who moved? Nobody. Yeah.
MARK DOYLE, BBC World Service: I spoke to the Red Cross
representative and asked him how many people had been killed. And Philippe said something along the
lines of, "In the first few weeks, I said that 100,000 people had been
killed. A few weeks later, I said
loud and clear that I think half a million people have been killed. And now you're another journalist and
you're asking me again, and I'm telling you I can't count anymore. Half a million people have been killed,
and I've stopped counting."
PHILIPPE GAILLARD: They cannot tell us or tell me that
they didn't know. They were told,
every day, what was happening there. So don't come back to me and tell me, "Sorry, we didn't know." No, no. No, no. No,
no. Everybody knew.
NARRATOR: After the Holocaust, the world said
"Never again" and adopted a U.N. convention requiring that future genocides be
stopped. When genocide happened in
Rwanda, the United States, along with most other governments, simply avoided
using the word.
REPORTER: --comment on that, or a view as to whether or not what is happening could
SHELLY, State Department Spokeswoman: Well, as I think you know, 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. When-- in looking at a situation to make a determination
about that, before we begin to use that term, we have to know as much as
possible about the facts of the situation and--
REPORTER: Just out of curiosity, given that so many people say that there is
genocide under way or something that strongly resembles it, why wouldn't this
convention be invoked?
ALBRIGHT, U.N. Ambassador: Well, I think, as you know, this
becomes a legal definitional thing, unfortunately, in terms of as horrendous as
all these things are, there becomes a definitional question.
At the time, it-- I have to make so clear to you that at the
time, people just did not have the sense that this was happening in the
proportions that it was. And by
the time that it happened, you couldn't do anything about it.
NARRATOR: Six weeks into the genocide, the
Security Council finally changed course and authorized over 5,000 more
peacekeepers for Rwanda, but none were immediately available.
KOFI ANNAN, Head of Peacekeeping, U.N.: The
U.N. doesn't have any troops. We
borrow them from governments. And
I recall on the Rwanda thing, we approached about 80 governments, trying to get
offers of troops. And they
wouldn't give them to us.
NARRATOR: Washington promised logistical
support. But as bodies flowed out
of Rwanda down the rivers of Central Africa, State Department officials
struggled to get the Pentagon to act.
TONY MARLEY, State Department Military Advisor: At one
point, I had recommended that in response to the hate propaganda radio, known
as Radio Mille Collines, that the U.S. could use military radio jamming
equipment to block those radio transmissions, to take them off the air,
effectively. One lawyer from the
Pentagon made the argument that that would be contrary to the U.S.
constitutional protection of freedom of the press, freedom of speech.
GEORGE MOOSE, Ass't Sec'y of State for Africa: Truly
atrocious that we weren't able to do something because of some-- some legal
nicety about international radio conventions. And then the APC thing, as sort of emblematic, symptomatic.
NARRATOR: Washington had agreed to send 40
armored personnel carriers to the United Nations peacekeepers, but they would
take three months to arrive.
GEORGE MOOSE: Well, because we spent so much time
wrangling about who was going to pay for them, who was going to pay for
refurbishing them, who was going to transport them, who was going to pay for
the transport, who was going to pay for the training of the Ghanaians so that
they could use them. I mean, and
again, it's sort of bureaucracy at its very worst and but we couldn't-- at our
level, you know, there was-- we couldn't break through that. Somebody else would have had to
intervene to say, "This is nonsense. Get on with it. Do it."
[www.pbs.org: Timeline -- the U.S. failure to act]
NARRATOR: The bureaucratic paralysis emerged from
the administration's decision not to intervene. Seven weeks into the genocide, President Clinton restated
his policy that the U.S. would intervene in a humanitarian crisis only if it
were in America's national interest.
BILL CLINTON: The end of the superpower standoff
lifted the lid from a cauldron of long-simmering hatreds. Now the entire global terrain is bloody
with such conflicts, from Rwanda to Georgia. Whether we get involved in any of the world's ethnic
conflicts in the end must depend on the cumulative weight of the American
interests at stake.
NARRATOR: The one American to stay in Kigali when
the embassy closed probably saved more lives during the genocide than the
entire U.S. government. Carl
Wilkens discovered the Interahamwe had surrounded an orphanage.
