Encounters with conflict and peace

The foreigners are leaving

Within a few hours, foreigners were leaving Rwanda in large numbers.

From offices, embassies, NGOs, monasteries and universities, road convoys headed for neighbouring countries. Some left by an emergency airlift. Their sudden departure was a surprise to many Rwandans, and it had an immediate effect on both victims and killers.

The UN comes... and goes

"A detachment of blue-helmeted UN soldiers in three armoured vehicles arrived in the little town (of Nyamata), visiting the church, the convent, and the maternity and general hospitals. At each stop they picked up whites – five priests and three nuns in all. Mission accomplished, the convoy turned around and swiftly vanished down the main street.

Valerie Nyirarudodo, a nurse-midwife at the Sainte-Marthe Maternity Hospital, remembers, “They pulled up in front of the gate. They told the three white sisters to pack small bags immediately. They said, ‘No point anymore in wasting time with goodbyes, right now is goodbye.’ The Swiss women asked to bring along their Tutsi colleagues in white caps. The soldiers replied, ‘No, they are Rwandan, their place is here. It is better to leave them among their brothers and sisters.’ The convoy left, followed by a van of singing interahamwe.

Of course, soon afterwards, the Tutsi sisters were cut just like the others.”

from A Time for Machetes: the Killers Speak by Jean Hatzfeld

“Whites do not want to see what they cannot believe, and they could not believe a genocide, because that is a killing that overwhelms everyone, them as much as the others. So they left."

Claudine Kayitesi. Farmer and survivor

No-one will stop us

United Nations tank
INNOCENT RWILILIZA, a survivor, witnessed the passage of the armoured cars: “They caused a big panic among the interahamwe who were already roving in the streets, heating themselves up with sudden bursts of gunfire. Some of them shouted, ‘The whites are here, others will come, they have terrible weapons, it’s all over for us!’

When they saw the convoy disappear in the dust without even a little stop for curiosity or a drink on the main street, they celebrated with some Primus and shot off the cartridges in their guns as a sign of relief. You could see they felt saved. They were rid of the last stumbling block, so to speak.”

ADALBERT (a killer): "Ever since the plane crash, the radio had hammered at us, “The foreigners are departing... this time they are showing no interest in the fate of the Tutsis. We witnessed that flight of the armoured cars with our own eyes. For the first time ever, we did not feel we were under the frowning supervision of the whites."

From A time for machetes. The killers speak by Jean Hatzfeld

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