The Rwandan Genocide: Documents Day-by-Day
Twenty years ago this April, the world witnessed the slaughter of between 500,000 and a million Rwandans, predominately Tutsi, while the international community stood by. The “#Rwanda20yrs” project, a partnership between the National Security Archive and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, follows the trail of documentary evidence leading up to, and during, the Rwandan genocide in an effort to address unanswered questions about how the international community made key decisions about responding to the genocide, and the full impact of those decisions.
The public has had limited access to essential documentary evidence about the Rwandan genocide, and as a result—despite considerable and highly valuable past journalistic and scholarly inquiry—many questions remain about the mechanics of international decision-making in response to the Rwandan genocide. U.N. Security Council deliberations on Rwanda, Clinton White House papers, and government documents from French and Belgium remain classified. The International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR) produced valuable testimony and documents, but is poorly organized and largely inaccessible. The current Rwandan government holds the archives of the predecessor regime, but in extremely poor conditions. As Michael Dobbs writes in his New York Times op-ed, “Records that could shed light on whether it could have been prevented are still classified in Washington, New York, Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Arusha and Kigali — unavailable to the public despite pledges by international leaders to fully investigate the tragedy.”
The National Security Archive and the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide have launched a new initiative to push for declassification of key Rwanda genocide records, and to analyze previously unpublished documentation to learn new lessons about the international community’s response to mass atrocity and genocide around the world. As part of the project, the Archive is posting and tweeting a series of documents to follow the day-by-day descent into conflict that consumed Rwanda in 1994 so we can get a better idea of what decisions, actions, and inactions led to the genocide, or could have helped avert the genocide. The documentation leading up to the official start of the genocide on April 7, 1994, and during the genocide, is chilling. We encourage readers to analyze the evidence for themselves and draw their own conclusions about the events leading up to and during the genocide.
The documents will be tweeted under the National Security Archive’s twitter handle @NSArchive, and occasionally on the Archive’s blog, “Unredacted” and will contain the tag #Rwanda20yrs. You can also follow our postings on the Archive’s website, Facebook, and the Museum’s website, Facebook, and Twitter: @HolocaustMuseum by looking for #Rwanda20yrs.