CARL WILKENS, Aid Worker, Adventist Church: One
day, as we brought a load of water to them, this counselor, local counselor
from the area comes ripping in in his-- in his little stolen Mercedes station
wagon. And I-- as he got out of his
car, I looked around, and here, surrounding the orphanage, just materializing,
is, like, about 50 militia guys-- camo jackets or camo pants, but all of them
with machine guns.
And I said to my Rwandan colleague, who was driving the
truck, I said, "Siphon as slow as you can. We've got to make this last. I don't know what we're going to do, but it seems like
they're not coming while we're here."
NARRATOR: While his colleague stayed at the
orphanage, Wilkens went to the local government headquarters looking for help.
CARL WILKENS: And a young secretary I'd become
friends with, he says, "The prime minister's here." And I'm, like, "So what's that mean?" And he's, like, "Ask him." And I'm, like, "Ask him?" You know, it's, like, that's the
stupidest thing you could imagine, to ask this guy, who's obviously
orchestrating the genocide, a key player. And yet I had no other options.
And door opens, everybody snaps to attention, and here comes
Kambanda and his group, little entourage. And they're coming down the hall, and I'm-- you know, I'm-- and I stand up
and I put my hand out and I said, "Mr. Prime Minister, I'm Carl Wilkens. The director of ADRA." And he stops and he looks at me, and
then he takes my hand and shakes it. And he said, "Yeah, I've heard about you and your work. How is it?" And I said, "Well, honestly, sir it's not very good right
now. The orphans at Gisimba are
surrounded, and I think there's going to be a massacre, if there hasn't been
already." Just tell him, you know?
And he turns around, talks to some of his aides or
whatever. He says, "We're aware of
the situation, and those orphans are going to be safe. I'll see to it."
NARRATOR: The orphans were saved. Years later, Prime Minister Kambanda
would be convicted of genocide by a U.N. tribunal.
CARL WILKENS: You know, the genocide is so
complicated. I was in so many
positions that could have been interpreted as compromising or even
collaborating with the enemy, huh? You know, who's going to believe someone who goes to court and says,
"Well, actually, I asked Kambanda to help me save some Tutsis"? Huh? Who's going to believe that?
The stuff in the genocide just turns-- and that's why, you
know, the thing about this is, is we got to recognize in each one of us there's
such a potential for good and there's such a potential for evil.
NARRATOR: By late May, the extremists were
running out of Tutsis to kill. They threatened to storm the U.N. sanctuary at the Hotel Mille Collines. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal led 600
Tutsis to a safer part of town.
MARK DOYLE, BBC World Service: And the militia attacked
the convoys. And I saw individual
soldiers, including Captain Mbaye Diagne, actually kicking people off because
they didn't have guns. The U.N.
soldiers didn't have guns. They
were actually kicking people off and saying, "You can't come up here. These people-- we're saving these
NARRATOR: A few days later, Captain Mbaye was
driving from the hotel back to U.N. headquarters. He stopped at this bridge, a final checkpoint.
ALEX GROMO: A mortar had landed behind his car and
shrapnel came through the back window and in the back of his head and
apparently killed him instantly. They're calling around for a body bag, and there's no body bags, not a
body bag. There's nothing
left. There's nothing. And you wonder, you know, [unintelligible] at this
time, we're starting to put it together and we're saying, you know, "Here's a--
here's a guy who gave his ultimate, did everything, and we don't even have a
body bag," you know, nothing to, you know, show him some respect.
We had some UNICEF plastic sheeting and we had some
tape. You know, we're folding him
up and, you know, the creases aren't right, you know, because his feet are so
damn big, you know? And you don't
want that for him. You want it to
be like, you know, just laid out perfectly so that, you know, when people look
at him, you know, they-- they know that he was something great. [weeps]
NARRATOR: No one knows how many lives Captain
Mbaye Diagne personally saved, at least 100, perhaps 1,000.
OFFICER: Captain Mbaye Diagne is one of the best
officers in my army. And the job
he done here, none of-- one of us did it.
MARK DOYLE: I remember bursting into tears with a
colleague of his, a Senegalese captain. And the captain said to me, "You're a journalist. I'm a soldier. Now you've got to tell the world what
Mbaye Diagne did. You've got to tell
the people that he saved lots of lives. Even while the U.N. was shamefully pulling out its troops, you know, he
was saving people's lives and-- please tell the world."
