The Rwanda "Genocide Fax": What We Know NowHistorians in the News
tags: genocide, Rwanda, Michael Dobbs
Washington, DC, January 9, 2014 – Twenty years ago this week, the commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda (UNAMIR) wrote a "Most Immediate" cable to his superiors in New York that has come to be known as the "Genocide Fax." Dated January 11 but received in New York at 6:45 p.m. on January 10, the fax from General Romeo Dallaire cited information from "a top-level trainer" for a pro-regime militia group known as the Interahamwe, and warned of an "anti-Tutsi extermination" plot.
Three months after this warning, Interahamwe members took the lead in the 100-day genocide of at least half a million members of Rwanda's Tutsi minority, along with tens of thousands of "moderate" Hutus. The massacres took place against the backdrop of a war that pitted the Hutu-dominated regime against Tutsi-led insurgents who had invaded the country from neighboring Uganda.
Over time, the "genocide fax" became a symbol of the failure of the international community to prevent mass killing in Rwanda. In reply to the fax, U.N. officials rejected Dallaire's request for authority to raid suspected arms caches, and instructed him instead to consult with government leaders tied to the Interahamwe. It was one of several turning points when the United Nations, backed by the United States and other powers, failed to take action that might have prevented the genocide.
Thanks to new documents, including evidence submitted to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), it is now possible to piece together a much fuller account of the man who inspired the "genocide fax" and how and why UN officials and other decision-makers responded, or failed to respond, to his warnings. For example, the documents posted today include the never-before-published statement given to tribunal investigators in 2003 by the widow of the "genocide fax" informant.
Today's e-book and op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Dobbs are the first publications of a joint "#Rwanda20yrs" project co-sponsored by the National Security Archive (at George Washington University) and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump Holds Wide Lead in South Carolina
- An All-or-Nothing Fight for the Supreme Court
- Did Trump Really Lose the Debate?
- Scalia’s Death Sets Off Epic Battle
- Democrats See Gift in GOP Blocking Court Nominee
- Quote of the Day
- The Nastiest GOP Debate
- Reaction to the Republican Debate
- The GOP Presidential Debate
- How Clinton Could Respond on Supreme Court Vacancy
- Trump and Clinton Way Ahead in South Carolina
- McConnell Says Senate Will Wait to Replace Scalia
- Antonin Scalia Is Dead
- Clinton Says Sanders Would Be Threat to Obama Legacy
- Internal Tracker Shows Trump Leading in South Carolina
- Ben Carson used an apparently fake Joseph Stalin quote — and the Internet loved it
- Rubio exaggerates in saying it's been 80 years since a 'lame duck' made a Supreme Court nomination
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges