Dallaire, the unheeded witness

presented by journalist Luciano Scalettari

Luciano Scalettari, who co-authored the book La lista del console (publ. Paoline) about the deeds performed by consul Costa during the genocide with Costa himself, presents the figure of Romeo Dallaire.

"Romeo Dallaire,the Canadian commander of the UN force in Rwanda, was a “very particular witness”, according to the journalist Luciano Scalettari, “of events connected with the 1994 Rwandan genocide”.
In fact, his job there was to watch over and monitor the peace process that began with the negotiations and then the Arusha agreements of 1993-1994.
These agreements centered on the formation of a transitional government in which the party of President Juvenal Habyarimana (in power for over 20 years) would share power with the rebel movement of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Dallaire reported large-scale illegal purchases of weapons on the part of regular soldiers, the Interahamwe militia and the civilian population, pointing out the risk of renewed violence: his reports were to remain unheeded.

“Double the number of men at my disposal and I will stop the genocide”.

"As it is widely known, when genocide broke out, the UN decided to withdraw most of its contingent, reducing it to just 300 soldiers. Dallaire opposed this decision: “Double the number of men at my disposal – wrote the UN commander – and I will stop the genocide”.
This didn't happen. Also these further calls from Dallaire remained unheeded. The events unfolded as we know: the victims were between 800.000 and 1.000.000, in 100 days only [...].
Dallaire kept on directing the tiny force of 300 blue helmets until the end of the genocide. Afterwardsm the the harrowing experience of standing by, powerless, as this tragedy unfolded led Dallaire to try to kill himself on two occasions. His depression was probably also due to certain accusations against him concerning his conduct in Rwanda, to his decision not to resign when the UN contingent was reduced and to alleged failures on his part to report on the seriousness of the situation in the country in the months leading up to the genocide. All these accusations were, however, roundly refuted in 2003, when Dallaire published his book Shake Hands with the Devil, which inspired a documentary the following year. The text threw light on numerous unresolved doubts about his decisions and his relationship with the United Nations.
Later, Romeo Dallaire received several awards for his work as commander of the Unamir mission and today he is a member of the Canadian parliament.
Sixteen years after those events, the former general is a valuable witness, who continues to denounce what happened in Rwanda and to fight against all genocides.

read Dallaire's biography

22 February 2011

Don’t miss the story of the Righteous and the memory of Good

Once a month you will receive articles and events selected by Gariwo Editorial Board. Please fill out the field below and click on subscribe.

Grazie per aver dato la tua adesione!