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: We carried the stretcher into the
Hercules aircraft. It was a very,
very low point, very low point, such an incredibly courageous individual,
amongst others who were strong and courageous. But he seemed to be untouchable.
NARRATOR: As the civil war in Rwanda was drawing
to a close, the BBC's Fergal Keane was traveling with the advancing Tutsi
rebels. One evening in late May,
they approached the church at Nyarubuye where more than 5,000 Tutsis had sought
FERGAL KEANE: And we got out of the car. And in front of the church, there were
some bodies on the ground. You
find yourself walking along and you're stepping around and stepping over
bodies. And then we walked down
this path through the church compound. It was heavily overgrown, heavily overgrown. And we went down further until we came to this kind of open
courtyard area, where the bodies were stacked in against the walls.
And it started to get dark. And then we went into the church and there was no light in
the church itself. You're walking
around in the dark. And you--
suddenly, the light points here and you see a kid's body, and you know it's a
kid because he's wearing his khaki school uniform. And he's lying there and his head's been bludgeoned
away. And down in another corner
there's a man, his body lying there.
As we're coming out, we hear noises, noises from other
rooms. And I got very, very
scared. And one of the drivers
with us, a Ugandan, said, "Don't worry. It's only rats." Rats.
And we left. And I just remember looking up at the church itself, and there's this
white statue of Christ standing with his arms open. And as you look down from him, there's the remains of a
human body underneath. And I was--
you know, I was raised as a Catholic, and I kind of drifted away, big-time,
from religion. But I really-- I
prayed so hard. I said, "Our
father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Give us thy kingdom come." I needed to believe in something.
I think going to Nyarubuye, seeing what had happened there a
few weeks earlier and coming face to face with the human capacity for evil on a
scale I just hadn't imagined-- you can imagine it in your mind, but until you
experience it and smell it, until you walk there, in that, that changes
you. But I don't welcome the fact
that I was changed.
We've heard that there were survivors. And we got to the mayor's offices,
offices that had been used by the man accused of leading the genocide. And we walked in, and sitting on the
ground were this woman and, I think, two children. And one of the children, she looked in the most terrible
state. She-- we could see that her
hand was black, been hacked away. And there was a wound on the back of her head, as well. The nurse was trying to dress the
wounds, and she just-- this child looked -- I looked at that kid and I said,
"She's not going to make it." You
know, "There's no way." The kid's
name was Valentina.
VALENTINA IRIBAGIZA, Tutsi Schoolgirl: [through
interpreter] I felt a
lot of pain, a lot of pain, because my fingers had been chopped off. And my head had been cut. I was very sad because my family was
all dead. I was waiting to die
myself. I didn't think I was going
CHRISTINE SHELLY, State Department Spokeswoman: We
have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred.
REPORTER: How many acts of genocide does it take
to make genocide?
CHRISTINE SHELLY: Allen, that's just not a question that
I'm in a position to answer.
REPORTER: Is it true that the-- that you have
specific guidance not to use the word "genocide" in isolation, but always to
preface it with this-- with these words "acts of"?
CHRISTINE SHELLY: I have guidance which-- which-- to which
I-- which I try to use as best as I can. I'm not-- I have-- 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 a phraseology which--
GEORGE MOOSE, Ass't Sec'y of State for Africa: It is
ludicrous, in retrospect, that the discussion was about how might we be viewed
if we declared that there is genocide and then we are not in a position or not
ready or willing or able to do anything about it. The fact of the matter is, it was there, and the fact that
we didn't say so was already tarnishing our credibility and our capacity to do
something about it, so--
But I think-- I mean, as I've said, I think that's probably
one of the most shameful passages in this-- in this whole exercise, was our-- the
length of time and the amount of tortured discussion it took us to actually
come to that determination.
NARRATOR: The Rwandan genocide came to an end in
July, 1994. It had lasted 100 days
and ended only when the Tutsi rebels won the civil war. Hutu extremists had killed over 800,000
people as the world stood by.
CARL WILKENS: When I'd lay down at night in the
hallway there, there was a hope that something's going to happen, you
know? Something's got to
happen. This thing didn't end in a
couple days, like we thought it did. It didn't end in a week or two, like we thought it would. Somebody's going to do something.
