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Rwanda Hearing: A Full Committee Investigation of U.S. and U.N. Roles Warranted

May 5, 1998

Today’s hearing whetted the world’s appetite for information;

Administration no-show prompts calls for more answers.

(Washington) - In a Committee Hearing Room filled with press, Rwandan Americans, a Rwandan genocide survivor and human rights advocates, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA.) today posed the hard questions to three panels of witnesses in the first such hearing on the genocide that invited the testimony of the international community. "Is a negotiated settlement possible in Rwanda? Did the United States ask the RPF to negotiate with genocidaires? Why did this (Clinton) Administration decline to participate in such an important hearing?" McKinney queried. "Many of the questions I asked should have been directed to representatives from the Departments of State and Defense. Unfortunately they shamefully decided to be silent in hopes this hearing would not be of substance," McKinney commented, ". . . the Administration has decided not to participate in this hearing. Instead, the Administration tried to dodge a bullet and only succeeded in shooting themselves in the foot. Pulling a no-show suggests that there is something to hide and this sets the stage for a full investigation."

In what can only be described as some of the most compelling testimony presented, Belgian Senator Alain Destexhe, who led the Belgium Senate inquiry into Belgium’s role in the Rwandan genocide, called for a full investigation of the U. S. and United Nations involvement. Senator Destexhe presented the subcommittee with a formal letter requesting the House International Relations Committee take up this investigation. Destexhe told of a Rwandan Government informant that forewarned the U.N. and involved governments of the impending genocide. However, the U.N. failed to take the informant’s information seriously—refusing to grant the informant asylum outside of Rwanda. Without a guarantee of protection, the informant stopped talking and has subsequently disappeared. Senator Destexhe also remarked that Koffi Annan should disclose all communication between U.N. forces on the ground in Rwanda and U. N. Headquarters (N. Y.) since he has labeled his involvement with the Rwanda genocide an ‘old story’." Senator Destexhe further indicated a full investigation will show that an " . . . accelerated distribution of arms to Rwanda from Belgium through Egypt will be revealed." Following the arms into the Great Lakes region is crucial to understanding the events leading up to the genocide.

The Department of State Public Information Office disingenuously informed hearing planners that the Secretary would be testifying before the Senate on an unrelated issue and that activity would preclude the testimony of any other State Department personnel from testifying on the same day. The absence of the Department of State was reason for the Department of Defense declining participation as well. "With a Full Committee Investigation and subpoena power the Administration will be compelled to be present and the full disclosure can begin," said McKinney.

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