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Rwandan Genocide

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History[edit]

During the deteriorating situation just weeks before the assassination of the Rwandan President, Dallaire had a vision of sorts; a voice asked him what was worth more: following the orders from the politically unreliable UN, or the lives of the soldiers under his command and the lives of the innocent people who were about to face ethnic violence from their fellow man. He decided to choose the latter, and following this moment, he tore up the UN's vague and bureaucratic rules of engagement. He authorized all UN troops to defend themselves if threatened, and ordered that any illegal weapons caches found were to be seized or destroyed, though such raids were not to be reported up the chain of command, lest the UN bureaucrats were informed. Additionally, he authorized the use of lethal force to protect any civilians under threat by militia groups, and began contingency plans if all hell broke loose, which finally did on April 6.

Following the plane crash that killed the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, the Rwandan military suddenly stopped cooperating, as the militias began to attack Tutsi civilians. Deciding to act, he then personally led two platoons of UN troops to escort the Prime Minister and her aides to safety, only to be fired upon by the Rwandan Presidential Guard, wounding Dallaire and killing 10 Belgans, 3 Canadians, and several of the aides before being wiped out by a UN M113 APC from Canada, one of two secretly taken by Canadian transport planes to Rwanda.

Then-Major-General Dallaire had called the UN to no avail, after which he called directly to Ottawa for assistance. The situation was also transmitted to Canada by CBC and CTV journalists who chose to remain in Rwanda, defying the ordered evacuation of foreign civilians from the country. His hopes were confirmed as Prime Minister Charest Authorized Operation Messiah and personally told Dallaire that Canada will not stand by and watch as thousands of people get slaughtered in mass murder.

After he was promised aid, Dallaire ordered the bulk of his forces to secure Kigali Airport and Hôtel des Mille Collines, the latter being home to over a thousand Tutsi refugees. The troops that secured Kigali Airport dug in deep as they held against daily attacks by interhamwe militamen or groups of Rwandan soldiers who tried to besiege the airport, which also became home to thousands of Refugees. Dallaire listened on the radio as Canada virtually condemned the entire world for doing nothing to help the situation in Rwanda, with radio reports of Canadian airliners being loaded with troops at CFB Cold Lake and CFB Trenton. He was surprised to hear of a number of Russian transports that were seen loading up with Leopard C2 main battle tanks or Canadian Airborne soldiers intent on redeeming their unit after the fiasco in Somalia.

When Operation Messiah landed, Dallaire found himself placed in charge of an additional two regiments of crack Canadian infantry, four Leopard tanks, and over a dozen M113s. As the Canadians arrived, they helped stopped a major attack by the Rwandan Army, and began to advance into the city to stop the violence. The Canadian reinforcement helped saved hundreds of Tutsis, with many militiamen suddenly facing the barrels of C7 rifles pointed at their faces, forcing them to back off or be shot. M113s helped carry injured civilians and troops to medical triage centers created at the massive safe zone created by the UN and Canadian troops. Several Rwandan helicopters carrying militiamen had been shot down, recovered flight manifests showing they were to send the murderers to kill Tutsis in Butare province.

It all came with a cost. The Canadian reinforcements lost 29 soldiers and suffered 76 more wounded. Dallaire forever bore the scars of being wounded in action twice, and still over 175,000 Tusis were massacred by the Hutu militants. However, hundreds of thousands more were saved by the actions of the Canadians and the UNAMIR, with many nations humbled by the Canadian intervention sending logistical support to the mission.

US President Bill Clinton was particularly humiliated by Prime Minister Charest's now legendary quote "We do not care what President Clinton decides to do. We're going. We have to." which came after Clinton made it clear the US would not intervene. He soon relented and sent Air Force C-5 Galaxy airlifters to deliver additional Canadian armor and vehicles to Rwanda.

The Government of France, led by President François Mitterrand, faced further humiliation as reports came out implicating 33 government and military officials, including Mitterrand and Prime Minister Édouard Balladur, in actively training the militias and possibly sending soldiers to help the Genocide. Indeed, a number of French soldiers who were about to kill a family of Tutsis were shot by Canadian troops and reported to Dallaire who relayed the information of the Canadian journalists. Those reports led to widespread condemnation of France, and left a black mark to the Nation's reputation that took years to remove. In the political firestorm that followed, over four dozen French politicians, generals, and bureaucrats were forced to resign, including President Mitterrand, who was later found guilty of ordering the bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior.

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