By the time the genocide was over, I was so angry, at
America, America the beautiful, America the brave. I was angry with our government. I was angry with people who could do something, even the
simplest things and they didn't.
NARRATOR: As the years passed, world leaders, who
did little as genocide happened on their watch, came to places like Nyarubuye
on pilgrimages of contrition.
ANTHONY LAKE, Nat'l Security Advisor to Pres. Clinton: At
what point did I start saying to myself, "We should have done more"? When did that start coming to me? Honestly, it didn't start happening probably
until I went to Rwanda, saw the bodies. It was worse than anything I had seen in Vietnam. And after that, I began understanding,
or at least asking myself whether we-- whether we couldn't have done more.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think going to Rwanda was one of the
biggest shocks for me. I went to
this-- this church on a lake, and then there was a mass grave. And there was a small skeleton that they
had managed to excavate, which was about the size of my grandchild at that
time. And it just-- and you could
see the machete mark on the skull.
I wish that I had pushed for a large humanitarian
intervention. People would have
thought I was crazy. It would
never have happened. But I would
have felt better about my own role in this.
KOFI ANNAN: It was a very painful and traumatic
experience for me personally, and I think in some way, for the United
Nations. It's not something that
you forget. If we were to be
confronted with a new Rwanda, is the world ready to do it? Will the world move in to stop it? And my answer is, I really don't
know. I wish I can say yes, but I
am not convinced that we will see the kind of political will and the action
required to stop it.
[www.pbs.org: The "responsibility to protect"]
NARRATOR: Eventually, President Clinton himself
came to Rwanda.
BILL CLINTON: I have come today to pay the respects
of my nation to all who suffered and all who perished in the Rwandan
genocide. It may seem strange to
you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all
over the world, there were people like me, sitting in offices day after day
after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you
were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.
NARRATOR: In his remarks, which were billed as an
apology, Clinton did say the U.S. had made mistakes, but he never actually said
he was sorry. He met with
survivors and heard the human consequences of his policy of non-intervention,
and then he left.
[May, 2003, University of
STUDENT: Mr. President, the lack of intervention in Rwanda-- can you tell us why
the U.S. didn't intervene?
BILL CLINTON: I think that the people that were
bringing these decisions to me felt that the Congress was still reeling from
what had happened in Somalia, and by the time they finally-- you know, I sort of
started focusing on this and seeing the news reports coming out of it, it was
too late to do anything about it. And I feel terrible about it because I think we could have sent 5,000,
10,000 troops there and saved a couple hundred thousand lives. I think we could have saved about half
of them. But I'll always regret
that Rwandan thing. I will always
feel terrible about it.
Gen. ROMEO DALLAIRE: I came back with-- and still live with
this enormous guilt. You know, I
became-- fell-- started falling into these depressions, and it's like a
spiral. And so I'd find Scotch,
mostly, and I'd just drink myself-- and drink, and then I'd, you know, cut
myself or try to jump off things because the pain of killing yourself is
nothing compared to the pain of living with this.
I was the commander. My mission failed and hundreds of thousands of people died. And that-- I can't find any solace in
statements like, "I did my best." A commander can't use that as a reference in any operation. He succeeds or he fails, and then he
stands by and to be accused of and to be held accountable for. And my mission failed, and that's that.
PHILIPPE GAILLARD, Red Cross: And I don't feel
guilty. I never felt guilty. Dallaire felt guilty all the time. And I think this is the reason why he
is still deeply wounded, while my scars are-- are OK. Yeah.
And when we came back from Rwanda with my wife-- we were
deliberate-- deliberately, we had no-- no children. And it was so evident for her, for me, that after this
experience, we both wanted to create life. I mean, I have never explained to my son that he was a
product of the genocide. It is not
easy to explain. Yes. Yeah. Nothing else, Greg.
GHOSTS OF RWANDA
WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
FIELD PRODUCER - AFRICA
PRODUCER & DIRECTOR
Elizabeth C. Jones
AP/Wide World Photos
Reuters Pictures Archive
Lt. Col. Babacar Faye
National Security Archive
ON AIR PROMOTION
Michael H. Amundson
Erin Martin Kane
FOUNDATION GRANT MANAGER
WEBSITE EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Louis Wiley Jr.
A FRONTLINE co-production with the BBC and Silverbridge
WGBH EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
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