- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2004

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Agence France-Presse) — The commander of the U.N. mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide accused his superiors this week of denying him permission to carry out raids that could have prevented the slaughter of up to 1 million people, mainly Tutsis.

Retired Canadian Gen. Romeo Dallaire told the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, holding genocide trials here, that in January 1994 — three months before the start of the genocide — he sent a cable to his U.N. superiors seeking permission to raid suspected weapons caches.

“I was given clear orders that I could not conduct those deterrent operations. They said the United Nations was not in the business of providing protection,” Gen. Dallaire told the court on Tuesday, according to the independent Hirondelle news agency.

“I was very disappointed and became quite angry,” he said during his second day in the witness box.

Carefully laid plans to rid Rwanda of its Tutsi minority were set into motion after the April 6 assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana.

The inaction of the United Nations and of the international community before and during the genocide has been criticized widely since 1994 and has formed the subject of several books, including one that Gen. Dallaire published last year titled “Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.”

In 1994, Kofi Annan, now U.N. secretary-general, was in charge of the U.N. peacekeeping department.

Gen. Dallaire is a witness for the prosecution in the trial of Theoneste Bagosora, a senior Rwandan defense ministry official during the genocide.

Gen. Dallaire told the court on Monday that Col. Bagosora had enjoyed de facto control of Rwanda after Mr. Habyarimana’s death. The prosecution has branded Col. Bagosora the mastermind of the genocide.

Col. Bagosora is being tried with three other senior officers in the now-disbanded Rwandan Armed Forces — operations chief Gen. Gratien Kabiligi, regional commander Lt. Col. Anatole Nsengiyumva, and the commander of a paramilitary battalion based in Kigali, Maj. Aloys Ntabakuze.

Gen. Dallaire also testified that an informant “told us the [Hutu ruling party] distributed weapons mainly at night to highly placed leaders including Bagosora, who then distributed them to Interahamwe,” the extremist Hutu militias who mostly carried out the genocide.

The informant, he said, was involved in the distribution of weapons and provided Gen. Dallaire’s U.N. mission with details of quantity, a list of targets and information about militia-training programs conducted by the regular army and supervised by unspecified foreigners.

“These people were trained to be able to kill 1,000 Tutsis in 20 minutes,” said Gen. Dallaire, adding that the U.N. mission had located several weapons sites, including one containing brand-new Chinese machetes, which the peacekeepers had confiscated.

“It was difficult for the mission to monitor the importation because it did not have adequate resources, like a helicopter to oversee the vast and hilly terrain,” he said.

It was when Gen. Dallaire felt that the proliferation of weapons in Rwanda was getting out of hand that he sought permission from New York to take action.

The Interahamwe militias often hacked people to death with machetes. Over the course of 100 days, up to 1 million Tutsis and Hutus opposed to the slaughter were killed.

On Monday, Gen. Dallaire testified that Col. Bagosora seemed to have been plotting a coup after Mr. Habyarimana’s death, that he had appeared at ease during the massacres and that he twice had threatened to kill Gen. Dallaire.

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